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Early Jesuit Pro-Converso Policy (1540–72)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter shows why and how the Jesuits of Jewish lineage played a key role in the Society of Jesus and how the early Jesuits richly, knowingly, and strategically benefited from their converso confreres. The author has argued that the key to understanding why the Jesuit Order became a haven for conversos is to be found in the approach to the "Jewish question" of its founder, Ignatius of Loyola. His adamant stress on the constitutional principle of non-discrimination in accepting candidates regardless of their lineage, as far as they were suitable for the Jesuit life, was supported by his close converso collaborators, especially Jerónimo Nadal and Juan Alfonso de Polanco. Loyola's non-discrimination legacy became an integral part of the converso policy of his two successors Diego Laínez who himself was a converso and Francisco de Borja.

Keywords: Diego Laínez; early Jesuits; Francisco de Borja; Jerónimo Nadal; Juan Alfonso de Polanco



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