The Story Of Religious Controversy
The Jesuits: Religious Rogues
- The Sainted Ignatius
- The Men of Jesus as Men of Blood
- The End and the Means
- Two Centuries of Jesuitry
IN the year 1521, when Martin Luther was waiting nervously in Wittenberg to hear Rome’s reply to his burning of the Pope’s Bull; when Canon Nicholas Copernicus was, a few hundred miles further north, brooding over the terrible truth that the earth turns round the sun; when Magellan made the mightiest voyage yet known in history — a Spanish officer named Inigo de Loyola passed through a religious crisis in his father’s castle at the foot of the Pyrenees. He had been shot in the French war, and be learned that he was lame for life. On what could his fierce energy and ambition now expend themselves? Inigo was a northern Spaniard, a Basque, a veritable Quixote in knightly ambition, and only about thirty years old. A lame leg … His career as a soldier was closed.
Such little details have more than once helped to shift the course of history. As the fiery little man with the dark blazing eyes lay cursing on his bed, a pious sister put the “Lives of the Saints” near him. Caramba de caramba, here was a new kind of fighting — against devils — in which lame legs did not matter! Hitherto Inigo, or Ignatius, as he re-christened himself, had tempered the chaste austerity of his love of God with the love of maids; though he had been, for a Christian soldier, rather sober. He had been, one who knew him says, “prone to quarrels and amatory folly.” But lame men do not wisely pick quarrels; and maids do not offer smiles to lame men. So Ignatius was converted.
It was a long business. Whenever you read about Ignatius and the Jesuits, you read about “the great authority on the subject,” M. Cretineau-Joly. Understand at once that this man’s history of the Jesuits, which even neutral historians sometimes follow, is just as reliable as a Christian Science account of the history of Mrs. Eddy. It was written in collusion with the Jesuits. It is a Jesuit tract. I can show you the value of it at once. Cretineau- Joly speaks of Inigo’s change of plan as a “sudden revolution”: the grace of God, of course, and all that bunk. Well, the process lasted nine months, as is well known. But a lame leg thrown into the scale of Jesus and Mary, as against Mars and Aphrodite, turned the balance.
Certainly Inigo — or let us now call him Ignatius — was converted and became a deeply religious man. The best proof is that he momentarily lost what reason he had. He decided, after a pilgrimage to Montserrat and a visit to Rome, to cross the sea and convert the Turks to Christianity. Somehow, it took him a year to get out of Spain, and the flimsy excuses of his biographers are silly.
In Montserrat, a famous shrine of the Virgin, he was housed in a Benedictine monastery, and he quite clearly got here the idea of founding a new monastic body, a fighting army of his own. His temporary insanity continued in proof of the depth and sincerity of his conversion. He gave his rich clothes to a beggar, and donned the beggar’s rags; and children laughed and pointed the finger at “Father Sackcloth,” with long dirty nails and unkempt hair, as he walked the streets. Which, in a Spanish grandee, is a sure proof of piety to the verge of insanity. After a time he lodged in a solitary cavern at the foot of the hills and practiced great austerities. Here he wrote the famous “Spiritual Exercises” of the Jesuit Society.
In other words, Ignatius of Loyola most decidedly became profoundly religious. We may set aside melodramatic theories that he just exchanged a secular for a clerical ambition as firmly as we set aside the “sudden revolution” theory. But the Jesuit story, based upon his own assurances, that he worked out at this time, in the Manresa cavern, the plan of his famous regiment for fighting Protestantism, is moonshine. For one thing, Ignatius kept on saying for a further five years that his business was to convert the Turks. As a fact, he went to Syria, and the monks at Jerusalem promptly shipped him back to Venice as an undesirable. He did not, in any case, know a word of any language except Basque and Spanish.
He went back to Spain, and he had sense enough to see that his dense and unlimited ignorance was not a good qualification for the new kind of fighting. He laboriously acquired some education and gathered disciples about him. The young men of Barcelona nearly beat him to death for persuading the nuns to abandon their amours; the Inquisition at Alcala threatened him; the Rector of Paris University — he traveled everywhere, even to London — ordered him to be publicly flogged. He was regarded everywhere as an ignorant and obnoxious fanatic, the butt of the street-boys and the bane of respectably immoral clerics. The fellow was trying to imitate Christ.
In short, Ignatius of Loyola was no schemer at first. But he slowly acquired an education and a half dozen close followers in the course of ten years. They formed a secret society for promoting the glory of God. They vowed now either to go and convert the Turks or to do whatever the Pope ordered. The only Jesuitical feature as yet was the melodramatic secrecy that Ignatius imposed. But he also imposed — this is the exact opposite of Jesuitry — the most sternly ascetic practices and admitted only youths of real piety and ability. The result was that he got only six men in his secret society in fifteen years, out of three Christian countries, and in 1537 the seven of them, in apostolic rags, walked from Paris to Rome and asked the Pope’s blessing on their mission to the Turks. “If you get there,” said the Pope, smiling.
