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Abolition of the Jesuits

The voice of public opinion at length compelled pope Clement XIV to publish his famous bull, Dominas ac redemptor, of July 21, 1773, by which the Society of Jesus was totally abolished in all the states of Christendom. These measures were every where executed with a quick and strong hand, because a formal process would have given time for a formidable opposition. Yet their most important treasures and documents were already taken out of the way, as it is supposed, and their archives and coffers did not satisfy expectation. Ricci, who might have averted this fate by making some concessions towards a change in their constitution, protested the innocence of the order, which was bound to regard every thing which came from him as necessarily right and obligatory : but, in fact, the great infringements on the natural rights of others, incompatible with every well-ordered church or state, which were in a manner legalized by their privileges, rendered the existence of such a body in a state a political solecism.

The Congregations, by the order of the same pope, became one of the normal works of the universal Church. In the eighteenth century membership increased vastly, from 2500 groups to 80.000. The consequence was a diminishment in fervour and practice. The spiritual life of the members and the social concern for the rejected of society was reduced to pious practices and annual and symbolic events. The Marian Congregations [ or Sodalities, as they are called in some countries] became a pious mass movement, different from what Ignatius or Jean Leunis or Aquaviva had meant it to be.

Unquestionably the world had much reason to rejoice at their fell, although a great part of the members were entirely innocent ; and their former services werealways gratefully remembered. The ex-Jesuits, however, suffered no further penalty than being obliged to quit their houses, lay aside the garb of iheir order, renounce all intercourse with one another, and either enter some of the other orders, or put themselves under the superintendence of the bishops. They received annuities from the revenues of their confiscated estates, except in Portugal. In this kingdom, and in Spain, the ex-Jesuits were also prohibited from residing in the country.

In the States of the Church, in Upper Italy, and in Germany, they were treated with the most forbearance, in Hungary, Poland, and even in France, they were suffered to remain as private persons. Frederic II, indeed, would not join in the general expulsion of the order, in order to gratify his Catholic subjects in Silesia, to retain a school-establishment which cosy him nothing, and to keep a productive source of revenue. Nevertheless, the Jesuits in the Prussian states were obliged to give up the garb of their order, and to renounce their constitution. Under the name of the priests of the royal srhool, they were henceforth confined to the office of instructing youth ; and even this institution was abolished hy Frederic William II.

Russia was now the only country that remained to take them. Peter the Great had expelled them from his empire as early as 1719 ; but several houses of their order fell in part of Poland, under Russia. Catharine spared them, even after the abolition of the order, out of regard to her Catholic -subjects, and on account of the usefulness of their schools. The patronage of Czernitscbeff and Potciukin enabled them to obtain permission to erect a novitiate house in 1777, and in 1782 to choose a vicar-general.

Following the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, members of that order in considerable numbers, attracted by the rapid growth and the pretentious occultism of the Rosicrucians, had united with the latter system. The result was the infusion of a definite strain of clericalism into the order of the Rosicrucians. The Rosicrucians, almost extinguished before the abolition os the Jesuits, were revived under the mask of free-masonry, suspected to be guided by the secret influence of the Jesuits. The Rosicrucians were a branch of Freemasonry notorious for the absurdity of its pretensions and its shameless pandering to the popular desire for occultism.





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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:09:08 ZULU