|Cardinal Jean Daniélou, S.J.|
Mimì Santoni, the prostitute, saw Jesuit Cardinal Jean Danielou fall to his knees with his face on the floor before he breathed his last. And to her "it was a good death, for a cardinal." He had gone to bring her money to pay for a lawyer capable of getting her husband out of prison. It was the last of his works of charity carried out in secret, on behalf of despised persons in need of help and forgiveness. The Jesuits conducted exhaustive investigations to discover the truth. They ascertained his innocence. But they also shrouded the case in a silence that did not dispel the suspicions. The rupture between Daniélou and his other Jesuit confreres in Paris and the rest of France was in effect the true origin of the neglect that fell upon this great theologian and cardinal. A rupture that preceded his death by at least two years. Since 1972, in fact, Daniélou had no longer been living in the residence of "Etudes," the leading cultural magazine of the French Jesuits, where he had lived for decades. He had moved to a convent of sisters, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary. The clash had been precipitated by an interview with Daniélou on Vatican Radio in which he harshly criticized the "decadence" that was devastating so many men's and women's religious orders, because of "a false interpretation of Vatican II." The interview was interpreted as an accusation brought against the Society of Jesus itself, the superior general of which at the time was Father Pedro Arrupe, who was also the head of the union of superiors general of religious orders. The Jesuit Bruno Ribes, director of "Etudes," was one of the most active in making scorched earth around Daniélou. The positions of the two had become antithetical. In 1974, the year of Daniélou's death, Ribes positioned "Etudes" in open disobedience with respect to the teaching of the encyclical "Humanae Vitae" on contraception. And he collaborated with other "progressive" theologians – including the Dominicans Jacques Pohier and Bernard Quelquejeu – in the drafting of the law that in that same year introduced unrestricted abortion in France, with Simone Veil as health minister, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing as president, and Jacques Chirac as prime minister. The following year, 1975, Father Ribes left the helm of "Etudes." And afterward he abandoned the Society of Jesus, and then the Catholic Church.
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