Jesuits - who exactly are they?

#1
Could somebody explain in few words, what exactly were the goals of the Jesuit order?
So far I seem to be confised by polar opinions and evidence (at least, those look opposing for me) - on the one hand, they are commonly referred as watchdogs of Catholic Faith, sly, cunning, and determined to spread and strengthen it by all means, and their education might have been really very religious, even compared to other Catholic institutions - like the fact that they educated king Sebastian of Portugal to be such a devoted Catholic, that he preferred to prepare crusade to Morocco (and died there) before other government affairs or making a heir.
But on the other hand, there were numerous Jesuit missions like those in Japan or Reducions in Paraguay, which seem to be anybody but missionaires - in Paraguay they seem even to encourage local native indians to maintain their old systems, traditions and even beliefs.
So my question is - do I miss some bigger picture of Jesuit big strategy, or they were just too fragmented into fractions, thus providing different policies, or the order was jsut changing during centuries?
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,905
Portugal
#2
Could somebody explain in few words, what exactly were the goals of the Jesuit order?

So far I seem to be confised by polar opinions and evidence (at least, those look opposing for me) - on the one hand, they are commonly referred as watchdogs of Catholic Faith, sly, cunning, and determined to spread and strengthen it by all means, and their education might have been really very religious, even compared to other Catholic institutions - like the fact that they educated king Sebastian of Portugal to be such a devoted Catholic, that he preferred to prepare crusade to Morocco (and died there) before other government affairs or making a heir.
But on the other hand, there were numerous Jesuit missions like those in Japan or Reducions in Paraguay, which seem to be anybody but missionaires - in Paraguay they seem even to encourage local native indians to maintain their old systems, traditions and even beliefs.
So my question is - do I miss some bigger picture of Jesuit big strategy, or they were just too fragmented into fractions, thus providing different policies, or the order was jsut changing during centuries?
Those opinions that you heard aren’t necessarily polar. Albeit the language used seemed to be (i.e. “watchdogs”, “sly”), and I have some doubts that they encouraged the religious beliefs of the Indian in Paraguay. Furthermore a Jesuit was responsible for the education of king D. Sebastião, but the order was not responsible for his fiasco in Morocco. His grandfather, D. João III, or his uncle, Filipe I, were probably equally religious, but not as fool. Filipe I (II in Spain) even advised D. Sebastião against the Moroccan enterprise.

The Jesuits contributed significantly to the teaching, charity, and the spread of the Catholicism. And those were their main goals.

In Asia they were a powerful political and diplomatic instrument of the Portuguese Empire, and in a much lesser degree of the Spanish that were much more based on the mendicant orders. Anyway the Jesuits wrote and gave us many sources about the Orient.

In America a similar thing happened. They were an instrument of both empires in the process of colonization, as other religious orders, and we shall always recall that there were competition between the orders. The major conflicts around the Reducions in South America happened quite late, mostly in the 18th century, when the power of the order was already declining and creating many enemies. They were expelled from Portugal (and colonies) in 1759, during the reign of D. José I, by his minister, the enlightened Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, and were expelled from Spain (and colonies) in 1767, during the reign of Carlos III. They would return to both monarchies but their power was broken. They were also expelled from France in 1762, but I don’t know the details there.
 
Likes: bboomer
Nov 2010
7,419
Cornwall
#3
- like the fact that they educated king Sebastian of Portugal to be such a devoted Catholic, that he preferred to prepare crusade to Morocco (and died there) before other government affairs or making a heir.
Love the way helping one muslim king try to overthrow another and gain an empire in the process somewhere that had been muslim for nearly 1000 years can be called 'crusade'. Probably either a comtemporary or later attempt to justify a fiasco. Not sure I'd blame the teachers for that one!

At best he was badly advised, at worst a complete idiot, as Tulius implies
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,905
Portugal
#4
Love the way helping one muslim king try to overthrow another and gain an empire in the process somewhere that had been muslim for nearly 1000 years can be called 'crusade'. Probably either a comtemporary or later attempt to justify a fiasco. Not sure I'd blame the teachers for that one!

At best he was badly advised, at worst a complete idiot, as Tulius implies
Did I implied that he was badly advised or that he was a complete idiot? Well, maybe I did! And the mix of the two is a dangerous cocktail. Anyway, at the end I would be much more inclined to the second option. D. Filipe II was not the only one to advise D. Sebastião against the Moroccan enterprise.
 
