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Benedict Stattler

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Jesuit theologian, born at Kötzting, Bavaria ( Diocese of Ratisbon ), 30 Jan., 1728; died at Munich, 21 Aug., 1797. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at Landsberg in 1745 and, after the usual studies, taught philosophy and theology in Solothurn (Switzerland), Innsbruck, and Ingolstadt. In the last-named place he continued to occupy the chair of theology even after the suppression of the Society. In 1783, when all former Jesuits were excluded from the office of teaching, he took charge of the parish of Kemnath, but soon exchanged this post for that of ecclesiastical adviser and member of the electoral committee on censures in Munich. After four years his health compelled him to resign this office, and he lived thereafter in retirement till his death. A man of keen intellectual vision and an unlimited capacity for work, Stattler was ever ready to guard and defend Catholic principles. Shortly after Adam Weishaupt had founded the secret society of the Illuminati, Stattler, in an anonymous work, laid bare the rationalistic ideas and the pernicious designs of these forerunners of freemasonry. Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" appeared in its first edition in 1781; in 1788 Stattler launched against its subversive principles his "Anti-Kant", and skilfully parried the attack which his book provoked in the literary world of Germany. When the doctrines of the French revolutionists began to be echoed in his fatherland, he lost no time in pointing out to his compatriots the false ring which he detected in their boastful promises of liberty. The bulk of his writings, however, is devoted to Catholic philosophy and theology. It was his avowed purpose to adapt the traditional teachings of the School to the living needs of his time, "to plow anew the entire field of scholastic philosophy and theology and to fructify it with fresh seeds", as Bishop Sailer of Ratisbon, Stattler's great pupil, expressed it. With this end in view, he wrote "Philosophia methodo scientiæ propria explanata" (Augsburg, 1769-72) and "Demonstratio Evangelica" (Augsburg, 1770). Yet his attachment to the rationalistic philosophy of Wolff and the far-going concessions he made to religious toleration and Febronianism led him astray and marred the lustre of his merits. The suppression of his order and the consequent loss of wise direction by superiors proved a veritable calamity to him. His "Demonstratio Catholica" (Pappenheim, 1775) fell under the censure of the Roman authorities, and, shortly before his death, his "Loci Theologici" (Weissenburg, 1775), "Theologia Christiana Theoretica" (Ingolstadt and Munich, 1776-79) and two other works were placed on the Index.

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