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During Voltaires lifetime traditional social institutions and government systems held power Arguably the most influential of those was the Catholic Church which was considered sacred and above the state in authority and importance Although Voltaire was a deist he despised the Church clergy for its corruption impiousness and hypocrisy Having been sexually used by teachers while attending a Jesuit school he harbored a special hatred towards the Jesuits Yet his abhorrence of religion extended past Catholicism Voltaire condemned Protestant clergy in much the same way as Catholic priests Furthermore although in theory Voltaire believed in religious equality he held strongly anti-Semitic views even calling Jews abominable in his Dictionary of Philosophy Muslim clerics were described in much the same way Clearly Voltaire hated all religious institutions and customs In his most satirical and important work Candide he incessantly mocks not only the Catholic Church but also Protestants Jews and Muslims Voltaires sharpest criticism was directed at the Catholic Church His relationship with the Church was one of uninterrupted hostility Candide Religion pg 13 and in Candide he attacks all aspects of its social structure and doctrines When Pangloss explains how he contracted syphilis he states that Paquette received this present from a very learned Franciscan monkwho owed it to a marquisewho caught it from a Jesuit Candide Chapter 4 pg 48 This passage apart from being a parody of Bible genealogies illustrates the lack of celibacy of respectable Church members contrary to their own doctrines Voltaire shows the promiscuity of the Catholic clergy in several other instances such as through the Grand Inquisitor who hypocritically has a mistress Cunegonde The author also introduces the daughter of a Pope who fails to help her out of her hardships In Chapter Ten Cunegondes jewels are stolen by a venerable Franciscan who slept at the same inn with us Candide Chapter 10 pg 59 although Franciscans take a vow of poverty Voltaire also satirizes the corruption of
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