Abelly: Book 2/Chapter 12

From Vincentian Encyclopedia

The Efforts of Monsieur Vincent to Combat the Errors of Jansenism

In imitation of the patriarch Job, this humble and faithful servant of God could say about the errors which have troubled the Church in this present century, that what he had most feared had come to pass. [1] He found himself involved in what he had always regarded as most dangerous.

He once said to his community:

All my life I have dreaded the birth of some new heresy. I have seen the damages inflicted by those of Luther and Calvin, and how many people of all ranks have succumbed to the deadly poison after merely tasting the false doctrines of the so-called reformers. I have always feared being engulfed in the errors of some new doctrine before knowing what was happening. Yes, all my life I have feared this. [2]

He repeated this same idea many times to others, people of virtue and worthy of confidence.

Nevertheless, by a singular design of his Providence, God willed that what he feared came about. In his lifetime Jansenism appeared in the Church, and even before this new heresy appeared he became involved with one of its first apologists. This was to show most clearly his firm faith and vigorous zeal. It also established him as a pillar of iron in the Church, as a wall of granite, (as was said of an ancient prophet [3]) to maintain and defend the truth.

In preparing him and warning him against these new errors, God permitted him to form a close friendship with a priest, originally from his own province. [4] After a long stay at the university of Louvain, he returned to France. With him, he brought Jansenius, his classmate and confidant in the new doctrines which he had conceived to reform the Church in her discipline and in several points of her faith. [5]

This priest visited his own province and some others also, and realized there was no place like Paris for propagating his errors. He met there some people willing to listen to him, either out of vain curiosity, or to appear to be someone special in hearing from him a new doctrine unknown, as he said, these last centuries to the scholastic doctors.

Seeing the esteem several persons had for his countryman because of his learning and other good qualities, Monsieur Vincent believed his conversations could not but be helpful to him and to his Company, which then was in its infancy. He used to visit often, and this led to a close friendship. Monsieur Vincent was that mystic bee with no other aim than to draw out that honey of good doctrine, and other fitting counsels that he felt he could take from his friend. The priest, on the contrary, wished to profit from these conversations and friendship to insinuate the venom of his errors and his pernicious maxims into the mind of Monsieur Vincent. He hoped then to influence the entire Company, and so to spread his views into many other places.

Since Monsieur Vincent was disposed to listen to him, this is why he began little by little to put forth some of his own ideas. They were based on such beautiful pretexts and interspersed with other good and holy ideas that a mind less enlightened than Monsieur Vincent's would have had difficulty appreciating them in their true light.

This faithful servant of God was at first surprised to hear such an extraordinary doctrine and such maxims. The more the Abbe went in his explanations the more these ideas began to appear suspect to Monsieur Vincent, and even dangerous. One day, as on other occasions, they were discussing together some point of the doctrine of Calvin. He was surprised to hear the Abbe take the side, and defend the errors of this heresiarch. When he pointed out that the Church had condemned this doctrine of Calvin, the Abbe replied that Calvin was not so much wrong as poorly understood, adding the Latin words, bene sensit, male locutus est ["He understood well, but he spoke badly"]. [6]

Another time, as this Abbe was heatedly supporting a proposition condemned by the Council of Trent, Monsieur Vincent felt charity demanded some response. "Monsieur, you go too far. What? Do you want me to believe someone like yourself, subject to error, rather than to believe the entire Church, which is the dove of truth? It teaches me something, and you suggest the opposite. Oh, Monsieur, how can you prefer your own judgment to that of the best heads in the world, and to so many holy prelates assembled in the Council of Trent, who have pronounced on this point?" "Don't speak to me of the council," replied the Abbe, "it was a council of the pope and scholastics, with little else but intrigues and cabals."

These rash words from a spirit intoxicated with self-esteem and beginning to leave the straight path of truth, obliged Monsieur Vincent, with his singular respect for all decisions of the Church, to exercise much more circumspection in his conversations with this man. He saw them as dangerous, and if he continued in this way he was determined to break off contact completely. He did not have long to wait, for this to happen in another encounter with his friend.

Going one day to visit, Monsieur Vincent found him in his room reading the Bible. He remained for a while not saying anything, not to disturb his reading. Finally, the Abbe turned to him and said, "Do you see, Monsieur Vincent, what I am reading? It is Holy Scripture, and God has given me a perfect understanding of it, and many lights to help me in explaining it. Holy Scripture is clearer in my own mind even than it is in itself." These were his very words, which Monsieur Vincent spoke of several times. [7]

Another day, Monsieur Vincent had celebrated mass at Notre Dame, and went to visit the Abbe, whom he found shut up in his study. When he finally emerged some time later, Monsieur Vincent smilingly said to him in his usual good-natured way: "Admit it, Monsieur, you have been writing down what graces God favored you with in your morning mental prayer." After inviting him to be seated, the Abbe responded, "I must confess to you, God has given and continues to give me great lights. He has shown me that the Church no longer exists." Seeing the surprise of Monsieur Vincent, he repeated, "No, the Church no longer exists. God has made me see that for the past five or six hundred years there has been no Church. Previously, the Church had been like a great river of flowing clear water. Now, what we have been calling the Church is no more than a stream of slime. The bed of this river remains the same, but the waters have changed."

"What, Monsieur," Monsieur Vincent said, "do you prefer your own thoughts to the word of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said he would build his Church upon a rock, and the gates of hell would not prevail against her? The Church is his spouse, and he will never abandon it. The Holy Spirit will always be at hand to help her." The Abbe replied, "Indeed, Jesus built his Church upon a rock, but there is a time to build up and a time to tear down. She was his spouse, but she is now an adulteress and a prostitute. This is why he has repudiated her, and he wills another more faithful one should be substituted for her." Monsieur Vincent told him he was far from the respect he owed the truth, adding that he should be most hesitant about his own sentiments, so preoccupied as he was with bad thoughts. After some further remarks, they left each other's company.

Monsieur Vincent himself recounted all these events on several occasions, either to some members of his own Congregation, or to others from outside, who have reported them. He always spoke of them with sorrow, and did so only when obliged by some motive of charity, to disabuse or to warn people against the surprises of these new doctrines.

He was aware from this time that his exalted opinion of his own prowess had blinded the Abbe, and he was being moved by presumption and pride. Also, the Abbe was likely to fall into the abyss of a new heresy and probably would influence many others to follow him. Thus, Monsieur Vincent felt the obligation in charity and the bonds of his former friendship to make a last effort to save him, by the exercise of fraternal correction.

With this intention Monsieur Vincent one day paid him a visit. After some usual pleasantries he began to speak of the obligation of submitting one's judgment to the Church, and of having a greater respect and deference for the holy Council of Trent than he had shown before. Coming to particulars, to some of the erroneous propositions he had advocated, Monsieur Vincent made him see that these were contrary to the doctrine of the Church. Monsieur Vincent showed him that he was making a great mistake in entering upon this labyrinth of errors, and even more, in having tried to entice him and his whole Congregation down this same slippery path. He begged him, in the name of our Lord, to retrace his steps before it was too late.

