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Rated: E · Documentary · History · #1615777
Find out what lies behind the controversial Inquisition inititated by the Catholic Church.

Eight hundred years ago, the Church found the need to set up an ecclesiastical court known as the Inquisition. Its main purpose was to find and punish people suspected of heresy. Its methods were ruthless, unfair and even inhumane. Many innocent lives were wasted at the hands of zealous inquisitors, who were totally convinced of their duty to guard the faith the faith against any form of deviations. Yet, through this institution, public order and obedience to the Church were brought back since fear treaded in the heart of every European. To quote Pope John Paul II: “The Inquisition belongs to the tormented phase in the history of the Church, which Christians should examine in a spirit of sincerity and open mindedness.”

The story of the Papal Inquisition is a part of European history that is well worth remembering for as Santanya acclaimed “Those who forget history will be doomed to repeat it.” For this reason, the researcher hugely finds the topic interesting to the extent that she becomes obsessed to know the truth behind all the lies and fiction in the Inquisition’s history. Moreover, she desires to receive the light of enlightenment as to why the topic has been a favorite for attacking the Church in many years and what defense and rationalizations did the Church make concerning the matter.

This paper endeavors to distinguish fact from fiction, what is reasonable and what is not regarding the Inquisition established by the Papacy during the beginning of the twelfth century. This paper can be divided into four major parts. The first chapter will analyze the historical period during which the Inquisition took place and the different stages of evolution it went through from time to time, age to age and century to century. The next chapter will describe its whole mechanism of targeting, examining and suppressing heresy. The horrors it had imposed to the whole human race will be accurately revealed in the third chapter. And finally, the last chapter will show what roles did it play for the progress of the Roman Catholic Church and will further dig the detriments and contributions it gave for the civilization of Europe .




A. Massacre of the Albigenses

The Compton ’s Encyclopedia and Fact Index recounts that in the middle of the twelfth century, waves of heresy swept over Europe . Among all the heretical sects, the Cathari also known as Albigensians were the most serious and famous. 1.

According to Joseph McCabe, the author of the journal, The Story of Religious Controversy, the word Cathari is the Greek word for the pure.2. An article in the wikipedia site evidently reports that the Albigensians or Albigeois refers to the people settling in the town of Albi , northeast of Toulouse in France . Originally, Catharism had its roots in the Paulician movement in Armenia and was also influenced by the Bogomiles. 3. McCabe explains that the Albigensians regarded the Church to be corrupt, condemned its sacraments and hierarchy, rejected its monks and nuns, and tried to bring back the simple ways taught by Christ such as charity, chastity and of course, poverty. Moreover, they questioned the taxing of the Church, the need for matrimony and rejected the validity of all oaths. 4. Meanwhile, in the article entitled Catholic United for the Faith, it is further unraveled that the Cathari believed that the world is divided between the opposing forces of Good and Evil, that salvation came through the sanctification of their immaterial souls, and that men had undergone various reincarnations before reaching the pure realm of spirit. Undeniably, their ideology was mixed up with Roman Catholic Orthodoxy, Dualism and lastly, Gnosticism. 5.

An online source makes it known that the Roman Catholic Church was threatened by the spread of the Albigensian doctrine. So because of this the Church made some peaceful attempts for their conversion. But, these endeavors unfortunately failed. 6.

According to McCabe, pope after pope angrily ordered the secular authorities to persecute the Albigensians, but they were unsuccessful because the Cathars were under the protection of some nobles and princes in Southern France . But the Church didn’t quit after all. 7.

In the year 1208, a declaration of crusade against the Albigenses was made by Pope Innocent III in his words;

The civil law punishes traitors, with confiscation of their goods

and with death; it is only out of kindness that their children’s

lives are spared. All the more, then, should we excommunicate

and confiscate the property of those who are traitors to the faith

of Jesus Christ, for it is an infinitely greater crime to offend the

Divine Majesty than to attack a sovereign’s dignity. (p.39) 8.

Following this decree, the Collier’s Encyclopedia tells that Thomas Aquinas wrote that it is more wicked to corrupt the faith than to deteriorate the coinage; wherefore if coiners are justly doomed to death, much more may heretics be justly slain once proven guilty. 9.