Here the story of Ignatius begins to lose its holy simplicity. These pupils or disciples of his were clever students, some of them brilliant, but neither he nor they learned a word of Turkish or Arabic or anything about Mohammedanism. Moreover, they had, after years of delay, started for the east just after the east was hopelessly closed against them by a new war. They were all monks in life (except that they were strictly chaste), but they refused to join any existing order. They met always in secret, and kept their plans secret. They tended the sick and taught in various Italian towns but above all they fished for new recruits for the unauthorized “Company of Jesus,” as Ignatius called his little group. Ignatius himself remained in Rome, and in his angling for the authorization of his body, he founded the diplomatic tradition of his society. “Let us,” he said piously to his pupils, “avoid all relations with women except those of the highest rank.” Not because the latter are less inflammatory.
They all gathered in Rome in 1538: eleven in number after sixteen years, and hated by half the world for their secretive and eccentric ways. Ignatius applied for authorization. One of the three cardinals appointed to consider the matter was so sore about the monks — had not the corrupt rascals brought this new German pest upon the Church? — that he blocked the way. But Ignatius secured a shower of “unsolicited testimonials,” and in 1540 the Society of Jesus was authorized. It was founded by diplomacy, for no one wanted it. It won its authorization by cultivating the rich and powerful, at the direct command of Ignatius. It brought itself into close relationship with the Papacy by professing itself a special regiment under the direct orders of the Pope. It took up, especially, the work of education — its early care of the sick, by which it won its way, was soon abandoned — and it made blind obedience to superiors its specialty. Its own historians speak of the “holy wiles” of its founder during those years. In plainer English, the end justified the means, from the start.
The Society of Jesus is not a monastic body. Rome knows, though American Catholics do not seem to know, that no monastic body ever remained uncorrupted for fifty years. The Vatican wanted no more of them. And, although the rules of the Society are really monastic, there was from the first one peculiar distinction from all the monastic bodies in the world. Instructions were given that rich and noble, not poor, youths were to be sought to fill the ranks.
In other words, by a singular development the stupid-looking and entirely unworldly fanatic of 1522, “Father Sackcloth,” had become a real Jesuit by 1540. Intrigue became a passion with him. Power, to do good, of course — was what he sought incessantly.
I need say nothing further about Ignatius himself than that he ruled the Society until he died, in 1556, entirely in that spirit. In Italy and Spain he wanted the Pope and Inquisition to stifle in blood any dissent from the creed. In the new Protestant lands his men were to be white-fleeced lambs bleating about the sacred principle of liberty of conscience. Everywhere they had above all to accommodate themselves to the circumstances. Their vow of poverty was to be no ban against their living in a rich man’s house; but, when the man died, his house and wealth must be secured for the Jesuits. Generally they were in a new place to beg their bread and tend the sick. Once this had attracted wealthy patrons, they abandoned the sick, built colleges, and selected the boys of noble and wealthy families among their pupils for persuasion to become Jesuits. They were fiercely attacked in most countries; and one by one their critics, even bishops and archbishops, were silenced by messages from the Pope. The “Black Pope” was already installed at the Vatican.
This diplomacy and a certain appeal to the melodramatic and picturesque and military elements in human nature enabled the Society to count its thousand members before Ignatius died. Already, in 1556, there were Jesuits in Abyssinia, the Congo, India, Japan, and Brazil; and they had penetrated Protestant England and Germany. It must not, however, be imagined that the thousand soldiers of Jesus in 1556 were like the heroic six who had walked afoot from Paris to Rome in 1537. The great college at Coimbra, in Portugal, was corrupt as early as 1546, and the Jesuit in charge fought for his post against reformers. But Ignatius won, as he always did. He left, on the whole, a fine battalion, of equal astuteness and fighting spirit, at the disposal of the Pope for the struggle against Protestantism. That had become the great aim, and I suspect that Ignatius had foreseen it twenty years earlier.
For the strange chapters which follow I do not intend to refer the reader to other writers, and I recommend no books here. The literature about the Jesuits is as melodramatic as the Jesuits themselves: in one half the books the Jesuits are devils, in the other half angels. They were men, acting in peculiar conditions, under a peculiar set of rules and maxims. I have written a large “Candid History of the Jesuits” (1913), based upon the original documents and the best authorities, and I need not repeat the references here where I differ from the naive Catholic story of the Jesuits. Few people, in any case, look up references. Footnotes in historical works are largely testimonials to the erudition of the writer. But I have minutely studied the story of Inigo de Loyola and his followers from the year 1521 to the year 1910, and every statement I make here is substantiated in my larger history.
Long before he died Ignatius, as I said, concluded that the proper work of his Society was the restoration of the faith in Protestant lands by means of intrigue. The end was obviously the greatest service a man could then render to religion; the means he chose suited his temperament and the peculiar vanity which every reformer blends with his idealism; the work enabled him to live the life of a saint, a soldier, and a statesman.
Rome had never seen such a figure as that of the first General of the Society of Jesus. He was a saint: yet half the priests in the city hated him. Whenever the Jesuits in modern times are attacked, one of them mounts the pulpit and modestly reads out the “Spiritual Exercises”: the manual of prayer, meditation, and asceticism which Ignatius composed for them. “There we are,” the Jesuit implies, “in real truth. Do you think that we who are nurtured spiritually on such diet as this are likely to be guilty?” Then the preacher descends to join his colleagues merrily over a bottle of the best that the country affords and draw up a list of the pleasant ladies (not their charwomen) whom he will visit on the morrow. I have shared the bottle, and I know.