We do not know the details of this conversation, but only that Monsieur Vincent spoke so strongly to him that he seemed so bewildered as not to respond at all. However, he found it difficult to accept this intervention, which struck him to the heart. Upon returning to his abbey, he wrote a lengthy letter a month later to justify himself. We will cite here only some extracts.

The natural humility which is part of your character leads you to believe what others tell you of Holy Scripture. It helps me see nothing is easier than for you to accept what you now see as my mistakes. When I heard you in your fraternal admonitions add this fifth reproach to the four we had spoken of before, that I was interfering with you and your entire house, I felt it was not the moment to defend myself. I was happy to accept this from a person who has honored me for such a long time with his friendship, and who has the reputation in Paris of being a man totally given to doing good.

What struck me with admiration was that you, who profess to be so meek and so reserved, have taken the part of those rising up against me. You joined others in their attacks, and even added the insult of coming to see me in my own quarters, something no one else dared do. I take the liberty of pointing out that none of the prelates who haunt your house, with whom I am not in agreement, and whose approval of my opinions I do not seek when I speak with them in private, are delighted and thank me for what I have to say.

After several other intemperate expressions, his inflated opinion of himself made him reject all the charitable suggestions of his faithful friend. He ended his letter as follows:

I have put up with certain practices of yours, especially seeing how attached you were to them because of the advice of the great personages you consulted. I was always careful to keep these thoughts to myself, that God did not at all approve of what you did, for they could be justified only by a true simplicity rare indeed among Christians. I rarely agree with what a saint of our own day has said, that of the ten thousand who profess to be directors of souls, scarcely a single one is worthy of the name. The only thing which excuses them before God is simplicity of mind. I had the patience to let you go on, and to accept only by condescension what I did not entirely agree with. [8]

This letter allows us to see the hope the Abbe had of attracting Monsieur Vincent to his own party, and to insinuate his opinions and maxims into the Congregation of the Mission. By a singular grace, God preserved the father and children alike from this contagion and always maintained them in a faithful and sincere profession of the truths recognized and taught by the Church.

Some time later this Abbe, persisting in spreading secretly his evil doctrine, was put in prison by the king's order, and his papers seized. [9] Among them was found the draft of the letter we have just quoted, which came to light in this way. The judge questioned him publicly on what Monsieur Vincent had said to him to provoke his letter. It would have been hoped that this detention would humble his spirit, and open his eyes to what was happening, but this did not occur. Those of his party used their influence to have him released, but by a secret judgment of his Providence, God soon after called him from this life. [10]

About this same time two pernicious books promoted by this Abbe appeared. The one attempted to show that Saints Peter and Paul had received from God an equal power in the government of the Church, thus striving to undermine the authority of the head of the Church. [11] The other book was Augustinus by Jansenius, which has since made such a disturbance and caused such division in France and throughout the Church. [12] Monsieur Vincent was well aware of the dangerous source of this new doctrine, and felt himself obliged to do all in his power to have it condemned.

To begin with, among other things he did, he wrote to a cardinal, [13] on October 4, 1646, as follows:

I most humbly beseech Your Eminence that I might send you some pages written by one of the most learned of our theologians, and one of our most honest, but who does not wish to be named. [14] These refute the opinion of the two leaders, Saints Peter and Paul. He has learned from the Gazette of Rome that the book he refutes is being examined, and that two doctors of the Sorbonne have testified the doctrine of the book is that of their faculty. After this same faculty heard that this opinion of the two leaders was ascribed to them, they assembled, and declared to the nuncio that these two professors are in error. The faculty is of the contrary opinion. They asked him to have the next issue of the Gazette report that this doctrine was erroneously reported as being theirs.

Thus it came about that this good and virtuous person brought me these writings with the request that I send them on to Rome, and help those whom His Holiness has delegated to examine the book in question. He found that the passages seeking to support the equality of Saint Peter and Saint Paul are refuted by the very authors themselves, one after the other. [15]

After this letter was sent, the Holy See censured and condemned the book on the two leaders. [16] Monsieur Vincent had the consolation of seeing in this the happy outcome of his own efforts in this regard.

Monsieur Vincent quickly realized that the book by Jansenius was a collection in bits and pieces of all the late Abbe had been speaking of in the conversations he had with him. The venom of this new doctrine was the more to be feared because it claimed to be restoring theology to its original purity. This is why, with his greater awareness, he felt obliged to provide some antidote to warn others against the dangerous reading, while waiting for the authority of the Church to bring a more definitive remedy. He requested several persons of learning and piety to take up the pen in refutation of the errors of this evil book. Among others was the late Monsieur de Raconis, bishop of Lavaur, [17] whom he advised and with whom he worked to stop the spread of this evil doctrine. This has come to light by the discovery of several letters written to Monsieur Vincent by the bishop at this time, of which we will cite only one:

Since yesterday, after I had the honor of speaking with you, I have seen the Prince de Conde on the matter of Jansenius. I found him eager and enlightened about the errors of this author. He encouraged me greatly to continue my work, and to encourage your zeal for the defense of the Church. We spoke at length, to my complete satisfaction. He had two recommendations for me. The first was to see the nuncio, to tell him that the prince, [18] for his part, would be available to meet with him to talk over this matter, and to explain the absolute necessity for the good of both Church and state to reply to this author. I took care of this at once. After a long talk, I agreed with the nuncio, that I would draw up a catalogue of the errors of Jansenius already condemned either by councils or by popes. I promised to do this. From there I returned to see the prince, who was delighted at the way this turned out. He assured me he would speak to the queen and to Cardinal Mazarin about the importance of this matter.

The second recommendation he made to me was to assure you of his zeal in this matter, and his willingness to work together with you. [19]

Since this false doctrine influenced many to follow these novelties, and since Monsieur Vincent had been invited into the queen's council from the very beginning of the regency, he explained to Her Majesty and to Cardinal Mazarin the importance to religion and to the state of not offering benefices or positions to any suspected of these novelties. Knowing that the professorships and pulpits were the sources from which saving waters of doctrine and morality were drawn, he did all in his power to assure that those appointed were well grounded in the common teachings of the Church. He had prayers offered for this intention, and used other means for this purpose, as his charity dictated.

He often consulted with the nuncio and with the chancellor [20] on the ways to arrest the spread of this false doctrine. Once, when he learned that someone wanted to defend a thesis suspected of Jansenism in a religious house, he used his influence to have it stopped. This is what he wrote to a worthy prelate:

Your Excellency, a religious of this city has advanced a thesis in support of a proposition tainted with Jansenism, and which the Sorbonne has condemned. The chancellor forbade the assembly and the public defense customary on these occasions. When the superior protested, he was sent for, and told that as he contravened the order, he and his community would be dealt with appropriately. He was sent to the nuncio, who reproached him for allowing this thesis to appear. He threatened him and all those favoring this doctrine with punishment, and with being reported to the pope and the general of their order. This superior and all his community punished this religious. They declared him unable to accept any responsibility or office in the order, deprived him of his active and passive voice, and ordered him expelled from their house. This leads us to hope that if such measures are taken to prevent these abuses, this pernicious doctrine will soon die out. [21]

This faithful servant of God lost no occasion to prevent these errors from causing havoc in the Church. However, this evil continued to grow despite all efforts to oppose its progress, and it began to appear everywhere. It introduced division into the schools and even into religious communities, and sometimes into secular families. It in some way threatened the tranquility of the state. Monsieur Vincent was aware of this evil, and foresaw the deadly results that it was likely to produce. He prayed incessantly to God, and thought often within himself how the progress of this heresy might be stopped. He used many prayers and practiced many mortifications to appease God's anger, and to secure from his infinite goodness the favor of these ills from happening. His prayers and tears were not without effect. It appeared soon after that several prelates of the kingdom were moved by a holy zeal for preserving the faith and the Catholic religion. They resolved to petition the Holy See to prompt and decisive action in remedying these disorders. [22] He was very consoled, and praised their intention, all the while urging other prelates he knew to join their voices to the others. This is what he wrote to several, in February 1651:

The evil results produced by some of the current opinions have convinced a good number of our prelates of the kingdom to write to our Holy Father the pope, to urge him to pronounce judgment on this doctrine.

The reasons leading them to do this are, first, they hope that this will hold those to orthodox doctrine who otherwise might drift away. This happened when the censure appeared on the question of the two leaders.

Second, this is a rapidly spreading evil, because it seems to be tolerated.

Third, Rome believes that most of our bishops in France themselves hold the new opinions. Rome must be convinced that in reality few hold these views.

Fourth, this agrees with the Council of Trent. It ordained that if opinions arose contrary to what it had decided, recourse should be had to the Sovereign Pontiff to decide. This is what we wish to do, Your Excellency, by the enclosed letter, in the hope you would add your signature to the forty others who have already signed it, as the enclosed list will confirm. [23]

Besides this circular letter which he sent to several bishops, he wrote personally to one, from whom he had received no reply: [24]

Paris, April 23, 1651

Your Excellency, some time ago I sent you a copy of a letter which most of the bishops of the kingdom wished to send to our Holy Father the pope. They asked him to pronounce on the new doctrine, hoping you would be good enough to sign, if you would wish to be among their number. Since I have not had the honor of hearing from you, I fear that perhaps you did not receive it, or you may have been put off by an account sent everywhere by the adherents of this doctrine to persuade the bishops not to sign. As a result, Your Excellency, I am sending you a second copy. In the name of our Lord please consider the necessity of this letter, caused by the division which the new doctrine introduces into families, cities, and the universities. It is a fire spreading daily, debasing spirits, and menacing the Church with irreparable desolation if a prompt remedy is not forthcoming.

The present state of affairs does not allow us to await a general council. Besides, you are aware of how long it takes to bring one about, and how long the last one took. This remedy is too far off for an evil so pressing. What then is the remedy for this? Beyond doubt, it must be the Holy See, not only because the Council of Trent in its last session reserved to it the resolution of difficulties which might arise from its decisions. If the Church decides in a general council canonically assembled, as it was, and if the Holy Spirit guides the Church as we may not doubt, why do we not follow the light of this Spirit which directed us in these doubtful circumstances to have recourse to the Sovereign Pontiff? This reason alone, Your Excellency, urges me to count you among the sixty prelates who already have signed the letter, which is nothing but a simple proposition. Besides, some others may still sign.

If someone were to object that he ought not state his opinion so far in advance on a matter that he might later have to judge, we may respond that it seems unlikely that we will have a council for them to be judges at. But supposing the opposite, having recourse to the pope is no obstacle. Saints have protested new opinions, but this did not keep them from councils where they acted as judges and condemned erroneous opinions.

If the popes impose silence in this matter, forbidding people to speak, write, and argue about it, would this not falsify the position of the pope as head of the Church, to whom all members should be able to contact? We should be able to have recourse to him, to be assured in our doubts and worries. To whom then should we refer? And how will His Holiness know of developing troubles if he is not informed about them?

If it should be argued, Your Excellency, that a long delay in his answer or one less decisive than what we would wish, would serve only to increase the boldness of our opponents, I can assure you the nuncio has news from Rome. Once His Holiness has a letter from the king of France, and another from a representative number of the bishops of the kingdom, he will give his decision. Her Majesty has decided to write, and the First President has said only that provided the bull from the Holy See does not originate from the Inquisition at Rome, the Parlement will receive and publish it.

What will have been gained should a third objection be raised, that is, once the pope has decided, those favoring the new doctrines do not submit? This may be true of some, especially those of the party of the late Monsieur N. [Saint Cyran.] He was not disposed to submit to the decisions of the pope, nor even to those of a council. I am aware of this, Your Excellency, from my own experience. Some may be as obstinate as himself, blinded by their own importance. A few others, attracted only by what is new, or by some friendship or family, or because they have not thought these matters through carefully enough, will now draw back, rather than rebel against their own lawful father. We saw something of this in the controversy about the book on the two leaders, and on the Catechism on Grace. [25] Once they were censured, they were no longer talked about. It is greatly to be hoped, Your Excellency, that many souls be disabused of the errors in the rest of these new doctrines, as they were of these points, and that others should be helped to avoid these newer errors.

The example of a man named Labadie is a proof of the evil nature of this new doctrine. [26] This is an apostate priest with a great reputation as a preacher. He caused great harm in Picardy, and later in Gascony, but finally joined the Huguenots in Montauban. In a book he wrote on his so-called conversion, he stated that since he was a Jansenist, he has found the same beliefs in the new religion he has joined. Their ministers, Your Excellency, boast in their preaching that most Catholics are of their opinion, and will soon come over to their side. Since this is so, should we not do all we can to extinguish this fire which gives such assurance to the sworn enemies of our religion? Who would not attack this beast which begins to ravage the Church, and which shall devour it, if it is not crushed at birth? What would the many courageous and saintly bishops we now have, wish they would have done, if they had been in office at the time of Calvin? We can now see the mistakes in doctrine of that earlier time. They were not opposed strongly enough, and have thus caused so many wars and divisions.

At that time there was much uncertainty, but our bishops are now much better educated, and they show much more zeal for the faith. Take the bishop N. [Alain de Solminihac], of Cahors, for example. He lately wrote to tell me of a defamatory libel which appeared against our letter. It is the spirit of heresy, he told me, not to accept just correction and reprimand, and to have recourse to violent attacks and calumny. We are now at that point, as I have always thought we would come to.

