Jessica Dalton: SRS Study Fellowship (2017-18)


Jesuit confession and the private absolution of heresy in sixteenth-century Italy:


My thesis explains the use and impact of a papal privilege that allowed Jesuits in Counter-Reformation Italy to absolve and reconcile heretics in the secrecy of sacramental confession. In practice, this unique privilege allowed members of the new religious order to bring penitent heretics back into the Church without involving the ecclesiastical and temporal authorities responsible for the investigation and prosecution of heresy. Existing explanations of the privilege focus on how the secret reconciliation of heretics undermined the judicial processes of the Roman Inquisition. My thesis explains why successive popes and cardinal-inquisitors supported the Jesuits' privilege, despite significant conflicts of jurisdiction.