For Ignatius and his early followers those “Spiritual Exercises” were very real. He slept only four hours a night. In the morning be spent four hours in prayer. He had only three books in his room, the Bible, the Breviary (the priest’s prayer-book), and an “Imitation of Christ”; and he was excused by the Pope from reading the Breviary because he wept so much over the lives of the saints in it that his sight was threatened. He was not out to fight heresy with books. He worked at his desk until noon, when, in strict silence, he and the others dined. Then he spent several hours visiting hospitals, visiting cardinals and nobles — visiting anybody whom it was useful to visit. Then a common evening meal in silence, a secret report to him on the conduct during the day of every inmate of the establishment, and finally the prolonged meditation by the light of the midnight lamp. The last is the part I understand best, for it is my custom; though, while the inspiration of Ignatius was a crucifix, mine comes from a pipe and a bottle of beer or port. It makes no difference.
It was a strange new Europe over which the apostles of the new type were sent, nightly surveyed by the arch-diplomatist of religion. Nearly half of Christendom was lost to the Papacy, and other countries were being rapidly contaminated.
Protestantism was making serious progress in France. Catholics have an absurd idea that the French were always the most devoted children of the Pope, whereas there had been almost more heresy in France than anywhere else before the Reformation; after that date until the nineteenth century the French clergy gave Rome more trouble than any in the world; and today France is the least religious civilization on the earth. A French historian of distinction has recently said that in point of fact his country never seriously adopted Christianity.
France at once opposed the Jesuits, and Ignatius saw all his plans foiled. He won a French cardinal, who won the king for him, but it was no use. When the king authorized the good Jesuits to settle in France, the Parliament refused to register his letter of authorization, the University (the very cradle of the Society) scorned the new semi-monks and their privileges, and the Archbishop turned them out of Paris. A very strange lot these new apostles are, the French said. How humbly they walk, and how meekly (at first) they wash the sores of the sick; and how, the moment you cross them, they produce Papal privileges from their grips which none had ever enjoyed before, and all sorts of counts and cardinals (or countesses and cardinals’ mistresses) get busy behind the scenes! Even when they won the queen, even when they were instructed to drop their name and all their rights and their privileges, the lawyers, clergy, and people bitterly opposed their entrance into Paris. Ignatius’ successor had to go in person to France and spend months there; and he so bullied and terrorized the superstitious Italian queen, Catherine de Medici, who virtually ruled after her husband’s death, that at last the Jesuits got in — and the Protestants got out, murdered.
The Jesuits had got in by the influence of the queen and her young son, but they were hated. Then they had a stroke of “luck.” In 1567 Father Oliver Manares, the head of the Jesuits in Paris, “discovered” a great plot of the Huguenots (Protestants) in that city. This put up the prestige of the Jesuits so high, and turned the scale against the Protestants so heavily, that the chief Jesuit at Lyons, Father Auger, “discovered” a plot in that city also. There is some evidence of plotting at Lyons, but the Paris business was sheer Jesuitry. The fabricator of the plot, Manares, was afterward found by the Jesuits themselves to be a corrupt and ambitious man. In 1581 they had to appoint a commission to consider his personal conduct, and it condemned him. He was one of the most eminent of the early Jesuits.
And there is very good reason to believe that this brilliant idea of the Jesuit, that the Huguenots were plotting a great massacre of Catholics, actually inspired the St. Bartholomew Massacre of the Protestants themselves. The historian who in considering crimes of the Jesuits demands positive evidence is an ass. Secrecy and the obliteration of evidence were from the start a vital part of their policy. We need to take a reasonable view of the probabilities, and not go beyond the probabilities. The new practice of listening to the Jesuits themselves lands our historians in all sorts of contradictions. In what ought to be the weightiest modern work on the St. Bartholomew Massacre, the “Cambridge Modern History,” we are told on one page (twenty) that the Pope “is said to have expressed dismay” — which is a grossly misleading concession to a late perversion of well known facts — and on another page (two hundred and eighty-five) that the Pope heard the news of the vile carnage with “triumphant acclamation.”
In another hundred years, if there are any Catholic apologists left, they will be proving that the St. Bartholomew Massacre was a myth. It was a cowardly, brutal, almost unprecedented orgy of blood (August 24-25, 1572). The Protestants of France had become strong enough to sustain a civil war for eight years, and the ablest of the French Jesuits, Auger and Possevin, accompanied and egged on the troops on the field of battle. This “war of religion” disgraced even the later Middle Ages by the barbarity of the combatants. A peace had to be arranged, and the queen then lured all the leading Huguenots to settle in Paris by a hypocritical show of favor and by marrying her daughter to the Protestant prince Henry. Then she presided over the cold and deliberate plot of massacring them all while they slept in their beds, and orders were sent over France to imitate the glorious heroism of the capital. Something like fifty thousand Protestants — estimates run from thirty thousand (as counted by the butchers) to seventy thousand (as counted by the butchered) — were slain in this revolting service to God and the Pope.
