Religion: Franco and Jesuits

  • Share
  • Read Later

In the 400-odd years of its existence, the Society of Jesus has been suppressed, at one time or another, in nearly every nation in which it has labored. In Spain the Jesuits have been expelled or disbanded five times since 1776. The last dissolution of the order was in 1932, when the Spanish Government deprived the Society of its title to $30,000,000 worth of property (churches, houses, 25 educational institutions, efc.). Although not compelled to, many of its 2,000-odd members left Spain.

In Rightist Spain last week, Generalissimo Franco's Cabinet approved a decree re-establishing the Society of Jesus. How many of them were left in Spain, U. S. Jesuits did not know. Whether or not 80% of the Spanish fathers had been killed, as the Vatican reported last year, at least 100 are known to be dead. To U. S. Jesuits this re-establishment seemed to disprove recent rumors that Spanish Jesuits were chafing under the Franco regime, mistrusting his Fascist allies. Nevertheless, such reports have been vouched for in France—where Catholic orders such as Jesuits and Dominicans are considerably more leftist than in the U. S., and where no less a prelate than Cardinal Verdier has advised Catholics not to take sides in the Spanish War. At a recent General Congregation in Rome—the first meeting of the high command of the Society of Jesus since 1923—French Catholics believe that this Jesuit left wing predominated. Immensely secret, the Congregation revealed only that it had elected a Perpetual Vicar General for the order, to help the ailing General, Very Rev. Wlodimir Ledochowsky, with his manifold duties. The new Vicar General, a 37-year-old Belgian named Maurice Schurmans, was saluted by French Jesuits as an able antiFascist, of a neutral nation, who would help orient the policies of the Society of Jesus toward a world-wide battle against Fascism as well as Communism.