It might be a little late to write a post on the March for Life this year, but I feel that as a blog made up of Jesuit writers, we have to take every opportunity we can get to clear up the name of at least many Jesuits. The Society of Jesus is pro-life. There are some Jesuits who are not, such as the late Robert Drinan. But that is the exception, not the rule. Consider these numbers, which would have been unheard of ten years ago: A mass was held – as it has been held for the past seven years or so -at St. Aloysius Church on North Captitol. It was for students from Jesuit high schools and univiersities around the United States. This year the church was more filled than I have every seen it. The balcony was full, the pews were full, the homily was powerful, and the music was inspired. It was amazing. Fifteen men came down from the Jesuit philosophate at Fordham University in New York. That was half the house of one of three philosophates in the United States for Jesuits. We are pro-life. And we are working to do more. We just don’t think that this march is either the best or most important way to fight abortion. And we think there are other life issues. That is what really gets us in trouble. But know that we are pro-life.
Two experiences struck me this year from the March for Life.
First, we took the group of High School students that we led to the Holocaust Museum. I had gone last year and been through it before, but what particularly struck me this time were two things. First, the fact that, despite repeated pleading from the Jewish world, the U.S. declined from bombing Auschwitz during the war. The U.S. only really began to pay attention to the Jewish situation in 1944. I couldn’t help but think, will we look back one day at abortion in the same way? What were we thinking? Why did we not work harder? What took us so long? And many of us Jesuits will have much to repent for. The Society of Jesus is in a similar place as the Allied forces: newly concerned but late. We have taken too long to respond, we and the Church in this country. But now is not the time to look back and notice how much we have not accomplished. Now is the time to get going.
Second, I noticed an aerial shot of Birkenau that I did not notice last year. When I was in college, I went to Birkenau when I was in Austria. It had a far more profound effect upon me than Auschwitz did. Birkenau was an extermination camp, while Auschwitz was a labor camp. Birkenau was ten times the size, rows and rows as far as my eye could see of bunkers for prisoners of war. And in the back of the camp were the four ruined gas chambers that could kill up to 1000 prisoners at a time. I had not thought about Birkenau for a long time, but this picture stopped me in my tracks. It brought back emotions from my visit, and the emotions from Birkenau washed over me. The next day when we went to the largest Planned Parenthood in Baltimore to pray, I looked at it with new eyes, and prayed that every single PP building will one day be closed down.
Second, the mass at the basilica was as huge and incredible as it always is. But I couldn’t help but notice this year the almost complete lack of blacks and hispanics. For some reason I have never noticed before, but I was shocked. If these are the populations most targeted by Planned Parenthood, they why are they not represented in this mass? And I realized, again to my shame, that the pro-life movement in the United States continues to be primarily a white, middle-class movement. It made me realize again the tremendous change and growth that must happen to this movement on the grassroots level. We are becoming an isolated movement, and as an isolated movement, we will fail.
The following Sunday at mass, this passage was read from 1 Corinthians 12:
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.
Some parts of the body have been deemed less necessary for some reason. And this has weakened the movement. “Less honorable” members must be welcomed. The white middle class must renounce its hold on the movement so that the whole body can move effectively to put an end to this evil.
If you are trying to imply (as it appears that you are in your last paragraph) that the pro-life movement/March for Life is intentionally excluding “less honorable” members then I strongly disagree with you. Especially because you seem to have reached this conclusion as follows: “hmm… there are a lot of white folks here at this March and that’s probably because non-whites are considered undesirable and/or less honorable.” If my portrayal is accurate (and I realize that I may be misreading what you wrote) then you certainly should know better and it sounds like a bunch of white guilt to me.
I am sorry to be so strong in my reply but it comes from the fact that I am of hispanic origin and so I can tell you from experience that the lack of hispanic presence is probably more directly related to poverty (e.g., they can’t take off from work or afford to pay for a bus, etc.). Additionally, I can tell you that as a child I often heard my mother, aunts, their friends, etc., constantly say that “women’s lib, [fill in the blank] etc. was started by a bunch of white women who had too much time on their hands and that if they understood what it meant to struggle to live they’d worry about really important things.”
Moreover, I can tell you that the Spanish community is in dire need of a strong catechetical formation – and I mean really really strong. The devotional life is amazing but when you have Catholics who attend Mass because that’s what they have to do but then turn around and visit “santeros” when they have “real problems” – something is seriously wrong!
