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The Spanish Inquisition: Debunking the Legends

Spanish Inquisition

The Catholic Church is often the victim of the same kinds of urban legends that surround the Titanic or Aspartame. Whether it is the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, chained church Bibles, or Galileo, people are being led to believe falsehood and making bad decisions based on those falsehoods. Given the gravity of the decisions being made, any intelligent person deserves to have the facts.

If there is a hierarchy to urban legends that skeptics use to try to discredit the Catholic Church, the Spanish Inquisition is probably at the top. It’s an easy one, because most people think they know enough about it to not ask questions, and the knee-jerk reaction to the images brought to mind of thousands being tortured or killed for their beliefs are usually all one needs to make the point: the Church is untrustworthy at best, and genuinely evil at worst.

However, it turns out most of what people think they know about the inquisition is simply not true. The urban legends surrounding the Spanish Inquisition span from Reformation-era England to modern-day Fundamentalism, and are unfortunately so widespread that even many Christians believe them. To put it up front: yes, there were abuses done in the name of the Church—some committed by members of the Church. The urban legends concern the nature and extent of the abuses, as well as who was responsible for them. Although the evils present during various phases of the Inquisition were very real, should not be defended, and have been admitted by the Church, many historical misunderstandings and falsehoods based in anti-Spanish or anti-Catholic propaganda remain to this day.

Quick Summary

Modern historical research has uncovered facts that dismantle many of these centuries-old falsehoods. Here are some quick corrections concerning popular misunderstandings:

  • The Inquisition was originally welcomed to bring order to Europe because states saw an attack on the state’s faith as an attack on the state as well.
  • The Inquisition technically had jurisdiction only over those professing to be Christians.
  • The courts of the Inquisition were extremely fair compared to their secular counterparts at the time.
  • The Inquisition was responsible for less than 100 witch-hunt deaths, and was the first judicial body to denounce the trials in Europe.
  • Though torture was commonly used in all the courts of Europe at the time, the Inquisition used torture very infrequently.
  • During the 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition, between 3,000-5,000 people were sentenced to death (about 1 per month).
  • The Church executed no one.

What was the Spanish Inquisition?

In order to understand the urban legend status of the Spanish Inquisition, one must first understand the Inquisition in general. Existing in various parts of Europe as early as the 12th Century, the inquisition was part of the judicial system of the Church which dealt with heresy. The Bible records instances where God commanded that formal inquiries were to be carried out to discover believers in false religions (e.g., Deuteronomy 17:2–5; 13:5, 17:7, 12; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:13), and this idea was put into practice in the time when the Church and state were much more closely associated than they are today. Although, as part of the Church, the Inquisition was concerned only with its own members, loyalty to the Church assumed loyalty to the State and vice versa. This may seem unfair or oppressive, but it is how things were back then.

The original Inquisition of the 12th Century concerned the Catharists who blended Gnosticism with Manichaeism and believed in two gods. Their beliefs led to potentially civilization-destroying social consequences. Catharists refused to take oaths, which back then meant opposing government authority. Marriage was considered sinful while secret fornication was permitted. Even suicide was encouraged. These were not faithful bands of “Bible Christians” or a hidden “remnant” of true believers trying to avoid the evil institutional Church. Eventually Europe was so endangered by this group heresy that the Inquisition seemed to be a political necessity.

By the late Middle Ages, the subjects of Portugal and Spain were often Muslim or Jewish, and the re-conquering of those lands created a clash between these subjects and the Crown as well as the Church. King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile thus established the Spanish Inquisition in 1478 to weed out any remaining traitor-heretics (mostly focusing on converted Jews). Unlike the historical Inquisition of the Church, this Inquisition was essentially controlled by the secular government (even when staffed by clergy). It thus operated largely outside the control of the Church. In fact, when abuses were reported, Pope Innocent VIII complained to no avail.

Facts and Fictions

Two major factors make a fair evaluation of the Spanish Inquisition difficult today. The first is that most of what we think we know about it is simply not true. The second is that we judge the realities of the Spanish Inquisition according to modern Western sentiments. Most of European life in the period covered by the Inquisition would be judged barbaric by this standard, and, ironically, the Inquisition was actually rather progressive compared to the rest of the world at the time. Here are some specific examples:

Fairness in Trials

Although the days of having court-appointed lawyers and access to one’s accusers were a long way off, at one time the Spanish Inquisition was widely hailed as the best run, most humane court in Europe. There are records of people committing blasphemy in secular courts so they could have their case would fall under the Inquisition’s jurisdiction. Further, the Inquisition was the first to pronounce Europe’s witch hunt a delusion and prohibited anyone from being tried or burnt for witchcraft (the number of witches killed by the inquisition was less than 100 out of over 125,000 trials).

When the Inquisition found someone guilty of heresy, most of the sentences were not unfair—many simply required the performance of some penitential good works. Heretics were unrepentant threats to the state—not confused, simple folk (in fact, the Inquisition had little impact on the vast majority of people because it simply did not exist in many rural areas). Finally, while verdicts of guilty or not-guilty fell to the inquisitors, the use of violent punishments was up to the secular authorities.

Use of Torture

Most of the torture and executions attributed to the Church during the various inquisitions didn’t occur at all, and historians now concede that Inquisition torture chambers never existed. Torture was indeed used during some Inquisition trials (hardly uncommon for the court system of the time). The Inquisition, though, had strict rules regarding its use that put it far ahead of its time.

Torture was unauthorized until 20 years after the Inquisition began. It was first authorized by Pope Innocent IV in 1252—not as a mode of punishment, but as a means of discovering truth. It was not to be used to threaten life or cause loss of limb, was to applied only if the accused was uncertain and seemed already convicted by many weighty proofs, and after all other options had been used. When it was used it was not to be used more than once, and for no more than 15 minutes. Unfortunately these rules were sometimes circumvented by creative readings of the rule book. Torture was most cruelly used under the pressure of secular authority (Frederick II, for instance, abused the Inquisition to persecute his personal enemies). So, while torture was used in some cases, the idea of continent-spanning torture and death caused by the Church is simply not the case.

There were no rapes, feet burning, creative torture chambers, iron maidens, etc., and reports show that between 98%-99% of all Inquisition trials did not involve torture at all. Compared to secular courts that decreed the death penalty for damaging shrubs in England, or disembowelment for sheep-stealing in France, the Inquisition was actually far more conservative than the secular Europe of the day.

Death Toll

No one knows exactly how many people perished because of the Inquisition, but it is thought to be  between 3,000 and 5,000 people during the 350 years of its existence. Some writers quote figures so wildly impossible it is amazing they have any purchase at all (I’ve seen numbers nearing 95 million—more than the entire population of the countries the Inquisition was held in!).

In 1998, Pope John Paul II stated that “The Inquisition belongs to a tormented phase in the history of the Church, which...Christians [should] examine in a spirit of sincerity and open-mindedness...[I]t is necessary to know the facts exactly and to recognize the deficiencies in regard to evangelical exigencies in the cases where it is so.”

Six years later, a symposium commissioned to study the Inquisition released its findings: the total number of accused heretics put to death during the Spanish Inquisition comprised 0.1 percent of the more than 40,000 who were tried. In some cases the Inquisition saved heretics from secular authorities.

Historical vs. Urban Legend Sources

If all this is true, then where did the misunderstandings come from? Political attacks on Spain (which was being equated with the Inquisition) and Protestant propagandists (identifying themselves with the heretical “martyrs” of ages past), resulted in the publication of falsehoods that were distributed via the new printing press throughout Europe. People like William of Orange and Montanus basically set the stage for historical thinking on the Inquisition for centuries to come—the so-called “Black Legend” of Inquisition terror. Further, activists, politicians, and even artists turned the Inquisition into a symbol of religious intolerance during the Enlightenment age which followed the Protestant revolution.

