'Not So Bad' - Pope

By Bruce Johnston
The Telegraph - UK
ROME -- The Vatican sought to play down the terrors of the Inquisition yesterday, claiming that far fewer people were tortured and executed for heresy than was popularly believed.
The reassessment by Church historians was seized on by the Pope to qualify the apology he made for the Inquisition during the Church's millennium celebrations.
The research emerged from a conference of scholars convened in 1998 to help the Pope assess the impact of the Inquisition, which often used brutal methods to suppress alleged witchcraft and doctrinal unorthodoxy.
Church officials said that statistics and other data demolished myths about the Inquisition, including that torture and executions were commonly used.
"For the first time we studied the Inquisition in its entirety, from its beginnings to the 19th century," said Agostino Borromeo, a professor of history of Catholic and other Christian confessions at Rome's Sapienza University. Prof Borromeo said that while there were some 125,000 trials of suspected heretics in Spain, research found that about one per cent of the defendants were executed, far fewer than commonly believed. Many of the burnings at the stake were carried out by civil rather than religious tribunals.
Yesterday, the Pope reiterated his mea culpa but stressed that actions which had "disfigured the face of the Church" had to be viewed in their historical context.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.;sessionid=
From Jay Nelson
This is such a piece of historical horse hockey that it is hard to take seriously.
In the first place, there was no widespread witchcraft persecution in Spain. Hard to believe, but the Spanish Inquisition went mainly after crypto-Jews and Lutherans. The reason? So many people came forward to confess that the authorities could not cope with it and decided it was all mass delusion! (The False Memory people would have been proud.) Thus, no witchcraft persecution, and the brujas were free to come to the New World, but that's another story...
Secondly, the religious authorities rarely if ever, burnt people on their own authority. They "relaxed" them to the secular power who then carried out the sentence that the Inquisition commanded. But it was no more the idea of the state than the tortures in Iraq were the sole idea of the enlisted goons who carried them out.
Thirdly, it's true that not all were burnt. But a person could be held for life on the merest whiff of heresy, all lands confiscated and even their bones exhumed and burnt if the authorities felt like it. Even those who were released from the Inquisition's jails usually had to perform public penance for years while wearing a yellow identifying garment called a "sanbenito" -- the inspiration, BTW, for the yellow stars of David the Nazis made the Jew wear.
The Inquisition was the most diabolical institution ever created. For the Pope to in any way to minimize its horrors should be as unthinkable as the head of Germany defending the Holocaust in its "historical context". If he did, he would be called a Nazi. What, then, should the Holy Father be called?



This Site Served by TheHostPros