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Reductions. Despite their remarkable accomplishments, the Jesuits were suppressed in 1773 by Pope Clement XIV, and the order was disbanded for 41 years. The suppression grew out of a convergence of hatreds. The anticlerical freethinkers of the Enlightenment detested the Jesuits. So did Jansenist Catholics, who adhered to a puritanical view of man's depravity. Their most articulate spokesman was Blaise Pascal, who, in his eloquently satirical Provincial Letters, accused the Jesuits of abetting the decay of Christianity by their lax moral and ascetic teachings. Their papal loyalty, furthermore, infuriated believers in the new nationalism. A magnanimous missionary project in New Spain−the "Paraguay Reductions"−grew into self-sufficient Indian strongholds under Jesuit protection, angering European colonists who spread calumnies against the order. Finally, the Pope bowed to the mounting pressure of France, Portugal and Spain and decreed that the Jesuits should disband for the sake of church harmony.
Some Jesuits found a haven in the realm of Catherine the Great of Russia, who esteemed Jesuit teaching and resolved to keep the society's schools alive. Others functioned as secular clergymen, joined other orders or created ad hoc communities with new names. When the order was restored by Pope Pius VII in 1814, there was a cadre of 600 Jesuits to begin again. But so wary were the Jesuits of earning new criticism that their first post-restoration general, Jan Roothaan, set a pattern for defensively prudent administration that few successors have risen above.
The relative timidity of Jesuit leadership in the years since restoration has not meant the eclipse of Jesuit accomplishment. Contemporary Jesuit theologians, for instance, helped shape the Second Vatican Council. Probably the most eminent Catholic theologian alive is Germany's Jesuit Karl Rahner, whose works have been translated into more languages (47) than Goethe's. Canada's Bernard J.F. Lonergan has built a formidable reputation on two brilliant but difficult works, Insight (1957) and Method in Theology (1972). A newer name, at least to Northern Hemisphere Christians, is Montevideo's Juan Luis Segundo, whose theology is just beginning to appear in English. The restored society has also produced the other kinds of creative minds that distinguished its earlier eras, including Philosopher-Paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The question troubling Jesuits today is not so much what they have done or can do, but rather who they are or who they should be. Says Father Paul Reinert, now in his 25th year as president of the Jesuits' St. Louis University: "I have been a Jesuit since 1927. Never have I engaged in so much introspection as I have in the past five years." Pedro Arrupe has called another general congregation to meet in Rome in 1974 or 1975, at which Jesuit delegates will decide which directions they want to explore and which they need to turn away from.
Ignatius himself once said: "If the whole society should come to an end. it would take 15 minutes for me to regain my composure." Such a spirit of brusque and even self-abnegating