In recent years, however, the Vatican opened up its secret archives for historical investigation. Inquisition records that were made by and for the Inquisition were allowed to be researched for the first time in history. Since then, the above facts have been generally discoverable in modern history books (whether Catholic or not). Corrected Inquisition history can be found in sources such as Inquisition by Edward Peters and The Spanish Inquisition: An Historical Revision by Henry Kamen. Comparative secular documentaries include The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition (BBC) and the more sensationalistic The Spanish Inquisition (History Channel).

Conclusion: What Does this Say About the Church?

When looking at the facts of the Inquisition, and placing those facts in their proper historical context, the picture we discover is far less terrible than is been believed. Even so, there were certainly abuses committed in the name of Christianity during the Inquisition. The question is, did the Church encourage theses abuses? The Church is most aware of her own failings and that she contains all sorts of sinners. She even knows some of them manage to work their way into positions of authority (Acts 20:29; Matt. 7:15).

But what matters for the Church, and what it should be judged by, is what it actually teaches. It would be absurd to criticize the Church for something done against what it advocates. Just as we don't judge the efficacy of a medicine by those who refuse to take it, so we should judge the Church only by her actual teachings and official actions.
Originally posted at Soul Device. Used with author's permission.
(Image credit: Paris Ankara)

Douglas Beaumont

Written by

Douglas Beaumont earned a Ph.D. in Theology at North-West University. He is the author of Evangelical Exodus, The Message Behind the Movie: How to Engage With a Film Without Disengaging Your Faith, and a contributor to The Best Catholic Writing. Follow Douglas at www.douglasbeaumont.com.

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  • Andre Boillot

    I think it's always good to go back and correct distortions of history. However,
    if I may, some quibbles.

    The Church executed no one.

    Finally, while verdicts of guilty or not-guilty fell to the
    inquisitors, the use of violent punishments was up to the secular

    Weren't the "secular authorities" basing their penalties for
    conviction of heresy on Church teachings (at the very least, scripture)? Did
    the Church oppose these punishments for those it convicted, or attempt to
    correct any possible misunderstanding of teaching or scripture? If no, then I
    think what we have here is a distinction without a difference.

    [Torture] was first authorized by Pope Innocent IV in 1252—not as a mode of punishment, but as a means of discovering truth.

    Again, surely - especially from the point of view of the tortured - a
    distinction without a difference.

    Eventually Europe was so endangered by this group heresy that
    the Inquisition seemed to be a political necessity.

    I see, the Inquisition saved Europe.

    During the 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition, between
    3,000-5,000 people were sentenced to death (about 1 per month).

    Since this is an article about correcting distortions, the above strikes me as
    oddly lacking in context.

    Some context, taken from Kamen, a source for this very article:

    "The Inquisition was extremely active between 1480 and 1530. Different
    sources give different estimates of the number of trials and executions in this
    period; Henry Kamen estimates about 2,000 executed, based on the documentation
    of the autos-da-fé, the great majority being conversos of Jewish origin."


    For the mathly challenged, that's ~40-66% of the executions in a 50 year span
    (about 3.33 per month). For comparison, in almost 200 years of Texas proudly
    leading the way in state-conducted executions (well, in the US anyways),
    they've managed *only* 1,260 killings (about .50 per month).


    EDIT: Formatting

    • vaquero711

      Are you comparing Inquisition who burning people alive for religious disagreement to Texas execution cold bloody murderers , rapist -killers etc.? Are you one of these leftists morons who always crying for executed pedophile child killers and never for their victims ?
      And , by the way , please do not refer to bloody wikipedia as a legitimate source of information. Wikipedia is sponsored by sob Soros and running by leftists loons .

      • GetItRight4aChange

        Ad hominems are never welcome in discussions involving intellectual debate. Andre brought his points with respect and without nastiness. If you are advocating on behalf of Catholicism, your comments fell short of the goal.

        Evil is not more acceptable or excusable simply because there exists another evil that you find more deplorable. In fact, it is the leftists you mention who typically excuse their own bad behavior by pointing to the fact someone else did something similar or worse. Of course, they are not enlightened by the Truth, so they have an excuse. You do not.

        • Louis Mingüey

          Very well said. Thank you.

        • vaquero711

          I have nothing to do with Catholic Church . Screw " intellectual debates " cos the lefts never debate on intellectual base . They debate to destroy political opponent personally and if they can literally . They cannot argue with the facts cos they have none .

        • Larry A Singleton

          I'm glad I saw your comment. His, uh, rant is something I probably would have said to a "leftist". I'm in perpetual pissed off mode seeing what's going on today and the ignorance of some people. Especially when it comes to history.

          I need a kick in the ass sometimes to remind me to tone it down. I'm big on history and you're right about Ad hominem attacks. (I'll have to go look that up)

      • Jim Fox

        "Unreliable Wikipedia"-- the common fallacious argument of those without answers. What source do YOU use, oh wise one?

        "Wikipedia is sponsored by sob Soros and running by leftists loons"
        You NEED education in grammar and verb cases- Wikipedia would improve you.

        • vaquero711

          Do you know who George Soros is ? You have no clue . By the way , I do speak a few languages , you dummy . How many you do ? Wikipedia no more than LEFTISTS PROPAGANDA FOUNDED BY GEORGE SOROS . You have no idea how much impact this man has on YOUR life . Educate yourself .

          • Doug Shaver

            I have been educating myself through my whole life. During that time I was never once told, by anyone more educated than I was, that I needed to educate myself.

          • vaquero711

            Well looks like you have been educated in wrong places .

          • Doug Shaver

            It looks like in your worldview, getting an education means coming to agree with you about everything.

          • vaquero711

            Nope . In my view an education means you HAVE TO KNOW about the guy who is AFFECTING your well being on every level . Unless you are brainwashed indoctrinated leftists marxist - socialists .

          • Doug Shaver

            I was right about at least one thing. What you mean by education is very different from what I mean by it.

          • vaquero711

            Yep . What you have is INDOCTRINATION . I do have an education . You right , it is very different .

          • Doug Shaver

            Is there anything that you think an educated person can disagree with you about?

          • vaquero711

            Do you disagree Hitler was really bad dude ?

          • Doug Shaver

            What does my opinion of Hitler have to do with anything we're discussing?

          • vaquero711

            Well , Soros is not much better than bloody Der Fuhrer .

          • Doug Shaver

            That doesn't answer my question.

          • vaquero711

            I did answer first question . The second one not about the Hitler . It's about George Soros . If you think you are very educated person but never heard about this guy , think again .

          • Doug Shaver

            I did answer first question

            I missed that. What was your answer? The only response I can see was another question.

          • vaquero711

            It was the answer . Ok , I'll explain it to you . " Agree " or "Disagree" is depends of the matter we are talking about .

          • Doug Shaver

            It was the answer

            No, it wasn't. A question cannot be the answer to another question.

          • vaquero711

            It's depends of the what kind of question .

          • Doug Shaver

            My question was a request for information. An answer must provide information. Your question didn't provide any information to me. Therefore, it was not an answer to my question.

          • Enochered

            Just out of interest, from where did you receive the notion that 'Hitler was a really bad dude?' Would you suggest that he was worse than Stalin or Trotsky for example? Or perhaps the Jews in Palestine, whom bleat a lot about their own sufferings while cold-bloodedly murdering children. The truth is out there for those whom seek it.

          • I P Knightley

            I have to agree with you about the IDF and their machinations.

          • Stenar

            You can’t even write English properly. I doubt your abilities in other languages.

          • Vaquero

            You are really not so bright are you? The fact that I cannot write the proper English does confirm that I am not an English speaking person and I never had any proper English language education . I taught myself to speak,to read and to write.
            в отличии от тебя идиота. Mine perse,kuradi raisk.

          • Stenar

            It’s obvious that you’re not an English speaker, but if you were actually as educated as you claim and facile in languages, you would be better at English. I am fluent in 4 languages and can read a great deal of 4 other languages. I taught myself two of the languages in which I am completely fluent. Unlike you, idiot. I also studied Russian for two years, so I can see that you attempted to call me an idiot, thinking I wouldn’t know what you had written.

