Jansenism: Cornelius Jansen (1585–1638), professor at the Old University of Louvain.

Jansenism was a Christian theological movement, primarily in France, that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination. The movement originated from the posthumously published work of the Dutch theologian Cornelius Otto Jansen, who died in 1638. It was first popularized by Jansen's friend Jean du Vergier, Abbé de Saint-Cyran, and after Saint-Cyran's death in 1643 was led by Antoine Arnauld. Through the 17th and into the 18th centuries, Jansenism was a distinct movement within the Roman Catholic Church. The theological centre of the movement was the Parisian convent of Port-Royal, which was a haven for writers including Saint-Cyran, Arnauld, Pierre Nicole, Blaise Pascal, and Jean Racine.

Jansenism was opposed by many in the Catholic hierarchy, especially the Jesuits. Although the Jansenists identified themselves only as rigorous followers of Augustinism, Jesuits coined the term "Jansenism" to identify them as having Calvinist affinities.[1] The papal bull Cum occasione, issued by Pope Innocent X in 1653, condemned five cardinal doctrines of Jansenism as heresy — especially the relationship between human free will and efficacious grace, wherein the teachings of Augustine contradicted the teachings of the Jesuit School.[1] Jansenist leaders endeavored to accommodate the pope's pronouncements while retaining their distinctives, and enjoyed a measure of peace in the late 17th century under Pope Clement IX. However, further controversy led to the bull Unigenitus, issued by Pope Clement XI in 1713, which marked the end of Catholic toleration of Jansenist doctrine.



The Abbé de Saint-Cyran (1581–1643), one of the intellectual fathers of Jansenism.

The origins of Jansenism lie in the friendship of Cornelius Jansen and Jean du Vergier de Hauranne, who met in the early 17th century when both were studying theology at the Catholic University of Leuven. As the wealthier of the two, du Vergier served as Jansen’s patron for a number of years, getting Jansen a job as a tutor in Paris in 1606. Two years later, he got Jansen a position teaching at the bishop's college in du Vergier’s hometown of Bayonne. The duo studied the Church Fathers together, with a special focus on the thought of Augustine of Hippo, until both left Bayonne in 1617.

Du Vergier became the abbot of Saint-Cyran and was thus generally known as the Abbé de Saint-Cyran for the rest of his life. Jansen returned to the Catholic University of Leuven, where he completed his doctorate in 1619 and was named professor for exegesis. Jansen and Saint-Cyran continued to correspond about Augustine, especially Augustine's teachings on grace. Upon the recommendation of King Philip IV of Spain, Jansen was consecrated as Bishop of Ypres in 1636.

Jansen died in the midst of an epidemic in 1638. On his deathbed, he committed a manuscript to his chaplain, ordering him to consult with Libert Fromondus, a theology professor at Leuven, and Henri Calenus, a canon at the metropolitan church, and to publish the manuscript if they agreed it should be published, adding "If, however, the Holy See wishes any change, I am an obedient son, and I submit to that Church in which I have lived to my dying hour. This is my last wish."

This manuscript, published in 1640 under the title Augustinus, styled itself as expounding Augustine's system and formed the basis for the subsequent Jansenist Controversy. It consisted of three volumes:

  • Volume I described the history of Pelagianism and Augustine's battle against it and against Semipelagianism.
  • Volume II contained a discussion of the Fall of Man and original sin.
  • Volume III denounced a "modern tendency" (unnamed by Jansen but clearly identifiable as Molinism) as Semipelagian.

Jansenist theology

The title page of Augustinus by Cornelius Jansen, published posthumously in 1640. The book formed the foundation of the subsequent Jansenist controversy.

