Dr. Maturin on Jesuits

As most of you readers know, I am fond of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series.

In Reverse of the Medal (the 11th ) we find some comments about Jesuits and their schools.  Keep in mind that Dr. Maturin, a master of invective, is speaking in early 19th century, not the early 21st!

Context: Capt. Jack Aubrey has just met a son whom he fathered out of wedlock many years before, and he is distressed to learn that the young man is a – godforbid – a Papist.  Jack worries that young man, a seminarist, was being trained by -godforbid – Jesuits.

Jack says to Stephen (also a Papist):

‘You remember the Gordon riots, and all the tales about the Jesuits being behind the King’s madness and many other things.  By the way, Stephen, those Fathers were not Jesuits, I suppose?  I did not like to ask straight out.’

‘Of course not, Jack.  They were suppressed long ago.  Clement XIV put them down in the seventies, and a very good day’s work he did.  Sure, they have been trying to creep back on one legalistic pretext or another and I dare say they will soon make a sad nuisance of themselves again, turning out atheists from the schools by the score; but these gentlemen had nothing to do with them, near or far.’

When I am elected Pope, I shall have to consider taking them name… Clement.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. B Haley says:

    I just read that exact portion last night! I wonder if I am catching up with you.

    [Actually, right now I am working my way through The Nutmeg of Consolation.]

  2. When you are elected Pope I want to be your speechwriter. I am getting to work on the Latin right now, I presume we have a few years to get ready.

  3. Clinton says:

    I wonder about the mechanics of decadence. The Jesuits were at one time lions of
    orthodoxy, and now the order is a pitiful mess with its few old-school fathers providing
    a veneer of respectability– like a layer of gold leaf covering a steamy pile of excrement.

    I remember reading an article in an issue of Liturgical Arts Quarterly from the
    1940’s that bemoaned the state of the liturgy at the time. The one American order it
    praised for its universal and profound respect for the rubrics, its grasp of the dignified
    simplicity of the Roman Rite was– wait for it– the Paulists! What happened?
    It is as though in a single generation the FSSP went from doing the red to passing out
    ordination tambourines.

    How is it that the orthodoxy of an order can be corrupted so quickly and efficiently? What
    seeds must have been sown long ago? How do the heterodox manage to get their grubby
    hands on the levers of power before the faithful realize anything is up? Is it complacency
    or complicity?

    As Dr. Maturin would say, “God between us and evil!”

    [Indeed he would! Good memory and great quote.]

  4. Ezra says:

    the FSSP went from doing the red to passing out ordination tambourines.

    Prety sure that’s not what you meant…!

  5. Ezra says:

    *sigh* It must be a law of the Internetz that one is doomed to make typos when pointing out those of others.

  6. digdigby says:

    “For many seminarians who have attended the Gregorian University in Rome, their favorite Pope is Clement XIV, whose pontificate was in the Eighteenth Century. In fact, the graduating NACers (North American College seminarians), most of whom will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood within days or weeks, have a curious ritual following their final exams. They process a few hundred feet from the Gregorian University to the Church of the Twelve Apostles (Santi XII Apostoli) and each one lays a single rose at the tomb of this often otherwise overlooked Pontiff. Why? As a sign of respect and gratitude to the Pope who suppressed the Society of Jesus.
    Terrible, you say? Not if you were in their seminarian shoes, subjected to the arrogance and mean-spiritedness of many of their Jesuit professors for four years. Their nickname for the Jesuits, by the way, is The Trolls, a name well-deserved by many of them in higher education.”

  7. Ezra: Try using the Interwebs.

  8. Clinton says:

    Ezra, it happens.

    Try substituting ‘It would be as if’ for ‘It is as though’– my meaning was that in the 40’s
    the Paulists were as highly regarded for their ars celebrandi as the FSSP is today.
    Sadly, for the Paulists such is no longer the case. What could the FSSP do to make sure
    not to follow in their footsteps?

