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Reviewed by Donald J. Dietrich
In this popular account of the expansion of the Society of Jesus, Jean Lacouture has offered a panoramic sweep of the issues faced by the Catholic Church during the last five centuries. Among other topics, Lacouture has explored the intrigues of the Vatican surrounding the suppression of the Jesuits in the eighteenth century, the order's missionary visions in Asia and Latin America, the growth of the power of the "Black Pope," the development of Liberation Theology along with the improvement of Jewish-Christian relations, and, finally, the imposition of constraints demanded by John Paul II. Lacouture provides a superficial and at times inaccurate introduction to the order.
As an example of factual inaccuracy, Lacouture has asserted that Robert Drinan, S.J., was at Georgetown rather than Boston College, prior to being elected to the House of Representatives (p. 490). Other factual errors could be noted, but that would not be useful for this review. What really damages the utility of this work is Lacouture's lack of comprehension of the religious values that powered the dynamic development of the order since its inception.
In 1573-74, Juan Alfonso Polanco dictated to one of his scribes the …