Texts of Roman Documents Condemning the Jesuits
Texts are taken from Denzinger’s The Sources of Catholic Dogma 1957
From the Decree of the Holy Office, Sept. 24, 1665
From the Decree of the Holy Office, Mar. 18, 1666
From the Decree of the Holy Office, Mar. 4, 1679
In the seventeenth century, the Jesuits became the confessors of the monarchs and aristocracies of Europe and wanted to make the Catholic life as easy as possible for them in order to maintain influence over them; the sacraments were not used as the means of the sincere conversion of the penitent but of making Christianity appealing to the worldly. The Jesuits adopted a system in the confessional whereby the confessor was bound to adopt the opinion of any “grave doctor” that “favoured” the penitent; this meant that the priest had to follow the laxest line available to him in any manual approved by the Jesuits; Christian morality was thereby dissolved in society. The faithful were urged to receive communion frequently and without any proper conversion or preparation. The contemporary St. Francis de Sales remarked to his spiritual ward, Angelique of Port-Royal, that only one confessor in ten thousand is up to the job.
Various of the errors used by confessors were specified and condemned in the following texts issued by the Holy Office in Rome; the errors were extracted almost entirely from manuals that Jesuit writers had prepared and which the superiors of their religious Society had approved. The errors were condemned after the Jansenists made appeals to Rome and applied pressure by publicising them to the French public, very famously in the Provincial Letters of Blaise Pascal. The Jansenists maintained that absolution should be given only after the penitent had manifested to the confessor clear signs of a genuine conversion to the Christian life that is motivated by a sincere love of God and righteousness, for which they were much maligned by Jesuitical propagandists and persecuted by that Society.
Christian morality today is practically non-existent and hardly anyone goes to confession anyway; everyone goes to communion habitually and without any prior conversion to a Christian life or proper preparation for participation in the august mysteries. Thus the Roman Catholic Church has been quite Jesuitized and can hardly claim to be the embodiment of Christian communion, if that is understood to mean communion in a Christian manner. Priests today are laxer than ever and Novus Ordo confessors are continually to be found employing moral laxity of the kind for which Jesuit writers were condemned. The Church today is quite dysfunctional and penitents generally have access only to confessors who are a grave danger to their souls and wholly incapable of leading the penitent to forgiveness. Many confessors believe that there is no such thing as mortal sin or hell and priests are heard to say that they have never heard a real sin in decades of confessing penitents; however, the Council of Trent taught that absolution is valid only if the confessor acts as a competent judge of the gravity of the sins confessed and appoints appropriate penances, which today is unheard of.
See Penance in the Early Church for insight into the sacramental discipline of the early Church, which the Jansenists attempted to revive.
Alexander VII – From the Decree of the Holy Office, Sept. 24, 1665
1. A man is not bound at any time at all in his life to utter an act of faith, hope, and charity by the force of the divine precepts pertaining to these virtues.
2. A man belonging to the orders of Knights when challenged to a duel can accept this, lest he incur the mark of cowardice among others.
3. That opinion which asserts that the Bull “Coenae” prohibits absolution of heresy and other crimes only when they are public and that this does not diminish the power of Trent, in which there is a discussion of secret crimes, in the year 1629, July 18th, in the Consistory of the Sacred Congregation of the Most Eminent Cardinals, was seen and sustained.
4. Regular prelates can in the court of conscience absolve any seculars at all of hidden heresy and of excommunication incurred by it.
5. Although it is evidently established by you that Peter is a heretic, you are not bound to denounce [him], if you cannot prove it.
6. A confessor who in sacramental confession gives the penitent a paper to be read afterwards, in which he incites to lust, is not considered to have solicited in the confessional, and therefore is not to be denounced.
7. A way to avoid the obligation of denouncing solicitation exists if the one solicited confesses with the solicitor; the latter can absolve that one without the burden of denouncing.
8. A priest can lawfully accept a twofold stipend for the same Mass by applying to the petitioner even the most special part of the proceeds appropriated to the celebrant himself, and this after the decree of Urban VIII.
9. After the decree of Urban, a priest, to whom Masses are given to be celebrated, can give satisfaction through another, by paying a smaller stipend to him and retaining the other part of the stipend for himself.
10. It is not contrary to justice to accept a stipend for several sacrifices and to offer one sacrifice. Nor, is it contrary to fidelity if I promise, with a promise confirmed also by an oath, to him who gives a stipend, what I offer for no one else.
11. We are not bound to express in a subsequent confession sins omitted in confession or forgotten because of the imminent danger of death or for some other reason.