      • bonobojean

        it is the same.. only worse.. because it was done in the name of God...

    • Dale Brown

      Andre, your argument that government sanctioned torture was an invention of the church under Pope Innocent IV - the Roman Empire had used torture (the Crucufiction of our Savior) way before the 13th century.
      As for the most intense period of time for the Inquisition - why would you go straight to the worst point in time as opposed to the least? It is equally non-contextual to take your approach. In the fact, your argument works against you, it is far better for the church to be so wrong for 50 years than for 350!
      And finally, regarding the secular courts being under the control of the Church - Pope Innocent VIII attempted to allow appeals to Rome against the inquisition, but the secular government thwarted the Church's attempt.
      One last thing; do you support the abortion of millions of children in America alone? Or our current government's financial support to abortions world wide? Are you outraged morally over the murder of more than 100 million citizens in a 80 year period (1919-2000) through the atheistic philosophies of communist nations? Just curious.
      The Inquisition is an historical anomally, not a defining moment. The Church is God's salt on this earth, a shining light on a hill. True history substantiates this truth.

      • Jim Fox

        Agreed- just ask the thousands of children abused by priests.

        • vaquero711

          What are you talking about ? " Islamophobia " ??? Do you want to take a hike in any Muslims country ? I am sure they would love you over there .... From the behind .

          • Jim Fox

            Listen you moron- I lived in an Islamic country, So shut your ignorant stupid mouth-your ashole make more sense!

          • vaquero711

            Really ? Fearless keyboard fighter . Try insult me face to face coward . And stop lying , you never lived in islamic country.
            I DID . You lost all credibility . You are brainwashed clueless libtard . Go away .

          • Jim Fox

            You could have a chat with my 44 Magnum, if you like. It speaks loudly of you.

          • vaquero711

            People who are ready to use gun never bragging about that.

        • vaquero711

          Thousand of children has been abused by psychopaths , not by the priests . And Atheism does motivate immoral behavior . True fate , not in the church , but in the creator does helps many people to survive . In Sweden every year 550,000 children are reported to the social services for abuse. Many pedophiles are highly educated, and include lawyers and politicians. Catholic church is very corrupted institution . Just look at the bloody leftists marxists pope who's running the Vatican right now.

          • Jim Fox


    • Sebastião Tupi

      "Weren't the "secular authorities" basing their penalties for
      conviction of heresy on Church teachings (at the very least, scripture)?"
      No, they were completly the opposite.

      "I see, the Inquisition saved Europe."
      Not only saved it, but also gave you the possibility of saying the contrary.

      And by the way, there is verly little correctness and intelectual honesty when taking small parts of a text and joining it to another context.

      Keep up the good studies and have some fun on the way.

      • Stenar

        OMG. The Inquisition did not save Europe.

    • Thomas J. Hennigan

      I wouldn't belive much of what Wikipead has to say. You must also know tat the Inquisition dealt with moral cases such as pedophilia. In fact, Pope Pius V (1566-1571) declared pedophilia a capital crime. You need to realize that you cannot apply the same criteria to what happened in those days. As for Europe being a barbaric place in those days, in my opinion, it is far moe barbaric today. No one in those days would have accepted the willful killing of some 500 million unborn babies from around 1980 to the pessent in our "civilized" world. Have you seen any videos on how barbaric the practice of abortion is? Interesting research by Pew Research shows that a majority of Americans want Planned Parenthood activities to be funded by the taxpayer. Any Country that legalizes tis barbarigy is a CRIMINAL STATE AND IS FORCING ITS CITIZENS TO FINANCE ITS CRIMNAL ACTIVITIES. So, we cannot consider the Middle Ages barbaric, and the present world civilized. What we now have is clinical barbarity. People in the Middle Ages considered eternal salvation the primary goal of their lives and to that end they formed a society based on Christian values, not without all its human defects. They considered heresy to be an attack on the Christian society. Nowadays, there is an ideology that considers the rather empty concept of "freedom" the supreme goal of a society. Many people are now willing to die and kill others for this notion of "freedom". So, let's get off our high horse and not so easily people in other epochs when we don't have a clear idea of why the did what they did. Of course, the Inquisitoin did some bad things and made some serious mistakes but neither was it an unremiittingly evil institution. No human institution is perfect.

    • Larry A Singleton

      How in the heck did you get those vertical lines in there?

      I see these comments with hi-lited links and other things and I have no idea how to do it.

      You don't have to answer. Even with the solution I'll probably never be able to figure it out.

      I'll be adding your comment to this guy's article. Thanks.

      • David Nickol

        How in the heck did you get those vertical lines in there?

        Those, and the above sentence from your comment, are blockquotes. There is a formatting bar below a comment when you are typing it. To use it, highlight the text you want to format and click on the appropriate symbol in the formatting bar. A few examples would be bold, italics, underscore, and strikethrough. HTML codes will be inserted for you. Highlighting text and clicking on the last symbol below (the quote marks) will give you a blockquote (with a "vertical line" at the left).

        • Larry A Singleton

          Thanks. I'll fool around with it and see if I can get it. That bar; at the bottom of the disqus comment box?

          Aaah. I think I just got it; "the quote marks".

          Again; Thanks.

        • Larry A Singleton

          Off topic. I don't know what's going on but my comments are getting scrambled like they were hit by a malware virus. Letters go missing and it looks crazy. It's been happening with other features too. Might have to reformat. Hate that.

  • josh

    "But what matters for the Church, and what it should be judged by, is what it actually teaches."

    Look at what I say, not what I do has never been a very compelling excuse. By the same logic, communist states can't possibly bear any blame for persecution of religious people because that was never the official policy.

    Anyhow, the Church of the time actually taught that torture and death and imprisonments were suitable methods for enforcing religious conformity. (And the Inquisition was hardly limited to Spain, nor was punishment of heretics carried out only under the offices of the Inquisitions.)

    It's worth bearing in mind the general barbarities of the time of course, and there is no need for grossly exaggerated numbers. All of this just goes to show that the Catholic Church is a human institution, occasionally better and occasionally worse than its contemporaries. But what has dragged it, protesting, into the modern age isn't its internal teachings but the movements of society at large.

    • filomena seiffert

      Proof,where is your proof? The archives were opened and the proof of the protestant lie is there. Your protestant mind will never accept the truth. You protestants should be prosecuted in a court of law for the defamation done to the Catholic Church . It is for this reason that you protesters became detestable to me. I can not read or listen to your prosellitism without vomiting

      • SchroedingersDeplorableDog

        Exhibit A, above.

        • filomena seiffert

          Still I do not see any proof. I prefer to believe in what the scholars found when they sow the Vatican arquives in John Paul II

      • Jim Fox

        Keep throwing up your guts- eventually your bile will run out.

      • Hilda Ward

        Have you ever read the entire bible? I know Catholics were discouraged from doing so. But the bible tells us to know Gods Word, study it, and keep it in our hearts, so that no man can deceive you. Sounds like you have been very deceived. In Galatians it says the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness and self control. God says you will know my children by the fruit they bear. Do you bear good fruit? By your writings I don't think so.

        • gestr

          St. John the Evangelist is recorded as saying to his friend, "Let's get out of this place before the building falls" when a heretic was seen to enter. So, by your standards, you would accuse and condemn St. John of being devoid of the fruits of the spirit. The Bible says to have nothing to do with heretics. Have you read the Psalms of David? Protestants are heretics. They have forsaken the Gospel preached by the Apostles (See Galatians) for a new teaching, unheard of for 1500+ years after Jesus' Ascension into Heaven. Protestantism aptly started on Halloween, the witches' Sabbath. If Protestants knew God's Word, and kept it, there wouldn't be 30,000+ different protestant denominations, each claiming to hear the Holy Spirit's correct interpretation of the Bible. Protestantism is a lie of the devil, which should make any good Christian sick. God help you.

