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George Gobat

French moral theologian; b. 1600; d. 1679

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Gobat, GEORGE, moral theologian; b. at Charmoilles, in the Diocese of Basle, now in the Department of the Doubs, France, July 1, 1600; d. March 23, 1679. He entered the Society of Jesus, June 1, 1618. After teaching the humanities he was professor of sacred sciences at Fribourg, Switzerland (1631-41), and of moral theology at Halle (1641-44), at Munich (1644-47), rector at Halle (1647-51), professor of moral theology at Ratisbon (1651-54), rector at Fribourg (1654-56), professor of moral theology at Constance (1656-60), where he was also penitentiary of the cathedral, which post he retained until his death. Besides his “Disputationes in Aristotelem” (Fribourg, 1633-34) and the Latin translation, “Narratio historica eorum quae Societas Jesu in Nova Francia fortiter egit et passa est anno 1648-49″, from the French of Father Raguenau, S.J., there are mentioned smaller works on the Jubilee and on Indulgences and a collection of practical cases on the sacraments entitled “Alphabetum”. Later these cases were republished under the title “Experientiae Theologicae sive experimentalis theologia” (Constance, 1670). The “Alphabetum quadruplex de voto, juramento, blasphemia, superstitione” appeared at Constance in 1672. These works were several times republished in three volumes under the heading “Opera Moralia”, for instance at Douai, 1701, the last edition being published at Venice, 1749.

Gobat follows the casuistic method, treating the different questions in a clear and simple style with solidity and erudition, applying them especially to existing conditions in Germany, conditions well known to him from the confessional and the numerous cases referred to him for settlement. He is, however, inclined to be too lenient. Several of his doctrines were later condemned by the Holy See, notably by Innocent XI in 1679, the year of Gobat’s death. The Douai edition (1701) of the “Opera Moralia” drew from Msgr. Gui de Seves de Rochechouart, Bishop of Arras, the censure of thirty-two propositions. The adversaries of the Jesuits in France, Germany and Holland eagerly seized the occasion for an attack on the “Jesuit moral”, but several apologies were published to refute the malignant exaggerations contained in their attacks; among these defenders of P. Gobat were Father Daniel, S.J., who wrote “Apologie pour la doctrine des Jesuites” (Liege, 1703), and Chr. Rassler, S.J., author of “Vindiciae Gobatianae” (Ingolstadt, 1706).

J. SALSMANS


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