In Response to: Cowardly Betrayal

Mr. Coleman worries that the editors of America, the Jesuit magazine, may have misinterpreted the Jesuit calling by politicizing its views on Brett Kavanaugh. As an historian, I prefer to worry about the Jesuit tradition. For some it is a liberal Catholic tradition, especially in the years since the Vietnam War and in the days of the first and only Jesuit pope, Francis. For others like myself, the Jesuits represented the application of intellectual activity for the glorification of the most ultramontane tendencies of the Roman Church. The Jesuits sought to educate mostly the elites as a way of keeping them Catholic against the Protestant and later the secular threats to Catholicism. Sometimes this involved what could be called liberal, but more often than not it could be called ultra-conservative and reactionary. It was the Jesuits who brought the Bohemians, the Polish nobles, and the Austrians back into the Catholic fold after having become very Protestant in the 16th century. The Jesuits took the very religiously tolerant Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the 16th century and turned it into an anti-Semitic, anti-Protestant, anti-Eastern Orthodox bastion of Rome. Evangelical Catholics disputed the theology of the Jesuits that was not to their liking, and many disapproved of the tradition of mental reservation which the Jesuits had pioneered in self-defense. Voltaire was educated by the Jesuits, and he called them a pack of pederasts!

Some Jesuits fought the Nazis, others fought the Jews during the great European Civil War of the first half of the 20th century. So when you say Jesuit, be careful what you mean and don't mean.

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.