According to the Wikipedia, the town was seized on July 22, 1209 under the command of Arnaud-Amaury, Abbot of Citeaux. The soldiers asked the Abbot how to distinguish a Cathari from a Catholic, but the firmly replied saying, "Kill them all, God will know His own." 10 The Catharis attempted to fight but they were just driven back by the pursuing knights. 11. St. Mary Magdalene’s Church was broken down and the 7, 000 refugees were dragged out and killed. Many more thousands were slaughtered in some parts of the town. Prisoners were blinded and were dragged behind horses. The city was burned and totally consumed. Lastly, it was estimated that approximately 20, 000 heretics died by the sword regardless of rank, age and sex.

The war against the Albigenses was still continued by Simon de Montfort for a number of years, and it just ended in 1229 in the Treaty of Paris. But despite the massacre, Catharism wasn’t yet totally eradicated. Thus, in 1229, the Inquisition was established by Gregory IX to exterminate the remaining heretics. It triumphed in driving the Cathars out of their land and scattering them. In addition to this, the unrepentant Cathars were exiled, hanged or burned at the stake, but those who recanted were forgiven, but were obliged to put yellow crosses on their garments. 13

In brief, "it was for the disbelief in the teaching of the Church more than any other offence against its authority that the Cathars were condemned bitterly." Correct belief is what matters most with the Catholic faith and accordingly, "except a man does keep the faith undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly." Hence, "the history of the Albigenses may be said to be written in blood," says Henry Charles Lea. 14

B. Origin of the Inquisition

Joanne Suter, the author of Fearon’s World History, narrates that during the Middle Ages, most people in Western Europe were Roman Catholics. The Church held great power in possesssins lands and collecting taxes. Popes and priests were all wealthymen. Consequently, the Church did become so openly corrupt in this period of time. 15

Nevetheless, it was during the Renaissance, when more people learned to read that the ways of the Church were questioned. People wondered of the extravagant ceremonies thiatC filled the Church services as they thought of the simple ways taught by Jesus. 16 Certainly, according to the author, William Lee Neff, many members of the Catholic Church realized the need for reform. They condemned people living an un-Christian life especially those members of the clergy who were indulging in luxury and corruption. 17 In addition to this, in the book, Babylon Mystery Religion, it is stated that many people rose up in protest, looking forward to Christ, Himself for salvation and truth. These were called heretics and were bitterly persecuted by the Church. 18

Hilmar Krueger defines the word heretic as a member of the

Church who continued to publicize his beliefs and practices even

though he had been repeatedly taught by a cleric these notions were

wrong and contrary to the established dogma of the Church. (p. 36) 19

In a similar way, a heretic was defined a danger to himself and a threat to other Christians he mingles with. 20

For this reason was the Inquisition organized. The Reader’s Digest Library of Modern Knowledge accurately describes the Inquisition as an ecclesiastical tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church for the discovery, punishment of heretics charged with offenses against Roman Catholic Orthodoxy that is primarily active in Central and Southern Europe in the 13th century. 21 According to the Collier’s Encyclopedia, its name was derived from the Latin inquisition which is translated as a sworn inquest. 22 It was first organized to strive against Albigensian heresy in France , and was later uses to suppress witches, Jews, Moors and any non-Catholic Chrisitians, the article, Inquisition and Withcraft tells. 29 The msn Encarta informs us that it was first called as the Congregation of the Holy Office, but later in 1965, Popem Paul VI renamed it as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 24

In his journal entitled the Story of Religious Controversy, McCabe particularizes that the Church made rulers to regard heresy as a crime. In 1139, the Lateran Council urged secular powers to proceed against heresy, but they would not. The Lateran Council of 1179 repeated the call for the use of force. Later, Pope Lucius VI in 1184 threatened unwilling secular rulers with excommunication. But, his effort was in vain, for heresy after all didn’t concern those sovereigns. 25

Then came Innocent III, who formulated the new principle of persuasion of heretics saying "Criminals convicted of treason are punished with death and their goods are confiscated. With how much more reason then should they who offend Jesus by deserting their faith be cut off from the Christian communion." Furthermore, he completed the foundation of the Inquisition by emphasizing that the bishops were to seek out cases of heresy and by giving instructions for the procedure. 26

In 1224, Gregory IX endorsed the death penalty for heresy.

