On Mar 9th 1764 the Jesuits in France were faced with an excruciating ultimatum. An oath had been drawn up by the French Parlement . They were faced with a stark choice, either to take the oath or exile. There were three bones of contention that the Parlement had with the Jesuits , firstly the moral teaching, secondly they loyalty to the Pope (particularly vexatious to the Gallicans) and finally the institute and the laws of the Society. The oath was to do with this final point. The Parlement had already forced the King to open a commission to study their Constitutions. What vexed them was when they saw the laws of the Society coming into conflict with the civil laws of France. They were particularly anxious about the idea of blind obedience.
The King who had been trying to protect the Jesuit against the attacks from Parlement – had saught a compromise solution. Suggesting to the Pope that the Jesuits were to owe their obedience to a newly created Vicar General to the Order who would be based in France. This would appease some of the Gallicanists. However the Pope refused to interfere famously saying “Let them be as they are or let them not be.” There was some anxiety that if the precedent were to be set – than other rulers would follow expecting the same concessions. The exasperated King of France now gave up protecting the Jesuits, leaving them to the wrath of the Parlement.
The Paris Parlement drew up a decree of proscription. It proscribed that the Jesuits were to consider themselves released from their vows, they were banned from wearing religious garb, they had 8 days to leave their colleges and communities, they were return to their homes. Their property would be condiscated – all moveable items would be sold. OF the profits some would go to providing some income. They were allowed to take up teaching roles as private teachers or other roles in public office. However even the dispersed Jesuits – obeying theses proscriptions still had a strong sense of loyalty to the Institute and their General. When Parlement realised this they were faced with the oath – which denied obedience to the General and swore hatred to the Institute. Of over 4000 Jesuits in France,only 5 Priests, 2 Scholastics and 8 Brothers took the oath, the rest went into voluntary exile.