Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/332

This page needs to be proofread.


i8 AWAY FROM ROME!

The Society fell. Clement disbanded it with the brief Dominus ac Redemptor noster of July 21, 1773. This long, carefully meditated document placed the emphasis on a plea for peace within the Church. The Society was declared to have lost much of the beneficent strength of its early period, and to have become a source of dissension in Church and State; and it was added that complaints regarding its interference in the business of government, its dangerous teachings, and its insatia- ble appetite for worldly goods, had increased beyond the limits of endurance. The Pope did not expressly make the charges listed his own, and he gave the whole measure the appearance of a step taken in the interests of ecclesiastical diplomacy.

Lisbon and Madrid celebrated the event with public rejoicing, fire- works, and cannon volleys. Elsewhere there was less noise; sometimes feelings were aroused not against the Jesuits but against the Pope. It was in France that hatred of the Society first died down. In 1775 Pere Beauregard was already preaching again in Notre Dame and predicting the Revolution in descriptions soon to be verified in every detail. Two powers, Prussia and Russia, took steps to maintain the Society for the benefit of their Catholic subjects. Catherine II wrote a letter to the Pope in praise of the Jesuits, and Frederick the Great not only forbade all the bishops in his state to read the brief but also threatened dire penalties if they disobeyed his order. The act seemed to him political and not religious. To Frederick the Pope was "the Vice-God of the Seven Hills," but the Jesuits were the most learned Catholics, the ablest and cheapest teachers, and the best priests. In letters to his emancipated friends Voltaire and D'Alembert, Frederick defended the persecuted Society with a sharp pen: "It is true/ 1 he wrote, "that I have a confounded lot of sympathy for the Jesuit Fathers. Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that they are monks. I simply know they are reliable educators of youth and scholars whose scientific institutes are of immeasurable value to the educated members of society." And again: "The Jesuits have been driven out but if you insist, I shall prove to you that all this has been brought about only by vanity, secret desires for revenge, mean little intrigues, cabals, and selfishness/* And still again: "I for my part consider it an honour to conserve the ruins of this worthy Order in Silesia, and thus mitigate their misfortune a little, even though I, too, am a confirmed heretic."


JOSEPH