  9. JARay says:

    One of my all time favourite films is “The Mission”. Those priests were Jesuits and the moves were afoot at that time to suppress the Order. In Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, there is a grand statue to the Marquis of Pombal and the little bit that I know about him, apart from having his statue in the centre of a traffic roundabout, is that he was responsible for the suppression of the Jesuits in Portugal at exactly the time that the film “The Mission” depicts. Each time I watch the film, the word “Pombal” comes to my mind.
    I happen to know about Pombal’s statue because, at one time, I was a Seminarian at The English College, Lisbon. I did not complete my studies!

  10. BaedaBenedictus says:

    I take it that Clement, aka Papa Zuhlsdorf in the Italian press, will find a suitable replacement for the S.J. currently acting as papal spokesman. Ah, for the days when Opus Dei had that job…

    Perhaps Papa Zuhlsdorf might also loosen the Salesian Stranglehold a bit.

    And start slipping lots of basses and baritones into the Sistine Screamers in preparation for singing the Imperial Death March as the standard processional in Papal Masses.

    Fiat fiat

  11. Terry1 says:

    Guess it’s time to dust off an old copy of Malachi Martin’s “The Jesuits”, perhaps I might refresh my memory on the reasons Martin gives on why Jesuits behave as they do. Actually I had been hoping time and attrition would heal most wounds. Maybe I am just being impatient.

    Our Parish contracts through a Jesuit Mission for a priest to offer mass, funerals, etc., which they have done for many years, occasionally with indifference. Several Jesuits came across as just being religious social workers. More than one homily left me wondering when one long serving priest had lost his faith. Ministering on a reservation can become a meat grinder, so many broken people looking for someone else to blame. A former Catholic informed me of one homily that I luckily missed where the priest thanked all of the whites for coming to mass, then the priest went on to say the Jesuit’s were really just here for the Indians.

    We have a new Jesuit priest for now, a convert ordained in 2001 and the faithful couldn’t have been happier. Hardly a word has been spoken about social justice and church teachings reign supreme. By and large the Indians are boycotting him because Father won’t let them carry on as they have for years, nor will he tell them what they want to hear. The ones making the biggest stink stopped attending mass years ago. Go figure?

  12. Terry1:

    “We have a new Jesuit priest for now, a convert ordained in 2001 and the faithful couldn’t have been happier. Hardly a word has been spoken about social justice and church teachings reign supreme. By and large the Indians are boycotting him because Father won’t let them carry on as they have for years, nor will he tell them what they want to hear. The ones making the biggest stink stopped attending mass years ago. Go figure?”

    What a really stupid irony amongst the Native North Americans (I don’t call them “Indians ” after taking a Canadian Native Anthropology Course in univeristy). It was the(pre-liberalized) Jesuits that heavily led the way for introducing the Catholic faith amongst the NNAs, to the point a number of them were martyred, hence the honour to them at the Martyr’s Shrine in Midland, Ontario and an optional feast day for them in the Church. Here it was the Jesuits who brought them the Catholic faith, and yet these modern day NNAs are rejecting the Catholic faith.

    BTW, I’d advise anyone looking for a pretty accurate, yet fictional, portrayal of the Jesuits coming to North America to watch the movie Black robe. The depiction of the Jesuits and the life of the Natives is as close to historical as a modern film production can be, and even goes so far as to depict the brutality of the neigbouring (or should I say antagonistic) NNA tribes who didn’t accept Catholicism and were more warlike (I think the Mohawks are the violent band in the movie?). Just a warning, this should be a mature film watched with adults if teenagers are watching it, as there is some graphic violence and even some sexual acts in the movie, though the scenes where this happen is purposely done to show the anti-Catholic and anti-peaceful waring tribes which co-existed alongside those who accepted Catholicism and aided the Jesuits. Here’s the brief synopsis at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Robe_(film). Try searching on Amazon to buy the film.

