Saturday, May 3, 2014

24 April 1774 - Letter from Archbishop of Paris in Support of Jesuits


Christophe de Beaumont, the Archbishop of Paris, wrote a letter today in 1774 regretting the Brief of Suppression and stating his refusal to promulgate it in Paris.  Famous for his austerity, and a lack of desire for the trappings or glory of office, he was an outstanding churchman, respected far and wide.  When the Jesuits had been exiled from France in 1762, he was quick to publish a pastoral letter condemning the encroachment of civil authority into the realm of spiritual authority.

He was famous and consistent in defending the authority of the Church. After his pastoral letter of 1763,  the Gallicanist Parlement was furious and in a spasm of violent indignation they summoned the Archbishop before them.  To save him from this indignity the King ordered him to temporally disappear to the famous Cistercian monastery of La Trappe in Normandy.   The Jesuits appreciated the support but realised it would not affect any change in their perilous situation. Frey de Neuville said the bishops praise 'will at least make a fine epitaph for us'.  It must be remembered that in the absolutist political climate of France - order and justice ultimately relied on the King.  It was to the misfortune of the Society that they were at the mercy of the languid and irresolute Louis XV who happily abdicated his authority on many issues.

Eleven years later - when the Pope finally succumbed to the pressure to universally suppress the society - the consistent and forthright Archbishop de Beaumont wrote these incredible and strong words to Pope Clement XIII.  "This brief which destroys the Company of Jesus is nothing other than an isolated and particular judgement, pernicious, reflecting little honour on the Papal tiara and deleterious to the glory of the Church and to the glory and propagation of the orthodox (i.e. Catholic) faith….. Holy Father, it is not possible for me to commit the Clergy to the acceptance of the said brief. I would not be heard on this point were I wretch enough to lend my ministry to it, which I should be dishonouring"
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