The Spaniard Quietist Miguel de MolinosI. Factors.The Church, since its origins has suffered from the attack of hereticsand their heresies which have caused many controversies and schisms within it.However, many of the conflicts are the result of other than heresies. There arecases where conflicts arose because of ambition of power, lack of moral, andintrigues, other because of lack of wisdom and a poor theological understanding.One of the instances in which a mixture of the elements mentioned abovewere present was the case of the Spaniard quietist Miguel de Molinos during theXVII century. Molinos was accused by the Church with charges of heresy as wellas of immoral misconduct.
His main work La Guia Espiritual (“The spiritualGuide”) was placed in the Index of the Church, and Molinos himself wascondemned to life imprisonment, “to be perpetually clothed in the penitentialgarb, to recite the Credo and one third of the Rosary, and to make confessionfour times every year”.Molinos recanted publicly. His admirers said that he was behavingconsistently with what he believed and taught. His accusers said that hisrecanting was a proof of his guilt.What were real motives why Molinos admitted his “guilt”? Molinos oncesaid: “The true quietists are always quiet, serene and eve-minded in Graces andin extraordinary favors as also in the most rigorous and bitter torments. Nonews causes them to rejoice, no event saddens them”.
Was Miguel de Molinostrying to be consistent way with his mystical teachings of total passivity?, orwas he really guilty as charged? Was Molinos a victim of the jealousy of theJesuits? Was his fall caused by “the machinations of a corrupt clergy who sawthat they would loose their living if his plain and simple method of devotionwere generally adopted”? Did he ever had any other options than recantadmitting his culpability? Was martyrdom his only other option?II. ProtagonistsMolinos was a man of noble character and a “brilliant and widelycultured mind”. His reputation of director of consciences and spiritual guidegranted him the admiration and esteem of all kinds of people among whom wasCardinal Benedict Odescalchi who later became pope Innocent XI. At his arrestthose who new him close were very distressed. His servants kissing his feet andcalling his “a saint” where convinced that all was a mistake. When all thistook place in 1685 Molinos was fifty-seven years old, (he was born in 1628 ).
Although when arrested he lost control , during the trial he show noapprehension, “he was a quietist by conviction” .The pope Innocent XI ( former Cardinal Benedict Odescalchi and personalfriend of Molinos ) was born in Como (Italy) and pursued his studies in Geneva,Rome, and Naples. He was elected pope by the Cardinal College in 1676. He isportrayed by catholic historians as pope that was committed to keep anhonorable life, which was hard to do in his age – and office -.
He made reformsin the Church specially in relation with the abuses of nepotism. In order to beconsistent with his convictions he kept his own nephew away from the Roman Curia.Because of his campaign against king Louis XVI Innocent was called theProtestant pope by the Gallican party. He was considered a man of “iron hand”when needed. “He made some prescriptions concerning the behavior of the clergy,forbade the entering of women into the Vatican Palace (except the royalty), ….
and condemned the Quietism of Molinos”. Concerning his former friendship withMolinos he claimed “Veramente siamo engannati”.III. The ConflictThe teachings of Molinos were not knew for the Church. In Spain themystic Juan Falconi (1596-1638), had a large number of followers during hislifetime. Another group, the “Alumbrados” influenced many people in Cadiz andSeville in the late 1500’s. They taught that vocal prayer, and thinking in thehumanity of Jesus or in his passion must be avoided.
In 1623 the Inquisitioncondemned them as heretics. It is clear that both, Falconi and the Alumbrados,influenced Molinos’ thought.Molinos’ doctrines about mysticism were world wide appreciated andpracticed. It is said that in Naples he had “more that 20.
000 followers”. Hispopularity among the royalty was notable. Queen Christina of Sweden, andprincess Borghese were among his devoted followers. The main work of Molinos LaGuia Espiritual was subject of investigation by the “Holy Office”. However theconflict arose when the Jesuits begun to question his practices and theteachings found