We are all Jesuits now

October 9, 2017 § 31 Comments

LMS Chairman writes:

The practice in Confession of not absolving unrepentent sinners is intrinsically related to its nature as established by Divine Law.

There is a problem with this view though. The ‘pastoral’ practice of absolving unrepentant sinners goes back to well before Vatican II, and is not a new or novel thing with the publication of Amoris Laetitia.

The Vademicum for Confessors in 1997, under John Paul II though not signed by him personally, authorized absolution of penitents who were unrepentant on contraception.

The various Sacred Penitentiary and papal audience rulings on usury in the 1800’s authorized absolution of unrepentant interest-takers in a couple of cases: specifically when those unrepentant usurers rationalized their behavior by appealing to either (1) the fact that they made mutuum loans to businessmen (condemned as an excuse by Vix Pervenit) or (2) by the fact that the ‘law of the prince’ authorized charging a certain rate of interest.

Amoris isn’t the camel’s nose in the tent: it is the other end of the camel coming into the tent.

That doesn’t make the current round of clarification any less urgent, but it is important to have a full and adequate grasp of the situation. Pope Francis is not an innovator. As the first Jesuit pope he is simply completing the centuries long Jesuit project of fighting the Protestant heresy by embracing it.

The History of Economic Thought website describes, consistent with my own understanding, the Salamanca Jesuit approach to morality in economic life and politics:

It is common to associate early Jesuit philosophers like Leonard Lessius, Luis Molina, and Juan de Mariana, with the Salamanca school.

The Jesuit Order (‘Society of Jesus’), founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius de Loyola, was erected to combat the appeal of Protestantism. […] The Scholastic doctrine of ‘just price’ was rejected out of hand as all-too-divine, the Jesuits arguing that value is a human affair and was determined by natural human interaction on markets. They followed much the same line on money and inflation. On moral defenses of usury and profit, the Jesuits were eager to reform Catholic doctrine to bring it more in line with current practice, to ease their efforts to overcome the resistance of Protestant towns to re-catholicization.

Quite more controversial was the Jesuit view of the basis of civil government, something the Salamanca scholars had largely and judiciously avoided. In line with their general approach, Jesuits like Molina, de Mariana and Suarez proposed that government rested on human consent […] Jesuit musings on the human rather than divine sources of government made them downright subversive to the established order. It did not help matters that, notoriously, the Jesuit philosopher Juan de Mariana (1598) openly contemplated that the murder of a monarch might be justified, if he proved tyrannical to the people. This was uttered at a tense time of notorious political assassinations – Henry IV of France (attempted in 1595, succeeded in1610), James I of England (Gunpowder Plot, 1605), Paolo Sarpi of Venice (attempted, 1606), etc. – in which Jesuit activists were suspected of having a role (and may indeed have had one).

In the popular mindset of the time, the Jesuits became synonymous with regicide and political destabilization.

The Jesuit approach (or, more fairly, a prominent and pervasive Jesuit approach) has always been to downplay and subjectivize the moral law as a way of making the Church seem more familiar and appealing to non-Catholics, especially Protestants. From this point of view, if pervasive everyday practice is contrary to the moral law as traditionally understood then what has to change is our understanding and application of the moral law, to accommodate everyday practice and get these people into the spiritual and sacramental life of the Church.  The important thing is Catholic unity, and if the moral law is a cause of disunity then that implies a problem with our understanding of or application of the moral law.  What is important is how people actually live, not the abstract moral demands of the Gospel.

Jesuits have been doing this for centuries, and the fruits of this approach are manifest. We are all Jesuits now.

§ 31 Responses to We are all Jesuits now

  • 2 Catholics were talking, and one asked the other “what is the same between the Jesuits and the Dominicans?” He replied “they were both founded to combat heresy; the dominicans to combat the Cathars and the Jesuits to fight Protestantism.” The first queried “well, what’s different about them?” The second replied “have you met any Cathars lately?”

