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And the Jesuits must be reformed.

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 16, 2010

Apparently Cato the Elder was so sick and tired of the baneful influence of the Carthaginians that he ended all of his speeches with the statement “Carthage must be destroyed”—using variations on the famous phrase Carthago delenda est. At a somewhat more modest level, I confess I’m seriously considering ending all of my blog entries with the statement “the Jesuits must be reformed”, and for much the same reason.

We see the need again in Lisa Fullam’s encouragement to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix to resist Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s efforts to ensure that an abortion will never again be performed there. Fullam, a professor of moral theology, is predictably employed by the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in California. That Fullam tends to be shy of ecclesiastical authority and orthodox doctrine is depressingly obvious from five minutes spent reading her Commonweal blog, Commonweal having long been a champion of Modernism over and against the Catholic Tradition.

One gets these annoying reminders about the Jesuits from time to time. There is the gay friendliness of Jesuit universities, such as Georgetown (see, inter alia, our Catholic World News report from a couple of months ago, Jesuit faculty member rallies support for Georgetown gay-rights group). There is the relativism of the Order’s Black Pope (Superior General), Fr. Adolfo Nicolás (see my commentary shortly after his election, The New Jesuit Mission).

Then there is the jejune Modernism of the recent book by Mark Massa, S.J.—The American Catholic Revolution: How the Sixties Changed the Church Forever—which I documented in my review Theology by Happenstance. And there is almost exactly the same thing done on a far grander scale in Jesuit James Keenan’s new book, tellingly entitled A History of Catholic Moral Theology in the Twentieth Century: From Confessing Sins to Liberating Consciences. The brilliant (and brilliantly faithful) R. R. Reno points out just how bad this book is in the latest issue of First Things. His review is titled “A Caricature of History”.

Things have gotten so bad that all of these various Jesuit proponents of Modernism now indulge their bad mental and spiritual habits nearly exclusively through assertion. Anything resembling an argument has become vanishingly rare. What passes for learned judgment turns out to be prejudices passed off as platitudes. Of course, if your ultimate authority is blowing in the winds of culture, it doesn’t take much effort to make your point. All you have to do is state the obvious—or whatever seems obvious to Those Who Matter.

The tide, I suppose, must be slowly turning. I’m told that Jesuit high schools are typically far more faithful to Christ than Jesuit colleges; and there are some stellar Jesuits performing important work here and there, including in Rome. Unfortunately, for historical reasons, the Jesuits as a body still run a great many universities, and so have a collective influence which far exceeds the merits of the Order’s current collective intelligence, commitment and fidelity.

Eventually the problem will take care of itself, as it always does in Orders which drift from their purpose, and as the radical aging of the Jesuits attests. But in the meantime, many souls are at the very least being retarded in their union with God and—since we really do believe that such things matter—we can only presume that more souls than otherwise necessary are suffering the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. After all, cultural fashion doesn’t help much after you’re finished with this world. And that is why I’m tempted to end all of my writings with this very particular truism: The Jesuits must be reformed.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: wojo425627 - Dec. 17, 2010 1:35 PM ET USA

    I too believe this. I work at a Jesuit college and I recently found out that one of the Jesuits here supports monetarily: women's ordination conference, call to action and voice of the faithful. If many Jesuits think these are supportable groups then they are indeed in need of serious reform and renewal.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 17, 2010 9:53 AM ET USA

    Jesuiti reformendi sunt.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Dec. 16, 2010 7:07 PM ET USA

    Amen.Why have the Popes been so reluctant to intiate the reform? Remove bad superiors. Remove the General if he is part of the problem. Remember Pius XII's warning to the SJ's in 1958: be as you have been or you will not be, a free translation of sint ut sunt aut non sint.Segments of SJ's are more than gay friendly. The SJ's are gay infiltrated a part of the larger Church crisis. This goes beyond homosexuality. It's the embrace of anti-Catholic ideology. See the book "Passion Uncertainty."

  • Posted by: gallardo.vm5565 - Dec. 16, 2010 6:23 PM ET USA

    I Teach Two adult CCD classes, yes, CCD, and two High School Confirmation Classes, I send out emails from time to time to over 200 people (no blogs and usually I'm sending out summaries of your, Phil, or Diogenes' works) – the point: I’ll sign off my classes and emails with “the Jesuits must be reformed” and why must they be reformed: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.