Info

decrees of Trent, had never been legally accepted in the land of Gallican liberties. The parti janseniste also adeptly circumvented the predictably moderate recommendations of the 'king's men' that these constitutions be reformed along Gallican lines. Alleging, with the authority of Pascal, that the society was morally vicious to the core, this caucus obtained a provisional sentence that began the process of dissolution by forbidding more novices or further vows and setting a date for the closure of the Jesuit colleges. By the time help for the Jesuits finally arrived from the royal council in the form of an edict of reform in the spring of 1762, the reform had been disavowed on high by both Clement XIII and the Jesuits' general as well as undermined from below by Le Paige and his cohorts, who had meanwhile leveraged their cordial connections with the parlement of Normandy into the first definitive judgement against the society. The stillborn edict itself obliged those provincial parlements that had not yet taken up the Jesuits' case to do so, which with very few exceptions they proceeded to do on the model of Paris or Rouen. When in November 1764 Louis XV belatedly issued a royal declaration dissolving the society in France while allowing former Jesuits to remain there as 'particulars', it was clear that he was only salvaging the principle of royal authority and that his hand had been forced.

What made the royal hand of justice so vulnerable to pressure from the parlement was the monarchy's desperate need for the parlements' registration of its fiscal declarations during a time of catastrophic war along with deep disunity within the ministry where Etienne Francois, duc de Choiseul, who had taken Bernis' place as secretary of foreign affairs, was at best indifferent to the fate of the Jesuits and in confidential contact with the key councillors in the parlement. Having taken advantage of these general circumstances in order to prevail in the refusal of sacraments controversy in the wake of the Damiens affair in 1757, the parlement of Paris only extended this advantage to its offensive against the Jesuits and to the making of religious policy in general.

Along with the charge of structural 'despotism' and incompatibility against Gallican liberties, what is unique about the case against the Jesuits in France as compared with elsewhere in Catholic Europe is its generation from 'below' in the company of popular passions, religious and proto-patriotic mixed. Although allowing individual ex-Jesuits to remain in France at royal insistence, the parlements action was conceptually more drastic than the literal expulsions in Spain and Portugal, having simply dissolved a religious society as 'impious' on its own secular authority as well as invalidating its members' religious vows. And while ultimately rooted in religion - and in the unfinished business of the Council of Trent - these unique characteristics of what

0 0

Post a comment