  • John says:

    @Zippy,

    Jesuits like Molina, de Mariana and Suarez proposed that government rested on human consent […]

    Jesuit musings on the human rather than divine sources of government made them downright subversive to the established order.

    It did not help matters that, notoriously, the Jesuit philosopher Juan de Mariana (1598) openly contemplated that the murder of a monarch might be justified, if he proved tyrannical to the people.

    It seems that this is clearly derived from previous theologians such as Manegold of Lautenbach during the 11th-12th century and others of his time, who, during the Investiture controversy about whether or not the Pope had the sole authority of ordaining bishops or the Emperor as well, made the argument that only the Pope could ordain a bishop because a king is only a king insofar as people do not dismiss him if their conscience disagrees with the way he rules .

    Such an idea was also found in Germanic law of the early middle ages where there was an implicit rule of thumb that the people could justly revolt against a monarch if they sincerely felt in their hearts that he was doing something wrong.

    And strangely, the Pope at the time made use of this and accepted this idea to support the Church over against the Emperor at the time, likely as an official Church position.

    The Investiture episode is thus regarded as a point in history where strangely libertarian views of society existed amongst the populace, which makes the fact the later middle ages were much more authoritarian quite weird, mostly because of the rediscovery of ancient Roman law and the fact law could be formally codified, as opposed the law being informal, uncodified and being more abstract by depending upon natural law.

  • John says:

    In other words, the Jesuits didn’t actually start this, in a similar way to how some claim that William of Ockham didn’t actually start nominalism, but rather that such ideas can also be found in the writings of Peter Lombard.

  • itascriptaest says:

    I would urge some caution when reading modern liberal interpretations of the School of Salamanca. The scholarship of Schumpter, De Roover, Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson and especially Rothbard’s account of Scholasticism is fraught with anachronisms. Their interpretations often involve pulling teachings completely out of context while completely ignoring other passages. Overall, their scholarship is pretty shoddy and amounts to little more than propaganda. The liberal historiography of Scholasticism was arguably inaugurated by Lord Acton who famously claimed that St. Thomas Aquinas was the first Whig.

    Here are some interesting links on this point:

    http://distributistreview.com/corporation-christendom-the-true-school-of-salamanca/

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/business/fr94302.htm

    We can find notions of popular consent in St. Thomas’s thought and in other quintessentially medieval thinkers like John of Salisbury. Bear in mind too that Bellarmine and Suraez were arguing against the novel Protestant doctrine of the divine right of kings and both argued in favor of the Papacy as the only divinely instituted government. This is a long way away from liberalism and even if liberalism opportunistically appropriated these arguments out of their Catholic context I don’t see why we should blame these thinkers anymore than the Church should be blamed for Protestants employing scripture against the Church.

  • itascriptaest says:

    William of Ockham didn’t actually start nominalism

    I actually think Ockham could be a better candidate as a precursor for modern liberal political theory (beyond the question of Nominalist epistemology). Reading Brian Tierney’s account of Ockham’s canonical dispute with the Papacy is viewed as one of the first instances of a “rights talk” being used to undermine monarchical authority. Tierney himself is a liberal and sees this as a good thing.

  • I suspect that ideas are more like plants than house. They start small and through time become bigger and more fleshed out. Aristotle finds roots for his thinking hundreds of years before him though he is often seen as the source of many novel ideas. Wisdom is mostly bringing order and clarity to the insights of a thousand other.

    As for nominalism, some point to Porphyry for planting the seeds and the recovery of Aristotle in Western Europe providing as providing the water. Whatever the ultimate origin it seems Ockham brought nominalism to a level by making it thematic in his thought as the Jesuits of Salamanca did for liberalism.

  • TomD says:

    I suspect much of the confusion comes from arguing against a position (Kings are directly instituted by God and even the Pope can’t disagree), answering objections with hypotheticals (things like where kings come from at the start), and then later writers ignoring the position argued against and just using them as givens.

