Vladimir or Włodzimierz Ledóchowski born in Loosdorf in the district of Melk in Lower Austria on 7 October 1866 and died in Rome on 13 December 1942 , was a priest Jesuit Polish . In 1915 he was elected the 26th Superior General of the Society of Jesus and remained until his death in 1942 .
Catholic Family and patriotVladimir Ledóchowski is the third of seven children of Count Antoine-Ledóchowski Halka, an aristocratic lineage of Polish patriots exiled by the Tsar in the middle of the nineteenth century, and his second wife Josephine Salis-Zizers, an aristocrat Swiss . He was born on the family land Loosdorf. Vladimir also had three half-brothers from his father's first marriage.
The family is strongly influenced by faith and Catholic culture . And two sisters, Marie-Therese and Julie Ledóchowska were religious and were beatified , the latter being even canonized in 2003 . His younger brother, Ignatius, Polish patriot also renowned for his piety , will make a brilliant career as an officer in various European fronts and end up in a concentration camp in 1945 for membership in the Armia Krajowa .
Vladimir had to uncle Cardinal Mieczysław Ledóchowski (1822-1902) who was nuncio pontifical and primate of Poland . It was imprisoned for opposing the policy of Kulturkampf in Prussia , which then administered part of Poland, where the primate was headquartered. He resigned his episcopal seat of Poznań for exile in Rome in 1892 where he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith .
Studies and vocationVladimir studied at Vienna in college Theresianum and at that time becomes page of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria . He then studied law at the University of Krakow and decided to become a priest, is also involved in the preparatory studies for the priesthood . He then studied at the Gregorian University in Rome and, aged 23, entered the Society of Jesus in which he was ordained priest in 1894.
He was soon appointed Superior of the Jesuit residence in Krakow before becoming rector of the college. In 1901, he was Vice-Provincial of the Jesuit Province of Poland then Provincial of the Province of Galicia in 1902 . From 1906 to 1915 he was assistant regional councilor and father Wernz for questions concerning the Jesuits' s Germany .
Following the death of the Superior General Franz Xaver Wernz , who died in 1914, the 26th General Congregation of the Jesuits takes place in February and March 1915. February 11, 1915, at 49 years, Vladimir Ledóchowski is elected after two rounds 26th Superior General of the Society of Jesus . This is happening while the First World War torn Europe.
GeneralshipMarked by a close relationship with the Pope Pius XI and the papal nuncio to Bavaria , Eugenio Pacelli , the future Pius XII , his generalship is very active. Despite a reign marked by two world wars and the economic crisis of 1930 , the Society is developing quite consequently under his administration.
He convenes the 27th General Congregation in 1923 to implement the agreement constitutions and standards Jesuit life with the new Code of Canon Law of 1917 .
It organizes the Pontifical Oriental Institute entrusted by Pius XII to the Company, the ' Russicum 'pontifical college for the training of the Russian clergy of Byzantine rite and the Biblical Institute . The Lateran Pacts signed between the Holy See and the government fascist Italian, and prepared by the Jesuit Pietro Tacchi Venturi allow a new impetus to the Society of Jesus, increasing its visibility and influence. By the Lateran Treaty Jesuit properties confiscated in the nineteenth century are rendered. And, among others, the construction of a new building for the university Gregorian is possible: it is transferred to the Borromeo palace piazza della Pilota, near the Quirinal Palace . Ledochowski is also building a new General Curia in 'Borgo Santo Spirito', a few hundred meters from St. Peter's Square .
During his tenure the number of members of the Society of Jesus is steadily increasing, particularly in the country said 'the Mission ', while his government was marked by increased centralization .
Anti-modernist and anti-communistThe history of relations between European totalitarianism and the Holy See is far from being written in a comprehensive manner, the issues being passionate and the Vatican archives on this subject available recently and piecemeal. So many gray areas remain and historiography about Vladimir Ledóchowski is, at this time, very poorly developed.
Some scholars regard him as the pivot of the "German Party" of the Catholic Church before 1914 . Some researchers also argue that had the project, after the First World War, the creation of a federation of Catholic nations in Central and Eastern Europe: Austria, Slovakia, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, Croatia and Bavaria to counteract Soviet Russia, Prussia and the United Kingdom Protestants and France lay , could also caress idea hatched by Eugenio Pacelli , near Cardinal Faulhaber, while main collaborator Ledóchowski.
