Anglican and Jesuit Spirituality

I have been curious about something. Why are Anglicans so hostile to Jesuit Spirituality? Off the bat I can guess that because Anglican Spirituality is mainly focused around the morning and evening prayer as well as Bible readiing- where much of Ignatian spirituality involves inner recollection, examination, and discernment. I have slowly learned about the hostility of Ignatian spirituality from Anglicans over certain circumstances. I know that from some blogs from Fr. Hunwicke in the Ordinariate, he doesn’t seem to be too big of a fan. Also, the Anglican Communion has monastic orders of Benedictines, Franciscans, and Dominicans- yet Anglican Jesuits there are not. That could be though that a charism of the Jesuit Order places heavy emphasis on fidelity to the Roman Pontiff. Anyways, just curious if anyone has any input on this.

My prayer life is centered around the Divine Office and the reading of Scripture

Right…not saying a Catholic can’t make that his or her own spiritual discipline. Yet, I am speaking primarily of Anglicans and Jesuits as a general group.

Anglicanism isn’t a spirituality.

Anglicans are part of the so called Protestant Reformation. The Society of Jesus was founded to fight the Protestant Reformation. It isn’t difficult to figure out why there is animosity.


Anglicans do have their own spiritual patrimony…

As do the Jesuits…

Certainly Anglicans were historically very hostile to Jesuits, but not because “Jesuits were founded to fight the Protestant Reformation.” That belief has been refuted by John O’Malley in his excellent book The First Jesuits (though it does make for a great joke about Dominicans vs. Jesuits. . . . ). Ignatius was barely aware of the Protestants. He founded the order originally to evangelize nominal Catholics (such as he had himself been before his conversion), and I believe missions to the heathen were also an early goal. Only when the Jesuits went into Germany and realized how many inroads Protestantism had made there did this become a major priority.

Then, in the late sixteenth century, the Jesuits became leaders in the effort to re-evangelize England for Catholicism. That’s how they became figures of fear and abhorrence not only to Anglicans but to English-speaking Protestants generally.

I doubt this has much to do with the attitude of modern American Anglicans, though. I haven’t myself seen a lot of this hostility, but it may exist in some quarters. The suggestion that Ignatian spirituality is too internal and introspective may be right. Episcopalians, and high-church Anglicans elsewhere, do tend to be suspicious of that kind of piety. This is both a reason why Anglicanism has been a spiritual refuge for me and a reason why it is spiritually unsatisfactory. I come from a Wesleyan Holiness background, a form of spirituality that has often been compared to that of the Jesuits (Wesley admired Loyola as “the best man who ever served so bad a cause” and was accused of being a Jesuit himself, although it was pro forma in the eighteenth century in England to accuse religious opponents of being Jesuits!).

Another possibility is that Ordinariate priests, who tend to be pretty conservative even by Catholic standards (especially from a liturgical point of view), may dislike the Jesuits because of their recent reputation for liberalism, and particularly for liturigcal laxity.

But the basic explanation may just be that Anglicans think of Catholicism primarily as patristic and medieval Catholicism. We tend to be colder to post-Reformation Catholic spirituality generally.


Thank you for that post Edwin! That was very helpful.

The reason this question bugs me is that I’m attracted to both. I’m a former High Church Anglican, and now a Catholic in the Ordinariate. I was never interested in Jesuit spirituality but very recently out of nowhere really I had a strong desire to read about the life of St. Ignatius as well as learn about Ignatian Spirituality (maybe it’s my Spanish blood). Anyways, I love Ignatius’s rules of discerning between spirits, the daily examen, and his method of meditation. I love the offices and the Anglican Use liturgy and sacred music. So anyways, it just surprised me to not see much attraction from an Anglican perspective when I just see the two complementing each other’s weaknesses.

By the way, a funny anecdote: the English Reformation and Anglicanism in general fostered the progressive movement really. It was the Jesuits trying to combat that and turn the clocks back. Yet, now Jesuits can sometimes be leaning left at times and Ordinariate (Anglo-Catholics) are now the conservative warriors in the church. Found that amusing.

The Jesuits were a counter-Reformation body. The Anglican Church is a Reformed and Protestant church. That’s like asking why Baptists are so hostile to Islam.

Anglican spirituality is based around the Bible which is the Word of God, and the means by which God speaks to us today. We are hostile to forms of spirituality which seek to find the truth within ourselves rather than outside of ourselves (in God’s Word) since we are fallen sinners and need our spiritual guidance not from an inner voice or some spirit-realm beyond the senses - this is a form of Platonism antithetical to biblical religion - but rather from God’s self-disclosure in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Note to readers: remember the varieties of Anglicanism.


GKC, I second that motion.

Makes sense.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit