Jesuit Online Bibliography

Donne, clero e modello ignaziano. Riletture di genere delle pratiche di governo gesuite tra Rivoluzione e Restaurazioni.

Book Title:
La Compagnie de Jésus des Anciens Régimes au monde contemporain (XVIII-XX siècles)
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Book Chapter
Ecole Française de Rome
Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu
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This contribution is based on a double assessment. On the one hand, we can see the success of the Ignatian model in many women’s congregations that, like the Society of Jesus, appointed a general superior for life. On the other hand, equally, we note the Roman ecclesiastical authorities’ general suspicion (if not opposition) towards these same congregations that sought approval for their own rules of life. Rather than evaluate the extent of these female congregations’ presumed fidelity to the Ignatian model, the essay analyses the practical instruments of internal government that they borrowed from the Society of Jesus in order to carry out the pastoral activity to which they felt called with the necessary autonomy. An examination, further, of the clergy’s reactions to the use of these tools (especially the lifetime generalate and the manifesting of conscience to the superior) provides insights into the gender frontiers that were typical of the long nineteenth century. In this sense, religious women had to deal with a double order of restrictions: those pertaining to all women of the time (as objects and not subjects of the law), as well as those specific to the laity, excluded from the “power of jurisdiction” reserved for the Catholic Church’s clergy. Women in religious life, deprived of priesthood, were not technically capable of spiritual jurisdiction and this exclusion had important consequences for the female congregations’ practices of government, whether authorized or not.

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