Info

against Unigenitus the better to eliminate those using it as a means to invent 'Jansenists'. Yet it also entailed an attempt to pre-empt a putative plot by Jesuits by engaging in a quite real one against them. That Clement took the advice very seriously is evident from the French translations of the letters he made for his friends in the parlement of Paris including of course his brother and the Jansenist barrister Louis-Adrien Le Paige, eminence grise of the parlement and trusted consultant to the most influential magistrates.9 Although it is also evident from Clement's response to these letters that he and the French appellants placed more stock in the prospect of eventual doctrinal rectification than did the Italians - they knew the ways of Rome far better - the French Jansenist etat major clearly convinced itself of the short-term validity of the Italians' more Machiavellian strategy and, what is more, prepared for action.

And act they did. While the Ecclesiastical News' New Year's editorial in 1758 still castigated Unigenitus for the 'mortal blow' it had 'dealt to several capital verities of Christianity' - saving the ritual flagellation of the Jesuits until the end -the year i759's inaugural editorial devoted its energy entirely to the project of purging Christendom of the accursed 'descendants of Esau', as did those of the next six years.10 Hard upon this change in editorial direction there followed a spate of minor judicial reverses sustained by the Jesuits - against the union of Benedictine benefices to their colleges in the provinces, against their right to sell drugs in Paris - the latter sentence greeted with wild applause by the public, and all involving Jansenist barristers in one capacity or another.

No amount of plotting and planning, it is true, could have arranged for the Achilles' case: the bankruptcy of the Jesuits' mission in the French West Indies due to the English seizure of some of its merchandise en route to Europe during the Seven Years' War, plus the astonishing decision by the French Jesuits to appeal a series of adverse decisions in the matter by consular courts to the parlement of Paris. But from the moment in 1760 that the Jansenist barrister Charlemagne Lalource assumed legal direction of the mission's bankrupt creditors in Marseille and advised them to proceed against the entire society in France rather than against the mission only, the conduct of the case against the Jesuits remained in the hands ofJansenist barristers and magistrates in the parlement of Paris until the provincial parlements entered the fray in force in 1762.

Once the Jesuits had taken the bait by allowing the case to go to the parlement of Paris, it was but a short step for the judges to demand to see and examine the society's constitutions to which all parties had appealed but which, like the

0 0

Post a comment