Wars of Words: Catholic and Protestant Jesuitism in Mid-Nineteenth Century America

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Book Chapter

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''Jesuits will never cease to plot against protestants; to rebel against protestant governments, and to convulse and if possible, overthrow every republican institution." This prediction from Intrigues of Jesuitism in the United States of America is typical of anti-Catholic polemics during the "new confessional age" of the nineteenth century. Catholics aggressively responded in kind to these Protestant attacks on papery and Romanism. The present essay examines the war of words over Jesuitism as an ideological concept and strategic term serving the political-theological interests of multiple Protestant and Catholic actors, especially those in the United States before and after the Civil War (1861-65). My initial focus will be the polemical attacks on Jesuit ministries of the Word and then on Jesuit responses through those same ministries. Condemnation of the Jesuits often targeted their rhetorical paths of thought, both their rhetorical thinking ( the way they used words) and their thinking about rhetoric ( their theories of how to use words in practices such as teaching, preaching, casuistry, and spiritual exercises). But it was through those same rhetorical paths of thought that Catholics responded to Protestant attacks and sometimes Protestants themselves took to task their fellows in faith.


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Recommended Citation

Mailloux, Steven. “Wars of Words: Catholic and Protestant Jesuitism in Mid-Nineteenth Century America.” In Encounters between Jesuits and Protestants in Asia and the Americas, ed. Robert Maryks et al. Brill, 2018:328-46.