Now, you may be surprised to learn that I agree with you when you write: “We just don’t think that this march is either the best or most important way to fight abortion.” Although I have never gone to the March myself, I have attended many prayer vigils in front of abortion clinics and have seen first hand (like you) the strengths and weaknesses of the pro-lifers. For example, I get the impression many think that Jesus founded a pro-life movement rather than a Church. Nevertheless, their witness, their commitment, is something that I am grateful for, as I am sure you are.
So what can you and I do? I can’t speak for you but what I do is I support, give talks to and help in anyway I can those brothers and sisters in Christ who work with Hispanics, especially the Hispanic youth to teach them about (and hopefully witness to them) the magnetizing Beauty of Christ.
Henry, you are SO correct about our community needing catechesis, if not evangelization. This is not to say the “mainstream” Catholic community does not need it as well. But we definitely have special needs due to the priorities and traditions we hold. And yes, I know many people who think visiting santeros/curanderos or being a Mason is just fine and don’t see any conflict with being Catholic. A major plus is that our community has no issues with being “visibly Catholic”. Something that has been lost on mainstream Catholicism in America. It’s almost seen as tacky to have any saint displayed in an Anglo home (and unfortunately even in church).
Viva la virgen de Guadalupe y viva Cristo Rey!!!
Qualis, when I read this sentence – “It’s almost seen as tacky to have any saint displayed in an Anglo home (and unfortunately even in church).I – I thought about the looks on some of my friends faces when they come to my house and see my “altars” – it is priceless and so I was laughing for about 5 minutes!!! I still remember the day when one of my friends told me “wow, you live in a religious bookstore! – I can’t believe how many statues, crucifixes, and books you have!”
I am SO happy you brought up Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe because I have gone to visit her several times, the last time for a very special intention. What always moves and astonishes me is that when I am there looking up at her portrait on the tilma I am overpowered by the experience that she is truly present – it sounds crazy writing it out but it is a true and objective experience.
On a funny note, if anyone reading this hasn’t gone to see her, or cares to do so because they doubt the veracity of the apparition, etc., the one thing that you must experience is going there to be blesses after Mass and/or have a religious object blessed. Now that’s the way to bless objects and people!!!
Que Dios te Bendiga siempre mi amigo!!!
Can you explain what you mean when you say that the white middle class must renounce it’s hold on the movement? I’m confused. In what ways do you see the white middle class as excluding people of other races and classes?
Attendance at a Catholic mass in Washington for the March for Life doesn’t seem like a very good measure of the prolife movement as a whole. First, it’s not going to attract the protestant and evangelical prolifers. Less than 4% of Catholics are African American and less than 7% of African Americans are Catholic. Something like 75% of African Americans are protestant of one stripe or another.
Secondly, the March for Life is going to be largely comprised of people who can afford to travel there. That, for the most part, means people who are middle class or above. I wasn’t there because I couldn’t afford it. That doesn’t mean I don’t contribute to the cause in other ways.
I have to say that my experience of the prolife movement has been that it is open to anyone and everyone who wants to see abortion eliminated. My father is very active in the prolife movement and according to him the two largest groups involved in the movement in our area are Catholics and African American protestants.
I’m not saying that blacks and hispanics aren’t under represented in the prolife community. That may be the case. I’m saying it seems like a bit of a jump to conclude that they are under represented because they aren’t welcomed.
Thank you Stephanie for your insightful post. I was not aware of the numbers you cite and thus I am grateful that you provided that information.
You are SO right when you say: “Attendance at a Catholic Mass in Washington for the March for Life doesn’t seem like a very good measure of the prolife movement as a whole.” It is certainly true that there are so many people quietly contributing to building a culture of life – in it’s broadest sense.
Thanks again for your post.
Thank you for this message. It is indeed comforting to know that at least the next generation of Jesuits will bring this pro-life message with them into their vocations. Your efforts here will certainly not go unnoticed in this life or the next.
I was in the “walk for life” a couple weeks back here on the West Coast. And you are spot on: it is not a very diverse crowd. And I was extremely disheartened that they chose that former PP worker as their new poster-child. She admitedly stayed at PP because she needed the job. Great moral example there. And the irony is she is Episcopalian; their church teaches categorically that abortion is NOT a sin to begin with.
I thank God you have the moral compass and mindset to carry on the truth here. There are already too many pro-abortion Catholics (forget Jesuits; this is one endemic problem that surpasses religious orders). But I also think it is generational, in that those born after 1969 tend to understand the logic and science behind the issue more than those who came of age during the 60’s and 70’s when it was all about “personal freedom”.
