Monthly Archives: February 2011

Four Works of Father Francis L. Filas, S.J. on Saint Joseph

See :


FILAS, FRANCIS L. Joseph and Jesus. A Theological Study of Their Relationship. Milwaukee: Bruce, 1952. xii + 180pp.

FILAS, FRANCIS L. Joseph Most Just. Theological Questions About St. Joseph. Milwaukee: Bruce, 1956. xii + 142pp.

FILAS, FRANCIS L. Joseph: the Man Closest to Jesus. The Complete Life, Theology and Devotional History of St. Joseph. Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1962. 678pp.

FILAS, FRANCIS L. St. Joseph After Vatican II. Conciliar Implications Regarding St. Joseph and His Inclusion in the Roman Canon. Staten Island: Society of St. Paul, 1969. 170pp.

“The End of Faith” by Sam Harris:

The Clementine Peace, by Philippe Dieudonné [Archivum Historicum Societatis Jesu]

La paix clémentine: défaite et victoire du premier jansénisme français sous le pontificat de Clément IX (1667-1669)

by Philippe Dieudonné
(Leuven: University Press, 2003)

Philippe Dieudonné has written before on the subject of the Clementine Peace of the Church. His “Fragilité de la Paix de l’Église” appeared in 1980, and then “Aux Origines de la Paix de l’Église: de la crise de 1665 à l’intervention du comte de Brienne” in 1994.

From his survey of the historiography, we learn that a thorough study of this question did not exist until his own dissertation. In fewer than three hundred pages he creates a synthesis using older published material and the newest archival discoveries. He indicates that wading through the documentation is daunting. We do not lack sources, rather there is too much! Dieudonné is a specialist, indebted for guidance to Lucien Ceyssens and Bruno Neveu. This serious study is a life’s work, though as a civil servant in Liège his time was divided and he describes the production of the volume as a “slow gestation”. However, this type of fine care is uncommon, and the quality is higher because of the way the book came into being. The author has thought long and hard about his subject. He proposes to be non-partisan in his method.

The author simplifies the project, stating that he will not refer much to Port-Royal since it had no direct bearing on the negotiations which led to the Clementine Peace. He adds, agreeing with Jean Orcibal, that Jansenism is not definable. It was an elite movement of the few, with special characteristics, but it eludes a tidy definition. The early Jansenists were impassioned men of letters, seeking to sway public opinion. Whether or not Jansenism was a heresy is open to debate, but Dieudonné suggests that it was a distortion of orthodoxy rather than an outright heterodoxy. In other words, they pushed some perfectly orthodox themes too hard, to the neglect of others, and this led to a doctrinal imbalance. Finally, Jansenism was pessimistic. It viewed the seventeenth century and ecclesiastical history as decadent. Well known as the sons of Trent, the Jesuits were part of that decay, “ignorant ultramontanes” who were not advocates of the pure Primitive Church so admired by Protestants and Jansenists. Antijesuitism was therefore really antiromanism.

Negotiations leading toward the Peace of the Church, a dream of Antoine Arnauld, bypassed François Annat, the royal confessor, and pursued a more direct route to the monarchy. Others were bypassed,  including Archbishop Hardouin de Beaumont de Péréfixe of Paris, and the French ambassador in Rome, Charles d’Albert d’Ailly (le duc de Chaulnes). The actors “in the loop” included the French secretary of state Hugues de Lionne, the nuncio Pietro Bargellini, and three French bishops who were enthusiastic mediators―Henri de Gondrin of Sens, Félix Vialart of Châlons, and César d’Estrées of Laon.The Peace was a compromise, but not a good one. The Holy See was compromised or deceived. The Gallican Church had deep anti-papal sentiments, and Rome underestimated their intensity. Did the pope deliberately allow himself to be deceived, for the sake of a greater good, in the hope of a future gain? The negotiators did not act in good faith. They witheld information concerning the “procès-verbaux” of the famous four refractary bishops―Nicolas Choart de Buzenval of Beauvais, Nicolas Pavillon of Alet, Henri Arnauld of Angers, and Étienne de Caulet of Pamiers. The idea was that the disobedience of 1665 (not to mention numerous other offenses of a doctrinal nature) would be forgiven for the obedience of 1668-1669. The impasse over the bull of Alexander VII (Fabio Chigi) would be transcended, or would it? Dieudonné says Clement IX (Giulio Rospigliosi) had a new dilemma. Should he react with full force by exercising his authority in an extraordinary way, once he finally knew the truth, or should he smooth things over with a naïve compromise?