Of course you will find no proof that Jesuits were in the plot. I do not even suggest that any of them had been told in advance of the actual conspiracy. That will never be known, and I am not prepared to say that it is probable that they were so informed. The General of the Jesuits had seen Catherine de Medici a few months earlier, and critics suggest that he, vaguely at least, inspired the plot. That is not in keeping with his personal character. But three things are certain and instructive. First, the Jesuits were ridiculously unsuccessful in intellectual controversy with the Protestants. Secondly, the Jesuits all over Europe advocated the extinction of heresy by the blood of the heretics. Thirdly, the leading French Jesuits were particularly aggressive, and they had a very great influence on the queen. For years they had lashed her against the Huguenots and supported the war. They acquiesced in her hypocritical disarming of the Protestants as well as the massacre. They created her state of mind and applauded the result.
Auger, the chief Jesuit, was the father-confessor of the king; and he was as ready to overlook the constant debauches of that degenerate son of the miserable Italian queen as to approve his neurotic bloodthirstiness. And, when this poor caricature of a king proved not Catholic enough and was murdered, in 1588, Jesuits hailed the murder openly as “the eternal glory of France.” Nearly every distinguished Jesuit of the time held that it was lawful to murder a king in the interest of religion. Cretineau-Joly himself quotes fourteen of them. Father Mariana (1599) wrote a special book (“On the King and the Institution of the King”) to prove it. And in 1595, only about twenty years after St. Bartholomew, the Jesuits were ignominiously thrown out of France, and their leader executed, for plotting to murder the new king.
There is little of interest to say of the Jesuits in England in those early days, except that here they began their theatrical practice of wearing disguises. The number of Jesuit martyrs in the glorious campaign against the English heretics is small. They very sensibly proceeded on the maxim that a living Jesuit provides more seed of Christians than a dead martyr. Two of them went to Ireland — a rather silly business as they spoke no Irish and little English — and to Scotland, where they stiffened the king against the Reformation. The modern Irish Catholic will learn with surprise that these early Jesuits of the sixteenth century reported that almost all the leading men in Ireland were in sympathy with Protestantism! They seem to have been practically driven out of the country.
They avoided England, and Jesuit writers are not very clear when they have to explain how it was that Jesuits were not even permitted to enter the country under the Catholic “Bloody Mary.” There is no reason to doubt the explanation given in Burnet’s “History of the Reformation” (ii, 526). Ignatius had laid down the condition that the rich monastic property confiscated by Henry VIII should be handed over to the Jesuits! For the next half-century they could do nothing but make furtive visits to England and Scotland in heavy disguise — one as a money-lender (apparently an early joke on the Scots), another as a military officer, and so on — until a few of them made a brave show under Elizabeth and earned the martyr’s crown which as a rule they energetically avoided. Father Campion, under torture, betrayed a number of English Catholics. Most of them were up to the neck in political plots against Elizabeth.
A rather amusing squabble among the martyrs occurred in 1587, Father Weston was captured and sent to Wisbeach Castle for detention. A number of ordinary (secular) priests were already there, and the Jesuit at once tried to get command of the little colony of angels. England was presently amused to hear of the candid comments on each other of the family party. The priests, who were trying to keep a few sparks of their faith alive in England, hated the Jesuits and begged Rome not to send them. Priests were more or less tolerated in England, even under Elizabeth, until the Jesuit plotters, in their picturesque disguises, came along. Father Weston was therefore told in good medieval English what the priests thought of his pretensions, and he was roundly accused of fraudulent practices, with paid accomplices, to impose on the piety of the faithful; which seems to have been true. He retorted that the secular priests were so addicted even while they awaited the crown of martyrdom — to drunkenness, gambling, and impurity that he had to get a corner of the prison for himself. The government later transferred the quarrel to the Elysian Fields, but it is piquant that Queen Elizabeth herself took an interest in it, and set four of the priests at liberty in order that they might go and complain to the Pope!
There was the same acrid quarrel in nearly every country to which the Jesuits were sent. From the start they were hated, as they are today, by most of the other clergy. What Rationalist and Protestant writers have said of them is not a whit worse than what devout Catholic priests have said for four centuries.
I must, however, before leaving the English Jesuits, say a word about the famous “Gunpowder Plot.” Catholic attempts to belittle this foul plot to murder the King, the royal family, and the Lords and Commons (Deputies) of England when the Parliament was to be solemnly opened in 1604, are preposterous and silly manipulations of an undisputed historical fact. The only question is how far the English Jesuits were implicated in this proposed large-scale murder, I have shown in my book, and it is allowed by all but Jesuits, that Father Garnet, whose wriggles to extricate himself from the guilt are something new in the annals of martyrdom, admitted that he was consulted, with sufficient clearness, about a plot which would entail the killing of innocent people and he then learned the full details of the plot from another Jesuit. These two Jesuits would have crushed the design if they had firmly declared it criminal, but they feared to offend the laity by condemning it, and they, as far as they were concerned, let the diabolical conspiracy run on. The knowledge was not obtained “under the seal of confession,” as some writers say.
Cretineau-Joly says that more than a hundred Jesuits were executed in England under Elizabeth. I have shown that during that time there were not more than a score of Jesuits in England, and this number includes certain priests who were induced to join the Society in prison, so that it could count them as “Jesuit martyrs.” Only five regularly admitted Jesuits were put to death, and two Jesuits purchased their lives by turning informers. Truly a glorious record.