Even before the publication of Augustinus, Saint-Cyran had begun publicly preaching Jansenism. Jansen emphasised a particular reading of Augustine's idea of efficacious grace which stressed that only a certain portion of humanity were predestined to be saved. Jansen insisted that the love of God was fundamental, and that only contrition, and not simple attrition, could save a person (and that, in turn, only an efficacious grace could tip that person toward God and such a contrition). This debate on the respective roles of contrition and attrition, which had not been settled by the Council of Trent (1545–1563), was one of the motives of the imprisonment in May 1638 of Saint-Cyran, the first leader of Port-Royal, by order of Cardinal Richelieu.[2] Saint-Cyran was not released until after Richelieu's death in 1642, and he died shortly thereafter, in 1643.

Jansen also insisted on justification by faith, although he did not contest the necessity of revering saints, of confession, and of frequent Communion. Jansen’s opponents (mainly Jesuits) condemned his teachings for their alleged similarities to Calvinism (though, unlike Calvinism, Jansen rejected the doctrine of assurance and taught that even the justified could lose their salvation). Blaise Pascal's Écrits sur la grâce, based on what Michel Serres has called his "anamorphotic method," attempted to conciliate the contradictory positions of Molinists and Calvinists by stating that both were partially right: Molinists, who claimed God's choice concerning a person's sin and salvation was a posteriori and contingent, while Calvinists claimed that it was a priori and necessary. Pascal himself claimed that Molinists were correct concerning the state of humanity before the Fall, while Calvinists were correct regarding the state of humanity after the Fall.

The heresy of Jansenism, meaning here its denial of Catholic doctrine, is that it denies the role of free will in the acceptance and use of grace. Jansenism asserts that God's role in the infusion of grace is such that it cannot be resisted and does not require human assent. The Catholic teaching is that "God's free initiative demands man's free response" (CCC 2002)[3]—that is, the gift of grace requires human assent.

Controversy and papal condemnation: 1640–1653

La mère Angélique Arnauld (1591–1661), abbess of Port-Royal.

Augustinus was widely read in theological circles in France, Belgium, and Holland in 1640, and a new edition quickly appeared in Paris under the approbation of 10 professors at the Sorbonne.

However, on August 1, 1641, the Holy Office issued a decree condemning Augustinus and forbidding its reading. In 1642, Pope Urban VIII followed up with a papal bull entitled In eminenti, which condemned Augustinus on the grounds that (1) it was published in violation of the order that no works concerning grace should be published without the prior permission of the Holy See; and (2) the work repeated several errors of Baianism which had been condemned by Pope Pius V's 1567 bull, Ex omnibus afflictionibus.

In 1634, Saint-Cyran had become the spiritual adviser of Port-Royal-des-Champs, a Cistercian convent in Magny-les-Hameaux. The Abbess of Port-Royal-des-Champs was Marie Angélique Arnauld, who had become abbess in 1609 and reformed the discipline of the convent. In 1625, most of the nuns moved to Paris, forming the convent of Port-Royal de Paris, which from then on was commonly known simply as Port-Royal, while the term Port-Royal-des-Champs was used for the convent in Magny-les-Hameaux. Saint-Cyran became good friends with Abbess Marie-Angélique and convinced her of the rightness of Jansen's opinions. The two Port Royal convents thus became major strongholds of Jansenism. Under Marie-Angélique, later with Saint-Cyran's support, Port-Royal-des-Champs developed a series of elementary schools, known as the "Little Schools of Port-Royal" (Les Petites-Écoles de Port-Royal); the most famous product of these schools was the playwright Jean Racine.

Antoine Arnauld (1612–1694), who became the leader of the Jansenists following Saint-Cyran's death in 1643.