12. Mendicants can absolve from cases reserved for bishops, when the faculty of the bishop was not obtained for this.
13. He satisfies the precept of an annual confession, who confesses to a regular, presented to a bishop, but unjustly reproved by him.
14. He who makes no confession voluntarily, satisfies the precept of the Church.
15. A penitent by his own authority can substitute another for himself, to fulfill the penance in his place.
16. Those who have provided a benefice can select as confessor for themselves a simple priest not approved by the ordinary.
17. It is permitted a religious or a cleric to kill a calumniator who threatens to spread grave crimes about him or his order, when no other means of defense is at hand; as it seems not to be, if a calumniator be ready to spread the aforesaid about the religious himself or his order publicly or among people of importance, unless he be killed.
18. It is permitted to kill a false accuser, false witnesses, and even a judge, from whom an unjust sentence threatens with certainty, if the innocent can avoid harm in no other way.
19. A husband does not sin by killing on his own authority a wife caught in adultery.
20. The restitution imposed by Pius V upon those who have received benefits but not reciting [the Divine Office in fulfillment of their obligation] is not due in conscience before the declaratory sentence of the judge, because it is a penalty.
21. He who has a collective chaplaincy, or any other ecclesiastical benefit, if he is busy with the study of letters, satisfies his obligation, if he recites the office through another.
22. It is not contrary to justice not to confer ecclesiastical benefits gratuitously, because the contributor who contributes those ecclesiastical benefits with money intervening does not exact that money for the contribution of the benefit, but for a temporal profit, which he was not bound to contribute to you.
23. He who breaks a fast of the Church to which he is bound, does not sin mortally, unless he does this out of contempt and disobedience, e.g., because he does not wish to subject himself to a precept.
24. Voluptuousness, sodomy, and bestiality are sins of the same ultimate species, and so it is enough to say in confession that one has procured a pollution.
25. He who has had intercourse with an unmarried woman satisfies the precept of confession by saying: “I committed a grievous sin against chastity with an unmarried woman,” without mentioning the intercourse.
26. When litigants have equally probable opinions in their defense, the judge can accept money to bring a sentence in favor of one over the other.
27. If a book is published by a younger or modern person, its opinion should be considered as probable, since it is not established that it has been rejected by the Holy See as improbable.
28. A nation does not sin, even if without any cause it does not accept a law promulgated by the ruler.
Alexander VII – From the Decree of the Holy Office, Mar. 18, 1666
29. On a day of fasting, he who eats a moderate amount frequently, even if in the end he has eaten a considerable quantity, does not break the fast.
30. All officials who labor physically in the state are excused from the obligation of fasting, and need not make certain whether the labor is compatible with fasting.
31. All those are entirely excused from fasting, who make a journey by riding, under whatever circumstances they make the journey, even if it is not necessary and even if they make a journey of a single day.
32. It is not evident that the custom of not eating eggs and cheese in Lent is binding.
33. Restitution of income because of the omission of stipends can be supplied through any alms that a beneficiary has previously made from the income of his service.
34. By reciting the paschal office on the day of Palms one satisfies the precept.
35. By a single office anyone can satisfy a twofold precept, for the present day and tomorrow.
36. Regulars can in the forum of conscience use their privileges which were expressly revoked by the Council of Trent.
37. Indulgences conceded to regulars and revoked by Paul V are today revalidated.
38. The mandate of the Council of Trent, made for the priest who of necessity performs the Sacrifice while in mortal sin, to confess as soon as possible, is a recommendation, not a precept.
39. The expression “quam primum” is understood to be when the priest will confess in his own time.
40. It is a probable opinion which states that a kiss is only venial when performed for the sake of the carnal and sensible delight which arises from the kiss, if danger of further consent and pollution is excluded.
41. One living in concubinage is not bound to dismiss the concubine, if she is very useful for the pleasure of him so living (in the vernacular, “regalo”) provided that if she were missing, he would carry on life with very great difficulty, and other food would affect him living in concubinage with great loathing, and another maid servant would be found with very great difficulty.
42. It is permitted one who borrows money to exact something beyond the principal, if he obligates himself not to seek the principal until a certain time.
43. An annual legacy left for the soul does not bind for more than ten years.
44. So far as the forum of conscience is concerned, when the guilty has been corrected and the contumacy ceases, the censures cease.
45. Books prohibited “until they are expurgated” can be retained until they are corrected by the application of diligence.
