Review: Malachi Martin’s ‘The Jesuits’

The Vigilante apologizes for the recent lack of content.  The Vigilante starts a new job in two days and has been busy with some things.  Such is life.

‘The Jesuits’ is notable among Martin’s later works for not being traditionalist “faction” (Windswept House, Keys of This Blood, etc.). Rather, it is a scathing expose of ideological trends that seeped into the Society of Jesus and how they even could do so in the first place.  The work apparently enjoyed some mainstream success and I have met some outside the traditionalist circles who know of it.

Those who read the book may find the first chapter a bit hard to swallow, and i agree.  It is meant to be a call to action and provide context for those not “in the know”.  The reader who makes it through the beginning will be rewarded with a methodical and pointed work that highlights Martin’s strengths as a writer.

Martin leaves little out.  The origins of the Jesuits are told along with their great successes in the New World and the Far East (though their failures in Ethiopia and Kerala are not mentioned).  The mentality formation, and the spirituality of the order is clearly explained to demonstrate to the reader how these men think (martin would know, he was one).  He also does not shy away from the painful fact that the order’s downfall was sewn into its very DNA.  The rigid unquestioning obedience was a powerful weapon that, if hijacked, could be turned against everything it was supposed to stand for.

And that is exactly what happened.

Martin devotes an entire chapter to Tyrell (who I have spoken of before) and Chardin.  The only issue I have with Tyrell’s treatment here is that Martin treats the ideas as Tyrell’s when, in actuality, they were a patchwork of certain things from Blondel jarringly grafted onto the heretical beliefs of Loisy.  One may get the impression that Tyrell was on his own when nothing could be farther from the truth.  Tyrell was among the most notorious of the modernists, but he was a latecomer.  His infamy is entirely due to his hot-blooded and courageous/stupid denunciations of his opponents.  His early work is very orthodox and paints a picture of a man overcome with a love of Christ.

Chardin is given the exact treatment he deserves.  His “ideas” (if one can even understand them well enough to call them so) are examined and contrasted with dogma and… common sense, really.  It’s not on the level of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s skewering of Teilhard, but it is worth a read as Chardin’s influence is still with us today.

(As a side note, it was fascinating to learn that Teilhard de Chardin was not officially condemned by the Vatican until five years after his death… by the “liberal” St. John XXIII.  He had a very free reign, minus some censoring by local French bishops, while he lived.)

Most of the book, however, is directed at Arrupe and the followers of “Liberation Theology” in Central and South America.  Arrupe’s life story is told so he is not reduced to merely a malevolent villain; we see how he came to where he ended up after surviving the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.  His quest to fight injustice, noble as it may have began, is shown to be as disastrous as we now realize after the fact.

The general meetings of the Jesuits in Rome are told as if the author experienced them firsthand (he probably did).  JP2’s disastrous and humiliating visit to Nicaragua is broken down in detail as is Ratzinger’s chess game with Arrupe to wrest back control of the society.

(Also, I conversed with some Catholics who were around at the time.  They were entirely unaware JP2 had even visited Sandinista-controlled Nicaragua.  Certain traditionalists have used it to bash JP2 for “endorsing the regime”, which just shows they don’t know what happened.  Say what you will about JP2, he was no Communist sympathizer and his actions when he visited Nicaragua demonstrate it clearly).

You must normalize your situation!

Misqito Power!

Overall, the book is informative and well-written, telling the story of how those most dedicated to papal obedience turned on not only their master, but upon their Church and everything it stood for.  One takeaway I had is that in the 1970’s and 1980’s there was no real obedience to the Church authorities in any capacity.  Too often I hear attacks against Lefebrve from some newcomer “good behavior” traditionalists who owe everything to him.  It is difficult to explain to those who were not there “on St. Crispin’s Day” just how dire and chaotic the situation was.

If even the Society of Jesus could not be bothered to be “obedient” (let alone Catholic), then how can anyone deny the claims of hypocrisy and double-standards traditionalists gave back then as they rallied around an aged retired missionary bishop who merely did what he had always done?

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