“And I was extremely disheartened that they chose that former PP worker as their new poster-child. She admitedly stayed at PP because she needed the job. Great moral example there.”
I confess that I find this statement puzzling. The point is that Abby Johnson eventually made a moral decision about what was going on at the clinic and did leave. A large part of her conversion was due to the witness of pro-life advocates outside of her clinic, including one young woman who gave her a prayer card – a card that helped her find the strength of conscience to leave. People need to see the experience of workers inside clinics and people like Abby Johnson whom Planned Parenthood would rather sweep under the rug (and actually did attempt to silence legally).
Think also of Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL, who also later repudiated the practice of abortion, doing that still years before he became a Christian.
Alan, her decision was not moral; it was economic. Her story has changed quite a bit over the months since she left PP. Suffice it to say, immediately upon walking out of PP she got a paid position at coalition for life. Contrary to the current story-line, her walkout was not as dramatic as the current story suggests–she had been speaking with the group for weeks and they finally offered her a job which allowed her to quit PP. This was all a very big publicity stunt. PP did not attempt to silence Abby at all, they merely had an arbitration to ensure she did not take any legal documents with her upon her departure.
The difference between Bernard and Abby is it is quite possible Abby had no “conversion” at all. The facts and timelines would suggest she simply became burnt out on her job but couldn’t leave it until she secured something else. She still belongs to the same Episcopal church which allows abortion/says it is no sin. There are MANY true and real pro-life stories out there. And I am strongly cautioning you and anyone else here not to hitch your wagon to this one. Beware of the coming fallout when she leaves/is forced out of coalition for life.
Sorry, I’m not convinced that it is of no value or that it was merely a publicity stunt. As for the Episcopal Church, that hardly proves anything. As hard as it is for you to believe, there are pro-life members, even though the Episcopal Church itself is assuredly pro-abortion.
Alan, Qualis Rex’s has raised a very very important point and I second his advice to not rush to hitch our wagon to this new “star.”
The one thing I would add is that we (and I primarily offer these remarks to myself first!) must not give in to the erroneous idea (which the media, etc., constantly stress) that the Catholic Christian Faith is primarily concerned about a certain vision of the world and life, i.e., that the Faith is merely a morality or a set of values that, as such, should be admired and/or defended. I am saying this because that mindset can often lead to building a Christianity WITHOUT Christ.
Of course, I am not saying that you subscribe to this belief but there is no denying that all of us – to greater or lesser degrees – have absorbed that belief through a kind of osmosis.
I agree, Henry. However, I also don’t think it’s worth attempting to discredit the woman and her experience. If there is any doubt, we owe it to charity to give her the benefit of the doubt.
I was too obtuse in my response and so I did not convey my point well – I hope to do better with this post.
I agree that we should give Abby Johnson the benefit of the doubt and presume that her conversion is authentic unless facts demonstrate otherwise. However, that does not mean that one should not believe that a “wait and see” attitude (or to tip my hat to St. Paul: “a test everything” attitude) born from an understanding of the fickleness of a wounded human nature is a wise course of action.
After all, from my cursory reading of the stories being marketed on the Internet, the main gist of the stories is: “see, if all those people in PP actually saw what takes place during an abortion then they’d convert.” Of course that’s possible but it seems to me that that marketing plan builds upon a slightly semi-Pelagian foundation and the presumption that the Catholic Christian Faith is primarily concerned about a certain vision of the world and life, i.e., that the Faith is merely a morality or a set of values that, as such, should be admired and/or defended, as I noted in my original reply.
And so I think we should have waited a year or two before making her the latest “face” at the March for Life. Of course, I realize that one can strongly argue that Ms. Johnson should have spoken now, and I have no problem with that since that’s not my primary objection.
Well, Nathan, if nothing else you’re getting believers
talking about life issues, which is better than just
sitting on the sidelines watching others do the
Anyway, aside from comments you’ve received above,
my reflections go beyond action, beyond response,
beyond opinion, beyond assumed certitude, to what
is Christian Epistemology, how do we arrive at truth,
under capital “T” Truth of Who rents us this planet?!
After 2,000 years of stumbling and mumbling Scholastic
Philosophy, and now into our next Millennium,
according to some academics, some progress in
discerning our Pilgrim way does transpire between
the Centuries: when you USE philosophical anaylsis
as such, all you are using is the logic component
of the brain. But there is much else and more than
just mere logic that goes on in the brain, as in
our life time was discovered by the academic field
of Psychology, not Philosophy, in the life-work of
a notable, one Carl Jung!
