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For Want of a Jesuit . . .

The Puritans' revolution failed. (Well, maybe I exaggerate a wee bit.)Epidemics of malaria periodically decimated the population of England. What to do? Hope seemed to come from exotic and dangerous sources, as the curative powers of quinine were discovered by the Jesuits in Peru in the seventeenth century. It became known as "Jesuits' Powder."The cure got off to a rocky start in England, where loyal Protestants viewed it as part of a Jesuit plot to take over the country. Oliver Cromwell died of malaria at a relatively young age rather than avail himself of dastardly Jesuitical medicine.Charles II, however, was far more fortunate. He was the beneficiary of what the Jesuits of the time might have called a strict mental reservation--and what Pascal might have called, well, a lie."In 1672 Robert Talbor, who described himself as a feverologist, published a book that carefully avoided any mention of the ingredients of his own remedy but warned others: Beware of all palliative cures, and especially of that known as Jesuits' Powder, for I have seen most dangerous effects follow the taking of that medicine.That warning was duplicitous: Talbor was mixing Jesuits' Powder with opium and various wines, thus disguising it from detection.In 1678 a great malaria epidemic broke out around London, and it was not long before King Charles II contracted the disease. News of Talbor's success in curing people reached the king. Despite the fact that Talbor was considered a quack by the College of Physicians, the king demanded his services. Talbor cured the king. "Fr. Eugene Nevins, SJ "Jesuits' Powder."See also this article by the Dean Emeritus of Brown Medical School.As the Pope prepares to go to England, it's good to remember that listening to Catholics (and Jesuits!) can be a good idea--even on their own terms.HT: My ND Law colleague John Robinson.

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Cromwell had the courage of his convictions. I wonder if those who are (or pretend to be for political purposes) opposed to stem cell research will show the same integrity and refuse for themselves and their children any medical breakthroughs derived therefrom.

Interesting story Professor Kaveny -- there is one rather minor historical error though. The term "Glorious Revolution", at least in my experience, does not refer to the English Civil War or the Commonwealth. My recollection is that the Glorious Revolution was much later in 1689 against James II, Charles II son. It was also, with some slight irony considering this story, explicitly anti-Catholic.

Oops! You're right of course! I have the glorious revolution on my mind--and "glorious" sounds so, well glorious!.I fixed it.

Thanks, Prof. Kaveny - great story. It reminds me of the British Civil Service and Military and their "gin and tonics". Leave it to the British to develop their own drink and ritual in order to get enough quinine into their systems.

Good story - thanks. And Gerelyn, you need to get hold of yourself; you are smarter than that!

Cathleen, forgive me for possibly steering the conversation in the wrong direction - this is my first, last and only comment, I promise :-)"I wonder if those who are (or pretend to be for political purposes) opposed to stem cell research "Small but critical clarification: we oppose *embryonic* stem cell research. And might we have some sympathy for people who face difficult moral quandaries?

No problem Jim--the point of the post, in addition to being Jeopardy fodder, was to show that taken too far, antagonisms can blind us to the common interests and concerns of our political and religious opponents--and when we lose sight of our common humanity, we wall lose. Some Puritans demonized Catholics--esp. Jesuits--to the point that they couldn't really see that malaria was a common human problem.

FYI - There are two types of "stem cell research". One type is embryonic stem cell research, and the other type is adult stem cell research.While everyone is Ok with adult stem cell research, we Catholics cannot condone embryonic stem cell research.Embryonic stem cell "research" involves killing live human embryos and using them for laboratory experiments; adult stem cell research does not involve that sort of thing. Also, while embryonic stem cell lines can be patented (think mas dinero), adult stem cells cannot.Because for their own reasons the American media rarely differentiates between the two types of stem cell research, many Americans are not aware of this important distinction.Finally it is worth noting that embryonic research has produced nothing useful, adult stem cell research has produced several important treatments.