          • Karl Ahlmann

            "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about." Rumi

            Oh. I forgot. No more smarties. Let me sing to you:

            Let's go in the garden

            You'll find something waiting

            Right there were you left it

            Lying up side down

            When you finally find it

            You'll see how it's faded

            The underside is lighter

            When you turn it around

            Everything stays

            Right where you left it

            Everything stays

            And it still changes

            Ever so slightly

            Daily and nightly

            In little ways

            When everything stays.

            God bless you.

          • Hilda Ward

            I'm not condemning anyone. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died for my sins. I repent of my sins, and know that He is my Savior. Unless you think Gods Word is false then I am saved. I read the Bible often and accept its words. So I pray in the name of Jesus, as the bible says to do. tithe, and forgive others. Love others as myself, and am thankful for all God has blessed me with. I do not believe nor practice anything that is not in Gods written Word. Read Galatians 1: 8. It tells us " that even if we or an angel from Heaven preaches any other Gospel unto you than that which has been preached to you by us let them be accursed". Think about that.
            The Protestant faith did not exist until it split from the Catholic Church. Protestants wanted to read the bible and follow Gods laws, not the popes. If in your thoughts reading the bible and following Gods Word makes one a heretic, well that's just wrong.

  • I would have to check his sources and any opposing views before accepting the claims made here, but even if we were to accept them, I can't help paraphrasing Stephen Fry.

    As an atheist it is often suggested that any moral system I apply is ultimately subjective and leads to moral relativism that can justify anything, like torture for example. However, when atheists point out that the Catholic Church engaged in a systematic process that often used torture to further its ends, the response is "well that's what everyone else was doing at the time" and here "we weren't quite as bad as the "secular" government." (I hardly think anyone could describe medieval Spanish Monarchy as "secular", but I digress).

    What I wonder is, where was the insight based on objective morality that recognizes torture as wrong in ANY circumstances. The actually secular governments of the world got there, including the atheist Soviets in the 20th century. Where was the church's speaking out against it 1500 years after receiving the word of Jesus? If you aren't doing that, then what are you for?!

    • Marie Van Gompel Alsbergas

      "In fact, when abuses were reported, Pope Innocent VIII complained to no avail." The modern impression is that the Roman Church was a lot more powerful that it actually was. The illusion of power came from kings riding at the head of armies, claiming that they were doing it for the Church. If Ferdinand and Isabella had thought the Church had so much power, would they really have abandoned their daughter Katarina when Henry VIII divorced her?

      • Abe Rosenzweig

        Well, they were kind of dead at the time...

      • This Pope Innocent the VIII?

        "Desiring with supreme ardor...
        that the catholic faith in our days everywhere grow and flourish as much
        as possible, and that all heretical depravity be put far from the
        territories of the faithful, we freely declare and anew decree this by
        which our pious desire may be fulfilled... It has recently come to our
        ears... that in some parts of upper Germany... many persons of both
        sexes, heedless of their own salvation and forsaking the catholic faith ,
        give themselves over to devils male and female... We therefore,
        desiring, as is our duty, to remove all impediments by which in any way
        the said inquisitors are hindered in the exercise of their office... do
        hereby decree, by virtue of our apostolic authority, that it shall be
        permitted to the said inquisitors in these regions to exercise their
        office of inquisition and to proceed to the correction, imprisonment,
        and punishment of the aforesaid persons for their said offences and
        crimes..." http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Summis_desiderantes

        Where are the Papal Bulls against torture? Why did we need to wait
        until centuries later for secular governments to outlaw it? If the
        Church wasn't there to steer us towards a good moral direction, but
        instead seems to participate, condone and encourage torture what is it

        • filomena seiffert

          You already saw that torture was aloud in some cases, not all and was once and for 15 minutes and with the presence of a doctor. You must be a devil to be that unfair. Hail to HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, UNA, SANTA, CATHOLICA E APOSTOLICA .

          • I guess I disagree that torture should be allowed in any case. I support the convention against torture. I guess you and the Catholic Church do not.

            Perhaps it is justified on a religion that makes being tortured to death a virtue for the misdeeds of others and worships around a figure being tortured to death. It is not justified on secular humanism.

          • John Cottam

            youre joking.. once and fifteen minutes.. sure..

          • filomena seiffert

            No, you are prejudice, only see history through slanders, look at all angles.

          • Jim Fox

            What 'angle'? 15 minutes of torture is OK? You imbecile.

          • Jim Fox

            Why don't you volunteer for a spot of 15 minute torture to prove how harmless it is??

          • Jim Fox

            Is that the catholic equivalent of Allahu akbar?

      • DannyGetchell

        The illusion of power came from kings riding at the head of armies, claiming that they were doing it for the Church.

        Where in the historical record do we see the Church's opposition to this action, its clear declaration that those kings were not its representatives??

        • M Colins

          Really? What armies did the Church have to oppose these actions? What penalty could a cleric possibly levy on one who already believes he holds his crown by divine right?

          • Skijo

            They had the army of their own tradition which had brainwashed these royals into believing that by a word the pope could damn them forever to hell by excommunicating them. That is why the catholic church emphasizes their tradition as supreme, because the Bible surely doesn't support her pagan and occultic practices.

          • M Colins

            I suggest you read the early Church fathers.

          • MichelleP12

            Amen! and Mt. 16: 8-19

          • filomena seiffert


          • Synickel

            Darlin, I would ask you to prove what is falsehood. And you must claim the pope's power to damn people, which rightly is only the power of God.

          • M Colins

            Synickel, since youre a Bible person I suggest you read Matthew 18:18. Jesus did in fact give Peter authority, and that authority continues on in the papacy.

          • Synickel

            Go never gave man/men the power or right to forgive sins. He was telling them to teach according to the truth of Heaven and they could know God's approval would be with them. When Jesus Himself was on earth, He did not use His Godly power, but deferred to His Father in Heaven, and stated all things were done by the Father and not Himself. Jesus did not give Peter any kind of authority above what anyone who follows His ways can have.

            The catholic mistake of claiming Jesus said He would build his church on this rock, was referring to Himself, Jesus Christ. In fact, the actual translation of what He called Peter was not "rock," but "pebble" or "rolling stone." Interestingly, if He was favoring Peter so much, He within a following verse, spoke to Peter saying, "Get the behind me satan!"

            Interestingly, the only verse in the Bible that speaks of any apostle being the head of the church, is in Acts where James in mentioned as leading out as head of the church at that time, in a planning meeting among the disciples. Peter was there, but not elected as the head of the church.

            The history of religious leaders claiming god-like power and authority came from Egypt, where the pharaoh's claimed to be gods on earth. The Roman emperors in their military and political crusades, became aware of this, and eventually caesars decided it would be a good move to do the same, and claim to be part of the pagan god families.

            When the caesars retired their headship to the popes', this presumption of godlike power went with them and continues to this day. Nothing more than a continuance of pagan occultism.

          • Andres Mason

            First, Catholics are not pagan, we are Christian and have the Trinity in Jesus Christ. No where in any Catholic Doctrine does it say to worship Satan or any other god besides God.

            Second, that inconsistency where the word 'Petros' is used for Peter, and 'petra' is used right after, only occurs in the Greek translation of what Jesus said. This is because the translators didn't want to use a feminine word to describe Peter, a man. It would have been inappropriate to use the word 'petra'. The language that Jesus, his apostles, and most of the Israel and Palestine area spoke was Aramaic. In Aramaic, the word for rock is 'kepha'. This has the same ending whether referring to a man, or a literal rock. In English the words are both 'rock'. Even in French the words are both 'pierre'. The only place where the words are different is the Greek translation.

            Another thing, Jesus did give the power to forgive sins. "Whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven"(Mt 16:19). This is pretty self explanatory. Jesus said this to Peter and then the other apostles were granted the same power. This power was passed on as the apostles ordained priests and elders to lead the Church where they preached.