Through Abbess Marie-Angélique, Saint-Cyran had met her brother, Antoine Arnauld, and brought him to accept Jansen's position in Augustinus. Following Saint-Cyran's death in 1643, Arnauld became the chief proponent of Jansenism. In 1643, he published a book De la fréquente Communion (On Frequent Communion) which presented Jansen's ideas in a way more accessible to the public (e.g. it was published in French, whereas Augustinus was available only in Latin). The book, as its title indicated, also focussed on a related topic in the dispute between Jesuits and Jansenists. The Jesuits encouraged Catholics, including those struggling with sin, to receive Holy Communion frequently, arguing that Christ instituted it as a means to holiness for sinners, and stating that the only requirement for receiving Communion (apart from baptism) was that the communicant be free of mortal sin at the time of reception. The Jansenists, in line with their deeply pessimistic theology, discouraged frequent Communion, arguing that a high degree of perfection, including purification from attachment to venial sin, was necessary before approaching the Sacrament.

The faculty of the Collège de Sorbonne (the theological college of the University of Paris) formally accepted the bull In eminenti in 1644, and the Archbishop of Paris, Jean-François de Gondi, formally proscribed Augustinus; the work nevertheless continued to circulate.

Then Jesuits attacked the Jansenists, claiming they were guilty of heresy similar to that of the Calvinists. In response, Arnauld wrote Théologie morale des Jésuites (Moral Theology of the Jesuits), which was the basis of most of the arguments later used by Pascal in his Provincial Letters denouncing the "relaxed morality" of Jesuitism.[1] The Jesuit Nicolas Caussin, former spiritual director to Louis XIII, was charged by his order with writing a defense against Arnauld's book, titled Réponse au libelle intitulé La Théologie morale des Jésuites (1644). Other works published against Arnauld's Moral Theology of the Jesuits included the one was written by the Great Jesuit polemist François Pinthereau (1605–1664), under the pseudonym of "the abbé de Boisic", titled Les Impostures et les ignorances du libelle intitulé: La Théologie Morale des Jésuites (1644),[4] who was also the author of a critical history of Jansenism titled La Naissance du Jansénisme découverte à Monsieur le Chancelier (The Birth of Jansenism Revealed to the Chancellor, Leuven, 1654).

During the 1640s, Saint-Cyran's nephew, Martin de Barcos, who had studied theology under Jansen, wrote several works defending his uncle.

In 1649, the syndic of the Sorbonne, Nicolas Cornet, frustrated by the continued circulation of the Augustinus, drew up a list of five propositions from Augustinus and two propositions from De la fréquente Communion and asked the Sorbonne faculty to condemn the propositions. Before the faculty could do so, the Parlement de Paris intervened, forbidding the Sorbonne faculty to consider the propositions. The Sorbonne faculty then determined to forward the propositions to the General Assembly of the Clergy, which met in 1650. In the assembly, 85 of the French bishops voted to refer the matter to Pope Innocent X. Eleven of the bishops opposed this move, and asked the pope to appoint a commission similar to the Congregatio de Auxiliis to resolve the situation. Innocent X agreed to the majority's request, but in an attempt to accommodate the view of the minority, appointed an advisory committee consisting of five cardinals and thirteen consultors to report on the situation. Over the next two years, this commission held 36 meetings, 10 of which Innocent X presided over in person.

The supporters of Jansenism on the commission drew up a table with three heads: the first listed the Calvinist position (which was condemned as heretical), the second listed the Pelagian/Semipelagian position (as taught by the Molinists), and the third listed the correct Augustinian position (according to the Jansenists).

Jansenism's supporters suffered a decisive defeat when Innocent X issued the bull Cum occasione on May 31, 1653. The bull condemned the following five propositions:

  1. that there are some commands of God which just men cannot keep, no matter how hard they wish and strive;
  2. that it is impossible for fallen man to resist sovereign grace;
  3. that it is possible for human beings who lack free will to merit;
  4. that the Semipelagians were correct to teach that prevenient grace was necessary for all interior acts, including for faith, but were incorrect to teach that fallen man is free to accept or resist prevenient grace; and
  5. that it is Semipelagian to say that Christ died for all.