Interesting account of Cromwell's death and funeral at the link in the first paragraph.http://www.olivercromwell.org/350_death_anniversary.htm How foolish to say NAY to advances in medicine. East India ships' surgeons, e.g., knew by 1620 that lemon or lime juice prevented scurvy, but "it took another century or more before the Royal Navy began to carry fruit rations on every long voyage." --Nick Bunker in Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World

First let's just point out that in 1672, when this supposedly anti-Catholic tract was published, Cromwell had been dead for 14 years - indeed for the last twelve his head had been on public display on the roof of Westminster Hall. The public may have also be sceptical of the supposed "Peruvian bark" (quinine) cure as a London Alderman by the name of Underwood died in 1655 thanks to improper dosage. A number of tracts at the time warned against experimenting with this new ingredient as it often made things worse.We actually don't know what killed Cromwell. While he had suffered malaria, or more precisely a malarial-like disease, earlier in his life, the symptoms he displayed in his last month on Earth could have been a number of things. First, he collapsed at the news of the death of his favourite daughter, Bettie, in early August of 1658, to the point where he could not attend the funeral, and never truly recovered from there. At the onset of the illness two weeks later the symptoms were extreme pain in the back and bowels, not known of malaria.In any case Cromwell was given quina-quina and Myroxlyon by his doctors, but if he indeed had the disease it would have been the English ague as opposed to the African malaria we know today.And the ague was not known for being particulary deadly, or for cutting swathes through the population, so much for the claim that "Epidemics of malaria periodically decimated the population of England" (see Antonia Fraser's Cromwell - Our Chief Of Men, Phoenix, 1993, p. 842.) ("English malaria" though continued to be a problem in Britain up until the 1840's - see Dr. F.F. Cartwright and Dr. D. Biddis' Disease And History, pp. 141-4)Cromwell displayed symptoms for ague next, but seemed to recover from it, so that his doctors did not think it was life-threatening. The modern "best-guess", made by Dr. Chambers Davidson after looking at the symptoms and course of the illness, is that Cromwell was killed by a blood infection brought on by a kidney stone. In his weakened condition other disease, such as his reoccurring ague could have also returned. At any rate Cromwell died peacefully Friday 3 September 1658, age 65.For some of the best research on this subject have a look at H.F. McMains The Death Of Oliver Cromwell (2000, University of Kentucky) - though while he has done some splendid background digging he manages to then jump to completely unrelated and wrong conclusions.Anyway, Cromwell didn't particularly hate Catholics per se - what he hated was Catholics with guns, particularly French ones, nestled up in Ireland raising rebellion and murder. The Lord Protector committed dreadful and monstrous acts at Drogheda and Wexford, but when he returned to England and pulled off his coup d'etat his attitudes to the followers of the Roman Church were quite mild for time time. Cromwell had Catholic friends and advisors, and while anti-Jesuit laws were renewed under the Protectorate no indictments followed them. The French ambassador even ventured to say that he thought the Catholic population were better treated under Cromwell than in any previous Protestant administration. The records of the English Province Of The Society Of Jesus show 78 converts in 1651, 364 in 1654, rising to 416 in 1655. And God knows the pressure some of the Puritan government put on Cromwell to "deal" with the Church Of Rome. And if you want a good example of how Cromwell dealt with his Catholic subjects look no further than his intercession of behalf of the Earl Of Bridgewater.

"I wonder if those who are (or pretend to be for political purposes) opposed to stem cell research will show the same integrity and refuse for themselves and their children any medical breakthroughs derived therefrom."Many probably will. I was stunned to learn that most of the children in my son's Catholic school were not vaccinated because of a somewhat murky link between fetal tissue used to develop various vaccines. (And other mothers were stunned that I HAD had my child vaccinated; my currency with the school secretary fell to zilch over this.)I was very torn about this. Continue to vaccinate my kid? Of course. I'd already done that before we "turned Catholic," and I've kept up with vaccinations. The Vatican and U.S. bishops have said using these vaccines is morally permissible; moreover, my kid is an asthmatic, and he risks complications from routine illnesses like the flu (vaccines of which are developed from chicken eggs).Concerned that these mothers were putting their kids and others at risk of childhood diseases that had been virtually eradicated (and therefore very difficult for doctors to diagnose)? Yes, indeedy.Admire the mothers for practicing what they preached? Yes and no. There are alternatives to some vaccines that have been developed from animal sources, which these mothers had either not been able to find or hadn't asked about.Apparently, the concern over vaccinations goes deeper than their possible connection with aborted fetal tissue. There was a sense that vaccination could be a source of bioterrorism, that the government might slip unspecified mickeys to the kids through vaccines, and that vaccination was probably the cause of my son's ADHD. "You vaccinated?!" one mother said. "You should thank God your kid didn't turn out autistic!"Yes, well, I thank God for a lot of things, and one of them is that I'm not quite that paranoid.

Gerelyn - Nobody is nay-saying advances in medicine.Embryonic stem cell research and abortion are Not advances in medicine. They are steps backward; immoral and goulish ones at that.

