With the recent allegations against the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, there is a great need for me to state that what we are looking at is no mere financial bankruptcy, but also a spiritual bankruptcy. What has happened to the Oregon Province of the Society should not surprise us in the least considering that the Society worldwide has wholeheartedly embraced modernism, liberalism, and the numerous other ills that have beset the Church since the calling of the Second Vatican Council by Pope John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli).
For a long time, I used to attend Mass at a former Jesuit seminary located near where I live. Many years ago, the scholasticate had been its own thriving city. Hundreds of Jesuit brothers and priests helped to maintain the grounds. A botanist Jesuit planted numerous species of maples and other exotic trees that are not native to this part of the country. A pious Jesuit brother built a beautiful grotto out of stone with his own hands. There was even a seismology lab located in that same seminary that allowed for the monitoring of seismic activity in the area. All of this is no more. The glory days of that seminary are long gone and it was eventually sold by the Jesuits to a sedevacantist group.
I remember talking with numerous Jesuits about that seminary. Many of them had fond memories of it. One of them once told me that he walked all the way from the seminary to the university, where he taught classes, and back again on a daily basis. This hike was nothing more than ten miles or so. In our own fast paced days, we cannot imagine someone doing this. Back in those days, however, it was still possible. The automobile, after all, was still a new invention and not everyone could afford one.
When one thinks about this magnificent edifice and its subsequent fate, one asks the question: What went wrong and why? Of course, there are many explanations. With the advent of Vatican II and its changes, the Society of Jesus also changed. Like numerous other religious Order around the world and across the United States, the Jesuits were forced by the Council to re-evaluate what they believed and to re-phrase it in the best way that they possibly could. Re-evaluation, of course, led to the embrace of ideas that had long been suppressed such as the beliefs and writings of Teilhard de Chardin (finder of Peking man) and liberation theology. Once the pandora’s box was opened, everything else came streaming through the windows. Nothing was safe anymore.
With the new ideas and beliefs swirling around, technology advancing, and the number of Jesuits going down, there was no reason to maintain a structure that could be used by someone else. Although the buildings were maintained as a retreat center and retirement home, the Jesuits simply were not able to keep the building in the shape that it had once been. It was, therefore, sold to a traditionalist Catholic group. What was once a beacon to the rest of the city of Jesuit scholarship and learning became a beacon to traditionalist Catholics around the country.
Of course, the story of the abandoned seminary is nothing new. Hundreds of seminaries have been closed over the years. Many young men that had vocations to the priesthood sought them elsewhere or did not follow them at all. The world has changed a great deal in forty years and so have the Jesuits.
In many ways, the Jesuits in the Oregon Province are dealing with the sins of their confreres. Being men that have taken vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty, the money actually does not even belong to them. It actually belongs to the thousands of laypeople who have supported their ministries over the years. It is their money that is going to pay for these crimes. In light of recent bankruptcies all over the United States, however, it is always the laypeople who pay.
A correspondent of mine recently asked me whether Bishop Williamson’s Holocaust denial or the sexual abuse was the bigger sin? I cannot honestly say. It is not my place to judge Bishop Williamson or the Jesuit for what they have done or have not done. The facts as posted on Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit speak for themselves.
To me, the only solution to the present problem would be for the Jesuits to re-examine their ideas in light of the Spiritual Exercises. If they were to live the Spiritual Exercises and Constitutions as written by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Society would be transformed into what it once was. Perhaps, we would see a resurgence of vocations. Perhaps, we would see scandals like this recede into the background. Perhaps…
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us!