Formulary controversy

Background: 1654–1664

Antoine Arnauld accepted the bull Cum Occasione and agreed in condemning the five propositions mentioned by Cum Occasione. However, he argued that Augustinus did not argue in favour of the five propositions condemned by Cum Occasione. Rather, he argued that Jansen intended his statements in Augustinus in the same sense that Augustine of Hippo had offered his opinions – and since the pope would certainly not have wished to condemn Augustine's opinions, the pope had not condemned Jansen's actual opinions.

Replying to Arnauld, in 1654, 38 French bishops condemned Arnauld's position to the pope. Opponents of Jansenism in the church refused absolution to Roger du Plessis, duc de Liancourt for his continued protection of the Jansenists. In response to this onslaught, Arnauld articulated a distinction as to how far the Church could bind the mind of a Catholic. He argued that there is a distinction between de jure and de facto—that a Catholic was obliged to accept the Church's opinion as to a matter of law (i.e. as to a matter of doctrine) but not as to a matter of fact. Arnauld argued that, while he agreed with the doctrine propounded in Cum Occasione, he was not bound to accept the pope's determination of fact as to what doctrines were contained in Jansen's work.

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). The Jansenist apologia Provincial Letters, written 1656 and 1657, a literary masterpiece written from a Jansenist perspective, and remembered for denunciation of the casuistry of the Jesuits.

In 1656, the theological faculty at the Sorbonne moved against Arnauld. This was the context in which Blaise Pascal wrote his famous Provincial Letters in defence of Arnauld's position in the dispute at the Sorbonne. (However, unlike Arnauld, Pascal did not himself accept Cum occasione and believed that the condemned doctrines were orthodox. Nevertheless, he emphasised Arnauld's distinction about matters of doctrine vs. matters of fact.) The letters were also scathing in their critique of the casuistry of the Jesuits, echoing Arnauld's Théologie morale des Jésuites.

However, Pascal was unable to convince the Sorbonne's theological faculty, and they voted 138–68 to expel Arnauld together with 60 other theologians from the Sorbonne. Later that year, the French Assembly of the Bishops voted to condemn Arnauld's distinction between the pope's ability to bind the mind of believers in matters of doctrine but not in matters of fact; they asked Pope Alexander VII to condemn Arnauld's proposition as heresy. The pope responded with the bull Ad Sanctam Beati Petri Sedem (dated October 16, 1656) in which he stated "We declare and define that the five propositions have been drawn from the book of Jansenius entitled Augustinus, and that they have been condemned in the sense of the same Jansenius and we once more condemn them as such."

In 1657, relying on Ad Sanctam Beati Petri Sedem, the French Assembly of the Clergy drew up a formulation of faith condemning Jansenism and declared that subscription to the formula was obligatory. Many Jansenists remained firmly committed to Arnauld's formula; although they would accept the conclusions of Cum Occasione, they would not agree that the propositions were contained in Jansen's Augustinus. In retaliation, the Archbishop of Paris, Jean François Paul de Gondi, cardinal de Retz suspended the convent of Port Royal from receiving the Sacraments. In 1660, the elementary schools run by Port-Royal-des-Champs were closed by bull, and in 1661, the monastery at Port-Royal-des-Champs was forbidden to accept new novices, which guaranteed the monastery would eventually die out.

Formulary: 1664

Four bishops (Henri Arnauld, Bishop of Angers (brother of Antoine and Angélique Arnauld); Nicolas Choart de Buzenval, Bishop of Beauvais; François-Etienne Caulet, Bishop of Pamiers; and Nicolas Pavillon, Bishop of Alet) sided with Port-Royal, arguing that the French Assembly of the Clergy could not command French Catholics to subscribe to something which was not required by the pope. At the urging of several bishops, and at the personal insistence of King Louis XIV, Pope Alexander VII sent to France the apostolic constitution Regiminis Apostolici (dated February 15, 1664) which required all French Catholics to subscribe to the following formulary:

I, (Name), submitting to the apostolic constitutions of the sovereign pontiffs, Innocent X and Alexander VII, published May 31, 1653 and October 16, 1656, sincerely repudiate the five propositions extracted from the book of Jansenius entitled Augustinus, and I condemn them upon oath in the very sense expressed by that author, as the Apostolic See has condemned them by the two above mentioned Constitutions.