Mar 2017
858
Colorado
#5
French Inquisition 1184
Spanish Inquisition 1478
Portuguese Inquisition 1536
Roman Inquisition 1542
First American Inquisition 1570
Last person executed in Spain for heresy 1826
Final abolition of Inquisition 1834

Establishment of Jesuit order 1534

They started as missionaries, in response to a Spanish reformation attempt. The Inquisition was managed by Dominicans, but the Jesuits eventually jumped right in. These "missionaries" quickly became involved in politics, becoming advisors to the powerful ... so much so that they were formally expelled from Spanish monarchy in 1767 . By the 1700's, they had made a move into education ... perhaps as a baseline approach to affecting opinions of the elite. There are some notable exceptions with Portuguese Jesuit missionaries in the Far East, and French Jesuits with Indians in the Americas in the 1600's (there's a wonderful painting in a Church in Moosonee, Ontario of Christ and Mary depicted as Cree Indians) -- but I think education largely became the direction of that order. To be fair, other orders also moved into education, but the majority of Catholic universities & highschools are Jesuit (at least in the US).

The Dominicans, at one time the most powerful order, were displaced by the Jesuits. The head of the Jesuit order, known as the "black pope", runs the order from Rome. When Galileo was showing the Pope his telescope on the roof of the Vatican, the black pope was with them. It was the Domincans that forged a document for Galileo's excommunication.

There are Jesuit schools all over the world. I was educated in one. My favorite instructor used to teach chemistry & physics but was moved to theology when they started running out of Jesuits. He knew Latin & Greek, and was learning Hebrew. What I got out of that education was: "things aren't black and white ... you have to use your brain to sort out the grey" ( in contrast, Dominican nuns teach exactly the opposite ... but that's for children). It became pretty clear, at least from the instructors I had, that if you wanted a life like scholars at the Museo & Great Library of Alexandria ... being paid to study & think, and not having to worry about paying the rent or buying food ... or taxes ... or a family ... Jesuit life was the way to go. They are the "scholars" of the RCC, and are the "legal" people in Rome since all Church formal documents "of faith" are still written in Latin. They do not handle finances ... which explains that little episode with the Mafia and Vatican money handling.

I don't know how widespread this is, but my old highschool has an open invitation for graduates experienced in their careers to come back and take up residence in the community ... to teach what they know ... and to study. THANKS to that education, I'm not particularly religious, but it does sound appealing.

Sadly, the Jesuits have the same problems as the rest of the orders in the Roman Catholic Church right now. <If I didn't point that out, someone else would> They also seem to be moving towards "liberation theology", like most Catholic priests in the Americas ... which means they're teaching socialism.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,905
Portugal
#7
French Inquisition 1184

Sadly, the Jesuits have the same problems as the rest of the orders in the Roman Catholic Church right now. <If I didn't point that out, someone else would> They also seem to be moving towards "liberation theology", like most Catholic priests in the Americas ... which means they're teaching socialism.
Two comments:

Literally there was never a French Inquisition, but there was inquisition in France. Meaning that the inquisition in France was never a separate organization, like the one in Spain and in Portugal.

About the “liberation theology”… I think we can leave the politics out of this…
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#8
@Dios

Fascinating stuff, thanks.


"liberation theology", like most Catholic priests in the Americas ... which means they're teaching socialism.

An Australian priest, Fr Gore tried 'liberation theology' in the Philippines in the 1970's. I visited one of the places he tried that in 1979, the island of Negros. From what I gathered, his liberation theology focussed on social justice, not necessarily on socialism. On Negros, the focus was on working conditions ,wages and housing. I saw one of the sugar mills, and a' bario' where the workers lived. Even though I had seen the Tondo slum in Manilla I was shocked.


We were there for Xmas, staying with the family of our Manilla hosts. They owned the large local department store. There were a few families which dominated the island. They had large families and intermarried. The social organisation of that island was damn near feudal, Spanish style. Specifically the hacienda system the Spanish liked to use in their colonies.

The result of liberation theology on Negros was the murder of some of the local leaders. The Vatican did not support liberation theology.Heaven forbid any of their priests began behaving like Christ.

Jesuits were at the imperial Chinese court between the 16th and 17 th centuries.Their mission was to convert the emperor. It was believed that converting the emperor would mean converting the whole of China. That didn't work out, but they were responsible for the transmission of Western ideas to China

Both the Jesuits and the Dominicans have been seen as the Church's Rottweilers at some point . . Once considered becoming a Jesuit, at about age 14.. I thought their uniform was cool. Then learned they are celibate, and that was the end of that. A very devout boy was I:halo:
 

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