Society of Jesus - Jesuits

The Society of Jesus, whose members are known as Jesuits, was founded by St Ignatius Loyola and six companions in Paris in 1534.In 2016, the society had approximately 16,400 members,

of whom approximately 11,800 were priests, making it the largest order of priests and brothers worldwide. Jesuits have long been associated with school education, academia, the sciences, missionary activity – particularly in Asia and North and South America – and, more recently, with work in the area of human rights and social justice.

The first Jesuits arrived in Australia in 1848 from Austria, establishing a mission in South Australia. In 1865, the Irish Jesuits became the first religious order of priests to establish themselves in Victoria. They went on to find a number of prominent schools in Melbourne and Sydney. Today, they continue their work in almost every field, from academia and pastoral apostolates to health care, home and foreign missions, chaplaincies and retreats.

The Jesuit Order, like many other religious orders in Australia, has been marred with numerous allegations and incidents involving child sexual abuse. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Vol 16, Book 2 of its Final Report (2017), provided the following data showing how involved the Order had become in such behaviour:

  • Between 1980 and 2015, 45 people made a claim of child sexual abuse to the Jesuit congregation;

  • Of the people who made a claim of child sexual abuse to the Jesuit congregation, 87 per cent were male;

  • Of the 29 alleged perpetrators identified in claims of child sexual abuse made to the Jesuit congregation, 97 per cent were male and 3 per cent were female;

  • Of these 29 alleged perpetrators, 16 were identified as priests and five were non-ordained religious; and

  • The highest number of claims made in relation to a single alleged perpetrator who was a Jesuit was five.

We invite former victims of physical and sexual abuse at any institutions run by the Jesuits to contact us to tell us confidentially what information they may have, and we will explain what options are available to help with these cases.

Call us or complete the confidential enquiry form.