The Jesuits and Britain

Professor Arthur Noble:

Ignatius_LoyolaIntroduction: Focus

The English poet Robert Southey (1774-1843), who wrote a famous biography of Lord Nelson, once gave the following famous satirical description of a Jesuit:

A Jesuit may be shortly described as an empty suit of clothes with another person living in them, who acts for him, thinks for him, decides for him whether he shall be a prince or a beggar, and moves him about wheresoever he pleases; who allows him to exhibit the internal aspect of a man, but leaves him none of the privileges – no liberty, no property, no affections, not even the power to refuse obedience when ordered to commit the most atrocious of crimes; for, the more he outrages his own feelings, the greater his merits. Obedience to the superior is his only idea of virtue, and in all other respects he is a mere image. [Quoted in The Protestant Echo, Vol. XX, 1899, p. 86.]

Unfortunately for humanity, history demonstrates that the Jesuits were no mere image, but a most fearsome and gruesome reality. When the Bill for legalising Jesuitism was set down for its second reading in the House of Commons on June 7, 1899, The Protestant Echo warned the public of the likely consequences by quoting the following words of Rev. Dr. J.A. Wylie, author of the book Jesuitism: Its Rise, Progress and Insidious Workings [London, undated]:

To what country of Europe shall we turn where we are not able to track the Jesuit by his bloody footprints? […] How many assassins they sent to England to murder Elizabeth history attests. […] Nor is it only the palaces of monarchs into which they have crept with their doctrines of murder and assassination; the very sanctuary of their own Popes they have defiled with blood. […] In the Gunpowder Plot we see them deliberately planning to destroy, at one blow, the nobility and gentry of England. To them we owe those civil wars which for so many years drenched with blood the fair provinces of France. They laid the train of that crowning horror, the St. Bartholomew massacre. Philip II and the Jesuits share between them the guilt of the “Invincible Armada” […]. What a harvest of plots, tumults, seditions, revolutions, torturings, poisonings, assassinations, regicides and massacres, has Christendom reaped from the seed sown by the Jesuits! [Ibid.]

800px-Brno_9811An English Roman Catholic wrote the following in 1602 his preface to the Jesuit Catechism:

To receive Jesuits into a Kingdom is to receive a vermin which at length will gnaw out the heart of the State both spiritual and temporal. They work underhand the ruin of the countries where they dwell, and the murder of whatsoever kings and princes it pleaseth them.

The Abbé Marcel de la Roche Arnauld, after physically escaping from eight years in a Jesuit College, wrote:

[…] how can any honest man live among them? Do you wish to excite trouble, to provoke revolution, to produce the total ruin of your country? Call in the Jesuits. [Jesuit Catechism, 1602, Preface.]

Some of the aspects of Jesuitism which I would like to examine in more detail today are foreshadowed in these quotations.

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