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Voltaire on the Jesuits in Paraguay

"We cannot do more than mention the Jesuit Reducciones of Paraguay, where from 1607 to 1768 the padres ruled over a veritable Mission state. Even an enemy of the Church, Voltaire, could say of them: '…they had arrived at what is perhaps the highest degree of civilization to which it is possible to lead a young people… Laws were there respected, morals were pure, a happy brotherhood bound men together, the useful arts and even some of the more pleasing sciences flourished; there was abundance everywhere.'" (Sir Charles A. Coulombe, Puritan's Empire, "Missionaries as Colonizers")

"This was the astonishing Utopian experiment of the Jesuits, who scattered their mission towns like islands of sanity through the heartland of a wild continent. To this day some historians refer to this as the Jesuit Republic of South America, a kind of paradise lost, whose monuments, which only hint of their former grandeur, you can find today if you are moved to seek them out. This strange evangelical crusade infatuated great minds during its century-and-a-half of existence, and ever since. Voltaire called it 'a triumph of humanity capable of expiating the crimes of the conquistadors.'" (The Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 1999, "The Jesuit Republic of South America" by Richard O'Mara)
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