Heretics were to be handed over the secular arm for the

adequate punishment. And as bishops had shown

themselves very permiss in the work by seeking out heretics,

the Pope took the job from them and entrusted it to the Dominican

and Franciscan friars. Among the wists of the time, Dominicans

were known as Domini Canes, the hounds of the Lord. 27

In the same way, Krueger agrees with McCabe as he wrote that the Inquisition was formally founded by Pope Gregory IX in 1231 as he accepted Frederick II’s decree of 1224 as applicable in ecclesiastical criminal law and as he sent inquisitors to Provence . They were to be Papal delegates dealing with offenses against the faith in his name. 28

From then onward, the search for heretics conducted by bishops became a separate institution under the direct control of the Papacy. The recommendation of Innocent III regarding the confiscation of properties was becoming a very profitable source of revenue. 29

According to Woodrow in his book, Pope Innocent IV in 1252 issued a document called Ad Exstirpanda commanding that "heretics were to be crushed like venomous snakes." (p.97) The use of torture was formally approved and civil authorities qwew ordered to burn heretics. 30

The Bull Ad Exstirpanda remained thenceforth a

fundamental document of the Inquisition, renewed or reinforced

by several popes, Alexander IV (1254-1259), Clement IV

(1265-1268), Nicholas IV (1288-1292), Boniface VII (1294-1300)

and others. The civil authorities were enjoined by the Popes under

the pain of excommunication to execute the legal sentences

that condemned impenitent heretics to the stake. (p.97) 31

In her book, Sonia Zaide expounds that because of the continuous spread of heresy, the increasing number of religious wars and the Protestant Revolt, a counter-reformation arose within the Catholic Church to improve its doctrines and faith. 32

Fearon’s World History makes it clear that in 1534, Pope Paul III began making reforms in then Papal court. He called the Council of Trent, which lasted for about 18 years (1545-1563). It succeeded in defining church doctrines, establishing rules to prevent the recurrence of immoral abuses and recognizing the decisions of popes as the basis of Catholic teaching. It also reafirmed the dogma of the seven sacraments, the concept regarding the original sin of Adam and Eve. Buying of indulgences and simony were forbidden. No clergy was allowed to enrich any realtive or friend at the expense of the Church. And lastly, the Index, a list of books prohibited to read was also printed in 1559. 33

Zaide agrees with Suter saying that,

Among the achievements of the Council of Trent were to recognize the pope

as the infallible head of the Church, condemn the Protestant claim that the Bible

was the only guide to men's salvation, reafrim the vaildity of the Mass, the

veneration of saints and prescribe high standards of conduct for the clergy. (p.160) 34

Beside this, she also adheres to the fact that after the counter-reformation, the Chturch demanded full obedience from all men. It established the Holy Office, appointing six cardinals whose powers extended to the whole Church. Undeniably, the Church again activated the Inquisition to suppress heresy. 35



Period of Grace

The Collier's Encyclopedia explains that a regular routine was established by the friar-inquisitors. They replaced the Episcopal courts as instruments to deal with heretics. Then finally, Gregory IX provided for the actual cooperation between the local clergy and the inquisitors. 36

The Inquisition regularly began when the time of arrival of the Inquisitorial judges, who were mostly Dominicans and Franciscans, and the location of their court, usually a monastery, were announced by the local bishops. 37

McCabe describes that after the inquisitor's arrival, they altogether summoned a meeting with the people and announced that secret reports of heretics were to be submitted to them. 38

Afterwards, according to the Encarta of MSN, Inquisitors issued orders demanding that all heretics present themselves and confess their sins within thirty days. Those who voluntarily confessed will receive lesser penalties. 39 McCabe enumerates some of these penalties such as prayers, fasts, pilgrimages, and fines. Also, during the month, the Inquisitors had made religious revival by means of preaching the Word. And after this, the actual trail began. 40

The Actual Trial

According to Joseph McCabe in his journal, The Story of Religious Controversy, the judges inspected people who are accused with heresy and who didn't confess their errors. The judges were good and experienced men who were mostly priests and monks, and in few places, lawyers who were extremely zealous for the faith. 41 The encarta of msn also affirms that these men assisted the inquisitors in arriving at at verdict and were also permitted to imprison lying suspects. 42

The Catholic Encyclopedia rehearses that if the accused fully confessed, then the affair was soon ended. But in most cases, however, if the accused kept on denying stubbornly, the inquisitor will then use any of these methods, death penalty, confinement without food, the use of torture or a friendly persuasion.43

Nevertheless, the accused was undoubtedly given his freedom until after the fianl verdict was given as stated in the Collier's Encyclopedia. He wasn't yet supposed guilty although he was under the oath of coming back to the inquisitor and of accepting with good grace his sentence in the end. The oath was a terrible weapon in those days. If the accused didn't keep it, his situation grew worse, and it easily caused the guilty to bring upon himself suspicion of heresy.

And lastly, beside this oath, "the inquisitor might secure himself ny demanding a sum of money as bail or reliable bondsmen who would stand surety for the accused. It happened too that the bondsmen undertook upon him to deliver the accused dead or alive." 45


According to the author of the Compton 's Encyclopedia and Fact Index, when a heretic didn't voluntarily admit his fault, evidence against him was presented.

Usually, there had to be at least two witnesses against the accused, but eventually, the inquisitors did readily accept the testimonies of anyone and even considered the word of children. 46

In addition, the Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the names of the witnesses were sometimes withheld from the accused, and this system was legalized by Gregory IX, Innocent IV, and Alexander IV.

However, in his bull, UT Conamissi Vobis Officii, Boniface VIII ordered that at all trails, witnesses must be named to the accused ones. 47 But on the contrary, McCabe argues that Pope Boniface VIII only allowed the publication of the names of accusers and witnesses when there is no danger such as revenge.48

On the other hand, the Compton 's Encyclopedia says that the accused was allowed to make known to the judges the names of his enemies, whose testimonies were then considered invalid. 49 Also, the Catholic Encyclopedia agrees with this emphasizing that the accused had an advantage in the fact that the inquisitor had to remit documents and conduct the trail with the diocesan bishop or his representatives. Together, they were made to consult a number of men, well versed in theology known as Boni Viri. The documents were given to these men and it was their duty to decide whether or not the evidences were credible. Furthermore, it was to the advantage of the accused that false witnesses were punished merciless and were severely condemned just as heretics were. 50

lastly, according to the Collier's Encyclopedia, the accused was allowed a defense lawyer and witnesses, but this right was useless because people were afraid to speak lest they'll also be suspected the next day, 51 whereas according to McCabe, the accused couldn't bring any lawyers since Innocent III had forbidden lawyers to help heretics in 1205. 52



The Catholic Encyclopedia declares that the use of torture was purely as a means of drawing out the truth, and never a punishment. It was first authorized on May 15, 1252 by Innocent III in his bull Ad Extirspanda. 53

In the beginning, torture had its own limits. It was only to be applied once, and it wasn't to cause the loss of life or limb. However, Urban IV on August 21, 1262 formally ordered to continue the examination of the obstinate accused in torture chambers. Hence, this lead to the notions of using torture with every piece of evidence or of imposing fresh torments to individuals as a continuation just on different days. It continued until the accused confessed or was willing to confess. Since, voluntary confession was all that matters to the inquisitors. In addition, torture was used to compel an accused to testify against his friends and fellow heretics.54

If the accused persisted in denying that he was a heretic or refusing to name other heretics, then he was taken to the next room, McCabe explains. And with great humanity, the Inquisition always showed the man the instruments of torture, then continued the torment. 55

The Collier's Encyclopedia tells that, but if the accused even though he was faced with those deadly instruments still refused to confess, despite the torture, he was handed over to the secular arm since popes primarily Innocent IV demanded this saying, 56

