Geschichte der deutschen Jesuiten.
The Society of Jesus initiated the serious engagement with its own history, thanks to its 24th General Congregation (1892) and the leadership of Superior General Luis Martin (1892-1906). The first volume of the Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu appeared in 1894. The Monumenta and historical scholarship have privileged the so-called Old Society, that is, from the foundation of the order in 1540 to the papal suppression of 1773. In the first half of the twentieth century, Jesuits began producing multi volume histories of the Society in this period. Bernhard Duhr wrote on the Jesuits in German-speaking lands, and Henri Fouqueray wrote on the Society in France. The fourth volume of Pietro Tacchi Venturi's Storia della Compagnia di Gesu in Italia ended only in 1565. John O'Malley inspired a new generation of scholars of the early modern period with The First Jesuits (1993). The so-called New Society, restored by Pope Pius VII in 1814, has unfortunately attracted less interest from historians. Especially for the period before the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the Society labored under the unsavory impression of being monolithically reactionary, antimodern, and ultramontanist.
German Jesuit historian Klaus Schatz has produced a monumental history of the German Jesuits in modern times, a fascinating achievement showing that these Jesuits constituted anything but a monolith. He presents them in their wide variety of ministries, religious outlooks, and personalities. These volumes present first and foremost a rich, abundantly documented history of Jesuit priests and brothers reclaimed by meticulous archival research. Schatz has adopted Duhr's institutional methodology. After opening each period with the larger historical context of the Society, he lets us see the German Jesuits at work on the provincial level, in the various stages of their formation, within their spiritual culture and religious controversies, in their local communities, in their scholarship, missionary work, other ministries, and at the Germanicum in Rome. In volume 3 he profiles a few notable Jesuits, such as the biblical scholar and troubleshooter Augustin Bea and the adamant anti-Nazi Friedrich Muckermann, and investigates in the same volume and the next sample cases of Jesuits who left or were expelled from the Society.
In volume 1 we learn of the reemergence of the Society. Pius VII's restoration of the Society in the Russian Empire in 1801 and in the Kingdom of Naples in 1804 aroused revivalist hopes among ex-Jesuits and aspiring Jesuits. The revival in Germany traces its origins to a religious association of priests, the Peres de la Foi, founded by Niccolo Peccanari in Rome in 1797. Peccanari did not want to restore the Old Society; instead his aim was to establish a "reformed" order in line with the principles of Ignatius of Loyola. In 1805, six Peccanaristi arrived in Sion (Sitten), the capital of the Valais, a region that had remained Catholic after the Reformation and formally became a canton of Switzerland in 1815. Their initial task was to take over the direction of the former Jesuit school in Sion under the leadership of Giuseppe Sineo de la Torre. The six separated from Peccanari's group in 1806, desiring to join the reviving Jesuits. They realized their plan in 1810, when the Superior General in St. Petersburg recognized their community. The community in Sion, along with a second Valaisian community in Brig, formed the Swiss Mission (Missio Helvetica) in 1814. Out of this Mission grew the Vice-Province of Switzerland and Lower and Upper Germany in 1821, which achieved the status of a full province, the Upper German, in 1826. From 1853 to 1921, the province was called simply the German Province. The volume ends with the Jesuit Law of 1872, a prominent instrument of the Kulturkampf which banished Jesuits from the newly unified German Reich.
S. devotes the second volume to the period of exile, which ended with the repeal of the Jesuit Law in 1917. This was a time of tremendous growth. In 1872, the German Province counted 755 members. By 1907 that number had almost doubled to 1,400 members. Jesuit formation took place for the most part in the Netherlands, centered on the college (scholasticate and theologate) at Valkenburg, the largest German Jesuit house until World War II. From 1872 to 1895, many German Jesuits received their theological training at Ditton Hall, Cheshire, England. In exile, the German Province developed its gift for intellectual prowess and dedication to missionary work. German Jesuits were particularly active in the United States (the Buffalo Mission and the Sioux Mission in South Dakota), as well as in Denmark, Sweden, southern Brazil, Bombay, the Zambezi Mission (in modern Zimbabwe), and Japan. As of 1879, they began operating in Germany--illegally of course--by preaching missions, especially in small towns and in the countryside in order not to draw attention to themselves. These Volksmissionen "were the only means to maintain contact with ordinary Catholic people" (267).