  • Aristokles Contra Mundum says:

    John,

    Do you have a citation for that position in Manegold? It rings a bit anachronistic to me given my other readings in Investiture polemics, though I confess that’s not my field of expertise.

  • “The Jesuit approach (or, more fairly, a prominent and pervasive Jesuit approach) has always been to downplay and subjectivize the moral law as a way of making the Church seem more familiar and appealing to non-Catholics, especially Protestants.”

    A bit ironic, Zippy, I think I respect your Pope much more than many Catholics seem to. As to the church, it’s actually not their unwillingness to subjectivize moral law that keeps me away, but rather their willingness to do so. There are different rules for different people, there are politics at play, there is history, and there is a frequent unwillingness to admit their flaws when questioned. Moral law becomes very subjective depending on who you are, whether or not you can afford an annulment or a pardon or an unrepentant waiver or whatever bit of churchian red tape is fashionable at the time.

    That, and then there are so, so many Catholics who have never read the bible, don’t go to church,don’t appear to have an actual spiritual relationship with the Lord at all.

  • itascriptaest says:

    A bit ironic, Zippy, I think I respect your Pope much more than many Catholics seem to.

    Where is the irony? You comment confirms Zippy’s point.

  • donnie says:

    As to the church, it’s actually not their unwillingness to subjectivize moral law that keeps me away, but rather their willingness to do so. There are different rules for different people, there are politics at play, there is history, and there is a frequent unwillingness to admit their flaws when questioned….

    That, and then there are so, so many Catholics who have never read the bible, don’t go to church,don’t appear to have an actual spiritual relationship with the Lord at all.

    Well, if that’s what keeps you from being a Catholic, why are you a Protestant?

    Your criticisms of the Catholics apply at least as much to Protestants, if not much more so. There is plenty subjectivizing of divine law, establishing different and contradictory rules, a rich history of corruption and politics, and plenty of obstinacy in the face of charitable correction.

    And there are certainly a whole host of Protestants who have never read the Bible, don’t go to church, and never bother to cultivate a spiritual life.

    All of this reminds me of an old quip: the Catholic Church will tolerate any heresy, but no schism. The Orthodox churches will tolerate any schism, but no heresy.

    But the Protestant churches? Taken as a whole it’s pretty clear that they’ll tolerate just about anything.

    Maybe you don’t think it’s fair to compare the Catholic Church to Protestant churches taken together, since, after all, they’re each in schism from one another. But then again, that’s sort of my point. If your solution to the problem of, “How do I avoid belonging to the same community of faith as these other embarrassingly terrible Christians?” is schism, well, that’s not solving a damn thing.

    And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me; That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one: I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.

    (John 17: 20-23)

  • “How do I avoid belonging to the same community of faith as these other embarrassingly terrible Christians?”

    LOL! No,that is not the issue. There is no way to avoid that. We are all just stuck with it.

    One thing Catholics and protestants tend to have in common is a fear that the church is going to “downplay and subjectivize the moral law as a way of making the Church seem more familiar and appealing” to non-believers.

    I’ve been saying for a long time that the precise opposite is true, it is the constant subjectivity of moral law that makes us look like hypocrites and untrustworthy. The problem is not that we are going to do that, the problem is that we have done that for so long, we look like hypocrites.

    The very idea of “absolving unrepentant sinners,” is more political, than scriptural.

  • The very idea of “absolving unrepentant sinners,” is more political, than scriptural.

    The same can be said of schism.

  • Mike T says:

    There are different rules for different people,

    Our buddy Dalrock has provided many examples of that and how it corrupts the church and society to their core. It’s especially ironic when you consider that Protestants harp on the need to recognize that you are a sinner in need of a savior, and then go on to downplay the sinfulness of women. It’s almost like they subconsciously prefer women to veer off onto the wide path that leads to destruction for the sake of peace.