          • MichelleP12


          • MichelleP12

            No existen nadies más ciegas que ellos que refusan veer lo Verdad.

            Y CADA y SÓLO sacerdote Católico tiene el titulo de "En Persona Christi," en lugar del Cristo, con el poder de "bind and loose."

            Nadie...NADIE otro tipo de pastor protestante tiene este mismo poder, porque Cristo no es El Fundador de nada otra iglesia excepta La Iglesia Católica.

            Todo es Biblical. Diós se bendiga y hace un buen día ☺

          • Jim Fox

            As a complete idiotic deluded religiot- you are BLOCKED

          • Stenar


      • Andre Boillot

        "The illusion of power came from kings riding at the head of armies, claiming that they were doing it for the Church."

        ...after being asked/instructed to...by the Church

      • Paul Boillot

        Divine Right of Kings?
        Holy Roman Empire?
        Heretic burnings?
        Banning books/english/science?

        Maybe the problem isn't that our impression of the power of the Catholic Church is overblown, maybe the problem is that it's uncomfortable to admit the true extent to which your Church has been a worldly and political power, and the lengths to which it went in maintaining that power.

        • gray_man

          the crusades were not an exercise in the church trying maintain it's power.
          they were initiated because islimic armies were slaughtering christians.

        • Rose A. Ellis

          Your using presentism in your thinking.

    • M Colins

      I hope Mr Fry is consistent in his condemnation as his own nation happily and gruesomely practiced torture and grisly execution for hundreds of years, and was in fact still hanging petty thieves until well into the 18th century.

      So many commenters here have brushed aside the notion of historical context as unimportant, but fail to realize that in certain ways are taking to task a system that was far less brutal and far more fair than what existed a virtually of all Europe during the whole of the Inquisition's existence. So until you want to condemn all European history (which is bloody indeed) why would your preferred target be the one which was provably most humane?

      It is impossible in fact it is silly to attempt to project a contemporary sensibility back onto times so far behind us. It makes you guilty of condemning people for not acting in a way consistent with ideas which were even followed up until recently. It of course doesnt help that the history itself has become a complete fabrication of people who have axes to grind for the Church.

      • I'm not asking anyone to apply contemporary norms or morality to contemporary society. I'm asking you to apply objective Christian morality to it.

        Fry's point is that we atheists are criticized for having a malleable, subjective morality that changes with the times. Whereas Christians believe their morality is grounded in an absolutely objective standard which is God's own nature.

        Secular people who hold to moral relativism might refer to the fact that those were brutal days where torture was common as an excuse as to why there was no grass roots movement to stop it.

        But surely the Catholic Church should have know it was obviously wrong and against Gods nature to torture people to death for exercising religious freedom. To the contrary, rather than martyr themselves in opposition, they ordered approved and participated what we all agree today was an obviously immoral process of torture and oppression and silencing of dissidents.

        Fry's comment and mine is that if the church is not for speaking out against such obvious immorality, then what is it for?

        • M Colins

          The Inquisition was actually a far more fair and merciful court than any contemporary court of the day. Absent this fact, you seem to be criticizing the Church for only being 4x times as good rather than 5x. You cannot characterize "objective Christian morality" defined by your contemporary view. You are introducing a standard which didnt exist.

          • Whether or not such a standard existed is precisely the point. It is the Christians who accuse atheists of failing to have a complete and effective moral system because we lack an absolute perfect moral standard. We are the ones who get to claim that in those days it wasn't that bad. But isn't Jesus' morality this absolute perfect standard. Are you saying Catholics didn't have this back then?

          • M Colins

            You are taking a Protestant view of Christianity which is that Scripture explicitly and clearly reveals the perfection of God and that it is and has been possible to know in completeness God's will and how to ensure salvation. A + B = Salvation yay! In the 2000 years of the Church we have had Scripture, but we have also had the great theologians and philosophers to help us better understand God's plan over the years. Scripture was initially an oral tradition, it was the apostles preaching to the new converts.This teaching and learning continues today.

            At the time of the Inquisition the Church believed certain things which we now understand were in error. But evenso, it resulted a tribunal which was eminently more fair and merciful than all the other justice systems in Europe, which incidentally we mainly Christian as well.

            So again to single out the Catholic Church as brutal by todays standards, ignore that by contemporary standards, including Protestant Christian standards it was actually ridiculously merciful. And yes, in another 100 more years the Catholic Church might have a different understanding of things we view today.

            For you to ask about Jesus morality presupposes that you as a 15th century Christian would somehow have known better.

          • So the Catholic insight into morality, after well over a thousand years of thinking about it and worshipping Jesus, was unable to realize that burning heretics to death and torturing out confessions was incredibly immoral?

            If what you are telling me that the full force of Catholic moral thinking gets you slightly better than without it and can still be wrong, and often it, fine.

            The answer to Fry's question is "the church is not for advising on moral matters." I don't know how I got that impression.

          • M Colins

            Apparently no part of Christianity and most faiths in that time period thought differently. St Thomas More burned 5 heretics as part of his duties as Chancellor. It was a practice not unknown in that age.

            Remember too that man had an entirely different notion of the danger of evil back then and what had to be done about it.

            Again your belief that now certain things are self evident bears not at all on what men (not just the Church) thought 600 years ago. But your criticism still befuddles as you direct it at the body that was closest to today in its mercy. You could spend years cataloging the barbarity of European men and their civil courts in those times but you choose to scorn most the one organization that was already moving substantially towards proper enlightenment.

          • You are missing the point. I am not saying torture being wrong is self evident, I am not saying there is some moral standard we all have that God placed in our heart. It is the religious who say this.

            I am saying that if what the religious say is true about morality, you would expect the one true church to have some insight then, into what it now says is evidently wrong. Instead it was as bad as anyone else.

            Again, if you are not saying that the church has any special insight into morality, that is fine.

          • M Colins

            I contend that even a special insight into morality must be viewed in its historical context. Revelation is a process. By your standard someone may look at your perfectly moral conduct today in 200 years and heap scorn upon you for your failure to live according to the standard commonly understood in this future time period.

          • The only standard I am holding them to is the one they claim is God's. They got it desperately wrong then and have forfeited any claim to special moral knowledge.

            I agree compared to medievil torturing, the crusades, medievil justice, sure they were not that bad.

          • M Colins

            The Catholic Church is not Gnostic. They do not claim a "special knowledge" nor do they claim to have the unique ability to divine God's plan. They are perfectly willing to explain through their great theologians like St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, More, Fr John Neumann, and all the Papal encyclicals that have been written how they arrive at their conclusions about God's plan. There is no special moral insight to lose.

          • David Nickol

            But the Catholic Church claims to be able to make infallible pronouncements regarding morals (and faith). Certainly it does require "special knowledge" of some kind to be able to make infallible moral statements. I personally can make "infallible" mathematical pronouncements—for example, the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. However, I personally do not need to be infallible to make mathematical statements that can be proven to be certainties. If moral statements were demonstrable in the same way that mathematical statements are, the Church would not need to declare itself infallible. It would simply have to prove that the moral statements it made were true.

          • M Colins

            David, the doctrine of papal infallibility is very misunderstood by both non Catholics and Catholics alike. First of all, the Church is not infallible in a general and all encompassing way as you seem to suggest, the Pope can be but he is not infallible every time he speaks. The teaching, which was first elucidated at Vatican I states that in order to pronounce a teaching as inerrant, the Pope must first declare he is speaking "ex cathedra" (from the chair (of Peter)). Only then are his teaching on that particular topic to be taken by Catholics as infallible. and part of Revelation, something which Catholics (and most Christians) consider wholly inerrant. Infallibility essentially means that one cannot be in full communion with the Catholic church if they reject a teaching that was spoken in this way. Since Vatican I which I believe was 1878, Popes have only spoken so 3 times and they were within months of the teaching. They all had to do with the nature of the Virgin Mary. Historians have examined Papal teachings and found that retrospectively Popes have spoken in this way on 7 previous times. So every 200 years or so on average, Popes have clarified Catholic teaching with ex cathedra pronouncements. The Church sees our understanding of Gods will and plan as an ongoing process. Which is why burning heretics 500 years ago may have been thought acceptable while it is known now not to be. However self evident that being wrong may seem here in 2014, it was not in the 1500s.

            Your point is not destroyed however it is diluted quite a bit. Again Revelation is something revealed for all to see and understand, I dont think that specifically qualifies as "special knowledge.

          • Michael Murray

            David, the doctrine of papal infallibility is very misunderstood by both non Catholics and Catholics alike.

            While I agree this might be true in general if you read David's posts (click on his avatar and scroll back through his Disqus listing) you will see he is very knowledgeable about Catholicism. I am sure he understands what papal infallibility is all about. His statement is also correct. However rarely they do it the Church does claim to be able to speak infallibly.

          • M Colins

            Its clear he does not (at least on this aspect of the Catholic faith) because Papal infallibility is almost never invoked and certainly not in the last 100 years, where his characterization is that the entire Catholic Church is claiming infallibility frequently.

          • MichelleP12

            Actually.... "The Church is the pillar and foundation of Truth." 3 Timothy. There was only one Church, which was founded by Christ, at the time St. Paul wrote this. A few decades later, a disciple of St. John the Apostle referred to this Church as "catholic," which means "universal," since it had started spreading in various places in the known world at the time. The name has stuck.

            Especially since the protestant revolts that began in the 1500s, it helps to distinguish the original Christian Church from later startups that keep fracturing and splintering to this day---in fact new ones start every week. 40,000 or so different ones so far that can't agree on anything with each other. My small town has 3 individual AofG churches for instance and well over a dozen independent-type and several Baptist. But only 1 Catholic. The ONLY one with the Complete Truth. Guaranteed by Christ, protected by the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church has made that claim for centuries because She can---and it's Biblical. Protestant and non-Christian/atheist/agnostic persons get offended, but that may be simply because of a lack of understanding all the way to the other end of the spectrum to jealousy or pride.

          • thor Casúr

            I hope you are aware that Yeshua ben Nazareth and his followers were Jews. Those born Jewish do not lose that status because they cease to be observant Jews, even if they adopt the practices of another religion.

          • Hilda Ward

            Most, not all, Protestants read the Holy Bible. Jesus said " Believe in Me, and ye shall live for all eternity. You will know my children by the fruit they bear. A good tree does not bear bad fruit." That's what Jesus said. Never did he say honor the pope, confess to a priest, and pray to the virgin Mary. Actually He calls all His followers Saints, and tells us to pray to God in the Name of Jesus. That's biblical. Read the bible so you can see for yourself..

          • MichelleP12

            There are specific criteria that have to be met. I think the last time was in 1950...? And must be on dogma.

          • Monique Maryssa…

            The thing is... they weren't as bad as anyone else. They weren't even a fraction as bad as anyone else. Somehow these facts that are logged in extensive documentation are being thrown out the window? It would be good to ask why this is happening.

          • Skijo

            Nice sounding comment-- but not really. Comparing something bad against something worse is always bogus misdirection. The plain and simple fact it, these so-called inquisitions were just blimps on the Roman churches radar. Beginning after the roman emperors turned over their civil thrones to the popes, the roman church went on a vendetta of more than a thousand years, eradicating apostolic Christians, Waldensians, Albergensians, Protestants. They wielded power over monarchs who were fooled into the superstition of believing that the pope could excommunicate them, which would hopelessly damn them to hell for eternity. The roman prelates loved the word "anathema." These monarch were used as the sword of the church to carry out the burning, beheadings, impalings, torture, etc., that the prelates demanded. These tiny numbers of death related are a sick joke, as tens of millions were murdered over those thousand years. There was no wonderful social reasoning to justify these vendettas, as several writers here have claimed. It was for the roman church, who aspirations were, and still are, to rule the world.

          • filomena seiffert

            The Catholic Church did not burned anyone, the kings of countries did. Protestants did, we only have to remember the trial and burning the witches of Salem.

          • Valence

            It's true that civil authorities were directly responsible for burning heretics in some cases, but certainly not all. Catholics also burnt plenty of witches, and massacred a ton of protestant Hugenots in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre.


            The Pope condoning the Bartholomew's Day massacre is particularly horrific, in my view:

            he Politiques were horrified but many Catholics inside and outside France initially regarded the massacres as deliverance from an imminent Huguenot coup d'etat. The severed head of Coligny was apparently dispatched to Pope Gregory XIII, though it got no further than Lyons, and Pope Gregory XIII sent the king a Golden Rose.[40] The Pope ordered a Te Deum to be sung as a special thanksgiving (a practice continued for many years after) and had a medal struck with the motto Ugonottorum strages 1572 (Latin for "overthrow" or "slaughter," "of the Huguenots") showing an angel bearing a cross and sword before which are the felled Protestants.[41]
            The massacre, with the murder of Gaspard de Coligny above left, as depicted in a fresco by Giorgio Vasari.
            Pope Gregory XIII also commissioned the artist Giorgio Vasari to paint three frescos in the Sala Regia depicting the wounding of Coligny, his death, and Charles IX before Parliament, matching those commemorating the defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto (1571). "The massacre was interpreted as an act of divine retribution; Coligny was considered a threat to Christendom and thus Pope Gregory XIII designated 11 September 1572 as a joint commemoration of the Battle of Lepanto and the massacre of the Huguenots."[42]


            It seems no organization is immune from committing pretty heinous evil.

          • filomena seiffert

            You only look on the protestant side. The truth is that protestants had caused 3 wars in France and still want France attack Spain. Calvin was a murderer of Catholics and even protestants that did not agree with all his teachings. He killed and deported many. Luther instigated villagers against the catholic religious orders, killing rapping and desecrating churches and monasteries and stilling their properties. Lets remember the huguenots desecrating church, braking icons even though they had signed a treaty with the Catholics for peace. They were planing another religious war in France. The king did the right thing in order to keep the peace in his country. Calvin, luther and every other protestant inciter should have been killed to stop the heresy, so should muhammad. Millions of Catholics were murdered in the hands of Henry VI, ask Ireland. Protestants helped the muslims murder Catholics, yet if it were for the Catholics protestants would cease to exist, they would have been forced to adore allah. Such a stupid answer to me, look the facts before writing shit.

          • Valence

            The truth is that protestants had caused 3 wars in France and still want France attack Spain.

            Explain how they caused 3 wars, and which wars are you talking about? Please provide sources as I've already shown that you make false statements.

            Calvin was a murderer of Catholics and even protestants that did not agree with all his teachings. He killed and deported many.

            I have never seen this in any of my historical reading, and I can find no reference online. I think you are lying again...it seems a habit. I can also find no reference to Martin Luther killing anyone either. It's factual that Luther advocated some nasty retribution against Catholics who rebelled against the government of Germany. I certainly agree that Protestants have killed people they shouldn't have, I said that earlier.

            Calvin, luther and every other protestant inciter should have been killed to stop the heresy, so should muhammad.

            It's absolutely fascinating to see someone advocate mass murder. Are you Catholic are just a troll?

            Such a stupid answer to me, look the facts before writing shit.

            In what way was it stupid? Is bringing up facts that debunk false claims and bring out your true, murderous colors stupid? If so, I plead guilty.

            Remember you said:

            The Catholic Church did not burned anyone, the kings of countries did. Protestants did, we only have to remember the trial and burning the witches of Salem.

            It was a lie, I was just defending the truth. Aren't lies supposed to be the work of Satan?

            Out of curiosity, do you advocate killing living Protestants and Muslims too? How about agnostics like me?