Volume 3 (1917-1945) unfolds the division of the single German Province into a northern and southern province (1921) and a third eastern province (1931) of priests and brothers residing and ministering legally again in Germany. (By 1937 with the decreasing possibilities of contact between Germany and Switzerland, the Swiss Jesuits became de facto independent of the German southern province. A Swiss vice-province formally emerged in 1947.) The reconsolidation of the German Jesuits in the 1920s saw the establishment of a school of philosophy in Pullach near Munich and of theology (St. Georgen) in Frankfurt, a city that Superior General Wladimir Ledochowski derided as "the bastion of Judaism and liberalism" (30). The expansion of Jesuit ministries in the Weimar Republic ended in the crisis of confrontation with National Socialism. The last chapter serves as an instructive first comprehensive treatment of the Jesuits "under the oppression (Druck) of the Third Reich" (323). S. divides the Jesuits' relationship with the dictatorship into three phases: an effort to seek a modus vivendi with the Nazi regime (1933-36), the destruction of the major Jesuit enterprises (1936-1940), the forcible closing of many Jesuit houses, and the exacerbation of the Nazi campaign against the Catholic Church in general and the Society of Jesus in particular (1941-1945).
S. divides volume 4 into two periods: 1945-1965 and 1965-1983. The first period marks a resumption of ministry after the destruction of World War II. The German Jesuits decided to revive their major institutions in Gennany but give up their institutions outside the country: the college in Valkenburg and the school and novitiate in Feldkirch, Austria. Life in postwar Germany was difficult. After the so-called Biesdorf trial in 1958 of four Jesuit priests in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Jesuits had to operate carefully under the Communist regime; they experienced increasing isolation from their confreres of the eastern province in West Berlin and in the Federal Republic. By the 1950s a generational cleavage divided older and younger Jesuits over questions about the modes of religious life in contemporary Germany. Despite limited access to archival sources, S. presents the second, more recent, period with his usual historical precision. Although membership in the eastern province continued to rise into the early 1970s, according to its provincial it had no future in a divided Germany. In 1978, the western and eastern provinces merged into a northern province. (North and south united to become again a single German Province in 2004.)
By 1983, a dramatic decline in numbers, especially among novices and brothers, was evident. For German Jesuits the period 1965-83 was a turbulent one. Internal tensions emerged in the wake of Vatican II, the new directions adopted by the 31st and 32nd General Congregations (1965, 1974-1975), the publication of the papal encyclical Humanae vitae (1968), and domestic controversies that saw prominent German Jesuits, including Karl Rahner, publish opinions without prior permission of their superiors. Beginning in 1966, the annual provincial symposia served not only as a forum for sometimes-vehement debate but also as an instrument of reconciliation. Amid the strain of controversy, the symposia, like no other institution, kept the German Jesuits united.
Volume 5, an indispensable reference tool, completes Schatz's Geschichte. It consists of several collections of data: a bibliography that includes a list of archival sources and oral interviews; a glossary of Jesuit terminology; statistical graphs of the numbers of German Jesuits and of men entering the Society; the locations of the provincialates, formation houses, and communities; and extensive indexes. A register of brief biographical entries of "German Jesuits or Jesuits active in Germany," spanning more than 300 pages, makes up the bulk of the volume.
With his magnum opus Schatz has done more than deliver a penetrating history of the German Jesuits of the modern era. He has demonstrated that writing the history of the Society of Jesus since its restoration is a desirable and rewarding, albeit challenging, enterprise. His Geschichte will serve as the essential starting point for more detailed research on the German Jesuits and should direct serious scholarly attention to the modern history of the Society.
Hilmar M. Pabel
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia
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|Author:||Pabel, Hilmar M.|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2014|
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