  • “Our buddy Dalrock has provided many examples of that and how it corrupts the church and society to their core.”

    Not my buddy. There is a far bigger schism between Dalrock and I than between me and the Catholic church.

  • Gabe Ruth says:

    That link to W4 is amazing. I had know idea how lonely your struggle has been, thank you for your persistence.

  • Gabe Ruth says:

    One aspect of looking back at these discussions after a number of years is you can critique them on their own grounds (consequentialism). It must be stated at the outset that one rejects their grounds, but I don’t see a way that a person invoking the continued existence of Western civilization as his justification for torturing some asshole FOR LIFE SAVING INFORMATION will be moved by reason. Perhaps taunting him with the tawdry and moronic implementation of his desired course of action would help? Sadly, I suspect the very thing they object to Zippy doing (explicitly stating a principle and holding to it) will miraculously prove within their grasp when the vanity of the GWoT is demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • donnie says:

    insanitybytes22,

    Maybe I’m not grasping your point then. Are you saying what keeps you away from the Church is that there aren’t any fewer hypocrites within than without?

  • I’m pretty involved with the church, donnie. I am the church,we are the church,”the church” is us, so to speak.

    One reason I am protestant and not Catholic is because I do not trust the politics of the Catholic church, their historic propensity to make moral law subjective and to waive it for certain people in certain situations. That does not mean protestants do it any better. It is just that on the protestant side if I see too much hypocrisy I can move to a different group of believers.

    What tends to push people away from church on both the Catholic and protestant side is hypocrisy, when moral law becomes subjective. As my husband often says,”it’s not what you do,it’s who you know.”

  • Mike T says:

    It is just that on the protestant side if I see too much hypocrisy I can move to a different group of believers.

    As a fellow Protestant, I’d also point out that the flip side to this is that it is impossible to impose church discipline broadly on someone who deserves it. So instead of being brought under authority, they simply slink off to find another group that doesn’t know them and/or is not inclined to honor a sanction from their current body.

    While there are times that that could benefit a person legitimately, more often than not it just means that wolves have an easy time moving from place to place until they find a group where they can operate easily. We’ve seen more than a few of those types try to show up at my church.

    Not my buddy. There is a far bigger schism between Dalrock and I than between me and the Catholic church.

    Way to take a light turn of phrase into something more serious than it needed to be…

    I do find it interesting that in general, conservative Christian women seem to loathe Dalrock with a passion. Lydia at W4 seems to positively despise him.

  • “I do find it interesting that in general, conservative Christian women seem to loathe Dalrock with a passion.”

    Well, on the bright side, he’s a fabulous argument for the Catholic church,for church discipline, and for the value of centralized authority. On the other hand, if Dalrock ever attained any kind of power or authority within the church, I’d simply follow John The Baptist’s lead and head for the wilderness to feast off locust and honey.

  • Zippy says:

    My takeaway from our Protestant commenters in this thread is that, at least in their case, the ‘ecumenical’ approach of dishonestly subjectivizing morality as a marketing ploy has had the opposite of its (at least putatively) intended effect. Acting as though the objective truth isn’t important in the moral domain just convinces people that we don’t really care about the truth and don’t really believe what we say we believe.

  • Zippy says:

    insanitybytes22:

    I’m pretty involved with the church…

    In the spirit of plainspoken truth, from our point of view you aren’t actually involved in the Church at all. You are part of a group of laymen outside of the Church who are play-acting — it is kind of the equivalent of two unmarried people shacking up and play-acting at being “married”, claiming to be in a state equivalent to marriage. In our understanding this is a terrible thing for you: it separates you from the source and summit of the Christian faith, that is, from Christ Himself truly and fully present in the Eucharist. Next to that, concerns about politics and the like could not possibly be less relevant.

  • donnie says:

    One reason I am protestant and not Catholic is because I do not trust the politics of the Catholic church, their historic propensity to make moral law subjective and to waive it for certain people in certain situations. That does not mean protestants do it any better. It is just that on the protestant side if I see too much hypocrisy I can move to a different group of believers.