Formulary controversy: 1664–1669

This formulary formed the basis of the Formulary Controversy. Many Jansenists refused to sign the formulary; whilst some did sign, they made it known that they were agreeing only to the doctrine (questions de jure), not the allegations asserted by the bull (questions de facto, or of facts). The latter category included the four Jansenist-leaning bishops, who communicated the bull to their flocks along with messages which maintained the distinction between doctrine and fact. This angered both Louis XIV and Alexander VII, and the pope appointed a committee of nine French bishops to investigate the situation.

Pope Clement IX (1600–1669), whose intervention in the Formulary Controversy led to a 32-year lull (1669–1701) in the controversy over Jansenism known as the Peace of Clement IX.

However, before this committee acted, Alexander VII died on May 22, 1667. His successor, Pope Clement IX, initially appeared to be willing to continue the move against the Jansenist-leaning bishops. However, in France, the Jansenists conducted a campaign arguing that allowing a papal commission of this sort would be ceding the traditional liberties of the Gallican Church, thus playing on traditional French opposition to ultramontanism. They convinced one member of the cabinet (Lyonne) and nineteen bishops of their position. As a result, these bishops wrote to Clement IX, arguing that the infallibility of the Church applied only to matters of revelation, and not to matters of fact. They asserted that this was the position of Caesar Baronius and Robert Bellarmine. They also sent a letter to Louis XIV, arguing that great severity would result in political discord.

Under these circumstances, the papal nuncio to France recommended that Clement IX seek a peaceful accommodation with the Jansenists. Clement agreed, and appointed César d'Estrées, Bishop of Laon as mediator in the matter (he was to be assisted by two bishops who had signed the letter to the pope, Louis-Henri de Pardaillan de Gondrin, Archbishop of Sens and Félix Vialart de Herse, Bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne). D'Estrées convinced the four bishops to sign the formulary (though it seems they may have believed that signing the formulary did not mean assent to the matters of fact it contained). The pope, initially happy that the four bishops had signed, became angry when he was informed that they had done so with reservations. Clement IX ordered his nuncio to conduct a new investigation' reporting back, the nuncio declared: "they have condemned and caused to be condemned the five propositions with all manner of sincerity, without any exception or restriction whatever, in every sense in which the Church has condemned them". However, he reported that the four bishops continued to be evasive as to whether they agreed with the pope as to the matter of fact. In response, Clement appointed a commission of twelve cardinals to further investigate the matter. This commission determined that the four bishops had signed the formulary in a less than entirely sincere manner, but nevertheless recommended that the matter should be dropped in order to forestall further divisions in the Church. The pope agreed and thus issued four briefs, declaring the four bishops' agreement to the formulary was acceptable, thus instituting the "Peace of Clement IX" (1669–1701).

Case of Conscience and aftermath: 1701–1709

Although the Peace of Clement IX brought about a lull in the public theological controversy, a number of churchmen remained attracted to Jansenism. Three major groups may be identified:

  1. the duped Jansenists, who continued to profess the five propositions condemned in Cum Occasione
  2. the fins Jansénistes, who accepted the doctrine of Cum Occasione but who continued to deny the infallibility of the Church in matters of fact
  3. the quasi-Jansenists, who formally accepted both Cum occasione and the infallibility of the Church in matters of fact, but who nevertheless remained attracted to aspects of Jansenism, notably its stern morality, commitment to virtue, and its opposition to ultramontanism which was a hot political issue in France in the decades surrounding the 1682 Declaration of the Clergy of France.

The quasi-Jansenists served as protectors of the "duped Jansenists" and the fins Jansénistes.

The tensions generated by the continuing presence of these elements in the French church came to a head in the Case of Conscience of 1701. The case involved the question of whether or not absolution should be given to a cleric who refused to affirm the infallibility of the Church in matters of fact (even though he did not preach against it but merely maintained a "respectful silence"). A provincial conference, consisting of forty theology professors from the Sorbonne, headed by Noël Alexandre, declared that the cleric should receive absolution.

The publication of this "Case of Conscience" provoked outrage amongst the anti-Jansenist elements in the Catholic Church. The decision was condemned by several French bishops; by Louis-Antoine de Noailles, Archbishop of Paris; by the theological faculties at Leuven, Douai, and eventually Paris; and, finally, in 1703, by Pope Clement XI. The Sorbonne professors who had signed the Case of Conscience now backed away, and all of the signatories withdrew their signatures and the theologian who had championed the result of the Case of Conscience, Nicolas Petitpied, was expelled from the Sorbonne.

Nuns being forcibly removed from the convent of Port-Royal-des-Champs in 1709.

Louis XIV and his grandson, Philip V of Spain, now asked the pope to issue a papal bull condemning the practice of maintaining a respectful silence as to the issue of the infallibility of the Church in matters of dogmatic fact.

The pope obliged, issuing the bull Vineam Domini Sabaoth, dated July 16, 1705. At the subsequent Assembly of the French Clergy, all those present (except P.-Jean-Fr. de Percin de Montgaillard, Bishop of Saint-Pons) voted to accept the bull and Louis XIV promulgated the bull as binding law in France.

Louis also sought the dissolution of Port-Royal-des-Champs, the stronghold of Jansenist thought, and this was achieved in 1708, when the pope issued a bull dissolving Port-Royal-des-Champs. The remaining nuns were forcibly removed in 1709 and dispersed among various other French convents and the buildings were razed in 1709. The Convent of Port-Royal in Paris remained in existence until the time of the French Revolution, when it was closed by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, part of the general Dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution.

Case of Quesnel

Pasquier Quesnel (1634–1719), whose book Réflexions morales sur le Nouveau Testament set off the last major flare-up of the Jansenist controversy, ultimately leading to the 1713 papal bull Unigenitus.

Pasquier Quesnel had been a member of the Parisian Oratory from 1657 to 1681, at which time he was expelled because of his Jansenism. He sought the protection of Pierre-Armand du Camboust de Coislin, Bishop of Orléans, who harboured Quesnel for four years, at which point Quesnel joined Antoine Arnauld in Brussels. In 1692, Quesnel published a book which he had been working on since 1668, Réflexions morales sur le Nouveau Testament (Moral Reflections on the New Testament), a devotional guide to the New Testament which laid out the Jansenist position in strong terms. Following Arnauld's death in 1694, Quesnel was widely regarded as the leader of the Jansenists. In 1703, Quesnel was imprisoned by Humbertus Guilielmus de Precipiano, Archbishop of Mechelen, but escaped several months later and lived in Amsterdam for the remainder of his life.

The Réflexions morales sur le Nouveau Testament did not initially arouse controversy; in fact, it was approved for publication by Felix Vialart, Bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne and recommended by Louis-Antoine de Noailles. Neither Vialart nor Noailles appears to have realised that the book had strongly Jansenist overtones, and had thought that they were simply approving a pious manual of devotion. However, in the years that followed, several bishops became aware of the book's Jansenist tendencies and issued condemnations: Ignace de Foresta, Bishop of Apt in 1703; Charles-Béningne Hervé, the Bishop of Gap in 1704; and in 1707 both the Bishop of Besançon and Edouard Bargedé, Bishop of Nevers. When the Holy Office drew the Réflexions morales to the attention of Clement XI, he issued the papal brief Universi dominici (1708), proscribing the book for "savouring of the Jansenist heresy."; as a result, in 1710, the Bishop of Luçon and the Bishop of La Rochelle forbade the reading of the book.