Because I had expressed the hope that he would take care to recover from an accident he had suffered, he said he would, but only to take his place in the battle about to begin, in which he hoped, with God's help, we would emerge victorious. That is what this good bishop says. We expect the same from you, Your Excellency, who are so active in preaching the orthodox doctrines of the Church in your diocese. You undoubtedly would be happy to see the Holy Father require this same doctrine to be preached everywhere, and to repress those new opinions so steeped with the errors of Calvin. This would certainly contribute to the glory of God, the peace of the Church, and I dare say, to that of the state. We see this more clearly at Paris than elsewhere. If it were not for this, Your Excellency, I would not have troubled you with such a long exposition. In your goodness please forgive me, for I dared write only in recognition of the danger. [27]

Among the other bishops to whom Monsieur Vincent wrote, two responded jointly, explaining why they did not choose to sign the letter. [28] He replied to them in a letter which follows, in which we can see his spirit and his zeal:

Your Excellencies, I have received with the respect I owe to your virtue and dignity, the letter you did me the honor to send, towards the end of May, in response to mine on the questions which now trouble us. I observe many thoughts worthy of the rank you hold in the Church, which seem to incline you to keep silent in the present controversies. I take the liberty of presenting several reasons which perhaps might lead you to another conclusion, which, prostrate at your feet, I beg you to consider.

First, as to your fears that the judgment of His Holiness would not be received with the submission and obedience owed to the Sovereign Pontiff, and that the Spirit of God would not find enough docility in hearts to bring about a true reunion, I would willingly agree. When the heresies of Luther and Calvin, for example, began to appear, if anyone had waited until they were prepared to submit and to reunite themselves, these heresies would still be among those opinions to be either accepted or rejected. They would have affected more people than they have. If then these opinions of our own day, whose pernicious effects we see in consciences, are of the same nature, we will wait in vain for those who spread them come to agree with the defenders of the doctrines of the Church. We cannot hope for this, and it will never come about. To put off the condemnation by the Holy See gives these people time to spread their poison. Also, it takes away the opportunity for some well-placed people of great piety the opportunity to earn the merit of obedience, which they protest they will give to the decrees of the Holy Father as soon as they are promulgated. While awaiting this, they remain with the other party in good faith. They are attracted by the appearance of good and the reform they preach, but they do not recognize these are really only the sheep's clothing, which wolves always wear to harm and deceive souls.

Second, Your Excellencies say that the fervor of the two sides to sustain their respective position gives little hope for a true reunion, which is the end to be sought. I must point out that contraries can never be united when it comes to matters of faith and religion. If we are to join with others, it must be to join the pope, when a council is not in session. Those who do not look upon reunion in this way are not ready for any reunion, except for an unacceptable one. Law can never be reconciled with crime, nor lies with the truth.

Third, the uniformity you desire among the bishops is surely to be desired, if it can be achieved with no prejudice to the faith. We must not base our union on evil and on error. If this true union is to come about, the lesser part must unite with the greater, the member to the head, which is what is being proposed. Of six parts, the five hold to what the pope shall say in the absence of a council, which cannot meet because of the wars. If afterward a division remains, a schism if you will, it will be composed of those who want no judge, who do not recognize the position of most of the bishops, and who do not defer even to the pope himself.

From this comes a fourth reason in answer to what Your Excellencies were pleased to say to me, that each side is convinced that reason and truth are with them. I admit this, but you know well that heretics have always said as much, but this has not prevented condemnations and anathemas from popes and councils. Union with heretics has never been known to cure the ills. On the contrary, fire and the sword must be used, sometimes too late, as may happen here. Certainly, each side blames the other, but with this difference, that one side asks for a judge, while the other does not--truly a bad sign. It does not want a solution from the pope, I say, because they know a solution could be given. Instead, they call for a council because they know it is impossible to call one in present circumstances. If they thought a council were possible, they would reject it, just as they now reject the pope.

There will never be, to my way of thinking, a cause for ridicule by libertines and heretics, or a scandal to the faithful in seeing the bishops divided. The number of those who have not signed the letter to the pope on this matter is small. It is not an extraordinary thing in the Church to see differences in mentality. But this shows the need to have a pope to decide, for as vicar of Jesus Christ, he is the head of the Church, and the superior of the bishops.

Fifth, with wars everywhere, spreading almost throughout Christendom, they do not realize that the pope is prevented from observing all the conditions and necessary formalities prescribed by the Council of Trent for those matters referred to His Holiness. This happened in the past. As we read in the fathers and in church history, several saints and bishops regularly consulted him and referred to him in doubts of faith. To anticipate that his judgment will not be accepted is not something to be presumed or feared. Rather it is to be viewed as a way of seeing who are the true children of the Church and who are not.

As to the remedy Your Excellencies propose, to safeguard the right of either side to open discussion, I beg you most humbly to consider if this has not already been tried, and has served only to give standing to error. Seeing themselves treated on the same footing as those who possess the truth, they have taken the opportunity to spread their message. It is already too late to uproot it completely, for this doctrine is more than mere theory, and has descended into practice. Consciences can no longer support the troubles and uncertainties raised in the hearts of many by such thoughts, for example, as whether Jesus Christ really died for us. We hear of those attending the dying, urging them to have confidence in the goodness of our Lord who died for them. Yet we are also told that others have told the sick they should not believe this, for our Lord did not die for everyone.

Permit me also, Your Excellencies, to add to these considerations that those holding these novelties, who see that their threats are effective, increase them, and are preparing a more serious rebellion. They take your silence as a powerful argument in their favor, and even boast in a book they have published that you are of their opinion. On the other hand, supporters of the ancient faith are weakened and discouraged, seeing they are not universally supported. Will you not someday be sorry, Your Excellencies, that your names were used, despite your good intentions, to confirm heretics in their error and to shake believers in their faith?

To come back to the question of a general council: how could one be convoked during wartime? It took about forty years from the time Luther and Calvin began to trouble the Church before the Council of Trent could be held. Other than a council, no more timely remedy exists than to have recourse to the pope, as the council itself stated in the last session, in the last chapter of its decrees, of which I will send you an extract.

Once more, Your Excellencies, we must not fear that the pope will not be obeyed once he has decided. We see this in all heresies, but this does not mean we should allow them to go unchallenged. We also have one recent example to contradict the false notion which came from the same source, that there were really two equal rulers in the early Church. This was condemned by the pope, he was listened to, and we hear no more of it.

