January 6, 2016 The Solemnity of the Epiphany
The suppression of the Society of Jesus in France is more difficult for me to document. My prime source of information for the activities of the enemies of the Church during the 18th century is de Ravignan’s Clement XII et Clement XIV published in French for a French audience in 1854. He assumes that his readership is already familiar with the details of how the suppression occurred in that country and devotes almost the entirety of his chapter on the Suppression in France to the testimony of various bishops at the time of the suppression that this was undeserved and various prophetic remarks on what would be the fate of France if this suppression occurred.
So I have a lot fewer details and what details I do possess come from an article that first appeared in the Catholic Encyclopedia on the eve of the First World War and is published here.
I will attempt to summarize briefly then. The groundwork had been laid by the propaganda coming out of Portugal that you can read about in my previous post. And strangely enough this case started again in the New World. The superior of the Jesuit mission in Martinique had taken out a loan to finance the development of the society’s farms that funded its mission on the island. At the outbreak of a war between France and England several of the ships carrying the society’s farm products were captured leaving a rather large debt to be paid and no means of doing so. Its creditors were “egged on” to file a legal case demanding repayment. The Jesuits lost and appealed to the Parlement of Paris, a sort of local quasi legislative/judicial body that existed under the French monarchy. This was a bad decision. The enemies of the Church, the Roman Pontiff, and the Jesuit order who permeated French society both above and below the visible surface had the order right where they wanted.
The Parlement was ill disposed toward the order, dominated as it was both by the Jansenists (the opponents of the Pope on the right: think of the position of the SSPX in our own day but with a different ideology) and the allies of Voltaire who wittingly or unwittingly were moving toward the destruction of the Catholic Church in Europe. King Louis XV was personally opposed to the suppression of the society but did little to stop it. His personality was weak and he was dominated by his anti-Catholic ministers and his mistress the Madame de Pompadour who was a devotee of Voltaire and fiercely anti-Jesuit since the priests of the order had refused her absolution due to her obstinacy in sin. The Parlement issued an arret suppressing the order in August, 1762 and while the king made some attempts to delay its implementation he ultimately, in November of 1764, dissolved the Society of Jesus throughout all of his dominions.
Portugal was a small European country with a big overseas empire. If the Suppression could have been contained there it would undoubtedly have been finished with the demise of Pombal. But this was truly an international effort aimed at the Society of Jesus, the Roman Pontiff, and ultimately at the Catholic Church itself as events would show. What happened in France was truly a disaster. France was still the most important country on the European continent at that time. The Suppression of the Jesuits in that country gave credence and confidence to the conspiracy that aimed to destroy the teaching of Jesus Christ.
And the Suppression of the Jesuits was a disaster for France. A quarter of a century passed between the Suppression of the Jesuits in France and the storming of the Bastille. Less than thirty years elapsed between the day that that a French king signed the edict dissolving the Society of Jesus and the day that his successor was marched through the streets of Paris amidst sixty thousand armed men so that a blade could be dropped on his neck to sever his head from the rest of his body.
During that time, with the Jesuits gone from having any role in the education of French youth, an entire generation was created who were susceptible to the ever growing whispers coming from the Masonic lodges, the shouts coming from Voltaire’s ‘Philosophers,’ and the madness of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s demonic dictum that Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains!
Go to Confession and please play three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.