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Charles of the Assumption (Charles de Bryas)

CHARLES OF THE ASSUMPTION (CHARLES DE BRYAS)

Theologian; b. Saint-Ghislain, Belgium, 1625; d. Douai, France, Feb. 23, 1686. He entered upon a military career, was captured in a battle against the French near Lens, France, and was taken as a prisoner to Paris. After his release he was inspired, perhaps by the death of his uncle, to join the Discalced Carmelites at Douai (1653). After his ordination in 1659, he requested permission to become a missionary in Persia, but he was assigned to teach theology at Douai instead. He became prior of this community and served two terms as provincial superior of the Carmelites in Belgium and France. His first works, published under the pseudonym Germanus Philalethes Eupistinus, placed him in the middle of the fray over predestination and grace. His first book, Auctoritas contra praedeterminationem physicam pro scientia media (Douai 1669), defended the scientia media, that is, the doctrine that teaches that God sees not merely all possible and actual situations in the universe He created, but also what a person would do if placed in various circumstances with different graces; He then predestines by merely actualizing one of these orders. Charles's second work, Scientia media ad examen revocata (Douai 1670), manifests some of his doubts about the scientia media. Charles, attacked by the Dominican Jerome Henneguier for his defense of molinism, reversed his position in his third book, Thomistarum Triumphus (2 v. Douai 167073), and defended the idea of the praedeterminatio physica, that is, God predestines not by means of the scientia media but through a modality of grace that infallibly brings the subject to whom it is given to cooperate freely with it. Having been confronted with an attack by the Jesuit Fourmestraux, he published two new works, Thomistarum Triumphus in perpetuum firmatus (Douai 1674) and Funiculus triplex (Cambrai 1675), indicating his firm adhesion to the Bañezian doctrine of praedeterminatio physica (see bÁÑez and baÑezianism). In 1678, as provincial, he published, without the permission of higher superiors, his famous Pentalogus diaphoricus in which he declared that a penitent who confesses the same mortal sins week after week ought to be absolved without any hesitation by the confessor. This book was publicly burned by the superior general of the Carmelites, Emmanuel of Jesus, and in 1684 it was placed on the Index until it should be corrected. The reason for the condemnation was brought out by the theologians who attacked it. Among these was the Bishop of Tournai, Gilbert de choiseul du plessis praslin. He stated that sufficient emphasis was not placed on the idea that a penitent must sincerely intend to avoid sin and take what measures he can to carry out this purpose of amendment. In an exchange of publications with Gilbert, Charles, with permission of the general, published a further explanation of his doctrine, Éclaircissement (Lille 1682). This attracted the attention of the famous Jansenist Anthony arnauld and elicited from him a sharp response. In his final works, seeking approval for his doctrine, Charles made appeals to the bishop of Arras and the king of France.

Bibliography: e. mangenot, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 2.2:227274. h. hurter, Nomenclator literarius theologiae catholicae 4:325327.

[c. meyer]

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