Certainly, Your Excellencies, all these reasons and some others you know better than I, and which I would be glad to learn, for I respect you as my fathers in the faith and as teachers of the Church, have resulted in few of the bishops of France not signing the letter in question. [29]

These letters of Monsieur Vincent, and all his other activities in this matter, allow us to see that his sole motive was the glory of God and the salvation of souls. We must admire his ardent zeal for the service of our Lord and his Church, coupled with profound humility and singular respect for the sacred office of the bishop. If on the one hand his charity moved him to speak out and to share the insights God had inspired in him, on the other hand his humility and respect led him to prostrate himself in spirit at their feet, begging them to pardon his forwardness. He then spoke more with the heart than the mouth to those he revered as fathers and doctors of the Church, from whom he was ready to learn in the matter he spoke of. He always acted this way, and by this humility and charity he was blessed, first by God, but then by the bishops who recognized his sincerity and zeal, which furthered their own position. In this he resembled several other holy persons who, though living a retired life, sometimes felt compelled to alert the prelates of the Church to dangers in the heresies threatening the tranquility of the Church.

While Monsieur Vincent was engaged in these efforts to have the Sovereign Pontiff give judgment about the book of Jansenius, his opponents in turn were doing everything in their power to thwart this move and prevent its execution. To further this design, they wrote a circular letter which was sent to all the bishops of the kingdom, to persuade them not to sign the previous letter addressed to the pope. However, this did not prevent more than eighty bishops and archbishops from signing this letter, sent to the Holy See.

As a result of this development, the Jansenists had recourse to Monsieur de N. [Louis Gorin, Abbe de Saint Amour], doctor of theology, and already in Rome, directing him to use all his influence to prevent the pope from pronouncing judgment on this matter. Besides that, they feared they did not have enough influence to avert the storm over the book of Jansenius, so they sent three of their doctors to Rome by coach. They were to prevent, or at least delay as much as they possibly could, the judgment of the pope.

When it became known that these Jansenists were on their way to Rome, Monsieur Vincent felt it most important that several orthodox doctors should also go there, to combat the efforts of the others. By a singular grace of divine Providence which ever watches over his Church, he found three members of the faculty of the Sorbonne willing to undertake the trip in service of the Catholic religion. These three were Fathers Hallier, Joisel, and Lagault, the first of whom later became bishop of Cavaillon, appointed by our Holy Father the pope, Innocent X, in recognition of his merits and service to the Church.

Monsieur Vincent was pleased when he heard of the plans of these three gentlemen. Since he knew them personally, he encouraged them in their project. He offered to do what he could to help, both before their departure for Rome or after their arrival there.

This is not the place to describe all these gentlemen did in service to the Church and for the defense of truth during their stay in Rome. They wrote to Monsieur Vincent from time to time, and in return received some suggestions from him for the benefit of religion. We shall cite only a letter, dated December 20, 1652, written to Monsieur Hallier on this topic:

I thank God for the happy success he has given your efforts there. I thank you most humbly for your kindness in writing. I can assure you, Monsieur, that nothing brings me greater joy that your letters, and I pray for nothing in this world more than I do for you and your concerns in Rome. The goodness of God leads me to hope that peace will soon be restored to his Church, and that thanks to your zealous efforts truth will prevail. This is what we shall continue to ask of God. Let us know, please, how things are progressing. [30]

It appears from this letter that Monsieur Vincent had some inkling from Monsieur Hallier that the doctrine of the book of Jansenius contained in the five propositions sent to Rome would be condemned, and that his friend would soon be raised to the episcopal dignity. This happened, as we have already mentioned.

As to the condemnation of the five propositions, [31] the Catholic reader will have the satisfaction of reading two letters written from Rome to Monsieur Vincent on this matter. The originals of these are preserved in the house of Saint Lazare in Paris. The first of these was from Monsieur Hallier:

Last Monday I had time to send you only the news that the constitution against Jansenius greatly benefited the defense of the Catholic religion and the condemnation of error. The Jansenists left this city today to go to Loretto, where their servants have been for the last fifteen days. They promised the pope they would obey promptly. Yet I have reason to doubt this, for they have said to all their confederates they were never condemned in what they actually hold, which is also the position of Jansenius. I know they are ridiculous in saying so. Jansenius has been condemned, the propositions taken from his writings have been condemned, and even the sense given to the five propositions by the Jansenists themselves have been expressly and specifically condemned. Their interpretations have been condemned absolutely. Nevertheless, their persistence in error may still find supporters, both in this country and elsewhere. That is why we must work to disabuse the unlearned. We should do all we can to publicize the bull, and see to its ratification by the Parlement, in the dioceses, in the faculties of the universities, with the king and the chancellor and keeper of the seal, with the bishops, and the doctors.

I fear Monsieur de Saint Amour runs away with himself, and does not tell things the way they happened, by saying they were not fully heard. This has been answered several times. First, they had the opportunity to inform the cardinals of the Congregation, either orally or in writing, for an entire year. Second, they had access to our material, as they themselves mentioned in their speech to the pope. Third, there was no point to hearing them, or ourselves either for that matter. It was a question of the doctrine taken from the book of Jansenius which the pope had directed be examined most carefully. It was useless to hear them, for they brought up motives in their defense all found in Jansenius. Fourth, it is not the custom when a book is condemned, to receive other information than what comes from the book itself, and from people learned in the matter treated of in the book. Fifth, when the Jansenist doctors were given the opportunity to speak before the cardinals, for two, three, four or five times, as often as might be needed, they refused. Sixth, when they furnished documents, as requested, they were beside the point. They were designed to delay the proceedings, and thus delay the pronouncement against their heresy, to give them more time to spread it further.

As to the way they seek to avoid the effect of the bull, you have only to read what they say to condemn them. They came expressly to defend the propositions sent to the pope by the bishops, and to prevent their condemnation. They wanted to prevent the censure of the faculty also, although this was mild. They wrote three apologies for Jansenius. They interpret the propositions in the sense given them by Jansenius, and the propositions have no other meaning, if words mean what they signify to the one who first used them. The pope condemned them all as heretical, and they cannot be explained away. The propositions were condemned in the meaning they gave to them, and which they presented to the pope. Ubi lex non distinguit, nec nos distinguere debemus. ["Where the law makes no distinctions, neither must we."]

You are aware that the nuncio has a brief for Her Majesty, in which the pope asks for the bull's publication. You see the importance of this. There is also a brief for the bishops, as well. We will remain here until we get news of how the bull has been received in France. The intention here is to condemn the apologies for Jansenius, Victorious Grace, Everyday Theology, and others, after we see how the bull has been received. [32]

You will see from the enclosed that all the usual niceties of style have been omitted to make our point clearer. This gracious procedure obliges us the more to a respectful obedience, and we should do all in our power to have it accepted, just as the Jansenists will do all they can to prevent its acceptance. We must inform the queen of the care, effort, work, and kindness His Holiness has devoted to this, and make clear to her that her duty in conscience, her honor, and the security of the state of the king her son, are all involved on this occasion. We have been wondering if we should write to her, since the ambassador said he was not going to write, deferring to us. We have also had the thought of writing to the cardinal. In the end we decided against it, for fear it would appear we were acting in self-interest. Far be it from us to do this. But we felt it would be better that others inform him, as you shall judge best.

