Friday, May 16, 2008

The Inquisition

The Inquisition is another thing, besides the Crusades, that some people hold against Christianity. For this reason, I would like to learn more about it. Here is a brief summary from what I have studied so far:

“One of the strengths of the medieval papacy in maintaining its power over the populace of Western Europe was the Inquisition. In the process of development for a couple of centuries, the medieval Inquisition came to its definitive formulation under Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241). The reason for its implementation at that time was the decision of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1232 to issue an edict assigning the apprehension of heretics to state officials.

Gregory feared that Frederick would use this effort for political ends and also did not want to surrender the management of church affairs to the state. As a matter of fact, the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 had spelled out aspects of the Inquisition and the church was about ready to proceed on its own anyway.

The Inquisition was designed to inquire into the spread of heresy and to call before its Tribunals Roman Catholics suspected of heresy in order to secure their repentance. The program was launched merely to keep the faithful in line, not to obtain the conversion of Jews and Muslims. The great purges against those peoples in Spain were inventions of the Spanish throne after 1479. The Inquisition was deemed a necessity because of the spread of groups such as the Waldenses and the Cathari or Albigensians, which, if allowed to go unchecked, threatened the very life of the papacy.

Generally, the Dominicans or Franciscans were in charge of Inquisitorial activities. Trials were held in secret. There was no way of obtaining meaningful legal defense, because any lawyer representing an accused person would himself become the target of church tribunals. Confessions might be extracted by torture, and testimony against the accused might be obtained from witnesses by the same means.

Those who confessed and were reconciled were subjected to various punishments, including penances, pilgrimages, scourgings, or fines. Those who refused to recant commonly had their property confiscated, were imprisoned, or handed over to the secular authorities to be executed, usually by burning. The excesses of the Inquisition (sometimes called “an engine of iniquity’), its violation of human rights, and in some places its reign of terror, must forever remain as a blot on the history of the Roman church.”

(pp. 68-70, “Exploring Church History,” by Howard F. Vos)

5 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

Interesting, and I have enjoyed seeming related museums in Europe.

I do not support a theocracy unless run by God and Christ directly, since otherwise political corruption will set in and Christians that differ from the state church can be potentially considered heretics and traitors.

Anonymous said...

See this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisition

Anonymous said...

This too:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx8PdvOELvY

"Most people have some knowledge of the holocaust. The 6 years of torture and atrocities that the Jews suffered under Hitler and the Nazis during the Second World War. While in no way downplaying the terrible events of the holocaust, such a massacre does not compare to the severity to the torture and murder that took place under Papal authority during the 605 years of the Inquisition. From the beginning of the Papacy, until the present time, it is estimated by credible historians that more than 50,000,000, men and women have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy charged against them by Papal Rome. This Video contains actual photographs of some of the instruments of torture that were used."

Jeff said...

Anonymous,

That YouTube video is shocking and eye-opening! Wow! After watching it, I emailed the link to a bunch of people. It's a long video, but it is really enlightening...and scary. It could almost be a conspiracy theory video, except that it seems very factual. It really helped me to understand the Inquisition better.

Those Wikipedia links also have some very helpful information.