In January 1669, Clement sent a brief of reconcilation to the refractary bishops, thanking them for their sincere submission (not true since they had not renounced their former errors), and another letter congratulating the mediator bishops (who had successfully protected their friends). The Jansenists and their Gallican allies had “pulled a fast one” and they were initially satisfied with Rome’s response. Cleverly the French got what they wanted; that included King Louis XIV, who wished to minimize papal assertions in his kingdom.

Even so, the author shows how the Peace of the Church was ambiguous and ephemeral. Antoine Arnauld was never reinstated in the Sorbonne, the documents of the Peace were not published in the usual proper way, hardly any ceremonial medals were struck, the Jansenists were still irritating to Louis XIV’s government,  nuncio Pietro Bargellini never became cardinal, the Jesuits (forced to be silent) were unhappy, and in the wake of the Peace most delicate consciences were disturbed, including that of Clement IX, who died prematurely. Schism was avoided, but at the price of genuine unity. At best, the Peace ushered in a brief period of tension and uncertainty.

Published in Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu, Volume 75,  fasc. 14 (January-June) 2006: 204-206.

Reverend Brian Van Hove, SJ

Alma, Michigan

The Counter Reformation and the “Constitutions” of Port-Royal, by F. Ellen Weaver [Archivum Historicum Societatis Jesu]

La Contre-Réforme et les ‘Constitutions de Port-Royal’
by F. Ellen Weaver
(Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2002)


The Council of Trent mandated that the religious orders go back to their authentic observances and their ancient rules. In France, which was in certain ways resistant to some Tridentine reforms, the Cistercians made the required effort. F. Ellen Weaver with care and a meticulous reading of the sources traces for us the genesis of the Constitutions of Port-Royal. This reformed Cistercian monastery was the focal point for the so-called Jansenist party in France. However, Weaver found nothing heterodox in the various editions of the Constitutions of Port-Royal (p. 176). In fact, part of what Jansenism advocated was later confirmed by the Second Vatican Council (pp. 199-200).

The basis for the Constitutions was in the Rule of Saint Benedict and the reform of Cîteaux, of which Port-Royal was a daughter foundation. Next, as a contribution from the period of the Counter-Reformation, we see the mark of Pierre de Bérulle and the Institut du Saint Sacrament, founded in 1633, but subsequently incorporated into Port-Royal in 1638. Some influence of Jean Duvergier de Hauranne de Saint-Cyran and “primitive Jansenism” may be noted here (pp. 130-131). Still, the edition of the Constitutions of 1648 was clear and simple (p. 139). Additions and corrections followed and the version of 1662 was printed in 1665. Weaver says that the earlier the version, the richer spiritually; the later the version, the more juridical and rigid. The 1665 version was needed by the polemicists as an arm in their arsenal to defend the monastery in time of persecution (pp. 154-155). Still, the printed version of 1721 conforms closely to the 1665 edition. Weaver suggests this new reprinting shows the vitality of the “myth of Port-Royal” (p. 170). Some amendments gathered into “chapters” were not to be found in the official printed Constitutions (p. 141).

The Jesuits are mentioned in this book only briefly and intermittently. It is remarked that Saint Ignatius did not have to go back to any more ancient rule since he had produced a wholly new one, the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, which was approved by the pope (p. 24). The original conflict between the Old Augustinians at Louvain and the Jesuits is briefly recalled (pp. 123-124). Jesuits were seen as the chief promoters of “Catholic humanism” in Europe. There was some concern that supporters of the Jesuits in Mons may have been trying to impede the printing by Gaspard Migeot of the 1665 Constitutions of Port-Royal, but nothing came of that (pp. 153-154). The Jesuit theologians Denis Petau and Jacques Sirmond are referred to as being consulted at the time of the Clementine Peace of the Church (p. 158). Jesuit royal confessors are known to have advised the monarchy toward the complete suppression of Port-Royal (p. 127).