Much transpires in the mind BEFORE it can ever
articulate it. There is much that transpires in
our collective minds about the meaning of moral
laws, and therefore about what we mean, or intend
to mean, about “Nature!” And so most of Catholic
Moral Theology remains rather immature, and confronts
just too many more Millennia before it can ever
move out of its childish state: because we did NOT
create “nature.” THEREFORE we do not have definitive
answers to, explanations for, certitude in our
conclusions on, nature! And never will!
THE insight of contemporary scholarship is to tell
our finite minds to stop the lie of Scholastic
Philosophy, and at most practise, Existential
WE can ONLY explain what we create! We did not
create “nature” therefore we need to acknowledge
our mind’s limitations in exploring it!
Therefore ALL LIFE issues are on the plate: NOT JUST
abortion! Get real! And most Jesuits are real: they
intuitively by their collective behaviour acknowledge
that which Jung discovered: that the subconscious
knows more that can’t be explained than reason
will ever articulate!
And so to write of Drinan without addressing his
scholarship is a low blow, and rejected out of hand
by me. You also obviously have not dug deeper, yet,
to discover WHERE REAL compliments are needed for
OUR JESUIT 17 century scholars, who discovered an
Epistemological FLAW in the Scholastic approach
to “Natural Law.” THAT the early Church did NOT
create its own independent product as the beginning
point of departure for our Moral Theology as
Christians per se, but INSTEAD ERRANTLY TOOK full
hog what the PAGANS had created for themselves!
The Pagans in the collective illiteracy of their
times, started the rudimentary beginnings of
“observation” and came up with childish position
statements about “nature” from ONLY studying
ANIMAL behaviour! NOT HUMAN behaviour! And THIS
problem to this day is not rectified! Hence our
collective position statements about “Natural Law”
do not necessarily mean we are objectively right
and the surrounding academic culture is wrong!
Rome cannot and never should rule “by fiat!”
That is not truth seeking!
So, the contemporary problem confronting all moral
activists is one of literacy: I’ve always been
puzzled why and how those who only know the rosary
are all of a sudden competent judgers of national,
cultural, highly complex medical, issues, and the
like! Until Adult Formation underpins moral action,
you’re not necessarily going to fill your Masses
or mass rallies with the “right” kind of protesters!
Nathan, we’ve got a long way to go on difficult
issues like this one. And maybe this one is more
easily pinned down, but it ignores OTHER LIFE
issues collectively: stop writing and defending ONE
at the exclusion of another! That is not TRUTH
seeking, but opinion seeking!
Once we “get our message” more right, the World
will intuitively (Jung) KNOW we are right! It’s
not our message right now, it’s our actions!
They contradict our message!
And our message remains that which SILENCED Greek
Philosophers who attacked the Early Founding Church:
– Clement of Alexandria blasted the philosophers
of his age that over 600 years of their Pagan
Philosophy had gotten the world nowhere: more wars,
more confusion, no resolution of next to anything,
and all their Pagan gods stood on philosophical
– He said we Christians are NOT an idea, or a
philosophy but an event: the Christ of History!
– Clement did a 180 degree turn on them by turning
to REVELATION as the explanation and defence of
who we were: NOT AN APPEAL TO LOGIC!!! (As you’re
dong here with birth control!)
And likewise Augustine who said to his Age:
‘I believe IN ORDER to know!’ (Meaning: I do NOT
know first, in order then, to believe!)
To end and in sum, all humanity can do is
recognize that “we create history” and that’s about
it! We NEEDED revelation because we know nothing!
All we have is Existential Certitude which stands for us being ignorant of our ignorance!
All we are are agents of our history, alternatively
labelled, our Tradition! The revenge of experience
will always haunt this very human enterprise!
Rhetoric in its ancient form concerns human
decision about that which necessarily could be
otherwise. In Cicero’s words, as an act of
intentional imagination built on a shared vision of
the good, the beautiful, and the true, rhetoric
was the ENGINE of Civilization, that is, of
Well said my friend. I received the movie on Friday and I plan to watch it today – I hope – and then share my thoughts with you.
Many blessings to you and your loved ones.
Pax always, Henry, in our interactive support based
web-missioning New Millennium approach to live under
one and One Standard only: that of Jesus the Christ
of history! And not the maligned Christ of this
World which is led by the Prince of Darkness,
and the Master of Lies!