From Rome, June 16, 1653. Your very humble and devoted servant, Hallier. [33]

The second letter comes from Monsieur Lagault, written from Rome, June 15, 1653, as follows:

Monsieur, I did not have the time in my last letter to write adequately, for the bull against the Jansenists was finished only on the very evening the couriers were leaving. There is no better way to tell you the result than to say with Saint Paul: Regi saeculorum immortali, invisibili, soli Deo, honor et gloria ["To the King of ages, the immortal, the invisible, the only God, be honor and glory"]. [34] God worked so manifestly in this whole affair that to him alone must we give the praise. The pope himself recognized this, saying so in the congregations, where they sometimes remained in session for five hours. Except for his compassion for the theologians who could not remain standing any longer, they would have been willing to remain for eight or nine hours. He understood all so completely that he met in the evening with Cardinal [Fabio] Chigi, secretary of state, to go over all that had been said.

The hand of God appeared, too, in the three great difficulties the pope had to overcome: the people of rank who wanted him to leave things unsettled, and the others who wanted him to forego its consideration, under the pretext that it would notably compromise his health. I do not believe that such powerful complaints ever came from your side. Time will tell us more. Despite all this, he remained so firm in his determination that he did not hesitate for a single moment. Since this matter concerned the good of the Church, he always felt that he was determined to bring it to a conclusion. He had it so much at heart that when some of his relatives came to see him by way of diversion, he could talk of nothing else.

Every care was taken to remove all pretext for complaint. After twenty-five meetings of the congregation of cardinals, he had ten meetings, lasting in all over four hours. He then invited the Jansenists themselves, since they had requested it, though he was not at all obliged to do so, especially since they had refused to appear before the cardinals. They behaved so poorly before the pope that he did not agree to a second session with them, for they simply wanted to draw things out, and would need, they said, up to twenty-five sessions to present their case. They did not discuss the issue at all. Instead, they railed against the Jesuits, attempting to prove they were the authors of more than fifty heresies.

The pope recognized their scheme, and refused to go along with it. They have no reason to complain, for we have had, ourselves, but a single audience with him. Besides, since coming to Rome they have had eight or nine with him. Even after the decision they had another, lasting more than an hour, in which they promised to obey. To tell you the truth, I doubt they will do so. They are returning immediately to France, despite the heat, where it may be surmised they will work to prevent the publication of the bull.

However, we will remain here by request of the cardinals, who have thought it best we remain until we have heard how the bull was received in France. We could possibly advise on further steps, but I do not believe anything further is to be said. Monsieur Hallier told me he sent you a copy of the bull, which explains why I do not enclose one with this letter. I have written to you at length for you to disabuse some people who probably have been badly misinformed.

I forgot to tell you that already some have tried to take advantage of the fact the bull was removed two and a half hours after it was put up, and this at the order of the pope. You should know, Monsieur, that this was done by design, after it was put up in manuscript form. The pope did not want any copies made until it was first sent to the courts of Europe and to the nuncios. He instructed the police not to allow it to be copied. At nightfall, as is the custom, he had it taken down, to prove that it had really been posted. Since then it has been sent to France, with a brief for the king, and another brief for the bishops. The pope sent an express courier to Poland, since it is so far away. I hope I shall be able to send you from here a further account of what has taken place.

Monsieur, please continue to thank God for having preserved the Church in France from falling further into Calvinism. Do not forget in your masses him who is, with all his heart, your very humble and obedient servant, Lagault.

Since writing the above, we today, the sixteenth, have thanked His Holiness, who received us in audience for more than two and a half hours. He told us that we should know what he had done before coming to his decision: he had ordered prayers to be offered to God, both in public and in private; he mentioned the sessions he had held on the matter. He confirmed what I have already written, of the singular pleasure he had taken in the discussions, and the special and palpable help he had received from the Holy Spirit. Nothing theological was set forth which was not easily understood and retained. In addition, he told us the reasons the bull was given, point by point. Among other things he said that one morning, after recommending himself to God, he called a secretary, and dictated the bull in a single morning. He told us that these gentlemen whom I dare call the Jansenists (for I would like to believe there will be no more) came to thank him for his decision, and that their promise of submitting entirely to it moved him to tears. God grant they will keep this good resolution. He added that at their public audience they delivered a terrible invective against the Jesuits (these were the words he used), and nothing they said addressed the subject at hand. [35]

As soon as the constitution of our Holy Father the pope, Innocent X, was brought to France, Monsieur Vincent thought to himself how best to reap the fruit to be hoped for from its publication, which was chiefly the reconciliation and reunion of minds drawn away by the false glamour of this new doctrine. His first thought was to visit the superiors of several religious houses, and some doctors and other influential people most active in this affair, to urge them to do all in their power for the reconciliation of the vanquished party. He remarked to them that he felt they should temper public expressions of joy, and not make references in their sermons or conversations which might embarrass those supporters of the condemned doctrine of Jansenius. He feared this would only further aggravate them rather than win them over. The most expedient course would be to go out of their way to offer the hand of friendship to them in this most humiliating situation. This would also simplify their return when they saw themselves treated with such respect and charity. He assured them that for his part he would act in this way.

He did just as he had said, for he went to Port Royal to see some gentlemen who habitually lived there, to congratulate them on their submission to the pope, as they had done from the beginning, at least in appearance. He spoke with them openly for several hours, and with much esteem and affection. He later went to see some other important people of that party who also promised complete submission to the Holy See in what pertained to the condemned doctrine.

These charitable efforts of Monsieur Vincent did not have all the good effects he had hoped for. Their deeds did not conform to the fine words that they had uttered. Many of the Jansenists were at first touched and truly wished to submit to the judgment of the head of the Church. The pretexts and subterfuges of the main leaders of the sect, however, led a number to continue holding to the condemned doctrine, despite all the exterior forces and interior movements of grace which invited them to recognize and confess the truth.

Nevertheless, when the new constitution of our Holy Father, Pope Alexander VII, appeared, toward the end of 1656, confirming and explaining that of Innocent X, Monsieur Vincent, with his usual zeal, again began his visits and meetings with the leading members of the Jansenists. They showed no more submission to this new constitution than they had to the first. This led this faithful servant of God to see that nothing was to be gained in working with those so poorly disposed. He turned his thoughts and care to preserve the faith in those not contaminated, to warn them of the dangers of these new errors.

As charity demanded, he used his energy to keep the members of his own Congregation in the purity of the faith and the doctrine of the Church. He spoke several times to his community to impress upon them how much they were obliged to the goodness of God for having preserved them from these novelties, which were capable of corrupting and ruining their Congregation. He recommended that they pray for the peace of the Church, for the removal of these new errors, and for the conversion of those infected. He forbade them to read the books of Jansenius or to support either directly or indirectly their doctrine, nor any of the opinions likely to favor them. [36] After all this, if he knew of anyone who belonged to the sect in any manner whatsoever, he removed him from the community as a gangrenous member, one likely to infect and corrupt the rest of the body.

