The author is not Catholic but does recognize the best in other groups.The Catholic order of the Jesuits,in their relation with the Guaranies of Paraguay,showed true Christian love.This is an example to show that the idea that Christian missionaries are bad is not true.
The Jesuits were always against Indian slavery, though not against black slavery like Bartolome de las Casas. From 1450 to 1500 some 50,000 Africans had been taken as slaves by the Europeans.From 1450 till 1850 it was 10 million.
At least 75%,but really alot more, of the African slaves were bought by the Europeans from the African themselves themselves, who captured people from other tribes.
That would mean that without black help the number of people enslaved would have been very little. In fact slavery also existed in Africa among the different black tribes, and had for at least hundreds of years before.
The Jesuit Republic
Being agaisnt Indian slavery the Jesuits in South America instituted the most astonishing institution for their defense in South America. They obtained from the King of Spain the right an area of land in the Empire and the right to Christianise the Guarani tribes, promising the king that they would repay the crown with taxes.
The Guaranies were a nomadic people,who even practiced cannibalism.who were being enslaved by the Spaniards. The Jesuits convinced the Guarani leaders to accept their protection and direction. So from 1608 till 1763,the year of their expulsion by the king, for some 150 years, the Jesuit missions existed.
Characteristics of the Jesuit Missions
1.They had under their control an area the size of France, which included parts of Paraguay, southeastern Brazil and northeast Argentina.
2.The Jesuit Republic was made up of 30 towns with 3,000 to 4,000 people each, or about 100,000 in all, under the direction of 2 Jesuits to each town.
3. It was a communistic system, where all belonged to the community except the clothes one wore.
The land belonged to the community, the tools used, the warehouse, the school, the crops that grew in the field, the cattle and flocks.
4. Everyday everybody received free food from the warehouse, nobody paid rent.
5.When 2 people got married they received a free house, which still belonged to the community, it was not theirs.
6.Old people did not have to work but were maintained by the community.
7. At age 7 it was obligatory for children to go to school, were they learned to read and write. That was very unusual, because in the Spanish Empire 90% of the population was illiterate.
8. Spaniards were NOT allowed to settle in the area and could only enter with the permission of the Jesuits.
9. The was no death penalty in the area governed by them, the worst punishments were whipping and imprisonment. When there was a whipping it was always in public, so nobody could say that the person had received more lashes than he should have.
10.People worked only 5 days of the week, having Thursday and Sunday off. And it was not for 8 hours a day, but 6 hours a day, from 9 am to 12, then 2 hours for eating and rest, and then again from 2 pm till 5 pm.
11. The Jesuits never taught the Guaranies to speak Spanish, instead they learned Guarani themselves. That is why today in Paraguay 85% of the population is bilingual, Spanish-Guarani.
12. While many only worked in the fields others were taught to be carpenters, clock-makers, printers, painters, musicians and blacksmiths.
13.As said before,the system was communistic,and the 30 towns never used money,all commercial exchange was by barter.
In 1986 a film was made inspired by the Jesuit experiment
It was “The Mission” and here are 2 videos about it:
For more information
Category: Apologetics and polemics