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James Lainez

Second general of the Society of Jesus, theologian, b. in 1512, at Almazan, Castille, in 1512; d. at Rome, January 19, 1565

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Lainez (LAYNEZ), JAMES, second general of the Society of Jesus, theologian, b. in 1512, at Almazan, Castille, in 1512; d. at Rome, January 19, 1565. His family, although Christian for many generations, had descended from Jewish stock, as has been established by Sacchini (Historia Societatis Jesu, II, sec. 32). Lainez graduated in arts at the University of Alcald (1531), and won his licentiate in philosophy there at the age of twenty (1532). At Alcala, the young Castilian and his friend Salmerbn had heard of Ignatius Loyola. To meet him, they betook them to the great University of Paris (1533) and there fell under the spell of his masterful will. Lainez was the second to join Loyola and was one of the seven who, on August 15, 1534, made the vows of religion in the chapel of St. Denis, on Montmartre. Three years were now spent by Lainez, in works of charity and zeal, for the most part in Northern Italy. In 1537, Ignatius sent his companions to present themselves to the Holy Father. Paul III discussed doctrinal questions with them. He was struck by their bearing and learning, granted them permission to be ordained priests and to go to the Holy Land. This pilgrimage was prevented by political troubles. Lainez was charged by the pope to teach theology in the Sapienza. His teaching and preaching Were productive of immense good in those unsettled days. Rome, Venice, and Vicenza were saved from heresy by his labors. Paul III became an enthusiastic admirer of the new society. He chose three Jesuits, Lainez, Salmerbn, and Lefevre as sole papal theologians to the Council of Trent. The latter died in Rome before the council began its sessions. Lainez and Salmerbn were joined by two other Jesuits at Trent, Le Jaye who represented the Bishop of Augsburg, and Covillon the theologian to the Duke of Bavaria.

At Trent, Lainez came into prominence just as soon as the question of justification was reached. Luther and his followers had gone astray chiefly on this very doctrine. No more important subject could have come before the council. Long discussions preceded the definition, and Lainez and Salmerbn stood out most prominently. These dogmatic discussions, in the early sessions of Trent, took place without formality of precedence. The theological discussions were under the charge of Cardinal Cervini, later Pope Marcellus II; he arranged that Salmerbn should be among the first speakers on each topic, so as to set down the right doctrine from the outset; Lainez should be the last to speak, so as to sum up the discussion and point out clearly the errors of preceding theologians. The two Jesuits were immensely influential against some of the Lutheran ideas wherewith unfortunately not a few of the theologians of the council were tainted. The bishops asked for copies of the vote of Lainez and Salmeron. While the two papal theologians thus bore the brunt of the battle for Catholic truth in the matter of justification, at Trent, strong influence was brought to bear on Ignatius to send Lainez to do apostolic work in Florence. Salmerbn prevented such a loss to the council by telling Ignatius the power of Lainez in Trent. Shortly thereafter, Lainez did his greatest service to the council in the discussion on justification. Jerome Seripando, a most devoted and saintly man, who later presided over the sessions of Trent, tried to combine the Catholic with the Lutheran idea of justification; and defended a twofold formal justice, our own and the imputed justice of Christ (Theiner, “Acta Con. Trid.”, I, 235). The answer of Lainez so pleased the Fathers of Trent that they honored it by incorporating it word for word in the Acts of the council, a unique honor. On January 13, 1547, by unanimous vote, their clear and definite decree on justification was passed unanimously, the doctrines which Lainez had stood for being defined. Hereafter, whereas very few theologians were allowed to speak an hour, Lainez was privileged to address the assembly for three hours or more. We are not surprised to find Salmerbn writing to Ignatius that to take away Lainez from Trent “were, without any exaggeration whatsoever, to take away one of its eyes from this council” (Epistolae Salmerbn, January 20, 1547). In April, 1547, Lainez went with the council to Bologna, where he spoke on penance and extreme unction. The opposition of Charles V preventing many bishops from reaching Bologna, the council was indefinitely prorogued. When the Fathers met a second time at Trent (May 1, 1551) Lainez (now provincial of the Jesuits in Italy) and Salmeron were there as papal theologians to Julius III. During the previous sessions, Lainez had spoken at a time when the Fathers of the council were already fagged out, and yet he held their attention and carried their votes. Now the first to speak were the papal theologians. Lainez dwelt at great length on the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass. It is said that the decrees and canons of the Fourteenth Session were at this time written by him (Cartas de S. Ignacio, I, 491).

