Jansenism? A heresy? Schism? Something else?

We are reading Tartuffe for our lit class. The professor introduced the characters to us. Tartuffe, he said, was a sect of Catholicism known as Jansenism. He continued further to talk about “Catholic Jansenists” :smiley: who considered themselves holy and did physically damaging things such as wear hair shirts. He said, “the Church approved of these Jansenists, which is why many of them were saints.”

He was not being offensive, it just appeared to be his general (mis)understanding of Catholicism and its beliefs.

To be honest, I can’t recall the specifics of Jansenism. I remember reading Belloc in highschool and currently I have the vague idea that it was a heresy staunchly protested by the Church. Is this correct?

I think it is basically a Catholic version of Calvinism (i.e. denying all free will, fatalism etc). It got condemned as heresy and the Archbishop of Utrecht got excommunicated for it. Later on he got joined by the Vatican I dissidents to form the Old Catholic Church

Without googling it as I really should before replying, for me it brings to mind a certain harshness and fear with regard to faith and God. It was prevalent in France as well, and I have heard it said that St. Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower) and her doctrine of love and the little way were antidotes to Jansenism.


My understanding is that Jansenism was sort of a blow-back against the influences of the Reformation. What today we might call ultra-conservative. Emphasized sin and the fact that few are saved. Like the various ultra-conservative movements today, some Jansenists were in good standing, others were heretical. They were sort of Calvinist, believing God had predestined only certain people to be saved. (Like most such limited salvation theorists, they somehow managed to find themselves in the elect group.) It was this limited view of salvation that lead some into heresy, I believe.

Yes, some of the comments are in line with what I learned in European history.

It is too bad it was an early morning class and I am not abreast on Jansenism, or I would have gently corrected him. :blush:

Despite their beliefs in predestination they produced two giants cristian writers.
Blaise Pascal and the nun of Port Royal. They are not ST. because of their Jansenism.

Everything you every wanted to know about Jansenism and more:


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