It is these lies that we too must not be tempted
to emulate! IF THE JESUITS IN FACT do what Ignatius
founded them to do, THEN THEY MUST face opposition!
“The” test of sanctity, is: Is there opposition from
the World? Because if we are following His banner,
there not only should be, but “must” be or we
are corrupted and ameliorated by the Father of Lies!
If any want to attack the Jesuit image regarding
abortion, I for one will switch the attack to one
of the legitimacy of the attacker’s Epistemology!
On that, they do not stand a chance with me!
So should state “any” well formed Christian, and
especially, Catholic Adult! Or else we fail
ourselves, and Christ, and the cause of
“LET US contemplate the mirror of all the penitent
saints: Jesus Christ in the Praetorium of Pilate
and upon the Cross. In the Praetorium He appears as
an object of abomination before the whole people,
in the ludicrous regalia of a mock king….
For since an Incarnate God was willing to APPEAR
in that state in which Pilate showed Him to the
people, what pont would it have if not to say TO
men, through His example, WHAT ST. IGNATIUS says in
his CONSTITUTIONS, that ‘out of gratitude and love
for Him, we SHOULD DESIRE to be reckoned FOOLS
and glory in wearing His liver!'”
-from the “Correspondence” of Jean-Joseph Surin, SJ
May Peace incarnate and the Mother of Peace contine to bless you for your efforts to help people understand that Truth became flesh – i.e., Truth is a Person and not a concept – Virgilijus!!!
The Fr. Surin quote is stunning, thanks for posting it!
I am sorry to tell you that I don’t understand what you are saying in this paragraph and so I’d appreciate a clarification:
If any want to attack the Jesuit image regarding abortion, I for one will switch the attack to one of the legitimacy of the attacker’s Epistemology! On that, they do not stand a chance with me! So should state “any” well formed Christian, and especially, Catholic Adult! Or else we fail ourselves, and Christ, and the cause of Salvation History!
THIS IS ALSO POSTED AT “GOOD JESUIT,BAD JESUIT”
Total Abortions since 1973=49,551,703. This figure is from NRLC. I stared at this number. I thought: this cannot be right. I re-checked it. I am wrong. It is 52,008,665. Total number of Jews killed in the Holocaust= 6 million.
Nathan O’Halloran, S.J left out Rick Majerus SJ, amongst those Jesuits, who support murder. But who is counting?
An article at Catholic World News (12/09) indicates that Fordham University has a pro-choice law student organization that provides escorts for Planned Parenthood.
The president of the Catholic, Jesuit University of San Francisco (USF), Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J., publicly defended the use of condoms to prevent the HIV/AIDS virus, according to an interview with Catholic San Francisco published (6/11/09).
At Boston College, the website at “Students for Sexual Health” provides links to a grid that compares Sexual Health Education among Jesuit Universities at:Georgetown; Loyola University Chicago;University of San Francisco; Marquette University. They lobby for more “rights”
At Holy Cross: Bishop Robert J. McManus, head of the Diocese of Worcester, condemned the Jesuit liberal arts college for allowing groups that support contraception and abortion rights to meet on campus Oct. 24 for the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy’s annual statewide conference. He named Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts as participants that promote practices that run counter to church teachings.”The College of the Holy Cross should recognize that any association with these groups can create the situation of offering scandal, understood in its proper theological sense, i.e., an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil,” McManus wrote in a statement released Wednesday by the Diocese(10/12/07 Globe). Yes, they should. They should, but they do not.
Santa Clara University provides a website that states: “If You Choose to Have Sex. . . Make Sure You Know the Various Methods of Contraception”.
Father Holloran, I applaud your efforts. I do. Sadly, whatever “prolife message” the Society might now wish to deliver is buried in what , by now, is just an avalanche of sin, under which Catholic politicians and our country are now buried. It breaks my heart to ask this question, but I must: who, in large part, is responsible for leading us to this sad and evil state of affairs? Robert Drinan SJ. Kyrie Eleison.
Rick Majerus is not a Jesuit. Just the head basketball coach at St. Louis University.
NB: Please accept my aplogies. I read your post re pro-life march, and a piece about Majerus ( basketball coach at St. Louis late at night) and mistook Majerus for a Jesuit. Mea Culpa. So used to seeing Jesuits out of collar, in the world, defying the teachings of the Church, I made the mistake. I know you are a scholastic and mistakely referred to you as “Father”
On your comment of race, the Walk for Life in San Francisco was different:
“There was a racial undertone to the day’s proceedings as well. The vast majority of the pro-choice side was white, while a substantial percentage of the pro-life side were racial minorities — in particular, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander. Here, a group of Hispanic teens is interviewed for a radio show.”
