Jesuits. Corruptio optimi pessima.

I received a book entitled On the Suppression of the Society of Jesus: A contemporary account.   US HERE – UK HERE I was so hoping that by “contemporary” the title meant our days.  However, it results from the 18th century, when Papa Ganganelli, Clement XIV of happy memory, suppressed the Society.  The book, published by Loyola Press, is by Guilo Cesare Cordara, SJ (1704-1785).  It is his contemporary account.  I’m looking forward to reading it, even though it will be defense of Jesuits and the Society.

Meanwhile, at Crisis I found an article by Michael Warren Davis:

Scrap the Jesuits and start over

Been there, done that.

Could it be done today?

Consider that the Superior of the Jesuits denies that the Devil is a personal, evil being.  The Devil is some sort of nebulous forces in structures.  Think about guys like Reese and Martin.  Think about the Jesuit who gave a guy, so he says, in Seattle a blessing to kill himself.

The old phrase in Latin is made concrete in the Jesuits today: corruptio optimi pessima… the corruption of the best thing is the worst kind of corruption.

There were truly great Jesuits.  There still are!  I know and respect some, and they are not all elderly.

The Jesuits need a massive reform from top – especially from top – to the last and most recent of their ranks.

It was a huge mistake not to dismantle the Legion entirely.  It could have been refounded in a new way later.  It would be a mistake not to rethink the Jesuits from top to bottom and then refound them.

One could weep.  I cannot imagine the pain of the faithful men in the Society.

I fear that no one has the guts to act like a real Jesuit and do what has to be done.  Rose bushes need to be hacked down in order to flourish again.

Pray for a new St. Francis Xavier to rise up.  Can you imagine what he would say, looking around?  We need Jean de Brébouf, not Jasmine the Poof.  When the Iroquois were torturing St. Jean to death, they drank his blood because they wanted to have his courage.  We need new Edmund Campions, Robert Southwells, John Gerards.  We need Rupert Mayers, not Daniel Berrigans.  We need John de Brittos, not Roger Haights.  We need Peter Clavers, not Thomas Reeses.  We need Walter Ciszeks not George Tyrells.  We need Peter Fabers, not Jon Sobrinos.  We need Robert Bellarmines, not Daniel Maquires.  We need Alfred Delps, not Robert Drinans.  We need William Doyles, not Ernesto Cardenals.  We need Aloysius Gonzagas, not Jacques Dupuis. We need John Hardons, not John Dears. We need Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, not Antonio Spadaros.  We need Jean Pierre de Caussades, not Pierre Teilhard de Chardins. We need Francis Borgias, not Pedro Arupes.  We need Claude de la Colombieres, not  Carlo Maria Martinis. We need Peter Canisius, not Karl Rahners.

Are you out there?


Clement XIV (Ganganelli) swag that is available.


Clement_XVI_Mug_01 Clement_XVI_Mug_02


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Jesuits and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Anneliese says:

    Don’t forget about St. Andrew Bobola, SJ. A 17th century Polish martyr. Invicti Athletae. If only we could be more like him, even if it isn’t easy.

    [I didn’t forget him. I had limited space!]

  2. Rob in Maine says:

    I’ve often thought that Jesuits are like a box of chocolate, you never know what you are going to get. Sadly, there are not enough good ones and too may Crunchy Frogs, Ram’s Bladder Cups, Cockroach Clusters, Anthrax Ripples, and Spring Surprises.

  3. G1j says:

    No chance of a shake up within the SJ. With the current Papal appointments of Cardinals, Francis is loading the deck to ensure that the future of the Church will fundamentally transform the teachings of the Faith and embrace every morally deficient secular depravity that has become mainstream today. I am so afraid that our beautiful faith is going to be repurposed to suit man instead of God. Lord Jesus, Help us.

  4. Let’s not forget also Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J., the Trench Priest of World War I. Of a totally different stamp than most of the S.J.s of today.

    [Ummm… aside from the fact that I didn’t “forget” anyone… look again.]

  5. tho says:

    You named Father Walter Ciszek, years ago I read his With God in Russia. What a man he was, tough as nails. To paraphrase him, he said his father was a tough man, who didn’t hesitate to physically discipline him, he attributes that to his ability to withstand life in the gulags. His spirituality was on a very high level, which I found very inspiring. No matter what he was enduring he found a way to say mass, and to attend to the spiritual needs of his fellow inmates.
    I also remember, that only through a devoted sister petitioning the state department was his release obtained. To make ends meet, along with his spiritual duties, he was working as an auto mechanic when the good news came. If it isn’t, that book should be required reading for every Jesuit.

  6. TonyO says:

    Quite the roll call of great Jesuits, and not even ALL of the great Jesuits. Pretty amazing.

    That said, I would be satisfied with the absolute complete suppression of the order, with no recovery.

    I would also be satisfied with the reform of the order, but (even aside from the current pope, from whom we can expect nothing worthwhile toward reform) to whom could we entrust the reform? If a current Jesuit, would not he (and his right hand men) be under suspicion? If not a Jesuit, in what way could the existing Jesuits be brought to accept his demands? What if they simply ignore him, as generations of Jesuit leaders have ignored Rome in the last 80 years.

    And on what course could he possibly effect anything worthwhile and long-lasting? The current powerful elite in the order will not accept change, correction, restoration to proper morality, true theology. Hence they would have to be cast out of the order all together – preferably with severe prejudice (i.e. the full disciplinary works of the penal law of the Church). Then, and only then, would the middle-managers who are not themselves completely opposed to correction be persuaded to give Truth and moral rectitude a chance. So, even if somebody great saint can be brought in to start the reform, it won’t go anywhere unless the Vatican congregations and the pope himself are fully on board with far-reaching and massively severe penal discipline.

    Under those conditions, a reform effort would be plausible. Does anyone imagine such conditions existing without some sort of massive restoration taking place in the rest of the Church? Me neither.

  7. DeGaulle says:

    I’d like to give an honourable mention to the recently deceased Father James Schall, whose writings over the years in The Catholic Thing I found very helpful.

  8. JonPatrick says:

    Another honorable mention to Fr. Robert Spitzer SJ and his Magis Center dealing with questions of Science and Faith,

  9. Dad of Six says:

    “Scrap the Jesuits and start over”

    Miles Christi is the replacement for for the Jesuits.

  10. Legisperitus says:

    I know I’m in the minority (310 Google hits versus 63,800), but I prefer the variant used by the late Fr. Groeschel, corruptio optimi pessimum: the corruption of the best thing is the worst thing. Seems more on point here.

  11. Hidden One says:

    Fr. John Dear has not been a Jesuit for a few years. He is presently a diocesan priest in good standing.

    [So what?]

Comments are closed.