"Brief for the effectual Suppression of the Order of Jesuits.
"Clement XIV., Pope &c.
"Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer, was foretold by the prophets as the Prince of Peace: the angels proclaimed him under the same title to the shepherds at his first appearance upon earth; he afterwards made himself known repeatedly as the sovereign pacificator; and he recommended peace to his disciples before his ascension to heaven.
"Having reconciled all things to God his Father, having pacified by his blood and by his cross everything which is contained in heaven and in earth, he recommended to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation, and bestowed on them the gift of tongues, that they might publish it; that they might become ministers and envoys of Christ, who is not the God of discord, but of peace and love; that they might announce this peace to all the earth, and direct their efforts to this chief point, that all men, being regenerated in Christ, might preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; might consider themselves as one body and one soul, as called to one and the same hope, to one and the same vocation, at which, according to St Gregory, we can never arrive, unless we run in concert with our brethren. The same word of reconciliation, this same ministry, is recommended to us by God in a particular manner. Ever since we were raised (without any personal merit) to the chair of St Peter, we have called these duties to mind day and night; we have had them without ceasing before our eyes; they are deeply engraven on our heart; and we labour to the utmost of our power to satisfy and to fulfil them. To this effect we implore without ceasing the protection and the aid of God, that he would inspire us and all his flock with counsels of peace, and open to us the road which leads to it. We know, besides, that we are established by the Divine Providence over kingdoms and nations, in order to pluck up, destroy, disperse, dissipate, plant, or nourish, as may best conduce to the right cultivation of the vineyard of Sabaoth, and to the. preservation of the edifice of the Christian religion, of which Christ is the chief corner-stone. In consequence hereof, we have ever thought, and been constantly of opinion, that, as it is our duty carefully to plant and nourish whatever may conduce in any manner to the repose and tranquility of the Christian republic, so the bond of mutual charity requires that we be equally ready and disposed to pluck up and destroy even the things which are most agreeable to us, and of which we cannot deprive ourselves without the highest regret and the most pungent sorrow.
"It is beyond a doubt, that among the things which contribute to the good and happiness of the Christian republic, the religious orders hold, as it were, the first place. It was for this reason that the Apostolic See, which owes its lustre and support to these orders, has not only approved, but endowed them with many exemptions, privileges, and faculties, in order that they might be so much the more excited to the cultivation of piety and religion; to the direction of the manners of the people, both by their instructions and their examples; to the preservation and confirmation of the unity of the faith among the believers. But if, at any time, any of these religious orders did not cause these abundant fruits to prosper among the Christian people, did not produce those advantages which were hoped for at their institution; if at any time they seemed disposed rather to trouble than maintain the public tranquility; the same Apostolic See, which had availed itself of its own authority to establish these orders, did not hesitate to reform them by new laws, to recall them to their primitive institution, or even totally to abolish them where it has seemed necessary.
[Here follows a long list of religious orders suppressed by different Popes, without giving them the opportunity of clearing themselves from the accusations brought against them. It then proceeds as follows:—]
"We, therefore, having these and other such examples before our eyes, examples of great weight and high authority—animated, besides, with a lively desire of walking with a safe conscience and a firm step in the deliberations of which we shall speak hereafter—have omitted no care, no pains, in order to arrive at a thorough knowledge of the origin, the progress, and the actual state of that regular order commonly called 'The Company of Jesus.' In the course these investigations, we have seen that the holy founder of the order did institute it for the salvation of souls, the conversion of heretics and infidels, and, in short, for the greater advancement of piety and religion. And, in order to attain more surely and happily so laudable a design, he consecrated himself rigorously to God, by an absolute vow of evangelical poverty, with which to bind the Society in general, and each individual in particular, except only the colleges in which polite literature and other branches of knowledge were to be taught, and which were allowed to possess property, but so that no part of their revenues could ever be applied to the use of the said Society in general. It was under these and other holy restrictions that the Company of Jesus was approved by the Pope Paul III., our predecessor of blessed memory, by his letter sub plumbo, dated 27th September 1540.
[Here Clement enumerates the other Popes who had either confirmed the privileges already granted to the Society, or had explained and augmented them.]
"Notwithstanding so many and so great favours, it appears from the apostolical Constitutions, that, almost at the very moment of its institution, their arose in the bosom of this Society divers seeds of discord and dissension, not only among the companions themselves, but with other regular orders, the secular clergy, the academies; the universities, the public schools, and lastly, even with the princes of the states in which the Society was received.
"These dissensions and disputes arose sometimes concerning the nature of their vows, the time of admission to them, the power of expulsion, the right of admission to holy orders without a sufficient title, and without having taken the solemn vows, contrary to the tenor of the decrees of the Council of Trent, and of Pius V., our predecessor;sometimes concerning the absolute authority assumed by the General of the said order, and on matters relating to the good government and discipline of the order; sometimes concerning different points of doctrine concerning their schools, or such of their exemptions and privileges as the ordinaries and other civil or ecclesiastical officers declared to be contrary to their rights and jurisdiction. In short, accusations of the greatest nature, and very detrimental to the peace and tranquility of the Christian republic, have been continually received against the said order. Hence the origin of that infinity of appeals and protests against this Society, which so many sovereigns have laid at the foot of the throne of our predecessors Paul IV., Pius V., and Sixtus V.
"Among the princes who have thus appealed, is Philip II., King of Spain, of glorious memory, who laid before Sixtus V. not only the reasons of complaint which he had, but also those alleged by the inquisitors of his kingdom, against the excessive privileges of the Society, and the form of their government. He desired likewise that the Pope should be acquainted with the heads of accusation laid against the Society, and confirmed by some of its own members remarkable for their learning and piety, and demanded that the Society should undergo an apostolic visitation. Sixtus V., convinced that these demands and solicitations of Philip were just and well founded, did, without hesitation, comply therewith; and, in consequence, named a bishop of distinguished prudence, virtue, and learning, to be apostolical visitor, and at the same time deputed a congregation of cardinals to examine this matter.