When those adjured guilty of heresy have been given up to the civil power by the

Bishop or his representatives, the chief magistrate of the city shall take them at once,

and shall within five days of the most, execute the laws made against them. 57

The Catholic Encyclopedia stresses out that imprisonment was not always regarded as a punishment, but it was an opportunity for repentance and prevention against the infection of devout Catholics. 58

Furthermore, with imprisonment came the burning at the stake. David Pickering claims that,

The Vatican wasn't satisfied with the progress made by regional leaders in rooting

out heresy. Pope Innocent III commissioned his own inquisitors who answered

directly to him. Their authority was made official in the papal bull of March 25th,

1199. Innocent declared anyone who attempted to construe a personal view

of god which conflicted with the church dogma must be burned without pity.

Hence, papal statutes insisted heretics to suffer death by fire to prevent the shedding of much blood. John 15: 6 says, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast as a branch and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." 60

In contrast with what is written above, the Catholic Encyclopedia argues that

Officially, it was not the Church that sentenced heretics to death, more particularly

to the stake. Even Gregory IV never went further than the penal ordinances of

Innocent III neither required nor even inflicted a punishment severe than excommunication.

Eventually, four years later, the Church expelled from her bosom the impenitent

heretics, whereupon the stake took over the duty of his temporal punishment. 61

On the whole, the Inquisition was humanely conducted. Rome even removed inquisitors from their posts because they were too harsh to heretics, says a Jesuit in McCabe's journal. 62

Types of Torture

Ralph Woodrow explains that "men pondered long in those days how they could devise methods that would produce the most torture and inflict the maximum pain. Prior to their being used, the instruments were even blessed by priests." (p.97) 63

One of the most popular methods was the use of the Rack, which is also called the Ladder. The naked victim was placed horizontally on it with his arms and legs bound. he was then stretched by rope and windglass. This method dislocated joints and broke bones. 64

Another famous instrument in the size and figure of a woman was called the Iron Virgin. The words "Glory be only to God" are inscribed on it. Knives, nails and spikes were arranged in such a way that the accused was lacerated in its deadly embrace. 65

According to David Pickering, another widely-used instrument was called the Judas Cradle. The accused was pulled by a rope. The torturer attached weights to the accused and then, raised and dropped him from various heights. 66

The most extensively used device is called the Brodequin known as the Boots. It was used to crush the legs by using a mallet to smash the bones until the marrow spurted out. People who faint during this torture were thought to be advocates of the Devil. 67

Another device used for the ripping of the flesh is called the Ripper. It is known during that time that a person can still live until the skin was peeled down to the waist. Most of the time, the rippers were used on women's breasts and their genitals. 68

The instrument that was considered to be the most gruesome of all was known to be the Wheel. The naked victim was stretched out with his face lying downward on the ground, with his arms and legs spread out and tied to iron rings. Under the wrists, elbows, ankles, knees and hips were the wooden crosspieces placed. And with the iron-tyred edge of the wheel, the inquisitor then smashed limb after limb. Blood spurted everywhere, smashed bones were present, and the victim's skeleton was completely crushed. Following that, the shattered limbs were braided to the spokes of the large wheel. 69

Another instrument studded with spikes was called the Iron Chair. The accused was fastened in nude and a fire was lit beneath the chair. Blows with mallets and other heavy objects were also used to maximize the pain caused by spikes. 70

The thumbscrew was a device where the victim's thumbs or toes were placed and crushed. This is often used with the strappado to inflict more pain. 71

An extreme form of torture was called the Squassation. This method entailed strapping weights and pulling limbs from their sockets. Thereafter, the inquisitor would immediately release the rope so they would fall towards the floor, then would again yank it. This naturally dislocated every bone in the victim's body. 72

Another method is called the Walking a Witch. It forces the victim to walk back and forth for days without end until exhausted. The victim was then deprived of movement or slumber. 73

Another commonly used method is called the scoring above the breath, wherein inquisitors used to tear the flesh, stick with needles and other sharp objects on the victim's face until the mouth and nose will completely bleed. 74

