The Jesuits: Ideals, Cultures and Controversies from 1540 to the Present
Of all Catholic religious orders, the Jesuits (also known as the Society of Jesus) have been the most conspicuously innovative, international, influential—and mistrusted. This seminar offers a select intellectual and cultural history of perceptions and realities concerning the Society of Jesus from its foundation through the election in 2013 of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope. It was a Spanish aristocrat and ex-soldier, Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in 1540, amidst the severe religious crisis sparked by the Protestant Reformation; from the start, his followers were expected to go out into the world and “find God in all things." And so the Jesuits wore practical clothes while making a mark as tireless champions of the Papacy; rigorous thinkers, scientists, and educators; skilled architects, artists, composers and poets; feared counselors of state rulers; and fearless missionaries to distant locales, including Japan, China, India and the New World. In this seminar, students will screen video interviews with current leaders in Jesuit thought; and delve into unpublished documents bearing upon Papal and Jesuit history from a recently-uncovered private archive in Rome, digitized thanks to a grant of Rutgers University Strategic Funds.