Innocent XI – From the Decree of the Holy Office, Mar. 4, 1679
1. It is not illicit in conferring sacraments to follow a probable opinion regarding the value of the sacrament, the safer opinion being abandoned, unless the law forbids it, convention or the danger of incurring grave harm. Therefore, one should not make use of probable opinions only in conferring baptism, sacerdotal or episcopal orders.
2. I think that probably a judge can pass judgment according to opinion, even the less probable.
3. In general, when we do something confidently according to probability whether intrinsic or extrinsic, however slight, provided there is no departure from the bounds of probability, we always act prudently.
4. An infidel who does not believe will be excused of infidelity, since he is guided by a less probable opinion.
5. Even though one sins mortally, we dare not condemn him who uttered an act of love of God only once in his life.
6. It is probable that the precept of love for God is of itself not of grave obligation even once every five years.
7. Then only is it obligatory when we are bound to be justified, and we have no other way by which we can be justified.
8. Eating and drinking even to satiety for pleasure only, are not sinful, provided this does not stand in the way of health, since any natural appetite can licitly enjoy its own actions.
9. The act of marriage exercised for pleasure only is entirely free of all fault and venial defect.
10. We are not bound to love our neighbor by an internal and formal act.
11. We can satisfy the precept of loving neighbor by external acts only.
12. Scarcely will you find among seculars, even among kings, a superfluity for [his] state of life. And so, scarcely anyone is bound to give alms from what is superfluous to [his] state of life.
13. If you act with due moderation, you can without mortal sin be sad about the moral life of someone and rejoice about his natural death, seek it with ineffectual desire and long for it, not indeed from dissatisfaction with the person but because of some temporal emolument.
14. It is licit with an absolute desire to wish for the death of a father, not indeed as an evil to the father, but as a good to him who desires it, for a rich inheritance will surely come his way.
15. It is licit for a son to rejoice over the parricide of his parent perpetrated by himself in drunkenness, because of the great riches that came from it by inheritance.
16. Faith is not considered to fall under a special precept and by itself.
17. It is enough to utter an act of faith once during life.
18. If anyone is questioned by a public power, I advise him to confess his faith to a noble person as to God and (to be) proud of his faith; I do not condemn silence as sinful of itself.
19. The will cannot effect that assent to faith in itself be stronger than the weight of reasons impelling toward assent.
20. Hence, anyone can prudently repudiate the supernatural assent which he had.
21. Assent to faith is supernatural and useful to salvation with only the probable knowledge of revelation, even with the fear by which one fears lest God has not spoken.
22. Only faith in one God seems necessary by a necessity of means, not, however, the explicit (faith) in a Rewarder.
23. Faith widely so called according to the testimony of creature or by a similar reason suffices for justification.
24. To call upon God as a witness to a slight lie is not a great irreverence, because of which God wishes or can condemn man.
25. With cause it is licit to swear without the intention of swearing, whether the matter be light or serious.
26. If anyone swears, either alone or in the presence of others, whether questioned or of his own will, whether for sake of recreation or for some other purpose, that he did not do something, which in fact he did, understanding within himself something else which he did not do, or another way than that by which he did it, or some other added truth, in fact does not lie and is no perjurer.
27. A just reason for using these ambiguous words exists, as often as it is necessary or useful to guard the well-being of the body, honor, property, or for any other act of virtue, so that the concealing of the truth is then regarded as expedient and zealous.
28. He who has been promoted to a magistracy or a public office by means of a recommendation or a gift can utter with mental reservation the oath which is customarily exacted of similar persons by order of the king, without regard for the intent of the one exacting it, because he is not bound to confess a concealed crime.
29. A grave, pressing fear is a just cause for pretending the administration of sacraments.
30. It is right for an honorable man to kill an attacker who tries to inflict calumny upon him, if this ignominy cannot be avoided otherwise; the same also must be said if anyone slaps him with his hand or strikes with a club and runs away after the slap of the hand or the blow of the club.
31. I can properly kill a thief to save a single gold piece.
32. It is not only permitted to defend, with a fatal defense, these things we possess actually, but also those things to which we have a partial right, and which we hope to possess.
33. It is permitted an heir as well as a legatee to defend himself against one who unjustly prevents either an inheritance being assumed, or legacies being paid, just as it is permitted him who has a right to a chair or a benefice against one who unjustly impedes his possession of them.
34. It is permitted to bring about an abortion before the animation of the foetus, lest the girl found pregnant be killed or defamed.
35. It seems probable that every foetus (as long as it is in the womb) lacks a rational soul and begins to have the same at the time that it is born; and consequently it will have to be said that no homicide is committed in any abortion.
