Monday, March 3, 2008

The Free Spread of the Written Word a Traditional Concern of the Jesuit Order

We must consider another aspect of modern life. Through newspapers, radio, television, E-mail and internet, we have rapid access to vast amounts of information. Computers and photocopiers add to this facility of communication. As far as intellectual life is concerned, we are forced to make the choice of either leaving the door wide open to this flow of information and keeping in touch with the vibrant life of the world or withdrawing into the world of books, in one's own interior, to study and reflect on basic questions at the risk of separating ourselves from the world and becoming outdated. There is so much to absorb that there is little time to read. We can also give in to the temptation to briefly summarise knowledge, thus cutting ourselves away from a true learning process and depriving ourselves of the joy of appropriating the thought presented in a text.
Peter Hans Kolvenbach, speech at the "Ignatianum" University School of Philosophy and Education, Krakow, Poland - Monday, May 20, 2002
Ignatius Loyola
1st Superior General
(April 19, 1541 - July 31, 1556)

Diego Laynez
2nd Superior General
(July 2, 1558 - January 19, 1565)

Francis Borgia
3rd Superior General
(July 2,1565 - October 1, 1572)

The Jesuits have a tradition of concern regarding the spread of the written word; from pp 923-924 of William Durant's The Reformation:
At various times the popes ordered the burning of the Talmud or other Jewish books. Wycliffe and later Protestant translations of the Bible were forbidden, as containing anti-Catholic prefaces, notes, and emendations.. Printing heightened the anxiety of the church to keep he members uncorrupted by false doctrines. The Fifth Council of the Lateran (1516) ordered that henceforth, no books should be printed without ecclesiastical examination and consent. Secular authorities issued their own prohibitions on unlicensed publications: the Venetian Senate in 1508, the Diet of Worms ad the edicts of Charles V and Francis I in 1521, the Parliament of Paris in 1542; and in 1543 Charles V extended the ecclesiastical control of publications to Spanish America. The first general index of condemned books was issued by the Sorbonne in 1544; the first Italian list by the Inquisition in 1545.

In 1559 Paul IV published the first papal Index auctorum et librorum prohibitorum (List of things Prohibited). It named forty-eight heretical editions of the Bible, and put sixty-one printers and publishers under the ban. No book that had been published since 1519 without bearing the names of the author and the printer a and the place and date of publication was to be read by any Catholics; and hereafter no book was to be read that had not ordained an ecclesiastical imprimatur – “let it be printed.” Booksellers and scholars complained that these measures would handicap and ruin them, but Paul insisted on full obedience. In Rome, Bologna, Naples, Milan, Florence, and Venice thousands of books were burned – 10,000 in Venice in a day. After Pauls’ death leading churchman criticized his measures as too drastic and indiscriminant. The Council of Trent rejected his Index, and issued a more orderly proscription, the “Tridentine Index” of 1564. A special Congregation of the Index was formed in 1571 to revise and republish the list periodically.
p 924

The censorship of books was laxly enforced until Paul IV entrusted it to the Inquisition (1555). That institution, first established in 1217 [at the time of the suppression and massacres of the Catharians], had lapsed in power and repute under the lenience of the Renaissance popes. But when the final attempt at reconciliation with the Protestants had failed at Ratisboon, and Protestant doctrines appeared in Italy itself, even among the clergy, and entire towns like Lucca and Modena threatened to go Protestant, Cardinal Giovanni Caraffa, Ignatius Loyola and Charles V joined in urging the restoration of the Inquisition. Paul III yielded (1542), appointed Caraffa and five other cardinals to reorganize the institution and empowered them to delegate their authority to specific ecclesiastics throughout ‘Christendom’. Caraffa proceeded with his accustomed severity, set up headquarters and a prison, and laid down rules for his subordinates.

1. When the faith is in question, there must be no delay, but on the slightest suspicion rigorous measures must be taken with all speed,

2. No consideration is to be shown to any prince or prelate, however high his station.

3. Extreme severity is rather to be exercised against those who attempt to shield themselves under the protection of any potentate. Only he who makes plenary confession should be treated with gentleness and fatherly compassion.

4. No man must debase himself by showing toleration toward heretics of any kind, above all towards Calvinists.

Paul II and Marcellus II restrained Caraffa’s ardor, and reserved the right of pardon on appeal. Julius III was too lackadaisical to interfere with Caraffa, and several heretics were burned in Rome during his pontificate. In 1550 the new Inquisition ordered the trial of any Catholic clergyman who did not preach against Protestantism. When Caraffa himself became Paul IV, the institution was set in full motion, and under his “superhuman rigor,” said Cardinal Seripando, “the Inquisition acquired such a reputation that from no other judgment seat upon earth were more horrible and fearful sentences to be expected.’ …

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