Other devices include the heretic's fork, skull crusher, roasting of the feet over a fire, water torture, forced feeding of salted foods then the denial of water; immersion in scalding water with lime, the prayer stool, stocks with spikes, thrawing; turkas, which were pincers used to pull out fingernails and confinement in dark dungeons. Furthermore, according to the book written by Woodrow, some examples were the pouring of molten lead into the victim's ears, beating with whips, gouging out the eyes, jumping from cliffs on to long spikes fixed below, choking to death with their own excrement, urine or body parts, helplessly chaining to the floor or wall with rats and vermin infesting the bodies and the like. 76

The Final Verdict

The Catholic Encyclopedia expounds that after all the processes, the final decision was usually pronounced in a solemn ceremonial called sermo generalis or auto-da-fe. One or two days before this, the charges were briefly read to the accused. The sermo began early in the morning. Then, it was followed by the swearing of obedience to the inquisitor by all the secular officials. 77

Decrees of mercy which normally include commutations, mitigations followed and due punishments to the guilty were finally enumerated. 78 The Collier's Encyclopedia informs us that sentences varied according to the gravity of the case or the extent of the guilt. From the start of the tribunal, all sentences were to be approved by any Episcopal authority, but later, in difficult times, a group of dignified lay experts was consulted. 79

The announcement began with the minor punishments. According to some online sources, the imposed penalties were often religious acts such as more frequent attendance at the Mass, prayers, alms for the needy, visits to a shrine, crusade, pilgrimage, wearing of cross on one's garment, flogging, temporary imprisonment, 80 paying of fines devoted to church-building, road-making 81 public scourging and whipping with rods. Furthermore, the wearing of red cloth sewn on the outer garment marked those who accused falsely. 82 Unerringly, the Collier's Encyclopedia strongly emphasizes that the Church mainly seeks the correction of the delinquent and the inner change of his heart. 83

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, following this was the announcement of the most severe punishments including excommunication, lifetime imprisonment, confiscation of property, and death, usually burning at the stake. 84 The Collier's Encyclopedia adds that convicted clerics were placed in the dungeon called In Pace., which was the tomb of a man buried alive. In some cells, the unfortunates were bound in chains and in some cases, the chambers don't have any light or ventilation, and the food was very poor. 85

After this lot, the guilty was then turned to the civil authorities, and with this, the sermo generalis concluded. 86


The Encarta of the website MSN.com tells that although in the beginning, the Inquisition directed most of its attention to the Albigensians, but it later extended to other heterodox groups such as the Fraticelli, Waldenses, Hussites, knights, philosophers, witches, diviners and the like. 87

In the article, the A Brief History of the Inquisition by Robert Jones, it is stated that one of the famous cases of the Inquisition was the slaughter of the Waldensians. Their sect was founded by Peter Waldo. They rejected many tenets of Roman Catholicism including the priesthood, purgatory, transubstantiation, devotion to saints and others. Thus they suffered hundreds of years of persecution and were even massacred by the French forces. About 1, 712 Waldensian men, women, and children died in this massacre. 88

The most famous victims of the Papal Inquisition were the Knights of Templar. They were founded in 1119 A.D. to protect pilgrim routes to the Holy Land . They were involved in the first European banking system. , King Philip IV of France charged them with heresy because he was deeply in debt to that order. Charges like the denial of Christ, spitting on the cross, worshipping of a false idol called Baphomet were brought against them. They were to trial, and were tortured in 1312 since they refused to lie about their order. After the templar were dissolved, the French King glutted much of their monetary wealth. 89

The most famous woman victim of the Inquisition was the Maid of the Orleans , Joan of Arc. In her early age, she received visions coming from saints and angels. She then joined the army of King Charles VII and in 1429, under her leadership; she liberated the besieged town of Orleans . However, she was captured by her enemies and was tried for sorcery. Eventually, she was burned at the stake in 1431. 90

An individual named John Hus was tried for heresy by the Council of Constance. In 1415, he was burned at the stake because of his theological views similar to Calvinism and of his beliefs that Christ, not the pope was the Head of the Church and that the Bible was the only spiritual authority. 91