  13. jcr says:

    Clement XIV was the last (1st order) Franciscan pope. The Jesuits may consider it a matter of personal survival to ensure there aren’t any more. But they didn’t reckon on the possibility of Fr. Z. becoming Pope.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    When you are Pope, will you give some encyclicals in Hungarian? Just curious….would be easy on the translators. [They will be in Latin, and with the sole translation in Hungarian.]

  15. NoraLee9 says:

    I took the book The Jesuits with me when I was in the hospital for 5 days having Catherine. It put me to sleep every time.
    Black Robe is not just a movie, it’s also a book.
    There’s is also a shrine to the North American Martyrs at Auriesville, NY. The SSPX has a HUGE 3 day pilgrimage/Campout there every year, first weekend in June. The Una Voce group has theirs over the Feast in September. Attend either, they are great.
    Hubby worked on the Rez, not that far from the Shrine, outside of Syracuse. He was appalled at how the pagans had re-established their foothold, and hated Christianity and Catholicism most of all. It was taught in the Rez curriculum (yes, I mean the hatred). There is a Church on the Rez. I have never been in it. I was taught growing up that if I ever got into REAL TROUBLE, that the Rez was a good place to hide from the law. Nothing I have ever experienced in either the Onondaga or Mohawk Rez has given me reason to believe this untrue.

  16. Darren says:

    I’ll be attending my 25 year high school reunion in just over a week… and I’ll see some of the old (and some of the newer) Jesuit fathers. I used to proudly contribute to the annual fund, until a couple lengthy periods of unemployment hit. Now that I have been very employed and well-paid for 4 years, I cannot bring myself to contribute based on my concerns of the Catholic education the students are receiving. They get a LOT of money from alumni, including one who left the school $4 million in his will, so they aren’t missing my contribution.

    I recall my religious education when I was there, and I can truly say it was lacking. I don’t remember enough to say I was actually led astray, but I was not led on the path to orthodoxy, that’s for sure!! (so, I gues I was left alone to face the wolves unprepared). 2 years of general religious education that I recall nothing about… 1 year split betweem personal morality (ho hum) and social morality (a religion class I actually got a ‘D’ in one of the semesters!! it was horrible), and then senior year’s “Gospel Vision” and “Love, Sexuality & Marriage”. * sigh *

    I have my own ideas now of what Catholic high schools do really need to teach…

    What concerns me even more is what I read maybe ten years ago (before I really knew better) was how the chaplain at the time introduced readings from the quran and other holy books during the masses, embracing other faiths. * sigh *

    All I can say is that the current school president is a priest who at least (from all pictures) “looks” more orthodox. I don’t think I ever saw a picture of him dressed in plain clothes like the rest of them. Always well-dressed in black, with his collar, and looking dignified to say the least. When I was there, there were a few older priests & brothers who seemed more orthodox, but overall… not so.

    My reunion might be interesting, as I think of some of the conversations that may arise.

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  18. AnAmericanMother says:

    This is interesting.
    My daughter went to a Presbyterian college where the on-campus Catholic ministry was problematic, to say the least (but that is another whole story). So she would go down the road a bit to a parish that was run by some Jesuits. Most of them were pretty much the usual suspects, but there was this delightful Jesuit priest of the Really Old School. When my daughter told me he was about 90, I didn’t believe her til I actually saw him. He was an upright, orthodox, holy priest and her confessor for four years.
    She tends to ramble (gee – wonder where she gets that from?) but one time she was confessing to losing her temper in some doctrinal dispute or other, and segued into a general nutty about Catholics who don’t follow the faith and don’t learn their faith and don’t appreciate their faith . . . and she glanced over and saw a tear fall on his stole. She said all she could think of was Christ weeping for us . . . . it made her feel really bad. She took him some cookies later as a peace offering — and he was sitting in a rocking chair in the study at the rectory with an afghan on his knees, reading his Office.
    So you do find Good Jesuits in unlikely places.

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