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Absolutism and the Jesuits: an ambiguous relationship

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The Society of Jesus and their support of absolutism.
    1. An absolute loyalty to the Church and the Pope.
    2. Jesuits, supporters of monarchs.
  3. Conflicts appear between the Jesuits and the absolute regimes.
    1. The 'invention' of democracy in the Church.
    2. Jesuits vs. Absolutism.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

The Society of Jesus was founded between 1537-1540 by Ignatius of Loyola, followed by a few friends (Francis Xavier, Jacques Laynez, Pierre Favre), and was quickly considered as one of the main elements of the Counter-Reformation, which corresponded to a will to renew the Catholic Church after it was contested by the Reformation. One of the most important aspects of the Jesuit theology is indeed the stress on the implication in the spiritual and temporal sphere ? In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the secular sphere corresponds to the construction of absolutism (concentration of all the powers by one person) in the European monarchies. This absolutism can be defined more precisely by two elements: the absolute authority of the leader, which leads both to a strong centralization and personalization; the confusion of powers, between executive, legislative and judicial powers, but also between the temporal and spiritual powers. What were the relations between the absolute power and the Jesuits between 1540, official date of the foundation of the Society, and 1773, date of the dissolution of the Society by Pope Clement XVI?

[...] Robert Bellarmin, in the 1550s, was one of the first to defend the idea that the temporal power of the Pope should not be direct, and that the Pope should consult the bishops and archbishops on any decision concerning the universal Church. Such works were firmly condemned by the Pope, who did not appreciate this contestation of his temporal power Jesuits vs. Absolutism ( Creating democratic societies: the example of the Republic of the Guarani In 1609, Father Marcel de Lorenziana created the first community of Guarani in Paraguay, called a ?reduction?. [...]

[...] ( Criticisms of the absolutism of the Church The total loyalty of the Jesuits to the Church was not a synonym of total submission: in 1555, when Pope Paul IV wished to have the rule of the Society modified on a question of rites, Ignatius resisted and finally only gave in on part of the problem, in order to avoid open conflict with the Pope. This was to be the first, but certainly not the last, opposition between the Pope and the Jesuits. [...]

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