Could it be possible that you might have confused some hispanics with whites? After all, many hispanics are of European decent.
As someone who graduated from Boston College, I just want to make clear that “Students for Sexual Health” operates without the permission of the University and has to go OFF CAMPUS to distribute contraception to students.
As for Fordham, law schools are required to allow pro-choice clubs, as it’s a legal issue, in order to receive accreditation. This is what I’ve been told.
Dear Donato: Jesuitical nonsense. Sorry. He was a liar from the beginning.
If you are referring to Donato as the liar, I humbly ask you to refrain from baseless ad hominem attacks. If not, who are you referring to as a liar?
As a current student at Boston College, BC Students for Sexual Health is an independent group that, as Donato says, operates without BC permission and have to be off-campus to distribute condoms. The Jesuits certainly do not support them.
To address your comments about Jesuits, you make too broad of a claim. Pope Benedict, during his visit with Fr. Nicolas, told the Jesuits that the Church needs the order. Look at the history of the Church…the Catholics most feared by anti-Catholics were the Jesuits because they won souls for Christ. My experiences with Jesuits at Boston College has been wonderful. Yes, there are some who stray from Church teaching or do not properly defend Her, but I can honestly say that the best priests and holiest men I know are Jesuits. At BC, there is a group of Jesuit scholastics and priests leading students through St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, they have started saying daily Mass (very reverently and correctly) at a chapel next to the freshmen dorms, they are involved in the pro-life club…I can go on.
A very wise Jesuit scholastic I know told me once that people need to stop trashing the Jesuits, otherwise those who God is calling to a Jesuit vocation will be scared away, and that is a disservice to the Jesuits and the Church as a whole. There is an influx of young Jesuits that are on fire with the love of Christ and want to spread that love and joy to all. And they are faithful to Church teaching. Blogs like this, the inspiring Jesuit Mass and rally at the March for Life (which over 50 BC students attended), and recent developments at BC are examples of this.
BC Pro-Life Club
Billy, I would argue your statement “the Catholics most feared by anti-Catholics were the Jesuits”. That is simply too broad a statement. The Jesuit order was founded to combat the reformation, and they did a very good job. Yet it is clear that at times in history they greatly outgrew/overstepped their mandate. They were essentially at times a shadow government which did not respect the authority of the church. This culminated in their being disbanded/dissolved completely in 1773 by Pope Clement XIV.
I would say the behavior of the Jesuits in the latter part of the last century was at times abysmal. I also went to Jesuit University, and swallowed the kool-aid on a number of Jesuit ideas which I now regret deeply. I am currently on this blog to see and understand what today’s Jesuit (or prospective Jesuit) is really thinking and if things really have changed since the 1980’s.
Despite popular opinion, the Society of Jesus was not founded to combat the reformation. John O’Malley’s “First Jesuits” gives a pretty good treatment of why the Society was founded. The “Autobiography” of Ignatius also gives a pretty decent account of his motivations, and Ignatius’s letters likewise give a pretty good window into the motivations behind the founding of the Society of Jesus. In a letter to the three Jesuits who were sent to Germany (the Reformation’s Ground Zero), Ignatius wrote, “Do not take sides in faction and party strife, but follow a middle course and be friendly with both sides.” He also advised, “Show your love in truth and in deed by bestowing favors on many, giving them now spiritual assistance, and again in exterior works of charity…Make yourselves loved by your humility and charity, becoming all things to all men…see to it that no one goes away from you sad, unless it be for the good of his soul.” It’s a popular misconception to view the members of the early society as soldiers. They can be considered ‘soldiers’ in only a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, being soldiers who shower favors on all regardless of faction or party.
Moreover, the two formulas of the institute approved by Popes Paul III and Julius III set out pretty clearly the nature of the work of the Society. The reformation is not mentioned. Here’s a sample from Pope Paul’s version: “He [a Jesuit] is a member of a community founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine and for the propagation of the faith by ministry of word, by spiritual exercises and works of charity, and specifically the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity.” Pope Julius adds: “Moreover, he should show himself ready to reconcile the estranged, compassionately assist and serve those who are in prisons or hospitals, and indeed to perform any works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good.”