David Pickering gives the example of the famous Italian astronomer and physicist, Galileo Galilei is one of the most noted victims of the Inquisition. He was accused of being a heretic when he attempted to prove that the theory of Ptolemy was wrong, because the earth is not the center of the universe. 92 Vik Kanwar says that for over 20 years did the Inquisitors sought to examine his beliefs. On June 21, 1633, Galileo was found guilty of heresy. His trail concluded with this condemnation for heresy:

We say, pronounce, sentence, and declare that you, the above-mentioned Galileo,

because of the things deduced in the trial and confessed by you as above,

have rendered yourself according to this Holy Office vehemently suspected of heresy,

namely of having held and believed a doctrine which is false and contrary to divine

and Holy Scripture: that the sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to

west, and that the earth moves and is not the center of the world, and that one may hold

and defend as probable an opinion after it has been declared and defined

contrary to Holy Scripture. 93

He was then sentenced to perpetual imprisonment under house arrest. 94

Witches were also hunted for about 300 years in between 1450-1750. Pickering quotes R.H. Robbins words saying that "the witch hunt was the most shocking nightmare and deepest shame of Western civilization.” During this period, the Church engaged in mass murder and torture of innocent human beings, who were falsely accused to be supporters of the Devil. 95

Other cases include the following, over 100 people were murdered in Salzburg , Austria in 1677 to 1681; 600 Pyrenees were tortured and murdered

in 1608 by the inquisitor Pierre de Lancre; in Burgundy, about 600 victims most of which were children were burned alive in the lead of the Witch judge Henri Boguet; under the rule of Oliver Cromwell, 17,000 were murdered between 1563 and 1603; in Germany in the year 1629, there were about three hundred children of three or four years who were put to death, and 900 witches were killed under the order of the Jesuits; in 1586, it was reported that the population of two villages was wiped out by inquisitors; in Moa, Sweden, more than 300 people were murdered, 36 children were beaten with rods and were made to run with the gauntlet; a pregnant mother was burned alive and from the trauma, she gave birth. Her child was then tossed back to the flames. 96 Furthermore, according to the Collier's Encyclopedia, there were also cases in which the dead for as much as 70 years was accused of heresy. The inquisitors burned the heretic's bones and confiscated all property from his legal heirs. 97 According to the journal, Inquisition and the Birth of Inquiry, other cases also include the butchery of St. Bartholomew's Eve in 1561, wherein 10, 000 Huguenots were killed, yet Rome still rejoiced after hearing this news, and the Pope ordered to make a medal to commemorate the event. 98


In an online source, the author of the article Inquisition quoted Friedrich Nietzsche's words: "The Christian resolve to find the world evil and ugly has made the world evil and ugly." 99

Before the Inquisition, the Church accepted heretics back to the fold of the Holy One. But, when the Inquisition was established, it replaced the common norm. The Church increased in power until it had the total control over both secular and spiritual lives. It spearheaded in the murder, torture, mutilation, and destruction of millions of lives even beyond one's comprehension. Furthermore, family ties were broken, friends were betrayed, innocent people were slaughtered, and even the dead were disturbed. 100 Thus, in the days of the Inquisition, "every human bond was severed by the guilt of heresy", Henry Charles Lea declared. 101

Also, prior to the birth of the ecclesiastical tribunal, countries in Europe rose to power and civilization. Their commerce, art, industry, science had been far. Their cities were proud of their wealth and joyous of their liberties. Subjects as well as rulers prospered. Nevertheless, when the Inquisition came, "the precocious civilization which had promised to lead Europe on the path of culture was gone." 102

Inquisitors grew in greed, jealousy and corruption. They abused their authority. They even accepted bribes and fines from wealthy men, who paid to avoid being prosecuted. Certainly, the wealthy men are the prime targets of the Church, who confiscated their lands, money, and possessions for many years. Upon accusation, all of their belongings were taken by the inquisitors, and besides, there was a very little chance of proving their innocence. In addition to this, children, whose parents were heretics, were deprived of their right as legal heirs. Often, they were left without a penny in their pockets. So this is one way how the Church waxed rich. Also, the Inquisitors crippled the economy by interfering with the communication brought by the invention of the printing press. Maps, cartographers, merchants and the like were all declared as threats to the Church. Hence, the actions of the inquisitors had devastating effects on the economy that left many communities totally impoverished and with failing commerce while the Church glutted with wealth." 103

