JESUITS (or Society of Jesus), Roman Catholic religious order established in 1534. Its founder, the Spaniard Ignatius of Loyola, in his youth had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was mainly responsible for the establishment of the house of catechumens , a home for converted Jews, in Rome in 1543. However, the object of the new order was not propaganda among the Jews but counter-propaganda in the Christian world to confront the growing danger from Protestantism. A problem with which the order had to deal from its earliest days was whether persons of Jewish origin should be admitted – in particular conversos or new christians in Spain, where the order was soon strongly entrenched. In the face of considerable opposition from his colleagues, Loyola himself insisted on disregarding the racial principle. giovanni battista eliano (Solomon Romano), the converted grandson of elijah levita , became a member of the order as early as 1552. Loyola's secretary Juan Alfonso de Polanco and his principal coadjutor, Diego (Jaime) Lainez notoriously belonged to New Christian stock; the latter was elected in 1558 as Loyola's successor, serving as general of the order from 1558 to 1565. The more narrow view nevertheless gathered weight. In 1573, Polanco was not elected as general mainly because of his New Christian origin. In 1593, all descendants of Jews and Moors were debarred from membership of the order, and in 1608 this provision was confirmed in less explicit terms by the sixth general congregation. In its zeal for the propagation of the Catholic faith the Jesuits not infrequently spearheaded the onslaught on the Jews and Judaism, as was the case especially in poland in the 18th century. On the other hand, the attempt to curb the excesses of the Portuguese Inquisition in the second half of the 17th century was led by the Jesuit scholar Antonio Vieira, who was strenuously supported by his order. Jesuits, such as Augustine, Cardinal bea , have played an important role in the evolution of the post-World War II Catholic attitude to the Jews. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Baron, Social2, 14 (1970), 9–17, 306–9, 306 n. 12, 308 n. 16.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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