Still more deeply stained with blood is the record of the Companions of Jesus in Germany. In the early stages of the Reformation they had little influence. The Catholics detested them — at Ratisbon the Catholics threatened to throw Father Le Jay into the river — and they retorted with the gravest charges against the monks and secular clergy. Two of them were at the famous Diet of Worms in 1540, and they reported to Ignatius that there were not three priests in the city who were free from immorality or crime. The Protestant historian who wishes to vindicate the strong language of Luther or Zwingli will find astonishing material in the published (Latin) letters of the Jesuits.
When war broke out at length, the Jesuits marched with the troops as they did in France, and inflamed them. Then the emperor proclaimed a temporary peace and compromise, to the fiery and outspoken anger of Father Boabdilla, and for some time the Jesuits had to confine themselves to the preservation of the faith in the Catholic provinces, where they incurred the usual hatred of the faithful. Their college at Vienna was sacked by a Catholic mob, and loathsome stories about them were current in Bavaria. But from our point of view we are chiefly interested in the fierce sectarian struggle, the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) which wrecked the new prosperity of a very large part of Europe and again suspended the development of civilization. Bohemia had its population reduced from three million to seven hundred and eighty thousand, and there were parts of the continent where unburied corpses lay so thick that the regions had to be avoided until nature had done its work with the putrefying bodies of the dead.
The war began in Bohemia, from which the Jesuits had been scornfully expelled, and so we are not surprised that the camp- followers of the ruthless Tilly, when he came to subdue the country, included eighteen Jesuits. All through the war they kept with the troops, and in places even fought with them. But of their guilt in shaping the counsels of the aggressive Catholic monarchs we will not expect to find documentary evidence. They had influence everywhere. Tilly had passed through the first stages of becoming a Jesuit. Ferdinand II, Maximilian of Bavaria, and Wallenstein had been trained in their schools. There was hardly a Catholic court where they did not intrigue for influence, and the Jesuit writer who will suggest that they used it in the interests of peace has still to be born.
From the Roman side we have a clearer view of their complicity. General Lainez attended the Council of Trent in 1562, when the monarchs with mixed populations were in favor of granting toleration. Lainez fought with fiery zeal against this and urged, wherever Catholic power was available, the extermination of heretics. If the civil power was bound, at the dictation of the Inquisition, to take the lives of individual heretics or batches of heretics, what different principle was involved in exterminating thousands? Had not the greatest of the Popes, Innocent III, caused the slaughter of whole populations of Albigensians? It is almost ludicrous to attempt to clear the Jesuits in view of general Catholic principles and their own special zeal, but we have specific evidence which I have given in my “Crises in the History of the Papacy.
The German emperor, upon whom chiefly depended the fate of the Reformers, wanted a General Council of the Church in which the dissenting and the orthodox divines should argue, on an equal footing, as to what the Christian faith really was. The Reformers were more than willing, if the Council were not presided over by the representatives of the Pope and if they were met on equal terms. But the Papacy never for a moment entertained the idea. The Council was to define doctrine, on the disputed points, in the Papal sense, and then command the secular arm to exterminate all who dissented from its definitions. In other words, the Papacy wanted war. In 1545, before the Council of Trent opened, Pope Paul III secretly promised the emperor very strong support in men and money if he would make war on the Protestant princes, and then betrayed the emperor’s design to do so to the Protestants. The Pope was not a religious man, and he chiefly wanted the restoration and security of a more or less decent luxury for the Papal Court.
So far the Jesuits had not been the chief instruments of the Popes. Ignatius, it is true, whose stern asceticism did not move him to protest against the semi-pagan frivolity and license which the Papal Court still maintained, is known to have been one of the chief instigators of Paul III in reorganizing the bloody apparatus of the Inquisition in Rome; though even Roman Catholic historians admit that the records of the Roman Inquisition are still kept in secrecy (or destroyed), and we do not know how much blood it shed or how much property it confiscated. After Ignatius, however, and except under the reign of Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590), who hated and endeavored to suppress the Jesuits, they found increasing favor with Popes and princes, and they were the chief stimulators of the fiery sectarian hatred which again reduced Europe to a state of semi-savagery. Almost alone the Jesuits denounced the Peace of Westphalia which closed the war. They had, I may add, fiercely attacked Richelieu for keeping France out of the war, yet they induced him, through the king, to stipulate with the Protestant princes that their property should be spared whenever a Catholic town was taken.
What is characteristic of the Jesuits from the beginning, we already see, is a certain ruthlessness in the choice of means to attain their ends. So positive and widespread is the conviction that they held that the end justifies the means that their name has been given, in nearly every Christian tongue, to practices which seem to rest upon that maxim. We call them Jesuitry. Their explanation is that their success, their service to the Roman faith, their remarkable ability and learning, have brought upon them an especial measure of odium. Why the odium should take precisely this shape, and why it was as virulent in Catholic circles in every century as amongst Protestants and Freethinkers, they have never explained.