After assuring the safety and security of his own confreres, he extended his solicitude to several communities of women, preserved by his counsel and charitable intervention from the contagion of these new errors. This was particularly true in several convents of nuns who owe their preservation, after God, to his zeal and charity.

We will add to this an example of his charity which extended not only to his own community but to people to whom he extended an affectionate helping hand. He did this to preserve in them their orthodox beliefs, or to help those who may have fallen, if they gave the least sign of wanting to return.

A doctor of the faculty of the Sorbonne had embraced Jansenism, not only by the attachment he had for this new doctrine, but even more so by the contacts he had formed with some leading and influential devotees of this party. [37] The constitution of Innocent X had impressed him, and if it had not entirely converted him, it at least had shaken him. In his doubts and perplexities he arranged to make a retreat at Saint Lazare. He carefully examined himself on all the thoughts which came to his mind on this matter. He then finally admitted to Monsieur Vincent that he was ready to leave the Jansenists, if only the pope would enlighten him on several doubts he still harbored, which he wrote in a letter to His Holiness.

Monsieur Vincent was instrumental in obtaining a favorable response. This led the doctor to decide to renounce the condemned doctrine, but instead of following this inspiration promptly he paid too much attention to human respect, and preferred the glory of men to that which we owe to God. Monsieur Vincent was not to be put off. He urged him to act, but the reply was that he could not renounce a doctrine which God seemingly favored by miracles, which it was said were taking place at Port Royal. At this, Monsieur Vincent wrote him the following letter, and sent him the papers mentioned in the letter:

I am sending you the new constitution of our Holy Father the pope, which confirms that of Innocent X, and other popes who have condemned the new opinions of Jansenius. I believe, Monsieur, you will no longer find any room for doubt after its acceptance and publication by the prelates of the kingdom, assembled so often for this purpose. The assembly of the lower clergy has published a tract on the matter, which I also enclose, and finally, the censure of the Sorbonne, and the letter written at the direction of His Holiness to you.

I hope, Monsieur, that with all this you will give glory to God and edification to his Church, as all expect of you. If you wait longer we must fear that the evil spirit, who uses every subterfuge to avoid the truth, will imperceptibly put you in such a state you will not have the strength to return because you have not used the grace offered you for such a long time. I have never known God to have given such persuasive and powerful graces to any other of your party.

To say, Monsieur, that miracles of the holy thorn worked at Port Royal seem to show the divine approval of the doctrines held there, I recall to you the teaching of Saint Thomas. He wrote that God has never confirmed error by miracles, since truth cannot have any place with error, nor light with the dark. Who cannot see that the propositions supported by that party are errors, since they have been condemned? If then God works miracles, he does so not to justify false opinions, but to enhance his own glory in some other mysterious manner. [38]

To wait for God to send you an angel to enlighten you further is useless. He sends you to the Church, and the Church assembled at Trent sends you to the Holy See for the matter at hand, as you can see from the last chapter of this council.

You cannot wait for Saint Augustine to come back to explain himself. Our Lord has told us that if we do not believe the scriptures we would not believe even the dead come back to life. If this saint were to come back, he would submit to the Sovereign Pontiff as he did on other occasions.

Should you await the judgment of some famous faculty of theology to decide these questions? Where would it be found? None is more learned in Christendom than that of the Sorbonne, of which you are a distinguished member.

Should you wait for a great doctor and good man to tell you what to do? Where will you find one in whom these two qualities are more evident than he to whom I speak?

It seems to me, Monsieur, that I hear you saying you should not decide too quickly, so that you might bring others of stature in with you. This is good, but the danger is that in thinking to save others from drowning you might be trapped and go down with them. [39] I say this mildly, since their salvation is as dear to me as my own, and I would willingly give up a thousand lives, if I had them, for their sake. Your example might be more effective in having them return than anything you might say. Considering all this, in the name of God, Monsieur, do not put off this step which would be so pleasing to the divine goodness. Your own salvation depends on it. You have more reason to fear for yourself than many others in the same errors, for you, unlike them, have received a special enlightenment from our Holy Father.

How displeasing it would be for you, Monsieur, if putting off your decision, you would be forced to take a stand, which is what the bishops are planning. This is why I beseech you anew, in the name of our Lord, to take the step. Do not object that the most ignorant and abominable of men speaks this way to you, for what he says makes sense. If in the scriptures we read that beasts have spoken and evil men have prophesied, I too could be saying the truth, even though I am a beast and wicked.

May it please God to speak to you effectively, in making you see the good you should do. Besides being in the state that God asks of you, it is to be hoped that at your example a good part of these gentlemen would return from their erroneous ways. On the contrary, you may be the cause of their remaining in error if you delay your decision, and in this case I doubt if you would ever return. This would be a severe blow to me because of my esteem and affection for you, and having had the honor of serving you as I have, I would be extremely sorry to see you leave the Church. I hope our Lord would not permit such an unhappy event, and I often pray for this intention, I who remain, in his love, etc. [40]

By his response to this letter, this doctor gave once again some hope for his return. He waited only, it seemed, to find the time and circumstance suitable for this step, to bring some others with him back to the Church. Monsieur Vincent outlined a series of steps he should take. All these efforts were in vain, however, for this doctor remained in his heresy despite all the charitable efforts of Monsieur Vincent to bring him back.

We will finish this chapter by recalling a reply he gave to a man of honor and merit, much impressed by some of the more wealthy of the Jansenists, and their generosity, rather than with the more learned ones among them. He was in a sort of suspense, not daring to condemn in his heart those who showed themselves so generous and virtuous. This man, then, a close friend of Monsieur Vincent, came to see him one day, to ask if in some way Monsieur Vincent might soften his approach in dealing with the gentlemen at Port Royal. "Why," he said, "must you push them so hard? Would it not be better to come to some kind of agreement? They are so inclined, if only they would be treated with more moderation, and I know of no one better than yourself to soften the harsh attitudes on either side and so bring about a reunion."

Monsieur Vincent replied to this by saying:

When a dispute has been adjudicated, the only course to follow is to carry out the decision rendered. Before the gentlemen were condemned, they used all their energies to make falsehood triumph over truth. They took such pains in this that they could be stopped only with the greatest difficulty, and they were unwilling to concede anything. Now that the Holy See has decided these questions to their dissatisfaction, they have given different meanings to the constitution to avoid their effect. Although they pretended to submit to the common father of the faithful, and to receive the constitution in the true sense that condemned the propositions of Jansenius, their writers continue to support these opinions and have put out books and tracts to defend them. They have not said a single word withdrawing their condemned opinions.

