Today in Catholic History – The Restoration of the Society of Jesus

On 7 August 1814, Pope Pius VII issued the bull Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum or “The care of all churches” which ended Clement XIV’s 1773 suppression of the Society of Jesus and restored the order throughout the world.

Clement XIV had been compelled to suppress the Jesuits due to the strong feelings against them by the various governments of Europe. The Society of Jesus was seen as the most powerful and public element of the Catholic Church in the years before the French Revolution, a time in which secular governments wished to enhance their position relative to that of the papacy. The desire to confiscate Jesuit wealth also encouraged the movement toward suppression.

When the governments of Europe threatened to break away from the Catholic Church unless the Jesuits were suppressed, Clement XIV felt he had no choice but to give into their demands. However, while the Jesuits were suppressed throughout the world, the Orthodox Russian Empress Catherine II refused to permit their suppression in her domain and there the Society of Jesus would survive until their later restoration.

Pius VII read the bull publically from the Jesuit church Il Gesu in Rome showing his great support for the Society of Jesus as a key element of his opposition to the forces of revolution which had contributed to the Napoleonic Wars. The Jesuits were to become tools in the new conservative movement that spread throughout Europe. Those nations that had previously sought the end of the Jesuits had also come to see the forces of the French Revolution as a greater threat.

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