    What Zippy stated above is the most important point by far. This reasoning is no justification for turning down Christ who offers Himself to you daily in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in every Catholic Church around the world.

    But there is also another point, not nearly as important as the one Zippy mentions, but important nonetheless. It was what I was trying to get at in my earlier comments above.

    Schism is much like a divorce. And divorcing yourself from the spiritual heads of the Christian household is analogous to divorcing yourself from the spiritual head of your own household. Sometimes the head of your household is not very good at his job. Sometimes he mucks it up so badly and for so long that you really begin to lose trust that he can execute his authority as head of household competently to begin with.

    Well, none of these concerns, however legitimate they may be, are justification to divorce your head of household. Likewise, no concerns over the competency of the Church Fathers to exercise their Christ-given authority justify divorcing oneself from your spiritual heads of household. And it certainly doesn’t justify seeking out a new spiritual household and attempting to form a second “marriage” with this new community.

    Human authority is messy, incompetent, and often corrupted. But ultimately Christ has given us our spiritual Fathers, His Apostles and their successors, because He loves us. If we love Him, we will obey those whom he has placed in authority over us. We will marry ourselves to the Church which He established, and never look back.

  • “Acting as though the objective truth isn’t important in the moral domain just convinces people that we don’t really care about the truth and don’t really believe what we say we believe.”

    Exactly, Zippy.

    I agree with what donnie is saying too, and the concept of shacking up rather than being married, is quite good too. On the other hand, I am the kind of person who could never have a marriage on paper only, a formal covenant that was lacking love and authenticity. Marriage really means something, but to place more value in the license,the ritual,the ceremony, than on the substance and condition of the marriage itself bothers me. That is kind of an analogy for how I perceive the Catholic church and what keeps me separate.

  • Zippy says:

    This may be a case of both/and, as opposed to either/or.

    But the marriage analogy only takes us so far. Christians belong to the Church as children belong to a family. To be baptized is (among other things) to be born into the Church. “Staying single” isn’t an option.

  • […] the Jesuit Order has suffered a corruption of Holiness that is now degrading into outright heresy. The Zippy Catholic writes of this under the style “We Are All jesuits Now”: “Amoris isn’t the camel’s nose in the […]

  • donnie says:

    This may be a case of both/and, as opposed to either/or.

    It definitely is a case of both/and. Overemphasizing marriage as a formality, to the detriment of the bond between the spouses, is a problem. But the fact of the matter is that without the formality of marriage, without the spouses formally making vows before God and before one another, there is in fact no marriage at all. Insisting that one’s adulterous relationship is pretty much the same thing as marriage, or that one can have the substance of marriage without the formality of marriage, is a much bigger problem.

    Likewise, if one wants to truly have a deep and intimate relationship with Our Lord, then one must go to Him and receive Him in the deepest and most intimate way possible: by uniting oneself to His very Body and Blood, His Soul and Divinity. Yes, this means assisting through the formalities present within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those formalities pale of course to the reality of the Real Presence, the reality of Christ physically inside you after you receive Him in the Sacrament. But to reject Christ’s Real Presence because you’d rather not see the formalities so heavily emphasized is the most foolish decision you can possibly make.

    Scripture and prayer are wonderful, but they are nothing next to having Christ’s own flesh and blood within you.

    Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.

    (John 6:53)

  • Karl says:

    insanitybytes22,

    For what it is worth, I think you should become Catholic, and your husband, too, if he is not.

    This is from a guy treated with contempt by the institutional Catholic Church via many of is clergy, both priests and bishops. I understand your reticence.

    Karl

  • […] This in particular is a dangerous temptation for orthodox Catholics.  Just because an opinion or practice is old, comes from a (supposedly) respectable source, and has not (yet) been forcefully condemned, it does […]

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