The real indictment of the Jesuits is, not that they said, but that, as their actions show, they held that the end justifies the means. You will, of course, not find the express statement by any Jesuit moral theologian that the “end justifies the means.” To enunciate thus openly a principle which would bring upon them a storm of abuse from Catholic theologians as well as non-Catholic moralists is very far indeed from the customs of the Jesuits.
Nor is it very profitable to discuss what we might claim to be disguised or partial admissions of the maxim. The closest approach to the formula is Busenbaum’s: “If the end is lawful to a man, the means are lawful”; and Wagemann’s: “The end determines the probity of the act.” But the context shows that Busenbaum was not laying down a general principle, and Wagemann assumed that the “act” was not in itself immoral. Count von Hoensbroech once took up a Catholic challenge in the matter, and went to court with a claim that he had quoted Jesuits formulating the maxim. The German court held that he had not formally proved his case. His discussion of the subject — and as an ex-Jesuit and a fine scholar he is the best authority — may be read in his “Fourteen Years a Jesuit” (ii, 320) and his little German work “Der Zweck beiligt die Mittel” (1904).
We come nearer to admissions when we examine in detail some of the remarkable opinions of their casuists, In the seventeenth century the Jansenists (Catholic Puritans) of France waged a long and bitter war against them on account of the way in which they prostituted moral principles, and the famous and pious Pascal punished them with one of the most scathing exposures ever published (“Letters to a Provincial,” 1656, etc.). Six of these letters consist mainly of statements — not verbal quotations, as a rule, so that Jesuit criticism of them is futile — of doctrine in Jesuit works, and they are from the modern point of view most blatant assumptions that the end justifies the means. Cretineau- Joly quotes Chateaubriand, calling Pascal’s work “an immortal lie,” and the modern Catholic is invariably told this. But I have shown in my book that, as the Jesuits well know, Chateaubriand generously recognized his error in later years. “I am,” he said, “now forced to acknowledge that he [Pascal] has not in the least exaggerated.”
I cannot quote here more than a few of these pretty flowers of morality which Pascal and his friends culled from the voluminous works of Jesuit theologians, but some specimens which are beyond criticism must be given, with the name of the theologian after each. The exact references are given in Pascal.
In dealing with the Church law of fasting on certain days it is said that a man who has exhausted himself by vice need not fast; and other writers show the Jesuits excusing from the law a wife who fears that fasting will reduce her charms in the eves of her husband (Tamburini), a husband who finds that it diminishes his power of enjoying his wife (Filliutius), and a maid who believes that it interferes with her attractiveness to possible suitors. When I add that the Jesuit theologians all held that one could follow the opinion of one theologian against fifty others who took a stricter view, the popularity of Jesuit confessors is fairly explained.
Some of them held that a servant (or a chaplain) who was convinced he was underpaid might dip secretly into his master’s cash-box (Bauny). Others hold that, where a serious scolding in case of refusal would follow, a valet might hold the ladder, and give other assistance, when his master went to commit adultery. It was, said others, quite lawful to fight a duel if one incurred dishonor by refusing (Escobar) to pray to God for the death of a threatening enemy (Hurtado) to kill a man who spread calumnies about you, and also his untruthful witnesses (Molina); to search for and kill a man who has struck you a blow, provided you do not act out of vindictiveness (Escobar); and it was lawful for a monk (or Jesuit) to kill a man who defamed his monastery or his monastic body, if this were the only way to put an end to his conduct (Amico).
Others would permit a judge to accept secret gifts, if they were tendered merely out of gratitude or to encourage him in rendering just verdicts (Molina); a money-lender to exact a sum of money beyond his loan, though the Church then condemned interest as sinful, in the name of gratitude for the loan (Escobar); or a bankrupt secretly to retain money enough for himself and his family to live “decently” (Escobar). Lessius and others held that there was no need, in confessing the sin, to restore money earned by crime or vice; and Filliutius expressly said that either “a prostitute, virgin, married woman, or nun” could with safe conscience keep the price of her virtue.
Innumerable quotations of this kind showed that even the most learned theologians of the Jesuit Society put at the disposal of the father-confessors of the Society a body of lax “principles” which easily made them popular with sinners, particularly aristocratic sinners. It is, in fact, enough that Jesuits “kept the consciences” during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (until they were suppressed) of nearly all the immoral princes in Europe as well as of their paramours and of the thoroughly immoral nobles and ladies of the court. Catholic theology stipulates that the confession of a sin is useless unless the penitent promises at the time never to repeat it, yet these aristocratic Jesuit confessors all over Europe had too fine an appreciation of human nature, when it was clad in silk or velvet, to insist on this harsh and unreasonable requirement. Louis XIV and Louis XV were on the best of terms with their father-confessors. Cretineau-Joly lies again when he says that one of the confessors of Louis XIV gave him no rest about his vices, according to the skeptical Bayle. What any person can find, and the pro-Jesuit writer did find, in Bayle’s “Dictionary” is that the statement is the reverse of the truth. Three Jesuits in succession shaped the “conscience” of Louis XIV during seventeen years of the king’s notorious amours; and great were the wealth and power they derived from their corrupt complaisance.
