There were different currents in the church that were working against the Jesuits in France. One of the strongest was Gallicanism. This was the school of thought that insisted on recovering temporal powers from the Papacy and strengthening the authority of the local (national) church. Jesuits such as the Cardinal Theologian Robert Bellarmine, were well known for espousing the theory of the indirect power of Pope in temporal affairs. Often writing outside of France – other Jesuits such as Antonio Santorelli would provoke the ire and anger of the Parlement of Paris, or the Sorbonne by writing papers explaining the Popes power to punish schism, heresy and solicitation in the confessional.
The Jesuits in France were often left exasperated by fellow Jesuits in Rome or Madrid sitting in their ivory towers writing imprudent tracts. Jesuits in France were often the royal confessors and therefore often on the front line of any political tensions. They had to walk a tightrope between being loyal to the Society and the wishes of the General but also not antagonising the royalists at court and the Parlement at a time in France when the prestige of the French Crown was growing. The Jesuits at court were kept tightly under control by the infamous Cardinal Richelieu.
The Santorelli affair had forced clarity on the issue, with Parlement presenting three statements for the Jesuits to sign. After much negotiation they agreed to sign them, without undermining their position on the right of the Pope to have indirect power. For a while tensions subsided but flared up again when Louis XIV wished to extend ‘the royal right’ to revenues and benefices when a diocese was without a bishop. They were also skirmishes around the appointments of Bishops. However things came to a head with the Assembly of clergy in March 1682 and its Declaration of the Rights of the Gallican Church. Once more the French Jesuits found themselves in between the Pope and the King – an uncomfortable place to be, with the General being explicit that no Jesuit should ever be forced to teach anything disapproved by the supreme pontiff – their enemies were gaining ground.