Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/329

This page needs to be proofread.


SOCIETY IN FRANCE 315

the glory of the century of enlightenment. Pombal himself, placed under arrest by the Court as guilty of grievous offenses against the welfare of the nation, managed by a hair to escape the gallows.

France had long since followed this example. Parliament and the University of Paris, ancient foes of the Society, finally witnessed its fall. The Fathers were the victims of the Machiavellian tactics of the Cabinet which they themselves had fostered.

The occasion here was the bankruptcy of Father Lavallette on the Island of Martinique (1755). He was to repay borrowed money with goods to a company in Marseilles, which was associated with him in the development of two islands of the Antilles. But both money and goods were partly lost through shipwreck, and partly fell into the hands of the English during the naval war. The Order had neither forbidden nor authorized the undertaking. Therefore the Superior in France refused to honour notes amounting to 2,400,000 livrcs which Father Lavallette had signed. The result was a civil suit which scandal-mongering publicists utilized as a means of bringing the whole Jesuit question to the fore. The Parliament of Paris ruled that Lo- renzo Ricci, General of the Order, must pay the debt, and ordered that the statutes and books of the Jesuits be examined. The decisions arrived at by the commission, the prominent members of which were three priests, were catastrophic. Once more the Crown sought to rescue the Society by proposing to the General that some changes in the Constitution be made. But the Pope, in unison with the unbend- ing General, answered with the famous words, "Sint ut sunt aut nan sint" They must be what they are or not be! In 1762 the Parlia- ment disbanded the Jesuits, suppressing eighty-four colleges in all, after it had secretly granted the King the right to levy taxes in the amount of 60,000,000 francs as a reward for his endorsement of the measures taken and of the confiscation of the Society's property. Doubtless it was not without pressure from Madame Pompadour, to whom a brave Jesuit had refused absolution because of her adulterous living, that Louis XV was induced to confirm the parliamentary de- cision. A Papal bull was issued in protest, and the publication of this the Parliament of Paris forbade throughout the Kingdom. The Arch- bishop of Rouen threatened to place all who circulated it under the ban, and in some cities copies were burned in the public square.


316