cathedral church of Auxerre and brother of several equally Jansenist magistrates, most importantly Clement de Feillet, a councillor in the parlement of Paris and a linchpin of the parti janseniste there.

It was as unofficial ambassador of the parlement of Paris including its first president Mathieu-Francois Mole that Clement undertook a trip to Rome to meet the Italian correspondents towards the end ofthe pontificate ofBenedict XIV in 1758. Although all parties to the hoped-for negotiations knew that a putatively infallible papacy could never explicitly disavow its own anti-Jansenist Formulary or bulls, some like Clement dared to hope that the irenically disposed Benedict XIV might be persuaded to issue a statement of dogma that would protect appellants willing to adhere to it from further harassment, thereby also restoring the doctrinal balance he thought had been lost during the two centuries following Trent. Although the original model of such a statement had failed to accommodate the doctrinal antagonists when floated by the Regency government in 1720, the times now seemed more auspicious. Only two years earlier, Benedict XIV had proved willing to stand by Louis XV's declaration that Unigenitus's status fell short of that of a 'rule of faith'. At the same time, the French secretary of foreign affairs and de facto first minister abbe de Bernis, who was not unaware of Clement's mission, wished for nothing more ardently than to bring religious peace to the realm as France stumbled into what became the disastrous Seven Years' War.

None of these signs, alas, pointed towards anything permanent. Benedict XIV died before Clement had even departed for Rome, and the few fragile hopes raised by the initial comportment of his successor Carlo Rezzonico as Clement XIII went to the grave with the papal secretary of state Alberico Archinto, whose death brought the pro-Jesuit Ludovico Maria Torregiani to power. Upon his return to France, Clement received unanimous advice from his many Italian Augustinian friends and best articulated by Bottari: that since no doctrinal help was for the moment forthcoming from Rome, 'your writers' must 'attack the Jesuits from every side except that which concerns the bull [Unigenitus] . . . because the Jesuits will then be able to sally forth under the ensign of the defenders of Rome and undertake demarches in view of defending it in appearance while only acting in their own defence in reality'. The point 'in sum' was 'to separate the cause of the Jesuits from that of the Court of Rome' until the Jesuits 'will have lost all of their already sinking credit, at which time it will be possible to go backwards and find remedies for past wrongs'.8

This advice was decisive; the immediate origin of the dissolution of the Society of Jesus in France lies here. The advice meant postponing the campaign

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment