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Society of Jesus
Abbreviation SJ, Jesuits
Formation 15 August 1534
Type Catholic religious order
Headquarters Church of the Gesu,
Rome, Italy
Superior General Adolfo Nicolás
Key people Ignatius of Loyola — founder

Ignatius Loyola Church of St. Saint Pierre de Montmartre Paris. Fresco of Approving of bylaw of Society of Jesus depicting Ignatius of Loyola receiving papal bull Regimini militantis Ecclesiae from Pope Paul III. The fresco was created by Johann Christoph Handke in the Church of Our Lady Of the Snow in Olomouc after 1743.On August 15, 1534, Ignatius of Loyola (born Íñigo López de Loyola), a Spaniard of Basque origin, and six other students at the University of Paris (Francisco Xavier from Navarre, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laínez, and Nicolás Bobadilla from Spain, Peter Faber from Savoy, and Simão Rodrigues from Portugal) met in Montmartre outside Paris, in a crypt beneath the church of Saint Denis, now Saint Pierre de Montmartre.

This group bound themselves by a vow of poverty and chastity, to "enter upon hospital and missionary work in Jerusalem, or to go without questioning wherever the pope might direct".

They called themselves the Company of Jesus, and also "Amigos En El Señor" or "Friends in the Lord," because they felt they were placed together by Christ. The name had echoes of the military (as in an infantry "company"), as well as of discipleship (the "companions" of Jesus). The word "company" comes ultimately from Latin, cum + pane = "with bread," or a group that shares meals.

These initial steps led to the founding of what would be called the Society of Jesus later in 1540. The term societas in Latin is derived from socius, a partner or comrade.

In 1537, they traveled to Italy to seek papal approval for their order. Pope Paul III gave them a commendation, and permitted them to be ordained priests.

They were ordained at Venice by the bishop of Arbe (June 24). They devoted themselves to preaching and charitable work in Italy, as the renewed Italian War of 1535-1538 between Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Venice, the pope and the Ottoman Empire rendered any journey to Jerusalem impossible.

They presented the project to the Pope. After months of dispute, a congregation of cardinals reported favorably upon the Constitution presented, and Paul III confirmed the order through the bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae ("To the Government of the Church Militant"), on September 27, 1540, but limited the number of its members to sixty. This is the founding document of the Jesuits as an official Catholic religious order.

This limitation was removed through the bull Injunctum nobis (March 14, 1543). Ignatius was chosen as the first superior-general. He sent his companions as missionaries around Europe to create schools, colleges, and seminaries.[5]

Ignatius lays out his original vision for the company in "The Formula of the Institute", which is, in the words of Jesuit historian John O'Malley, "the fundamental charter of the order, of which all subsequent documents were elaborations and to which they had to conform." (O'Malley, John, The First Jesuits. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 1993. p5) In the Formula's opening statement, one detects the echo of Ignatius' military background within his spirituality: "Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the cross in our Society, which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church his Spouse, under the Roman pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a vow of perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience, keep the following in mind."

According to the Formula, the Jesuits were founded "chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine." In fulfilling this mission, the first Jesuits concentrated on a few key activities. First, they founded schools throughout Europe. Jesuit teachers were rigorously trained in both classical studies and theology and their schools reflected this. Second, they sent out missionaries across the globe to evangelize those peoples who had not yet heard the Gospel, founding missions in widely diverse regions, such as modern-day Paraguay, Japan, Ontario, and Ethiopia. Finally, they aimed to stop Protestantism from spreading and to preserve communion with Rome and the successor of Peter. The zeal of the Jesuits overcame the drift toward Protestantism in Poland-Lithuania and southern Germany.

Ignatius wrote the Jesuit Constitutions, adopted in 1554, which created a tightly centralized organization and stressed total abnegation and obedience to the Pope and their religious superiors (perinde ac cadaver, "[well-disciplined] like a corpse" as Ignatius put it).[6]

His main principle became the unofficial Jesuit motto: Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam ("For the greater glory of God"). This phrase is designed to reflect the idea that any work that is not evil can be meritorious for the spiritual life if it is performed with this intention, even things considered normally indifferent.[5]

The Society of Jesus is classified among institutes as a mendicant order of clerks regular, that is, a body of priests organized for apostolic work, following a religious rule, and relying on alms, or donations, for support.

The term "Jesuit" (of fifteenth-century origin, meaning one who used too frequently or appropriated the name of Jesus), was first applied to the Society in reproach (1544–52), and was never employed by its founder, though members and friends of the Society in time appropriated the name in its positive meaning.

[edit] Early works

[1][2]Ratio Studiorum, 1598The Jesuits were founded just before the Counter-Reformation (or at least before the date those historians with a classical view of the counter reformation hold to be the beginning of the Counter-Reformation), a movement whose purpose was to reform the Catholic Church from within and to counter the Protestant Reformers, whose teachings were spreading throughout Catholic Europe.

As part of their service to the Roman Church, the Jesuits encouraged people to continue their obedience to scripture as interpreted by Catholic doctrine. Ignatius is known to have written: "...: I will believe that the white that I see is black if the hierarchical Church so defines it."[7]

Ignatius and the early Jesuits did recognize, though, that the hierarchical Church was in dire need of reform, and some of their greatest struggles were against corruption, venality, and spiritual lassitude within the Roman Catholic Church.

Ignatius's insistence on an extremely high level of academic preparation for ministry, for instance, was a deliberate response to the relatively poor education of much of the clergy of his time, and the Jesuit vow against "ambitioning prelacies" was a deliberate effort to prevent greed for money or power invading Jesuit circles.

As a result, in spite of their loyalty, Ignatius and his successors often tangled with the pope and the Roman Curia. Over the 450 years since its founding, the Society has both been called the papal "elite troops" and been forced into suppression.

St. Ignatius and the Jesuits who followed him believed that the reform of the Church had to begin with the conversion of an individual’s heart. One of the main tools the Jesuits have used to bring about this conversion has been the Ignatian retreat, called the Spiritual Exercises.

During a four-week period of silence, individuals undergo a series of directed meditations on the life of Christ. During this period, they meet regularly with a spiritual director, who helps them understand whatever call or message God has offered in their meditations.

The retreat follows a Purgative-Illuminative-Unitive pattern in the tradition of the spirituality of John Cassian and the Desert Fathers. Ignatius' innovation was to make this style of contemplative mysticism available to all people in active life, and to use it as a means of rebuilding the spiritual life of the Church. The Exercises became both the basis for the training of Jesuits themselves and one of the essential ministries of the order: giving the exercises to others in what became known as retreats.

The Jesuits’ contributions to the late Renaissance were significant in their roles both as a missionary order and as the first religious order to operate colleges and universities as a principal and distinct ministry.

By the time of Ignatius' death in 1556, the Jesuits were already operating a network of 74 colleges on three continents. A precursor to liberal education, the Jesuit plan of studies incorporated the Classical teachings of Renaissance humanism into the Scholastic structure of Catholic thought. [3][4]Jesuit missionary, painting from 1779.In addition to teaching faith, the Ratio Studiorum emphasized the study of Latin, Greek, classical literature, poetry, and philosophy as well as non-European languages, sciences and the arts. Furthermore, Jesuit schools encouraged the study of vernacular literature and rhetoric, and thereby became important centers for the training of lawyers and public officials.

The Jesuit schools played an important part in winning back to Catholicism a number of European countries which had for a time been predominantly Protestant, notably Poland and Lithuania. Today, Jesuit colleges and universities are located in over one hundred nations around the world.

Under the notion that God can be encountered through created things and especially art, they encouraged the use of ceremony and decoration in Catholic ritual and devotion. Perhaps as a result of this appreciation for art, coupled with their spiritual practice of "finding God in all things", many early Jesuits distinguished themselves in the visual and performing arts as well as in music.

Jesuit priests often acted as confessors to Kings during the Early Modern Period. They were an important force in the Counter-Reformation and in the Catholic missions, in part because their relatively loose structure (without the requirements of living in community, saying the divine office together, etc.) allowed them to be flexible to meet the needs of the people at the time.

[edit] Expansion

Main article: Jesuit missions in North America[5][6]The Bell of Nanbanji, made in Portugal for Nanbanji Church, established by Jesuit in 1576 and destroyed 1587, Japan.[7][8]The ruins of La Santisima Trinidad de Parana in Paraguay, one of the many Jesuit missions established in South America during the 17th and 18th centuriesEarly missions in Japan resulted in the government granting the Jesuits the feudal fiefdom of Nagasaki in 1580. However, this was removed in 1587 due to fears over their growing influence.

Francis Xavier arrived in Goa, in Western India, in 1541 to consider evangelical service in the Indies. He died in China after a decade of evangelism in Southern India. Two Jesuit missionaries, Johann Grueber and Albert Dorville, reached Lhasa in Tibet in 1661.

Jesuit missions in Latin America were very controversial in Europe, especially in Spain and Portugal where they were seen as interfering with the proper colonial enterprises of the royal governments. The Jesuits were often the only force standing between the Native Americans and slavery. Together throughout South America but especially in present-day Brazil and Paraguay they formed Christian Native American city-states, called "reductions" (Spanish Reducciones, Portuguese Reduções). These were societies set up according to an idealized theocratic model. It is partly because the Jesuits, such as Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, protected the natives (whom certain Spanish and Portuguese colonizers wanted to enslave) that the Society of Jesus was suppressed.

Jesuit priests such as Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta founded several towns in Brazil in the 16th century, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and were very influential in the pacification, religious conversion and education of Indian nations.

Jesuit scholars working in these foreign missions were very important in understanding their unknown languages and strived to produce Latinized grammars and dictionaries. This was done, for instance, for Japanese (see Nippo jisho also known as Vocabvlario da Lingoa de Iapam, (Vocabulary of the Japanese Language) a Japanese-Portuguese dictionary written 1603), Vietnamese (French Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes formalized the Vietnamese alphabet in use today with his 1651 Vietnamese-Portuguese-Latin dictionary Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum) and Tupi-Guarani (a language group of South American aborigines). Jean François Pons in the 1740s pioneered the study of Sanskrit in the West.

Under Portuguese royal patronage, the order thrived in Goa and until 1759 successfully expanded its activities to education and healthcare. On 17 December 1759, the Marquis of Pombal, Secretary of State in Portugal, expelled the Jesuits from Portugal and Portuguese possessions overseas.

[edit] Jesuit activity in China

Main article: Jesuit China missionsThe Jesuit China missions of the 16th and 17th centuries introduced Western science and astronomy, then undergoing its own revolution, to China. The scientific revolution brought by the Jesuits coincided with a time when scientific innovation had declined in China: [The Jesuits] made efforts to translate western mathematical and astronomical works into Chinese and aroused the interest of Chinese scholars in these sciences. They made very extensive astronomical observation and carried out the first modern cartographic work in China. They also learned to appreciate the scientific achievements of this ancient culture and made them known in Europe. Through their correspondence European scientists first learned about the Chinese science and culture.—Agustín Udías , [8]Conversely, the Jesuits were very active in transmitting Chinese knowledge to Europe. Confucius's works were translated into European languages through the agency of Jesuit scholars stationed in China.


[10]Jesuits in China.


[12]"Life and works of Confucius, by Prospero Intorcetta, 1687.

Matteo Ricci started to report on the thoughts of Confucius, and father Prospero Intorcetta published the life and works of Confucius into Latin in 1687.[9] It is thought that such works had considerable importance on European thinkers of the period, particularly among the Deists and other philosophical groups of the Enlightenment who were interested by the integration of the system of morality of Confucius into Christianity.[9][10] Two well known examples are:

[edit] Suppression and restoration

Main article: Suppression of the JesuitsThe Suppression of the Jesuits in Portugal, France, the Two Sicilies, Parma and the Spanish Empire by 1767 was troubling to the Society's defender, Pope Clement XIII. A decree signed under secular pressure by Pope Clement XIV in July 1773 suppressed the Order. The suppression was carried out in all countries except Prussia and Russia, where Catherine the Great had forbidden the papal decree to be executed. Because millions of Catholics (including many Jesuits) lived in the Polish western provinces of the Russian Empire, the Society was able to maintain its existence and carry on its work all through the period of suppression. Subsequently, Pope Pius VI would grant formal permission for the continuation of the Society in Russia and Poland. Based on that permission, Stanislaus Czerniewicz was elected superior of the Society in 1782. Pope Pius VII during his captivity in France, had resolved to restore the Jesuits universally; and after his return to Rome he did so with little delay: on 7 August 1814, by the bull Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, he reversed the suppression of the Order and therewith, the then Superior in Russia, Thaddeus Brzozowski, who had been elected in 1805, acquired universal jurisdiction. [13][14]Boston College is the home to one of the world's largest Jesuit communitiesThe period following the Restoration of the Jesuits in 1814 was marked by tremendous growth, as evidenced by the large number of Jesuit colleges and universities established in the 19th century. In the United States, 22 of the Society's 28 universities were founded or taken over by the Jesuits during this time. Some claim that the experience of suppression served to heighten orthodoxy among the Jesuits upon restoration. While this claim is debatable, Jesuits were generally supportive of Papal authority within the Church, and some members were associated with the Ultramontanist movement and the declaration of Papal Infallibility in 1870.

In Switzerland, following the defeat of the Ultramontanist Sonderbund by the other cantons, the constitution was modified and Jesuits were banished in 1848. The ban was lifted on 20 May 1973, when 54.9% of voters accepted a referendum modifying the Constitution.[15]

The 20th century witnessed both aspects of growth and decline. Following a trend within the Catholic priesthood at large, Jesuit numbers peaked in the 1950s and have declined steadily since. Meanwhile the number of Jesuit institutions has grown considerably, due in large part to a late 20th century focus on the establishment of Jesuit secondary schools in inner-city areas and an increase in lay association with the order. Among the notable Jesuits of the 20th century, John Courtney Murray, SJ, was called one of the "architects of the Second Vatican Council" and drafted what eventually became the council's endorsement of religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae Personae.

Jesuits today

See also: Jesuit CardinalThe Jesuits today form the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church, with 19,216 serving in 112 nations on six continents, the largest number being in India followed by those in the United States.The current Superior General of the Jesuits is the Spaniard Adolfo Nicolás. The Society is characterized by its ministries in the fields of missionary work, human rights, social justice and, most notably, higher education. It operates colleges and universities in various countries around the world and is particularly active in the Philippines and India. In the United States alone, it maintains over 50 colleges, universities and high schools. A typical conception of the mission of a Jesuit school will often contain such concepts as proposing Christ as the model of human life, the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning and life-long spiritual and intellectual growth.[ In Latin America, Liberal Jesuits have had significant influence in the development of liberation theology, a movement which has been highly controversial in the Catholic theological community and condemned by Pope John Paul II on several fundamental aspects.

Under Superior General Pedro Arrupe, social justice and the preferential option for the poor emerged as dominant themes of the work of the Jesuits. On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests (Ignacio Ellacuria, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Joaquin López y López, Juan Ramon Moreno, and Amado López); their housekeeper, Elba Ramos; and her daughter, Celia Marisela Ramos, were murdered by the Salvadoran military on the campus of the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador, because they had been labeled as subversives by the government.[The assassinations galvanized the Society's peace and justice movements, including annual protests at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, Georgia, United States, where the assassins were trained under US government sponsorship.[ ]

On February 21, 2001, Father Avery Dulles, SJ, an internationally known author, lecturer and theologian, was created a Cardinal of the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II. The son of former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Cardinal Dulles was long known for his carefully reasoned argumentation and fidelity to the teaching office of the Church. An author of 22 books and over 700 theological articles, Cardinal Dulles died on December 12, 2008 at Fordham University, where he taught for twenty years as the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society. He was, at his passing, one of ten Jesuit cardinals in the Catholic Church.

In 2002, Boston College president Father William P. Leahy, SJ, initiated the Church in the 21st Century program as a means of moving the Church "from crisis to renewal." The initiative has provided the Society with a platform for examining issues brought about by the worldwide Roman Catholic sex abuse cases, including the priesthood, celibacy, sexuality, women's roles, and the role of the laity.

On January 6, 2005, Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, on the occasion of the Jubilee Year, wrote that the Jesuits "should truly profit from the jubilee year to examine our way of life and taking the means to live more profoundly the charisms received from our Founders."[18]

In April 2005, Thomas J. Reese, SJ, editor of the American Jesuit weekly magazine America, resigned at the request of the Society. The move was widely published in the media as the result of pressure from the Vatican, following years of criticism by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on articles touching subjects such as HIV/AIDS, religious pluralism, homosexuality and the right of life for the unborn. Following his resignation, Reese spent a year-long sabbatical at Santa Clara University before being named a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C.. [15][16]Visit of Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Gregorian University, "one of the greatest services the Society of Jesus carries out for the universal Church."On February 2, 2006, Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, informed members of the Society of Jesus, that, with the consent of Pope Benedict XVI, he intended to step down as Superior General in 2008, the year he would turn 80. The 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus convened on 5 January 2008 and elected Fr. Adolfo Nicolás as the new Superior General on 19 January 2008. The deliberations of the General Congregation on other important policies for the Jesuit order continued until 8 March 2008. On that date, the General Congregation concluded its deliberations with a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Church of the Gesù. While the Jesuit superior general is elected for life, the order's constitutions allow him to step down.

On April 22, 2006, Feast of Our Lady, Mother of the Society of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI greeted thousands of Jesuits on pilgrimage to Rome, and took the opportunity to thank God "for having granted to your Company the gift of men of extraordinary sanctity and of exceptional apostolic zeal such as St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier and Bl Peter Faber." He said "St Ignatius of Loyola was above all a man of God, who gave the first place of his life to God, to his greater glory and his greater service. He was a man of profound prayer, which found its center and its culmination in the daily Eucharistic Celebration."[19]

In May 2006, Benedict XVI also wrote a letter to Superior General Peter Hans Kolvenbach on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's encyclical Haurietis aquas, on devotion to the Sacred Heart, because the Jesuits have always been "extremely active in the promotion of this essential devotion".[20] In his November 3, 2006 visit to the Pontifical Gregorian University, Benedict XVI cited the university as "one of the greatest services that the Society of Jesus carries out for the universal Church".[21]

On January 19, 2008, Adolfo Nicolas was elected by General Congregation (GC XXXV) as the Order’s thirtieth Superior General and was promptly confirmed by Benedict XVI. A month after, the Pope received members of the General Congregation and urged them to "to continue on the path of this mission in full fidelity to your original charism" and asked them to reflect so as "to rediscover the fullest meaning of your characteristic 'fourth vow' of obedience to the Successor of Peter." For this, he told them to "adhere totally to the Word of God and to the Magisterium's task of preserving the integral truth and unity of Catholic doctrine." This clear identity, according to the Pope, is important so that "many others may share in your ideals and join you effectively and enthusiastically."The Congregation responded with a formal declaration titled "With New Fervor and Dynamism, the Society of Jesus Responds to the Call of Benedict XVI," whereby they confirmed the Society's fidelity to the Pope.

Jesuits in the World (2007):[91 Provinces and 12 Dependent Regions: 3 in Africa, 4 in the Americas and 5 in Asia-Oceania.
Region Jesuits Percentage
South Asia Assistancy 4,018 20.9%
United States of America 2,952 15.4%
South Europe 2,448 12.7%
West Europe 1,958 10.2%
East Asia-Oceania 1,672 8.7%
South Latin America 1,513 7.9%
Africa 1,430 7.4%
North Latin America 1,374 7.2%
East Europe 1,119 5.8%
Central Europe 732 3.8%

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