          • filomena seiffert

            Go on line, read Catholic Encyclopedia

          • filomena seiffert

            Also look how more then a million Ireland Catholics were forced out of their land by the protestant England and starve to death. Protestant father is lucifer, no doubt.

          • filomena seiffert

            The one lying here is you, I do not lie because I believe in obeying God. You are full of prejudice, maybe do not know how to search the internet. Stop being a bitch.

          • Valence

            Lol! You are one heck of an evangelist :)

          • Lazarus

            Are you trolling?

          • Lazarus

            They were rapping even in those days? Who knew.
            It explains a lot about Luther though.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            All of hip hop is a footnote to Luther. His flow was unparalleled

          • filomena seiffert

            Sure they were raping the Catholics nuns and lay girls. Luther slept with the devil more then with his wife, those are his own words. He played a game with satan, which was trowing shit at each other, and he stated satan lived in his anus. What about that for a founder of a new religion?

          • David

            Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

          • Hilda Ward

            Your a terrific advocate for the Catholic Church. The pope would be so proud of you. NOT

          • filomena seiffert

            Sorry to say Hilda, but the Protestants Calvinists were as cruel or even more then ISIS, THEY WOULD SLICE NOSE, EARS, TONGS OF PRIESTS. I do not need the pope to be proud of me, I want Jesus Christ to have mercy on me

          • filomena seiffert

            I thought you had blocked me therefore I am not to read your shit, I want my peaceful day with Lord, prayers and good will

          • filomena seiffert

            So did protestants. Luther incited the peasants against the nobility and when they did he counsel the princes to massacre the peasants. CALVIN WOULD MURDER OR DEPORT those who did not agreed with him, even the protestants of his sect. But what I find worse then anything else was the protestants to help the muslims murder Catholics. Protestants seam to cover up for the fact protestants provoked the Catholics many times during mass worship they would go closer and scream, do every noise they can to interrupt the worship of the Lord, they still do that in Brasil.How I know ? ex protestants do tell us. The error of the Church was to give to many chances to the herectics. Luther was called for a theological debate but when he could not answer, was loosing the debate he start saying sola escritura, over and over, this is how the sola escritura appendice was infiltrated into the protestantism. I do not give a shit about protestant blah, blah, blah, one has to be very stupid to think Jesus forfeited His Church and 1500 years later resurrected it on the person of a deranged bipolar monk.

          • Well, here is a list of heretics burned in Catholic countries. I put it to you that the church was not only onside with these burnings but instrumental.


            And this says nothing of those executed in the 1000 years before this.

            Consider that as late as 2000 a Cardinal still defended Bruno's burning to death.

            "The Vatican has published few official statements about Bruno's trial and execution. In 1942, Cardinal Giovanni Mercati,
            who discovered a number of lost documents relating to Bruno's trial,
            stated that the Church was perfectly justified in condemning him. On the
            400th anniversary of Bruno's death, in 2000, Cardinal Angelo Sodano
            declared Bruno's death to be a "sad episode" but, despite his regret,
            he defended Bruno's prosecutors, maintaining that the Inquisitors "had
            the desire to serve freedom and promote the common good and did
            everything possible to save his life."[48] In the same year, Pope John Paul II made a general apology for "the use of violence that some have committed in the service of truth".[49]"

            See also this Papal bull:
            confirming and directing the faithful to find and burn witches to death.

          • Max Driffill

            I"m sorry, hold up. If the church's moral convictions are no better than any other convention of its day then why on earth should we ever be persuaded of its claims to have some basis to instruct the rest of us in what is moral? I grow extremely weary of this constant deflection. When unbelievers point out how horribly Christians behaved historically we consistently meet "you have to consider the historical context." This would be utterly reasonable if not for the fact that we continue to hear about the supreme moral superiority believers in Christ are supposed to have.

            I"m also going to need to see some evidence that the Inquisitional courts were any more merciful than non-inquisitional courts.

          • Michael Murray

            So the current Church's moral positions might be found to be wrong in the future ? I'm pleased to hear that. There is hope yet. Perhaps one day the Vatican will do something about helping catch child abusers instead of ducking and dodging like this


          • M Colins

            And so might your churches. Dogma btw doesnt change.

          • Andres Mason

            Pope Francis has passed a law saying that it is requiring priests to report all child abuse cases. Priests should be punished the same as everyone else when being tried for child abuse. Maybe even a little more punished because, after all, they are priests, and should be helped children recover from child abuse, not inflict the abuse.

          • Stenar

            Complete nonsense.

          • M Colins

            Right. Thanks for the detailed rebuttal.

          • Stenar

            Sometimes a post is so ridiculously false that all you can do is say “nonsense.”

          • M Colins

            Right. Because you saw all those Vincent Price/Peter Cushing films. They couldnt be lies.

          • Stenar

            I’ve studied the Inquisition at length because my ancestors’ relatives were subject to the Inquisition.

        • Max Driffill

          Very nicely put.

    • LFM

      Sorry this is a year late, but I feel compelled to address your question, and Mr Fry's. The answer is of course complex, so please be patient with me. The first essential point to grasp: Human beings are tainted by what the Church calls "original sin". What that means is not that we all willfully do evil, though of course many of us do, but also that we are capable of deceiving ourselves into thinking that our evil or self-interested actions are actually good. Worst of all, we may try to do good, sincerely and without malice, and yet unintentionally bring about evil consequences. Even our best actions are tainted, always.

      The birth, death and resurrection of Christ freed humanity from enslavement to sin (can't give details about that now - it's very complicated theology!) but not from our capacity for sin. The Church was established by Jesus and he promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. It was perpetuated by his followers in order to preserve and spread his teachings, baptize new members, and console and support us. It would be nice if that were enough to make us all perfect. But it is not. Thus the Church, peopled by human beings who sin, sins through those people, as an institution. More significantly - and here we begin to approach your question, and Mr Fry's - it falls into error in its teaching from time to time, perhaps for several generations. Its clergy and laity may favor one aspect of Christian truth over another; they may, in periods of fear or folly, forget some aspects of Christian teaching altogether. This means that, when you consider the words or actions of a Pope of 700 years ago, or today, you should consider them in the light of the totality of Church teaching throughout the centuries, in order to gauge their validity.

      It seems to me that this is the opposite of moral relativism, because it looks to a standard outside the self and its wants, It is this that allows a Catholic today to condemn the use of torture in spite of past errors in that area, but to say that, in consideration of the totality of the Church's teachings, we cannot rescind the teaching against - for example - sodomitical acts.

      • Got it, the church has no special insight into what is moral and get it desperately wrong for centuries. They can approve and even promote things like torture, self torture, autocracy, burning heretics to death and so on, but feel they aren't wrong to say they are sure loving and harmless gay relationships are wrong.

        It seems what the church is for is helping us worship a God and commune with him, because that is what he expects, and what they have been consistently doing for centuries.

        • LFM

          That is not at all what I said. You are arguing in bad faith, glibly and without reflection, in order to insult rather than to exchange views.

          I posted that comment because your comment made you sound like a thoughtful person who was really interested in a thoughtful answer. I am sorry I mistook you.

          • It is what I inferred from what you said. Do you deny it?

            This is my and Stephen Fry's point. Does the church have any superior insight into morality? Its track record seems to suggest that no, it doesn't. Your comment above acknowledging that since it is populated by humans whose ability presumably to subjectively detect god's morality is tainted by their sin nature.

            So what we find is not a church that for centuries has maintained certain moral tenets that seem blatantly obvious moral truths to all of us now, such as torture is always wrong. Capital punishment is wrong, especially by burning someone alive. Invading another country to conquer it for religious reasons is wrong. Not only has the church changed its view on these things it directly approved of them.

            It is quite insulting now for people like Mr fry to be told that his harmless sexual practices are, what is the word, intrinsically disordered? Or that this institution should be given special attention when it comes to moral questions.

            The question remains, do you think the Catholic clergy possess any special insight into moral matters compared to secular ethicists?if so why?

