Monday, September 29, 1930
“Black Friars’ General”
Had portly, shrewd, magisterial Martin Stanislaus Gillet, 55, 78th Master General of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans, in England Black Friars) entered Spain 100 years ago or any European country 200 years ago, as he entered the U. S. last week, the populace would have scurried from accusations of heresy. For usually Dominicans operated the Inquisition, with the occasional aid of Franciscans. But the Inquisition no longer exists. The Black Friars confine themselves to the main purposes of their founder, St. Dominic of Guzman (1170-1221)—to preach, teach and missionize. Master General Gillet’s visit to the U. S. was chiefly to inspect the work of his chief subordinates in this country. Those chiefs are Very Rev. Raymond Meagher of Manhattan, provincial of all Dominicans east of the Rocky Mountains, and Very Rev. Pius M. Driscoll of San Francisco, provincial west of the Rockies. They have about 600 fathers, clerical students and lay brothers working under them. The Dominican Missions at Fall River, Mass, and Lewiston, Me. are under the jurisdiction of Very Rev. Alphonse Langlais of Montreal, provincial of Canada. Those at New Orleans are under Very Rev. Manuel Perez, vicar-provincial of the Philippines.
Further concern of Master General Gillet are the 12,000 sisters of St. Dominic and sisters of the third order of St. Dominic (lay organization).
A third preoccupation for this very important monk is to praise the Holy Name Society, laymen’s organization, which Dominicans organized and with the co-operation of the bishops, manage.
But the most significant duties which Master General Gillet has to perform in the U. S. are ineffable. He is a member of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. The purposes of that office are fundamental to Roman Catholicism. It defends the teaching of faith and morals. It censors and condemns “dangerous” books, and permits the special reading of such books. It dispenses priests from fasting before mass. It judges, as supreme court, all cases of mixed marriages. It judges heresy and all offenses leading to a suspicion of heresy. All members take an oath of secrecy, “the secret of the Holy Office.” Dominican Gillet helps conduct its unreportable trials. Seventy-five religious orders for men exist in the U. S. Most familiar to the general public are the Jesuits because of their universities and their earthquake reports.— But the Franciscans (in England Grey Friars) and Benedictines (Black Monks) are also numerous and active, in teaching, charity and missions.
—In 16th Century Spain, inquisitors twice imprisoned St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, on suspicion of heresy. Inquisitors also accused St. Teresa, reformer of the Carmelite Order, of canonical misconduct. Her mystic Concepts of the Divine Love brought censure. She was saved from punishment by King Philip II, morose religio-maniac.