I have no idea the sort of Catholic school your kids attend, but the parents of the other kids that attend certainly do not sound very smart - ignorant would be my description I guess. In any case please note; that in the USA anyway, chidren's vaccinations (for influenza, polio, and the childhood diseases) are Not derived from, Nor do they contain, aborted fetal tissue.Geez!

Jean - I should add of course that if in fact our vaccines Did contain tissues from dead babies, I certainly would Not allow myself or family members to get that sort of vaccine.However as I said, no vaccine in the USA uses aborted fetal tissue and so - dramtc effect aside - the whole idea or notion is simply a non-starter.

Ken, it's part of Right to Life Michigan's Web site. Read it here and let me know how it plays with you:http://www.rtl.org/prolife_issues/LifeNotes/VaccinesAbortion_FetalTissue...

Thanks Jean - I sent the link to my brother, who is an MD; family practice, and a very traditional pro-lifer as well. He assured me he would look into it.---------------------------------------------Just so it does not get lost in the shuffle:There are two types of stem cell research. One type is embryonic stem cell research, and the other type is adult stem cell research. While everyone is Ok with adult stem cell research (in fact the Catholic Church provides funding for adult stem cell research), for reasons of morality (not to mention the dignity of Man), we Catholics cannot condone embryonic stem cell research.Embryonic stem cell research involves killing live human embryos and using them for laboratory experiments; adult stem cell research does not involve killing anything. Also, while embryonic stem cell lines can be patented (think mas dinero), adult stem cells cannot.Because for their own reasons the American media rarely differentiates between the two types of stem cell research, many Americans are not aware of this important distinction.Finally it is worth noting that embryonic research has produced nothing useful, adult stem cell research has produced several important treatments.

Ken, I will be interested in your brother's feedback. If the USCCB does not hold parents culpable for vaccinating their children, that the good Church Ladies at my son's former Catholic school ought not to object too strenuously, or use this as a litmus test for one's orthodoxy.Vaccination was not even touched on in RCIA, but, then, neither was artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, or embryonic stem cell research. Or even birth control, other than with a here's what the rules say, but let conscience be your guide.

Often RCIA does not explain things thoroughly enough."heres what the rules say, but let conscience be your guide" is not any way to teach Catholicism - a pretty sorry act I would say.

Yeah, well, don't get me started on RCIA. I should never have been accepted into the Church, and I probably wouldn't have if we'd had more hard-nosed RCIA leaders who emphasized the kind of obedience and lifestyle changes required for true conversion.

Yes, let conscience be your guide. That is also (inconsistently) Church teaching.

Ann, I think you would agree INFORMED conscience should be one's guide. In RCIA there is sometimes less emphasis on informed conscience than on making Catholicism look attractive, modern, accommodating and not that far off how you were raised as a Protestant. These things often work against the "informed" part of conscience.Though I have to say my conscience IS informed (too late), and just cannot buy into some of the notions of "grave sin" that the Church promulgates.But, as I said, don't get me started on RCIA. I'll shut up and await Ken's brother's response about the vaccine issue (or non-issue).

"Ann, I think you would agree INFORMED conscience should be ones guide."Jean --Indeed. And when we do think the Vatican and bishops are wrong we should study their side (or currently taught side) as carefully as we can and/or speak from deep personal experience carefully considered. I can understand the frustration of the good bishops who preach the truth as *they* see it then are confronted by people who lightly dismiss them with a shallow, unthinking sort of, "Well, I feel that ..." or "Everybody knows that's not possible" etc., etc., etc.But, as you may have noticed, I don't think the popes and bishops have been at all clear about what is legitimate dissent. As I see it, when they teach that one must follow one's conscience (i.e., do what one really thinks is right), but then they say *BUT* your conscience (what you really think is right) must match our consciences (what we think is really right) regardless of how you you see the truth, then anybody with half a brain can see that something is wrong with yet another Church teaching. I venture to say that there must be a number of bishops who are also dissatisfied with that contradiction.

East India ships surgeons, e.g., knew by 1620 that lemon or lime juice prevented scurvy, but it took another century or more before the Royal Navy began to carry fruit rations on every long voyage.There is substantial evidence now that Sir Francis Drake made use of these juices to prevent scurvy on his own ships in the late 16th century - that his crew probably could not have survived his round the world voyage without it. It seems possible (following Drake's example) that it was employed sporadically by English captains until the Royal Navy finally did adopt it as standard practice in the 18th century.But perhaps it is easier to blame a seaman's innate conservatism and distrust of innovation here more than anything else.