Lastly, to quote Henry Charles Lea:

Thus passed away the unfortunate thirteenth century -- that age of lofty aspirations unfulfilled,

of brilliant dreams unsubstantial as visions, of hopes ever looking to fruition and ever

disappointed. The human intellect had awakened, but as yet the human conscience slumbered,

save in a few rare souls who mostly paid in disgrace or death the penalty of their precocious

sensitiveness. That wonderful century passed away and left as its legacy to its successor vast

progress, indeed, in intellectual activity, but on the spiritual side of the inheritance a dreary void.

All efforts to elevate the ideals of man had miserably failed. Society was harder and coarser,

more carnal and worldly than ever, and it is not too much to say that the Inquisition had done its full

share to bring this about by punishing aspirations, and by teaching that the only safety lay in

mechanical conformity, regardless of abuses and unmindful of corruption. 104

Nevertheless, despite its ugliness, the Monarch Philip III still recognizes the Inquisition as a "heavenly remedy, a guardian angel of Paradise , a lion's den in which Daniel and other just men could sustain no injury, but in which the perverse sinners were torn into pieces."

Basically, the Inquisition triumphed in safeguarding the catholic faith from corruption and distortion. 105 It succeeded in wiping out Protestantism out of Italy , France and other parts of Europe as what Sonia Zaide asserts. 106 It accomplished the task to guarantee God's people the possibilities of professing the faith without any error and in truth that liberates. Moreover, If the Church had not established the Inquisition, the people then had actively sought out demons, and many innocent people died painfully and needlessly" says David Pickering. 107

Equally important, according to the Ridgefield Group, the Church and State weren't divided during that time. Since heresy is the worst of sins, because it separates man from God, they were united in the purposes of protecting the common good, and most especially, considering religious heresy as a kind of political treason. Thus, punishing heretics more severely. 108

What's more is that those who conducted the Inquisition were thoroughly convinced that they were furthering God's kingdom by encouraging repentance and if needed, by persecuting unto death all who dared to contradict the Church's doctrines. 109

In closing, Fr. William G. Most admits that "it's true that the Inquisition must be blamed for some things, but not as badly as the legend says." 110


The Inquisition is one of the biggest errors the Church ahs ever made in history! It evokes a long dark period marked with bloodshed, fire, force and torture. How can it possibly be that such actions of inhumanity to other men were representatives of Him who commanded each man to be merciful and forgiving? The fact that the Papal Inquisition was primarily brought on because of prejudices and greed cannot be denied, though the Church has pointed defensible reasons to conceal its thirst for supreme power laced with corruption. With the abuses of authority rises the idea that those Pontiffs who have been given the highest regard were also like any other human beings, fallible and capable of committing mistakes. However, we can’t blame it all to the Church, for tit ahs the sense of duty to keep the faith whole and unblemished just like in the time of Christ’s ministry. Thus each pope, cleric, sovereign, heretic or whatsoever is accountable with what had happened in the past! Now, although religious freedom ahs been granted, the Inquisition is yet alive. It is waiting for the opportunity to once again inflict havoc on the world. This infamy can be done by individuals who in one way or another think that they through the shedding of blood are doing the will of the Almighty. So it is likewise important to preserve the religious liberty, which our forbears had fought, for ourselves and our posterity.

Frankly, the researcher had a hard time in making a substantial paper due to lack of resources and the time allotted for the research was to small. However, the researcher finds herself to be in the gulf of fulfillment and satisfaction, because she was able to learn many things both great and small pertaining to her interest. Truly, the whole paper causes her to be thunderstruck in awe and wonder!

The researcher suggests the reader to read and read as many books as he can before choosing a topic or even attempting to do the paper. She admonishes that for the paper to be juicy; a lot of references must be included in his list. In addition, she extremely counsels her reader to as much as possible; avoid cramming or doing things in the last minute. Indeed, everything must be carefully followed and planned to prevent failure and mistakes.
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