Jesuit moral theologian; b. Charmoille, France, July 1, 1600; d. Constance, Germany, March 23, 1679. Gobat entered the Society of Jesus on June 1, 1618, and was ordained in Eichstadt in 1629. He taught humanities and sacred sciences at Fribourg (1631–41) and moral theology at Munich (1641–44), at Ratisbon (1651–54), and finally at Constance (1656–60). Appointments as rector at Halle (1647–51) and at Fribourg (1654–56) interrupted his career as professor of moral theology. During his last period of teaching at Constance, he was made penitentiary at the cathedral at Constance. In addition to various other writings, Gobat published a number of works on moral topics. He answered the attack upon the Jesuits' use of probabilism contained in Pascal's Provinciales with Clypeus clementium iudicum (1659). At the end of his teaching career he began a series of casuist studies on the Sacraments and the vows; these appeared between 1659 and 1672 under the title Alphabetum. Some of these he revised and republished together in Experientiae theologicae sive experimentalis theologia (1669). Still later, in the year of his death, these reappeared in Opera moralia (v. 1, 1679) and in the second and third volumes, published posthumously (1681). His writings reflect vast experience in the confessional and in the classroom, where he taught candidates for the priesthood who, for want of money or talent, could not go on to the universities. Pedagogical techniques acquired through teaching supplied the format he used in his books in which he presented first the conscience problem and then the general theory and principles by which it was to be solved. Although he based his opinions on solid authority, his cases, enriched by profound knowledge of local customs, were criticized as unsuitable for theological writing; and some of his solutions, based upon principles of probabilism, were judged too lenient. Accordingly, on March 2, 1679, three weeks before his death, Innocent XI condemned several of his doctrines. More than two decades later, when a Douai firm republished Opera moralia (1700–01), Bp. Guy de Sève de Rochechouart of Arras censured 32 of its propositions (1703) and thereby sparked adversaries to further attacks on the moral teaching of the Jesuits. Springing to their defense, and that of Gobat among others, Gabriel Daniel, SJ, published Apologie pour la doctrine des Jésuites at Liège (1703). Specifically in defense of Gobat, Christopher Rassler, SJ, wrote Vindiciae Gobatianae at Ingolstadt (1706). Despite the dispute, Opera moralia appeared afterward in Venice (1716) and again for the last time in the same city (1744).
Bibliography: c. sommervogel et al., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, 11 v. (Brussels-Paris 1890–1932 v. 12, supplement 1960) 3:1505–12; 9:417. w. kratz, Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 39 (1915) 649–674. p. mech, in Catholicisme. Hier, aujourd'hui et demain, ed. g. jacquemet (Paris 1947–) 5:76. r. hofmann, in Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 4:1032–33. p. bernard, in Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 6.2:1469–70.
[j. d. morrissy]
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