36. It is permitted to steal not only in extreme, but in grave necessity.
37. Male and female domestic servants can secretly steal from their masters to gain compensation for their work which they judge of greater worth than the salary which they receive.
38. No one is bound under the pain of mortal sin to restore what has been taken away by small thefts, however great the sum total may be.
39. Whoever moves or induces another to bring a serious loss upon a third party is not bound to a restitution of that loss incurred.
40. A usurious contract is permitted even with respect to the same person, and with a contract to sell back previously entered upon with the intention of gain.
41. Since ready cash is more valuable than that to be paid, and since there is no one who does not consider ready cash of greater worth than future cash, a creditor can demand something beyond the principal from the borrower, and for this reason be excused from usury.
42. There is no usury when something is exacted beyond the principal as due because of a kindness and by way of gratitude, but only if it is exacted as due according to justice.
43. What is it but venial sin if one detract authority by a false charge to prevent great harm to himself?
44. It is probable that he does not sin mortally who imposes a false charge on someone, that he may defend his own justice and honor. And if this is not probable, there is scarcely any probable opinion in theology.
45. To give the temporal for the spiritual is not simony, when the temporal is not given for a price, but only as a motive for conferring and effecting the spiritual, or even because the temporal is only a gratuitous compensation for the spiritual, or vice versa.
46. And this also is admissable, even if the temporal is the principal motive for giving the spiritual; furthermore, even if it be the end of the spiritual thing itself, so that it is considered of greater value than the spiritual thing.
47. When the Council of Trent says that they sin mortally by sharing the sins of others who do not promote to the churches those whom they themselves judge to be more worthy and more useful for the Church, the Council either first seems to mean to signify by “more worthy” nothing else than the worthiness of being selected, using the comparative rather than the positive; or secondly, in a less proper expression takes “more worthy” to exclude the unworthy, but not the worthy, or finally, and thirdly, it is speaking of what occurs during an assembly.
48. Thus it seems clear that fornication by its nature involves no malice, and that it is evil only because it is forbidden, so that the contrary seems entirely in disagreement with reason.
49. Voluptuousness is not prohibited by the law of nature. Therefore, if God had not forbidden it, it would be good, and sometimes obligatory under pain of mortal sin.
50. Intercourse with a married woman, with the consent of her husband, is not adultery, and so it is enough to say in confession that one had committed fornication.
51. A male servant who knowingly by offering his shoulders assists his master to ascend through windows to ravage a virgin, and many times serves the same by carrying a ladder, by opening a door, or by cooperating in something similar, does not commit a mortal sin, if he does this through fear of considerable damage, for example, lest he be treated wickedly by his master, lest he be looked upon with savage eyes, or, lest he be expelled from the house.
52. The precept of keeping feast days is not obligatory under pain of mortal sin, aside from scandal, if contempt be absent.
53. He satisfies the precept of the Church of hearing the Holy Sacrifice, who hears two of its parts, even four simultaneously by different celebrants.
54. He who cannot recite Matins and Lauds, but can the remaining hours, is held to nothing, since the great part brings the lesser to it.
55. He satisfies the precept of annual communion by the sacrilegious eating of the Lord.
56. Frequent confession and communion, even in those who live like pagans, is a mark of predestination.
57. It is probable that natural but honest imperfect sorrow for sins suffices.
58. We are not bound to confess to a confessor who asks us about the habit of some sin.
59. It is permitted to absolve sacramentally those who confess only half, by reason of a great crowd of penitents, such as for example can happen on a day of great festivity or indulgence.
60. The penitent who has the habit of sinning against the law of God, of nature, or of the Church, even if there appears no hope of amendment, is not to be denied absolution or to be put off, provided he professes orally that he is sorry and proposes amendment.
61. He can sometimes be absolved, who remains in a proximate occasion of sinning, which he can and does not wish to omit, but rather directly and professedly seeks or enters into.
62. The proximate occasion for sinning is not to be shunned when some useful and honorable cause for not shunning it occurs.
63. It is permitted to seek directly the proximate occasion for sinning for a spiritual or temporal good of our own or of a neighbor.
64. A person is fit for absolution, however much he labors under an ignorance of the mysteries of the faith, and even if through negligence, even culpable, he does not know the mystery of the most blessed Trinity, and of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
65. It is enough to have believed the mysteries once.
All condemned and prohibited, as they are here expressed, at least as scandalous and in practice pernicious.
Alexander VII condemned
the Jesuits twice