However, Louis-Antoine de Noailles, who was now the cardinal Archbishop of Paris was embarrassed and reluctant to condemn a book he had previously recommended, and thus hesitated. As a result, Louis XIV asked the pope to settle the matter. The result was the bull Unigenitus, dated September 8, 1713 which collected 101 propositions from the Réflexions morales and condemned them, "especially those contained in the famous propositions of Jansenius".

Pope Clement XI (1649–1721), whose 1713 bull Unigenitus condemned Quesnel and the Jansenists.

Those Jansenists who accepted the Unigenitus became known as Acceptants.

Upon examining the 101 propositions condemned by Unigenitus, Noailles determined that as set out in the bull and apart from their context in the Réflexions morales, some of the propositions condemned by Unigenitus were in fact orthodox. He therefore refused to accept the bull and instead sought clarifications from the pope.

In the midst of this dispute, Louis XIV died in 1715, and the government of France was taken over by Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, serving as regent for the 5-year-old Louis XV of France. Unlike Louis XIV, who had stood solidly behind Unigenitus, Orléans expressed ambivalence. With the change in political mood, three theological faculties which had previously voted to accept Unigenitus – Paris, Nantes, and Reims – voted to rescind their acceptance.

In 1717, four French bishops went even further, and attempted to appeal the papal bull to a general council; the bishops were joined by hundreds of French priests, monks and nuns, and were supported by the parlements. In 1718, Clement XI responded vigorously to this challenge to his authority by issuing the bull Pastoralis officii by which he excommunicated everyone who had called for an appeal to a general council. Far from disarming the French clergy, many of whom were now advocating conciliarism, the clergy who had appealed Unigenitus to a general council, now appealed Pastoralis officii to a general council as well. In total, one cardinal, 18 bishops, and 3,000 clergy of Frances supported an appeal to a general council. However, the majority in France (four cardinals, 100 bishops, 100,000 clergymen) stood by the pope. The schism carried on for some time, however, and it was not until 1728 that Noailles submitted to the pope.

The convulsionnaires of Saint-Médard, religious pilgrims who experienced convulsions at the tomb of a Jansenist deacon who was buried at the cemetery of the parish of Saint-Médard in Paris, were associated with the continued Jansenist opposition to Unigenitus in the early years of the reign of Louis XV. The connection between the larger French Jansenist movement and the smaller, more radical convulsionnaire phenomenon is difficult to state with precision. As historian Brian E. Strayer has noted, almost all of the convulsionnaires were Jansenists, but very few Jansenists embraced the convulsionnaire phenomenon.[5]


Unigenitus marks the official break of toleration of Jansenism within the Church in France, though quasi-Jansenists would occasionally stir in the following decades. By the mid-18th century, Jansenism proper had totally lost its battle to be a viable theological position within Catholicism. However, certain ideas tinged with Jansenism remained in circulation for much longer; in particular, the Jansenist idea that Holy Communion should be received very infrequently and that reception required much more than freedom from mortal sin remained influential until finally condemned by Pope St. Pius X, who endorsed frequent communion, as long as the communicant was free of mortal sin, in the early 20th century.

On the other hand, Pascal's denunciation of Jesuit casuistry and its "relaxed morality" also led Innocent XI to condemn (in 1679) sixty-five propositions which were taken chiefly from the writings of the Jesuits Escobar and Suarez. They were said to be propositiones laxorum moralistarum, and Innocent forbade anyone to teach them under penalty of excommunication.[6]

Several Jansenist teachers also proposed a radical reform of the Latin liturgy.

Jansenism was also a factor in the formation of the independent Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands from 1702 to 1723, and is said to continue to live on in some Ultrajectine traditions.

In the Canadian province of Quebec, the widespread rejection of the Catholic Church and secularization of its institutions in the mid 1960s, was justified frequently by charges that the church in Quebec was "Jansenist."