It is obvious that men directing others on these lax principles had long ago abandoned the severe standards of the first half-dozen Jesuits. I have already said that in Portugal they betrayed the inevitable degeneration during the life-time of Ignatius; and the diplomatic ways of the saint were in part responsible. Portugal was then a rich and great kingdom, though just entering upon its decline. King John III, a stupid pietist, invited the Jesuits, and the dry rot spread more rapidly. Against the rule of “humility” Ignatius let the king have a Jesuit confessor and a Jesuit tutor at court and he was disposed to let him have a Jesuit head of the Inquisition. The result was that within five years the Jesuit college in the capital was reported to Rome as being very corrupt, and it was with difficulty reformed.
In Italy itself degeneration was not slow in appearing. In 1561 the fathers were driven out of Venice and Naples for their attention to ladies. At Milan two years later there was a furious storm when the Jesuit college and its fathers were found to be tainted with unnatural vice. The Jesuit confessor of the cardinal- archbishop was said to be enamored with the page of a noble lady, and he was, in fact, deprived of his post and condemned to the foreign missions.
By 1581 the Jesuits were very numerous and prosperous, and corruption was announced from all sides. At Rome one of the chief Jesuits was condemned by a commission of the Society. In Spain a Jesuit, Mariana, wrote a scorching work on the “excessive and scandalous enjoyments” of the wealthy Jesuit houses in that country. In 1586 a Spanish Jesuit, Hernandez, wanted to leave the Society, and, when the General refused him a license, he reported to the Spanish Inquisition that this was to prevent him from telling the secret of certain Jesuit gallantries. The Inquisition at once put four of the leading Spanish Jesuits in its prison, seized their documents and began an ominous examination of the rules and practices of the secret Society.
The General of the Society at Rome tried to avert the ruin of his body in Spain — for the exposure would have been sensational — by inducing the Pope to see that the Inquisition was encroaching upon his province in this inquiry. Catholic Spain was so bitter against the corrupt and intriguing Jesuits that it even fought the Pope for a time. But Pope Sixtus V was a man of fiery energy, and he wanted those documents for himself. He loathed the Jesuits and was determined to destroy them — less than a half century after their foundation. The documents he now read utterly shocked him, and he ordered that the name of the Society should be altered and its procedure thoroughly reformed. It is a long story how the Jesuits, the special humble servants of the Pope, now fought Sixtus V with every means in their power, and obstructed his designs until he died. Rome was convinced that they poisoned the Pope, but that seems to me improbable. The Pope’s death was expected at any time.
The degeneration steadily continued. In 1654 a very remarkable work, the “Teatro Jesuitico,” believed to have been written by a Dominican monk, gave the world once more a piquant picture of their wealth, intrigues, and vices. Only a few years before, the Jesuit house at Seville had failed for a sum of half a million dollars, a debt incurred by borrowing the money from the faithful and investing it in wild speculations. The creditors closed fiercely on them, and the higher court of Spain declared their conduct “infamous.” The Jesuits of Spain generally were very wealthy, yet they allowed their house at Seville to go bankrupt and cheat the people from whom they had extorted the money.
The Jesuits contrive to disarm the few among the Catholic laity — the clergy knew them too well — who ever venture to read genuine history, by protesting that this is all calumny. And certainly there has been calumny. Two Popes are said to have been poisoned by them — said by Catholics as well as Rationalists — but the charge is scarcely reasonable. There has been little trouble to understand their psychology, as I explain it here. Probably the majority of them have been, and are (I have personally known many of them), tolerably religious priests with quite ordinary ideas of moral principle. The summit of their intrigues is to secure the favor for their Society of wealthy women, and to maintain for themselves the reputation for learning which some writers ludicrously award them. As I have known them, they are as ignorant as Catholic priests generally are, and not even one in fifty of their writers is a scholar.
As to what are called the “typical Jesuits,” the plotters, the lovers of melodramatic adventure, their history is certainly crowded with such. But the psychology of them is not obscure. The historical circumstances in which their Society was founded very largely gave them their peculiar complexion: secrecy, intrigue, and a readiness to approve bloodshed. The time had gone by when the Papacy or the Inquisition could crush heretics, except in Catholic lands. War or large-scale massacres were now the only effective means by which Rome could hope to regain its lost provinces; and to arrange such things all the secrecy and intrigue of diplomacy were required. The personality of Ignatius was a further shaping influence. To gain the ends of the Church now one needed power, and so the favor of the powerful and wealthy; and that suited his temperament. So the chief trait of the new Society was the use of intrigue to get wealth and power.
Moreover, once the shock of the Reformation had passed the acute stage, Catholic countries became as immoral as they had ever been, and the Jesuits saw that they would lose the rich and noble if they insisted on strict principles. This led them to develop casuistry as nobody in the world had ever before developed it. Every prince and gentleman knew that he might safely allow his mistress to have a Jesuit confessor. He would not lose her. Practically, as I said, they proceeded on the maxim, which they never formulated as such, that the end justifies the means.
As early as 1574 this casuistic disposition led to one of those clerical adventures which are peculiar to the Jesuits and are despised by all other priests. Sweden had become Protestant and was sternly closed against Catholic priests. The Jesuits first sent one of their number into the country thinly disguised as a foreign envoy. His mission was entirely fruitless — as I said, the Jesuits were very poor at proselytizing by argument — but the Swedes dare not touch an envoy. Then, the Jesuit chronicles themselves boast, Father Nicolai disguised himself as a Lutheran teacher and actually got an appointment in the chief Lutheran college at Stockholm. The man must quite certainly have lied about his beliefs and must have mendaciously taught the Lutheran creed, for he held the chair of theology: he even became rector of the college and sustained his extraordinary lies for a considerable period.