What union can we possibly have with them, if they do not have a true and sincere intention of submission? What kind of moderation can we show for what has been decided by the Church? These are matters of the faith, which cannot be changed or compromised, and so we cannot adjust our thinking to these gentlemen. They must submit their minds and rejoin us in the one faith, by a true and sincere submission to the head of the Church. Other than this, Monsieur, we can do nothing but pray for their conversion. [41]

This is a brief sketch of the firmness with which Monsieur Vincent always opposed those who upheld the doctrines of the Jansenists. Since its condemnation by the Church, he always declared himself openly on the matter, and felt that all true Catholics ought to do the same. He felt it to be a great evil to deceive or to equivocate, and even worse to remain in a sort of indifference or neutrality when it was a question of faith and religion. Although he always advised that moderation govern all, and great charity mark dealings with the adherents of the Jansenists in the hope of their conversion, he wished too that this meekness be joined to firmness, and held that any new heresy must not be flattered or pampered, no matter in whom it appeared. Although it is not permitted to judge anyone, it is a greater evil, through a false charity or any other unworthy motive, to accept those in heresy or suspected of heresy. Not only is it not rash, but it is unjust and even impious to withhold judgment from what the Church has condemned, or even worse to support it. It is surely an evil to wish to judge the Church herself, to condemn the judgments she has given through the mouth of her head and her prelates.

Although Monsieur Vincent was moved by a true zeal against Jansenism and did all he could to oppose it, he was able to distinguish the condemned errors from relaxed morals, which he never approved, as he showed on many occasions. He always recommended his confreres attach themselves strongly to a truly Christian morality, as taught in the Gospels and in the writings of the fathers and doctors of the Church. He highly praised the bishops and the Sorbonne who worked against moral laxity, just as much as against Jansenism. He accepted graciously what the Holy See taught on both the one and the other.

References

  1. Job 3:25.
  2. CED XI:37.
  3. Jer 1:18.
  4. Jean Duverger (or, Duvergier) de Hauranne, the commendatory abbot of Saint Cyran. He was born in Bayonne in 1581. He studied at Paris and Louvain. Around 1616 he accompanied Bishop Henri Louis Chataigner de la Roche-Posay to the diocese of Poitiers. The bishop resigned the Abbey of Saint Cyran in his favor. Duvergier is customarily known to history by this name.
  5. Cornelius Jansenius, to give the Latin form of his name, was born at Accoi in Holland in 1585. He studied at Louvain and then came to France where he became acquainted with Saint Cyran. In 1636 he became bishop of Ypres. He died two years later, 1638.
  6. See CED III:319-20.
  7. See CED III:318-32; IV:148-49; VIII:86-92, 93-125.
  8. CED I:401-06.
  9. Saint Cyran worked actively to spread his theological opinions. Cardinal Richelieu understood the dangers which they posed both to the Church and to the State. He formally inquired into these doctrines after many complaints and charges were leveled against Saint Cyran and his teaching, including the opposition of both Vincent de Paul and Charles de Condren, the superior general of the Oratory. Richelieu imprisoned Saint Cyran at Vincennes in 1638. He instituted a formal interrogation of the prisoner which unfortunately failed to meet canonical standards. He proceeded on his authority justifying his actions by saying that "if Luther and Calvin had been imprisoned when they had begun to teach heresy, the European states would have been spared from the troubles they caused."
  10. He was released from prison after the death of Richelieu in December 1642. He himself died the following year at the age of sixty-two.
  11. This work, De l'autorité de Saint Pierre et de Saint Paul, 1645, was written by Martin Barcos, Saint Cyran's nephew.
  12. Augustinus, in quo haereses Pelagii, etc., recensentur was published at Louvain in 1640. Urban VIII condemned it on March 6, 1641, particularly the "Five Propositions" extracted from it, and which summarized the erroneous doctrines of the entire work. Successive pontiffs continued this condemnation.
  13. Jerome Grimaldi.
  14. Nicolas le Maistre, a doctor of the Sorbonne.
  15. CED III:65-67.
  16. January 1647.
  17. Charles Francois d'Abra de Raconis, born in 1580. He taught philosophy at Paris. His exemplary life, joined to the success of his teaching and preaching, brought him a promotion to the see of Lavaur in 1639. He died in 1646.
  18. Henri II de Bourbon, the Prince de Conde.
  19. CED II:498-99.
  20. Pierre Seguier.
  21. CED III:630-31.
  22. The bishops wrote a joint letter to the pope. They met at Saint Lazare under the direction of Isaac Habert, the bishop of Vabres, with Saint Vincent in attendance. The prelates then attended the meeting of the General Assembly of the Clergy, held in Paris where they signed the document. Saint Vincent sent copies of this letter to other bishops soliciting their support.
  23. CED IV:148-49.
  24. Pierre de Nivelle, the bishop of Lucon.
  25. Mathieu Feydeau, Catéchisme de la Grâce, Paris, 1650.
  26. Jean Labadie. See CED IV:471-72.
  27. CED IV:175-81.
  28. Nicolas Pavillon, the bishop of Alet, and Francois Etienne de Caulet, the bishop of Pamiers. They argued for caution and further discussion. Pavillon was born in 1597. He was under the direction of Saint Vincent for a time, and helped in his charitable works and with the Clergy Conferences. He became bishop of Alet in 1637. He became more and more inclined towards Jansenism as time passed. Vincent was personally saddened at his position. Pavillon died in 1677. Caulet was born in 1610. He became bishop of Pamiers in 1645. Although he opposed Saint Cyran at first, he gradually became a Jansenist. He later showed his courage by strongly opposing Louis XIV in the "Regale" controversy. He also, however, strongly opposed Rome's position against Jansenism. He died in 1680.
  29. CED IV:204-210.
  30. CED IV:534.
  31. The "Five Propositions" extracted from the book by Jansenius and denounced by Nicolas Cornet as containing the summary of the heretical doctrines found in Augustinus. Cornet, born October 12, 1592, was a doctor and the syndic of the faculty of theology of Paris. He was a friend of Saint Vincent's. He died April 18, 1663. Bossuet, who had had him as a teacher, preached his funeral oration.
  32. Noel LaLane, La grâce victorieuse de Jésus-Christ, 1650; and Jean Duverger de Hauranne [Saint Cyran], Théologie familière, 1642.
  33. CED IV:610-13.
  34. 1 Tim 1:17.
  35. CED IV:607-10.
  36. See CED VI:88-89.
  37. Jean Deslions, doctor of the Sorbonne and dean of Senlis. He had influence over Arnaud and the duke and duchess de Liancourt.
  38. At the same time that he was writing this letter, he encouraged the publication of a work, Defense de la verité catholique touchant les miracles. This work strongly attacked the veracity of the Port-Royal "miracles."
  39. This is what eventually happened to Jean Deslions, who joined the duke and duchess de Liancourt in the Jansenist party.
  40. CED VI:266-70.
  41. CED XIII:167.


This page:
Abelly: Book Two/Chapter Twelve
The Efforts of Monsieur Vincent to Combat the Errors of Jansenism

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Abelly: Book Two