Thyrsus Gonzalez de Santella General # 13

General from 1687 to 1705



He was born in 1622 in Argante a small town in Leon, Spain. He had entered the Society at the age of 20 in 1642 and became a renowned parish-mission preacher in a team with a certain Gabriel Guillén. The two of them were known all over Spain for their Parish missions and worked successfully together from 1665 until 1672. Then Gonzalez was appointed to teach Theology at Salamanca and it was there that he became obsessed with the theological opinions known among theologians as probabilism versus probabiliorism, one more rigorous on Moral issues than the other. (I will not go into this esoteric controversy here—it can be found in theological tomes). But, Gonzalez wrote a book defending his position against some of the learned theologians of the Society. The censors refused to permit the book to be published and Gonzalez wrote to Pope Innocent XI asking him to support his book, but Innocent did not want to get into this family squabble

After the death of de Noyelle the 13th General Congregation was called for June 22 until Sept. 7, 1867.

The Pope had made it clear that he wanted the Congregation to elect Gonzalez General and to approve a decree expressly stating that Jesuits were free to defend probabiliorism with a clear conscience. The Congregation voted in that wise. The 65 year old Gonzalez was elected General as Innocent had requested on July 6, 1687.

Nine years later another, the 14th, General Congregation was called by Gonzalez at the request of the Pope. This was done in accord with the decree of Innocent X, which required the Jesuits to have a General Congregation every nine years. So, the 14th Congregation convened in 1696. Everything went well and it ended in peace. In 1702 he sent a memorial to Clement XI complaining that the doctrine of probabilism meant the end of the Society.

Gonzalez was 80 years old by this time and was failing physically. His Assistants advised him to choose a Vicar General and he chose Michelangelo Tamburini to help him. The next "9 year" General Congregation was coming closer and was called for January 1706. The General insisted on imposing his own moral ideas on the whole Society and the Theologians balked. As the delegates began arriving in Rome for the 15th General Congregation, Thyrsus Gonzalez was called to eternal reward and a great sigh of relief was heard among the delegates and in Jesuit houses around the world. God had solved a vexing internal problem. After a Generalate of 18 years and 3 months Gonzalez died on October 27, 1705 and was laid to rest with the remains of the previous Fathers General in the crypt of the Gesú.