Under the Third Reich, the German Jesuit attitude is mixed and it is difficult to specify the exact Superior General with reports Nazi regime or the role played in Ledóchowski policy eastern expansion and the Vatican especially in the uniatism . It is indisputable that against Ledóchowski, from the aristocracy Catholic of the Central Powers was a fierce opponent of communism.
Anti-modernismHaving no other choice but to follow the official line anti-modernist of the Catholic Church Vladimir Ledóchowski appears to some as conservative . He wrote in 1909 : "modern society, in his misery, like the poor paralytic of Bethsaida to the extent that it does not even have the strength to rise from his sickbed" .
He took measures against the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin which he was ordered to renounce his theological work on the controversial original sin and teaching was banned from 1925 .
On another level, whereas relations with women could pose a threat to the religious vocation of the Jesuits, their Ledóchowski written two letters of instruction on the topic About Prevention to have long conversations with women in 1918, On reserves and to have in dealing with women .
Anti-communismLedóchowski considered the communism as the great heresy of time and according to him there was an analogy between the struggle against communism and the struggle against the Protestant Reformation . He also founded a real Secretariat of atheism in Rome, to prevent Communist penetration in the world and doing edit, under the direction of Jesuit Giuseppe said, the periodical letters Rome on modern atheism.
In 1934, he sent a directive on the fight of communism, each provincial of the Society so that they appoint a director and a committee responsible for anti-Communists who could get documentation on communism and communist activities center documentation collected by the Jesuit Edmund A. Walsh , founder of the school of Foreign Affairs (SFS) of the Georgetown University which they could use to ensure consistency of the strategy.
It is to him that Pius XI seeks experts to confide in 1937 , preparing the encyclical Divini Redemptoris that would condemn the atheistic communism as intrinsically evil .
Document Humani Generis UnitasIn 1938 , following an interview with the Jesuit John LaFarge , a Jesuit engaged in the defense of minorities in the United States, Pius XI , who had enjoyed one of his recent works , asks
Ledóchowski to coordinate the drafting of a draft encyclical condemning anti-Semitism , the racism and the persecution of the Jews . The higher the Assistant Company two other Jesuits LaFarge, German Gustav Gundlach and French Gustave Desbuquois , to complete the draft Humani Generis Unitas (On the unity of humankind). Pius XI dies a little after receiving the project. Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli , whose Ledóchowski is near, succeeded him but did not promulgate the text that will go to the archives.
Several historians emphasize the role allegedly played Vladimir retention Ledóchowski in this case, probably in agreement with Pacelli, then Secretary of State of the Vatican and with whom he had a close relationship : Ledóchowski acted in a dilatory manner, trying delay as possible the communication of the draft encyclical the Pope because he was opposed to the idea of an open rupture with the Third Reich while Soviet Russia remained for him the main threat to the Catholic Church and civilization .
In 1936, he entrusted the primacy Spanish Goma y Tomas: "Europe is being conquered by Communism. Influence of Judaism on this point. " . Several testimonies are also state, if not anti-Semitism on his part, at least of a complex anti-Semitic Ledóchowski, as well as an inclination to anti-liberal front, undemocratic and anti-Jewish or not involving however leaning or sympathy for Nazism . When he chooses a reviewer for text LaFarge and his colleague, he will be the Jesuit Enrico Rosa , author of texts among the most violently anti-Semitic of La Civilta Cattolica .
Death and successionVladimir Ledóchowski died in Rome on 13 December 1942 . He is buried in the mausoleum of the Company's Campo Verano , east of Rome .
In 1937, Ledóchowski had convened the 28th General Congregation, asking him to give him a vicar general who can assist. This is the Belgian Maurice Schurmans , known for his opposition to fascism who was elected. However, another Ledochowski named Vicar General to assume the government transition after his death, but it is already old, died 16 months later. Following the requirements of the law of the Society of Jesus, a new Vicar General was elected by the professed Jesuits of Rome. Regional Assistant Superior General of France, Norbert de Boynes was elected. As soon as it was possible, summoned Boynes (12 March 1946) the 29th General Congregation to elect a successor to Ledóchowski. Belgian Jean-Baptiste Janssens was chosen.