Perhaps through their good examples of service, the earliest Jesuits healed some of the wounds of division that had already happened on account of the Reformation, but it is inaccurate and misleading to use the term “combat” to describe what the Society found itself doing in the mid part of the 16th century.
Hope this helps.
Thank you for this amazing post. The first thing I would like to say is that, it is great that all of these high schools, universities and these students taking action and caring for the world. This shows the world that the younger people of the world really care for people. One point that you talked about in your message was about the holocaust and how on the March for life the high school students visited the holocaust Museum and you said that the United States declined from bombing Auschwitz during world war two. Then you asked the question “Will we look back one day at abortion in the same way?” I would like to answer that. I think that abortion is a top priority of the United States and it has to be taken care of. The people of the United States need to make changes in our society because we need to be pro-life and we need to do something about abortions. I think we will look back on abortion and say to ourselves “what were we thinking” and we will understand that abortions have killed many people, 3700 each day which rises every day. When people have abortions they are playing the role of God, and they are saying they have more power than God because they are taking away a human life. Like you said “Why did we not work harder?” we should have worked harder to stop these death camps and labor camps but we still have time to stop these abortion clinics, the United States along with the whole world should stop killing innocent lives and be pro-life.
I also wanted to mention, after further reflection, that I saw plenty of Hispanics at the March for Life this year, both the Mass and at the March itself. It’s not all white and middle class.
That is great to hear about the good things happening at BC. I hope Fr. Tacelli is among those Jesuits saying the daily Mass, leading the Spiritual Exercises, and winning souls for Christ.
Please let us know when the BC-Pro Life Club has fundraisers, as that is certainly a cause (as an alum) that I could rally behind (i.e., post it on your website, so you don’t usurp Nathan’s and the others webspace).
Jeff – even though St Ignatius was a soldier during his lifetime, I really didn’t think my phraseology of “combat” would be taken literally. Of course I meant to “combat” the reformation spiritually, just as the term Ecclesia Militans does not literally mean taking up arms, but rather spiritual warfare. I hope no one else misunderstood this.
Also, it is not surprising that neither Popes Paul nor Julius III mentioned the term “Reformation”, since the term itself was not used in a historic context until 1617, one hundred years after Luther’s “95 thesis” to connote this particular era in history. As is in the case of many historic era’s they are usually in full-swing or even long past by the time a particular term is used to define them. You won’t find Popes Paul or Julius III ever mentioning the word “Renaissance” either, since the term was not coined until the 19th century to connote that particular period/event in history. But both the Renaissance and the Reformation were realities and taking place at the times they lived.
My ascertion stands. Hope that helps.
Jose and Henry,
Could be. And sure, maybe many of the poor simply cannot afford to go. But the Rebuplican/Democratic lines are still a bit too sharply drawn I think between whites and hispanics/blacks. Many Church groups can raise money and do for these kinds of trips. So I still think it has something to do with political ties. Maybe hispanics also are pro-life, but don’t think they need to go to a March. That’s fine with me also; I don’t think it’s the most useful thing in the world. But they do need to be galvanized as activists. That would provide a much needed impetus to a movement that at least has as its image the white middle-class businessman.
San Francisco is pretty ethnically diverse. So that might help.
There is little to support your position Qualis.
Nathan – LOL, sorry, but which position would that be? There were several topics and discussions going on here. If you are disagreeing that the Jesuit order was NOT created to combat what is now called the Reformation (but as I mentioned was not referred to as such upon the founding of the Jesuits) then I would humbly suggest there is much evidence to support my position. St Ignatius’ “Rules for thinking with the church” was a direct response to the challenges of the Protestant heretics of the reformation. Rule 13 is most explicit and asks for total loyalty to the Catholic church, to combat personal opinion and heresy. Jeff himself quoted Pope Paul III speakng about “reconciling the estranged”, which was a direct mandate to bring heretics back within the fold of the church.
An excellent work on the subject, which in fact supports my point completely, is “Defenders of the Faith in Word and Deed” by Father Charles Connor. I didn’t come to these conclusions in a vacuum, nor am I alone in them, not that it matters. But I certainly can support them.
Pax et Dominus te cum.
First, which part of my reply to you indicates that I thought combat, as you were using it, meant taking up arms literally? I understood your usage.
Second, you’re the one who used anachronistically the term “reformation” to describe why the Society was founded. Although the term was first used in the 1530’s (ten years prior to the society’s founding), I still maintain that the Society’s founding is not quite as reactionary as the term “combat” suggests.
