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Thyrsus Gonzalez de Santalla

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Gonzalez de Santalla, THYRSUS, theologian and thirteenth general of the Society of Jesus; b. at Arganda, Spain, January 18, 1624; d. at Rome, October 27, 1705. He entered the Society of Jesus March 3, 1643, and taught philosophy and theology at Salamanca from 1655 to 1665 and from 1676 to 1687, the intervening years having been devoted to preaching. When about to set out for Africa to convert the Mussulmans in 1687, he was sent as elector to the thirteenth general congregation, by which he was chosen general, July 6, 1687. As an ardent adversary of probabilism Gonzalez had frequently asked his superiors to have some Jesuit write against the doctrine. He himself had composed a work in which he defended probabiliorism, assigning, however, an exaggerated importance to the subjective estimation of the degree of probability. The general revisors of the Society unanimously rendered an unfavorable opinion on the work, and accordingly, in 1674, Father-General Oliva refused permission for its publication. Gonzalez received encouragement from Innocent XI, who had become pope in 1676, and by his order the Holy Office issued a decree, in 1680, ordering the superiors of the Society to allow their subjects to defend probabiliorism, a permission that had never been denied. As general of the Society, Gonzalez thought himself obliged to fight probabilism among his subjects. In 1691, he had printed at Dillingen a modified edition of his former work, but, owing to the efforts of his assistants, this book was never published. Innocent XII ordered a new examination of it to be made, and with many corrections it finally appeared, in 1694, under the title “Fundamentum theologise moralis—de recto usu opinionum probabilium” at Rome (three editions), Antwerp, Dillingen, Paris, Cologne, etc., and again at Antwerp, in 1695. Migne has reproduced it in his “Cursus Theologiae”, XI. Bousset said that nothing more formidable had ever been written against probalism, and St. Alphonsus Liguori found in it an exaggeration of rigorist tendencies.

We also have from the pen of Gonzalez some apologetical works: “Selectarum disputationum tomi quattuor” (Salamanca, 1680), in which are found chapters against the Thomists, Jansenius, and some doctors of Louvain; treatises on the Immaculate Conception, and on papal infallibility. This last, directed against the Assembly of the Clergy of France in 1682, and printed by order of Innocent XI, was afterwards suppressed by Alexander VIII, who feared new difficulties with the French court. This work appeared, in resume only, at Barcelona, in 1691.


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