See also


  1. ^ a b c Vincent Carraud (author of Pascal et la philosophie, PUF, 1992), Le jansénisme, Société des Amis de Port-Royal, on-line since June 2007 (French)
  2. ^ Pascal, Les Provinciales – Pensées Et Opuscules Divers, Lgf/Le Livre De Poche, La Pochothèque, 2004, edited by Philippe Sellier & Gérard Ferreyrolles, note pp. 430–431 (French)
  3. ^ Catholic Church (2003). Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday. ISBN 0385508190. 
  4. ^ corail.sudoc.abes.fr
  5. ^ Brian E. Strayer, Suffering Saints: Jansenists and Convulsionnaires in France, 1640–1799 (Brighton, UK: Sussex Academic Press, 2008), 236.
  6. ^ Kelly, J.N.D., The Oxford History of the Popes, Oxford University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-19-282085-0 (pp. 287–288)

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  • Monique Cottret,"Voltaire au risque du jansénisme. Le Siècle de Louis XIV à l'épreuve du jansénisme", Voltaire et le Grand Siècle, sous la direction de Jean Dagen et Anna-Sophie Barrovecchio, Voltaire Foundation, Oxford, 2006, pp. 387–397.
  • Jean-Louis Quantin, « Augustinisme, sexualité et direction de conscience : Port-Royal devant les tentations du duc de Luynes » in Revue d’histoire des religions, 2e trimestre 2003
  • Catherine Maire, "Les jansénistes et le millénarisme. Du refus à la conversion", Revue Annales. Histoire, Sciences sociales, n°1–2008 (published by the EHESS, ISBN978-2-7132-2177-4)

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  • jansenism — JANSENÍSM s.n. Curent social religios apărut în Olanda şi în Franţa la mijlocul sec. XVII, care exprima opoziţia unei părţi a burgheziei faţă de iezuitism, preluând concepţia despre predestinare şi propovăduind o morală austeră. – Din fr.… …   Dicționar Român

  • Jansenism — Jan sen*ism, n. [F. Jans[ e]nisme.] (Eccl. Hist.) The doctrine of Jansen regarding free will and divine grace. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Jansenism — 1650s, in reference to doctrine of Cornelius Jansen (1585 1638), Catholic bishop of Ypres, who maintained the perverseness and inability for good of the natural human will. Related: Jansenist …   Etymology dictionary

  • Jansenism — [jan′sən iz΄əm] n. a set of rigorous, unorthodox, predestinarian doctrines held by Cornelis Jansen Jansenist n., adj. Jansenistic adj …   English World dictionary

  • Jansenism —    A movement of religious reform, especially in 17th and 18th century France, Jansenism takes its name from the Flemish bishop and theologian Cornelius Jansen, whose ideas were summarized in the treatise Augustinus (1640). using the philosophy… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Jansenism —    This term refers to a theological movement that traces its origin to Cornelius Jansen (1585 1638). While Jansenism began as a reform movement emphasizing personal holiness, Jansenism s overemphasis on divinepredestination and human… …   Glossary of theological terms

  • Jansenism — Christian sect owing allegiance to the doctrines of the Dutch theologian Cornelius Otto Jansen (1585–1638). The principal tenet is that without the operation of divine grace, obedience to God s commands is impossible. Grace itself is irresistible …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Jansenism — noun Etymology: French jansénisme, from Cornelis Jansen Date: circa 1656 1. a system of doctrine based on moral determinism, defended by various reformist factions among 17th and 18th century western European Roman Catholic clergy, religious, and …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Jansenism — Jansenist, n. Jansenistic, Jansenistical, adj. /jan seuh niz euhm/, n. the doctrinal system of Cornelis Jansen and his followers, denying free will and maintaining that human nature is corrupt and that Christ died for the elect and not for all… …   Universalium

  • Jansenism — noun The Catholic doctrines of and his followers, which emphasise original sin, divine grace and predestination …   Wiktionary

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