I enjoy a good argument, but let’s at least be fair. At least engage the ideas I raise. The good folks at Marquette University High School have been exemplary in their ability to engage ideas. Apparently they were assigned to read our blog and make comments. It’s refreshing to see that rather than trying to wrestle their own talking points out of every post on this blog, they actually respond to the points brought up in the posts in a way that reflects Ignatius’s presupposition.
It’s obvious that your past experience of Jesuits has left you dissatisfied, perhaps angry, and perhaps justifiably so. We get that point. We also understand that you take issue with the Society’s way of proceeding over the past 50 years. However, I would suggest rather than trying to determine through every post of ours whether we are of some certain ilk or not that you simply engage the ideas on the ‘page.’ Let God judge the Society of Jesus and its members.
Jeff – you wrote specifically “It’s a popular misconception to view the early members of the society as soldiers.” Since you were responding to my post, I gathered that a) you were talking to me b) you were implying I was a part of this “popular misconception” and c) by your use of the word ‘soliders’ without a qualifier (i.e. spiritual, priestly etc) I assumed you were taking my use of the word “combat” literally.
My use of the word “reformation” was not anachronistic, since it is what we currently use to define the period in question. My point regarding the absence of its use at the time of Ignatius was very clear.
I have been nothing but fair in this conversation, and on this blog. My first post on this thread (scroll up) was responding and in agreement with Nathan’s points, and a validation of them. The subsequent threads were direct responses to Billy, then you which got us t this point. For you to imply I am wrestling my own talking points out of each thread is not at all “fair”. But it is an effective way to end a dialogue.
Pax et Dominus Te Cum.
Jeff and Qualis,
While it is inaccurate to say that the Jesuits were founded for the purpose of ending the Protestant movement, they did receive a mission from the Holy Father to bring souls back, and the Society did bring whole regions back to the Catholic faith.
Donato, I would agree with that statement 100%. To be clear, I never said they were founded to end the Protestant movement; I said specifically, to combat the reformation. What was the reformation doing? It was turning people away from the church by religious, economic and political means. St Ignatius’ “Rules for thinking with the church” is a DIRECT ASSAULT on the Protestant heresies of the reformation, dealing specifically with faith vs works, predestination, relics/images/saints/indulgences, and above all, submission to the Catholic hiearchy and magesterium.
I really cannot see how anyone who reads the rules could possibly say they were aimed at anyone other than Protestants, or Catholics entertaining Protestant heresies, with the hope and intent of bringing them back into the church (i.e. combatting the reformation). Enough said.
Qualis, that’s still historical revisionism. The rules were not written for that purpose. What I’ve been taught is that the rules come from Ignatius’ time in Spain, he did not have Protestantism on the mind. He had been accused of heresy, remember. Ignatius original vision for the Society has helping souls in whatever way possible, including working with prostitutes in the streets of Rome, spiritual direction, teaching in seminaries….The Jesuits would NEVER have gotten involved with “combating the Reformation” if it were not for the 4th vow to the Pope and his request that they go teach in Protestant areas.
Donato, it is not historical revisionism. It is a sound assessment based on fact, documentation and historical timelines. Obviously you are not familiar with one of the works I quoted, “Defenders of the faith in word and deed” by Father Charles Connor. The fact that you personally don’t agree with this assessment does not make it historical revisionism. I find it silly that you would make such pronouncements such as “The rules were not written for that purpose” and “The Jesuits would NEVER have gotten involved…” of St Ignatius “did not have Protestantism on the mind”. Unless you have a) a time-machine b) a mind-reading machine and c) voice recording of St Ignatius, then you need to qualify your statements with “I believe…” or “It is my opinion that…” Because the bottom line is all you have said is merely opinion. And FYI, unless you back up your opinion with facts, then it doesn’t extend beyond one’s own nose.
You say with such emphatic knowledge that the rules were not created to combat Protestantism simply because Spain did not have to deal with it. Let me ask you this, who do you think his writings concerning Faith vs Works and Predestination were towards? Spanish Catholics who would have said, “Well, duh!” Newly converted Jews or Mohammedans, who would have said, “Anything you say, Sir.” No, these specific objections came from Protestantism, and regardless of the effect in Spain, they were well known by many scholars regardless of geography.
Mi sembra che sei molto categorico (anche strafottente) su quello che dici, ma stai tranquillo che ce ne sono altre persone che possono difendere le sue posizioni.
Ok, it’s settled. We will just have to ask Ignatius when, God willing, we see him in the next life.