Equally mendacious and still more picturesque was the conduct of Father de Nobili in 1605. He joined the mission in India, then mysteriously isolated himself from it and learned the most intimate details of the Hindu religion. Presently be turned up amongst the Hindus, dressed in a flame-colored robe and a tiger’s skin, with all the marks and emblems of the sacred caste of the Saniassi. When challenged, he swore that he was of high caste, and he produced a document proving that he was Tatuva Podagar Swami. Naturally, once he had thus, by a whole pack of lies, won the confidence of the Hindus, be began to make secret converts. The scandalized archbishop had him recalled to Rome, to appear before the Inquisition, but the influence of the Jesuits was such that he got permission to resume his work in India. His dress and caste- practices had, he said, only a social and sanitary significance! In the daily lies which his position implied no Jesuit finds anything to blame. The end justified the means. Other Jesuits followed him. It was claimed that de Nobili made a hundred thousand high-caste converts, and another Jesuit thirty thousand. But in a more precise Jesuit document we read that one of the most astute of these pious tricksters converted only nine Brahmans in eight months, and that this was more than any colleague had done in ten years. They lied in Europe about their lies in India.
In time the Jesuits quite openly lived as Brahmans among the Hindus, traveling in gaudy palanquins with natives cooling them with fans of peacock feathers. One, Father Beschi, won a native prince, became his chief minister, and rode about with an escort of thirty horses and a band. Others became pariahs and wandered about with a few dirty rags on them. The news exalted the pious ladies of Europe, especially when prodigious figures of conversions were thoughtfully added to the story; but priests and laymen were scandalized, and a fresh fierce attack was made on the Jesuits.
Both in China and India they made converts by blending the native superstitions with a discreet selection of Christian doctrines. When hot-blooded Indian women refused to exchange the little golden tingam (male organ) they wore at their breasts for a cross, the good Jesuits were content to engrave a cross on the treasured phallus! Other Jesuits held that wearing the sexual emblem of the Hindu deity was an innocent social custom, or that the woman had merely to convert it into a pious Christian act by a “direction of intention.” Every variety of native superstition was thus consecrated, until the Papacy, after a prodigious struggle, was shamed by the leers of the increasing skeptics of Europe into suppressing the “Chinese and Malabar rites.” The “converts” melted away at once.
The Jesuits at Rome used all their influence to protect these corrupt practices, and the reason was not merely that they might be able to boast of their hundreds of thousands of converts. For a hundred years they sanctioned this conduct of their missionaries in China and India, and, as usual, they fought the Pope and his Legates doggedly when they were ordered to desist. For ten years after their condemnation by Pope Clement XII they sustained their practices in the east, and Benedict XIV had in turn to issue two stern and indignant Bulls against them. The chief reason was that they were doing a most Prosperous trade on the strength of their missionary work. A manager of the French East India Company’s branch at Pondicherry in the eighteenth century said that they did a larger and more profitable business in India than either the English or the Portuguese merchants. On the books of his own company a single debt of one hundred thousand dollars stood in the name of the Jesuit Father Tachard.
And here we have the meaning of the famous Jesuit settlements in Paraguay. They were admitted to the country early in the seventeenth century and, as the Spaniards had treated the natives with extreme brutality, the Jesuits soon won their devotion by the wiser policy of humanely organizing them for industrial purposes. Unquestionably their settlements were ideal in comparison with the brutal exploitation of the natives by Spanish laymen; but just as unquestionably it was merely another form of commercial exploitation, and, when Spain ceded part of the territory to the Portuguese, the Jesuits threw native armies in bloody warfare upon the Christian troops. The natives were in many respects harshly treated and they received no wages. The Jesuits, says their literary tool Cretineau-Joly, “did not think it proper to give ideas of cupidity to Christians”; so they kept them themselves. They defied the bishops and almost surpassed the audacity of their colleagues in any other part of the world. And they became mighty rich by their unselfish labors in South America.
Another side of their activity, which no less betrays how they acted on the maxim that the end justifies the means, is seen in their readiness to approve assassination, to which I have previously referred. After tasting blood in the Bartholomew Massacre and the religious wars, they lost any primeval horror of it that they may have experienced. When the French king who ruled at the time of the massacre was himself murdered, Father Mariana spoke of the event as a “memorable spectacle, calculated to teach princes that godless enterprises do not go unpunished.” Father Commolet, the chief Jesuit at Paris and an influential preacher, theatrically called for “a second Ehud” to assassinate Henry of Navarre, then a Protestant Prince and aspirant to the throne. The Jesuits threw themselves with all their energy into the political and military league against Henry, and, when he became king and a Catholic, they, against the Pope’s express orders, rendered important services to him and protested that they had worked in the league against him only to dampen its ardor! But, when within a year, two pupils of the Jesuits attempted to assassinate the new king, and most compromising documents were found in their house, their leader was executed and the Society was expelled from France, to the intense joy of most of the people.