Weaver is convinced that all the pressures and conflicts of the day did in some way influence the later Constitutions of Port-Royal. However, there is not much in them which may be called explicit about those controversies. This book is a fine textual analysis rather than a discussion of the controversy between Jesuits and Jansenists that forms the backdrop for the study of the church in the France of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Reverend Brian Van Hove, SJ

Alma, Michigan

Published in Archivum Historicum S. I., vol. 73, fasc. 145 (January-June 2004): 253-254.

Ernest Ruth d’Ans: The Patriarch of the Jansenists, by Michel Van Meerbeeck [Archivum Historicum Societatis Jesu]

Ernest Ruth d’Ans: “Patriarche des Jansénistes” (1653-1728): Une Biographie

by Michel Van Meerbeeck

Bibliothèque de la Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique, Fascicule 87
Brussels: Éditions Nauwelaerts, 2006
627 pages, paperbound


Paul-Ernest Ruth d’Ans (1653 ‒ 1728) was a secondary figure in the story of Belgian Jansenism.  This secretary to Antoine Arnauld was from Verviers in the Diocese of Liège, and he remained a lifelong subject of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège (4).  He was an ecclesiastical dean of Tournai and canon of the university church dedicated to the patroness of Brussels, Saint Gudula (+ 712).  His Vie de ste Gudule was published in 1703 and reprinted in 1837.  Works he edited included those of Blaise Pascal and Pasquier Quesnel, and a French-Latin Bible (330-332).  Printing in the Low Countries evaded the stricter French censorship laws and from there ensued a brisk trade of contraband back into France.

Ruth d’Ans was less accessible to scholarship than the Great Arnauld. Though Ernest lived a long life intimately involved with Jansenism and Antijansenism, he left no important original publications ‒ “Il vit avant de penser” (Introduction, xvii).  A bit of correspondence survived, and Michel Van Meerbeeck identified twenty-nine letters from a vast number which sustained severe losses (Introduction, xcii—xcvii).

There were earlier modest efforts to write Monsieur Ernest’s biography, but Van Meerbeeck at last produced the near-definitive study.  It benefited from an abundance of recent research.  He believed there may still be undiscovered (or undigested) sources, and in the Introduction (footnote 52, page xxii)  he suggested avenues for further study.

Van Meerbeeck was indebted to the historian of Jansenism and Antijansenism, Lucien Ceyssens, as well as to Émile Jacques, Bruno Neveu, Michel Nuttinck, Louis Demoulin, Jan Roegiers and a few others.

The premature death of his father made it more likely that Ernest would follow a church career. He was tonsured at the age of ten (15).  Ernest made his early studies at Louvain, arriving there in the fall of 1667 (18, 597).  At Louvain he first encountered “Jansenism” in some academic form (20).  Van Meerbeeck was quick to agree with Ceyssens that, of course, it was never possible to define Jansenism except to say that it was whatever the Antijansenists said it was (23, 607).  Perhaps it was a lengthy trip in 1670-1671 to Rome and Paris that ignited a devotion to certain Jansenists more than his university formation alone (38-40).  No true intellectual, instead Ruth d’Ans was a man of many relationships and doors always seemed open to him (57, 600).  In 1695 his book on vernacular in the liturgy, L’Année chrétienne, was condemned.  Liturgical reform was always part of the Jansenist program (601, 608).