After the death of St. Ignatius (1556) Lainez was elected vicar-general of the Society; about two years later be became its second general (1558). Paul IV now insisted on the triennial election of a general and the chanting of the Office in choir by the Jesuits. His wish was only verbally expressed, and that by a messenger. After his death (1559), at the advice of eminent canonists, Lainez discontinued the choir, and observed the constitutions of the order in regard to the generalate. A new difficulty now confronted him. Twelve votes were cast for Lainez in the effort to choose a successor for Paul IV, the reform party being intent upon electing him. His entreaties and sudden departure for parts unknown saved him from the possibility. To Lainez is due the adoption of the “Constitutions” of the Society, and the importance that higher education was destined to have in working out in detail the general principle of its institution. Not-withstanding the labors incident to the governing of his order, Lainez still busied himself with the battle of the Church against heresy and neglect of ecclesiastical discipline. Pius IV sent him as theologian to the famous Conference of Poissy (1561) along with Cardinal Ippolito d’Este. There he engaged the Calvinistic ministers in dispute before the Queen Regent Catherine de’ Medici. In his absence, Salmeron was vicar-general at Rome. Meanwhile the third convocation of Trent was opened (January 18, 1562). Two Jesuits were present, Covillon and Canisius. Pius IV was not satisfied, nor were the party of reform, that the two protagonists of former convocations were absent; Salmeron, Lainez, and Polanco were straightway ordered by the Holy Father to go to Trent as his theologians. Salmeron was the first to arrive. He spoke three hours on communion under one species. Lainez reached Trent in August, 1562. He was the first, as papal theologian, to speak on the Sacrifice of the Mass. His proofs were well under way, when the Fathers voted to allow him the whole of the next day for his discourse, which he delivered from a platform in the body of the cathedral. The opinions of Lainez, not only in matters dogmatic but in the practice of refusing the cup to the faithful, prevailed in the twenty second session.

The matter of the next session was exceedingly delicate—the question of orders, involving as it did the origin of episcopal jurisdiction. Lainez was one of the committee appointed to draw up the decrees and canons on the Sacrament of Orders; and to him the rest of the committee consigned that task. At the very outset of the discussions, the question of the Divine right of bishops came up; the discussions were carried on vigorously for nine months. Lainez stood firm for the Divine origin of the powers of the order of bishops, the Divine right of the episcopal body to jurisdiction and the conferring of this jurisdiction upon each individual bishop directly by the pope and not by God. On two other occasions at Trent Lainez defended the papal origin of episcopal jurisdiction. In the end the council left the mooted question out of the decrees of the Twenty-third Session. Lainez remained in the council until its adjournment (December 4, 1563). A little more than a year later (January 19, 1565), he died at Rome.

Ribadeneira (Vida del Padre Lainez, III, xvi), whoknew Lainez, says he was small of stature and delicate; his eyes were large, clear and full of life; his mind was quick and accurate; his character noble, deep, serious, large minded, firm, and strong. The chief published works of Lainez are “Disputations Tridentinae”, ed. Grisar, 2 vols. (Innsbruck, 1886); for long list of other works, see Hurter, “Nomenclator”, and Sommervogel, “Bibliotheque de la Compagnie de Jesus” (Paris, 1893).

WALTER DRUM


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