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March 1, 1767, Abarca de Bolea, wrote Raon about the secret decree on banishment of Jesuits

On March 1, 1767, the president of the Council of Castilla, Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, Conde de Aranda, wrote to the Governor-General of the Filipinas, Jose Raon, informing him of the decree of the banishment of the Jesuits and the seizure of their property in the Filipinas. Abarca de Bolea was especially entrusted by Spanish King Carlos III with all matters related to the secret banishment of the Jesuits. Abarca de Bolea in his letter said:

“The very fact of the special honor which the king confers on you of a letter with his own signature will convince you of the importance of the matter and of secrecy, and of the king’s resolute determination for the most punctual fulfillment of the decree.”

Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, Conde de Aranda (

Raon however, who was an extraordinarily greedy and venal man, and not conscientious in the performance of his duties, saw in this matter a business out of which he could obtain profit; and he utilized it for his own advantage, revealing to the Jesuits, for a large sum of money, the secret of their expulsion.

“Inside the annexed letter from Señor Marqués de Grimaldi, secretaryof the affairs of state, you will receive another from the kingour sovereign, in which his Majesty deigns to confer authority onme for the purpose of which this despatch treats–which, in short,is the banishment of the order of the Society of Jesus from all theroyal dominions, in the manner and form provided in the royal decree, of which I enclose a printed copy. The very fact of the special honor which the king confers on you of [a letter with] his own signature [puño, “fist”] will convince you of the importance of the matter and of secrecy, and of the king’s resolute determination for the most punctual fulfilment [of the decree].

“As for its execution, you will be guided by the instructions framed for España and by the additional ones that apply to the Indias, availing yourself of both, to the end of selecting from each that which is best adapted to your purpose. As I have taken into consideration the distance of those countries from this one, and the difference in their mode of government, I have decided to entrust to you all discretionary power [necessary] to change or add details of circumstance, so that the [desired] result may be attained with that completeness which so important a matter requires. I think that your clear-sightedness and prudence will peaceably bring about obedience to the royal decision–without, however, neglecting guards and the use of moderate force, in order not to risk the failure of the enterprise; but in any event if, contrary to what is usual, you should encounter resistance from the religious concerned in this, or find among their adherents any inclination or resolution to oppose you, you will employ the authority and force of military power, as you would in case of rebellion.

“It will be important that in the villages where there is a college or house of the Society measures be taken (as soon as the royal decree has been made known to them) to inform the other religious orders and the secular clergy of those places that the decree of his Majesty is limited to the Jesuit religious; for it is very proper that all the other ecclesiastics, both seculars and regulars, contribute with their persuasions, so that the people generally shall reverence the decrees of his Majesty, since they must be considered as always based on important and just grounds. The king our sovereign has the greatest confidence in your fidelity and ability, and consequently I have the same. I only desire, therefore, your complete fulfilment [of this commission], and that you write to me in order to keep me informed of the results, without making any inquiries on doubtful points; for if these should arise you must decide them for yourself, being governed by the sense and idea which the royal decree and instructions themselves, as a whole, produce. May God preserve you many years. Madrid, March 1, 1767.” The Philippine Island, 1493-1898, Volume 50.

The success of the Jesuits in education, their supposed wealth and independence of the ecclesiastical authorities, and privileges that only they had, soon aroused the envy of other religious orders such as the Dominicans, and Franciscans. These jealousies were strongest with the success of the Jesuits in their missionary work in China.

The secret decree was to be opened and effective on April 2, 1767.

Sources: The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898, Volume 50.

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