Ernest was due to be ordained to the priesthood in 1674. However there was a delay and instead he made a retreat at Port-Royal in 1675 under Isaac le Maistre de Sacy (59).  Sacy was a disciple of Antoine Singlin, Saint-Cyran’s successor at Port-Royal (61).  The retreat was followed by an extended visit with Arnauld who was then sixty-three years old (49).  His attachment to Arnauld grew.  Having left behind his Louvain studies, by 1675-1676 Ruth d’Ans was a “secretary” to Arnauld (51).  In March 1676 he actually moved to the famous monastery of Port-Royal and there, forever guilty by association, he was a “Jansenist,” among the last of the solitaires (52-53, 57, 605-607).  In 1689, at age thirty-six, Ruth d’Ans was finally ordained priest, twenty-five years after tonsure and much uncertainty (60, 191).

Van Meerbeeck speculated that Ernest saw in Arnauld “a father figure” (54).  When Arnauld died we are told Ernest was “orphaned” for the second time (214).  Ruth d’Ans presided over the interment of Arnauld’s heart at Port-Royal in 1694, a ceremony attended by Jean Racine (57).

If we say that Jansenius and Saint-Cyran represented the grandfather stage, that Arnauld and Quesnel represented the next generation, then Ruth d’Ans represented the son-grandson stage.  He carried on the traditions of the Jansenism family, but in his case he contributed nothing new to a line going back to the reforming mystical inspiration launched by Pierre de Bérulle (1575-1629).  Indeed Ernest’s service as “secretary” defined his role as a secondary figure. Van Meerbeeck even calls the work he did “humbles travaux” [humble tasks] (57, 609).

Rather what made Ernest Ruth d’Ans significant was that he became the last public polemicist for the Jansenist party (594).  After his impenitent death in 1728 (589)  the Antijansenists (civil rulers, the pope and the Jesuits) won the war, so to speak, and then the Jansenists faded or went away until the French Revolution decimated both camps.

Reverend Brian Van Hove, S.J.

Alma, Michigan

Published in Archivum Historicum S. I., vol. 79, fasc. 158 (July-December 2010): 567-568.

Germain Grisez’s Press Release Concerning Father John C. Ford, S.J.

Date: February 2, 2011
From: Germain Grisez
Daytime: (301) 447-5771
Evening: (301) 447-6451



EMMITSBURG, Md.—Important new information concerning the work of the pontifical ‘birth control commission’ that studied the issue of contraception before Pope Paul VI published his encyclical Humanae Vitae is now available on the website of a prominent American theologian who was close to that body.

The new material appears on the website – – of Dr. Germain Grisez, emeritus professor of Christian Ethics at Mount Saint Mary’s University. It includes: A biographical sketch by Grisez of Father John C. Ford, S.J., an American moral theologian and expert on the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate, which contains previously unknown facts about the inner workings of that body.

Several internal documents of the commission, including the official reports on both its crucial fourth session in March, 1965 and its decisive final session in the spring of 1966.

A critical response prepared by Ford and Grisez at the request of Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and delivered by him to Pope Paul VI soon after he received the commission’s final report.

The Pontifical Commission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate was established by Blessed Pope John XXIII in March, 1963 to prepare for the Holy See’s participation in a forthcoming conference organized by the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
Pope Paul VI expanded the commission in June, 1964.

Pope Paul appointed Father Ford to the commission in October of that year, and as the work of that body moved into its crucial stage in June, 1966 the priest asked Grisez to come to Rome and lend him a hand in what he was doing.

The materials released by Grisez provide new information concerning the role of the commission’s Secretary General, the Rev. Henri de Riedmatten, a Dominican priest with the Vatican Secretariat of State. He is depicted as working to influence the commission to recommend change in the Catholic Church’s teaching condemning contraception.

In the event, Humanae Vitae, which Pope Paul issued in July, 1968, reaffirmed the traditional teaching that contraception is morally wrong.

Grisez’s biography of Father Ford is an insightful account of the Jesuit priest, who before the Humanae Vitae controversy was the leading American Catholic moral theologian of his day.
He was among the founders in 1940 of the scholarly journal, Theological Studies, and he published a lengthy article in that journal in 1944 condemning as immoral the saturation bombing in which the United States and the United Kingdom were even then engaging.
Father Ford, born in 1902—27 years before Grisez—died in 1989.