          • LFM

            This will require time to answer properly. I'll be back with my best effort in a day or two.

          • Fed Up

            Two months and no answer?

          • LFM

            Decided you weren't worth it.

    • Maroon5

      Yes.. torture, imprisonment all that.. jesus advocated all of it.. you didnt know? Well that is how the Holy Roman Catholic Church sees it.

    • Paul Washington

      The purpose of religion isn't to stop torture you retard. Also, older ways of thinking are metaphysically objective while being morally subjective. There is no objective all-situation moral axiom, only virtue and vice. This requires abstract thinking, something the dorito-stained fedoras are not very good at.

      • SchroedingersDeplorableDog

        If, in your view, the purpose of religion does not encompass establishing and maintaining morality, that what do you say is religion?

    • Cliff

      You are conflating Christendom with Christianity. Your premise is that of Plato when people make a wrong choice of pleasures and pains—that is, of good and evil—the cause of their mistake is lack of knowledge….no one who either knows or believes that there is another possible course of action, better than the one he is following, will ever continue on his present course when he might choose the better. To “act beneath yourself” is the result of pure ignorance, to “be your own master” is wisdom. (357e, 358c) Simply put he believed that it was external influences that cause people to do wrong and so only by attaining more knowledge we can extract and eliminate those influences. Paul repudiated that premise with Romans 8:7 with the concept of original sin being a matter of human nature to rebel despite attained knowledge in a perpetual search for freedom and liberty outside of ourselves.


    • gestr

      The secular governments were very influenced by the Christian civilization dominant at the time, and for centuries prior. The Church did outlaw torture, in its earliest centuries. Under its influence, the Roman government outlawed crucifixion, etc. However, the northern European governments were not as amenable to Church influence as was Rome.

      • Please refer me to the statements or laws outlawing torture and execution of heretics and apostates by the Catholic Church.

  • Wikipedia uses some different terminology, the author here seems to be apologizing for is the Medievil Inquisition, which was both the Papal and Episcopal. This was replaced by the Spanish Inquisition, officially the Tribunal of the " Holy Office of the Inquisition" which was "under the control of the Spanish monarchy using local clergy." Doesn't sound particularly secular to me.

  • Casey Braden

    I find several parts of this article troubling. The first and most obvious objection I have is, even if the extent of the inquisition was actually less than is commonly believed, that doesn't lessen our ability to criticize the actions of the church at the time. I also think that when any organization makes claims of moral authority, it is absolutely absurd to say that we can judge that organization by its actions.

    I find the author's comments about the Cathars most troubling, as well. He states:

    "Their beliefs led to potentially civilization-destroying social consequences. Catharists refused to take oaths, which back then meant opposing government authority. Marriage was considered sinful while secret fornication was permitted. Even suicide was encouraged. These were not faithful bands of “Bible Christians” or a hidden “remnant” of true believers trying to avoid the evil institutional Church. Eventually Europe was so endangered by this group heresy that the Inquisition seemed to be a political necessity."

    Whoa. Is the claim here that the church was justified in slaughtering the Cathars by the thousands, including the elderly, women, and children? Because they wouldn't take oaths, didn't get married, and had sex outside of marriage? I don't see how any of these things could be "potentially civilization-destroying, and I think that to claim as much is being dishonest. Regardless, it doesn't make slaughtering innocents okay.

    And finally, I find it interesting that the author claims that it is difficult to make a fair evaluation of the morality of the inquisition today, since "we judge the realities of the Spanish Inquisition according to modern Western sentiments." This sounds suspiciously close to advocating for moral relativism, especially coming from a Catholic.

    • "I find several parts of this article troubling. The first and most obvious objection I have is, even if the extent of the inquisition was actually less than is commonly believed, that doesn't lessen our ability to criticize the actions of the church at the time."

      Sure it does. We would criticize an institution far less for embezzling $5 than $5 million. So why not here?

      "I also think that when any organization makes claims of moral authority, it is absolutely absurd to say that we can judge that organization by its actions."

      This displays a deep confusion about what the Church is, and how it teaches. It doesn't say, "Listen to us because all our members are perfect!" Instead, the Church say, "Listen to us because these teachings come from God!" The fact that many individuals don't live up to those teachings is not surprising, nor does it alter the origin of the Church's teachings.

      Also, I want to make sure we're clear on the distinction between the Church's actions and the actions of individual Catholics. Do you understand that difference?

      "Whoa. Is the claim here that the church was justified in slaughtering the Cathars by the thousands, including the elderly, women, and children?"

      No, this is not the claim, and nobody has defended this. You've simply constructed a straw man. And like those many myth-makers Doug confronted, in his article, you've also inflated the statistics. I'm not aware Cathars were killed "by the thousands", nor that Catharist women and children were murdered b the Church. Perhaps you can back-up this suggestion with evidence?

      "Regardless, it doesn't make slaughtering innocents okay."

      This follows the same baseless straw man as above. Please show me where, in Doug's article or elsewhere, the Church has officially condoned the slaughter of innocents.

      "And finally, I find it interesting that the author claims that it is difficult to make a fair evaluation of the morality of the inquisition today, since "we judge the realities of the Spanish Inquisition according to modern Western sentiments." This sounds suspiciously close to advocating for moral relativism, especially coming from a Catholic."

      This is not moral relativism. It's simply contextualization, which is necessary to make any moral judgement.

      For example, consider the death penalty. According to Catholic teaching, the death penalty *can* be moral if there is no other way to prevent an unjust aggressor from harming the community. So if you were a pioneer settler in Western America in the mid-nineteenth century, and you didn't have a well-developed prison system, the death penalty might be justifiable as the only way to prevent further harm. But as Pope John Paul II noted, that threat is virtually non-existent in the modern, developed world. We can put someone in prison for life and prevent them from committing any more harm. Thus in almost all circumstances today, the death penalty is immoral.

      So, when deciding whether the death penalty would have been immoral back in nineteenth-century California, we can't judge the situation according to our modern sentiments and standards. We have to consider the context first. Doing so allows us to both say "the morality of the death penalty depends on context" and "we reject moral relativism."

      • Andre Boillot


        "Please show me where, in Doug's article or elsewhere, the Church has officially condoned the slaughter of innocents."

        Perhaps there's an issue here with what constitutes an 'innocent'. Surely, we agree that the Church condoned the execution of those convicted of heresy?

        • "Surely, we agree that the Church condoned the execution of those convicted of heresy?"

          Surely we do. And this was a mistake which I, and Church leaders, have profusely admitted and apologized for.

          But do you see the distinction? The Church condoned the execution of people they (and the state) thought were guilty of sedition (via heresy). That's wholly different that what you accused them of, condoning the slaughter of innocents.

          • Octavo

            Are you saying that the Church never slaughtered the innocent because heretics don't count as innocent?

            ~Jesse Webster

          • Andre Boillot


            "But do you see the distinction? The Church condoned the execution of people they (and the state) thought were guilty of sedition (via heresy). That's wholly different that what you accused them of, condoning the slaughter of innocents."

            First of all, "slaughter of innocents" was Casey's charge. Second, as others have pointed out (the Albigensian Crusade), many innocents were killed - unless you believe that children can be guilty of sedition/heresy. Third, that the Church didn't view these people as innocent is a distinction that hardly lessens its culpability. Fourth, if I'm not mistaken, most of those victims of the Spanish Inquisition were 'conversos' - whose crime was to keep practicing their native faith in private, despite their forced public conversion.

          • Max Driffill

            Andre B. Weren't the Jews, as a whole, considered guilty of deicide?
            It wasn't until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) that the Catholic Church decided to modify the traditional belief in collective Jewish guilt.

          • mriehm

            And that Christian view was ... so absurd! If God incarnated himself as a man in order to suffer and die and take the world's sins upon Himself, shouldn't Christians have thanked Jews, rather than demonizing them, for helping to fulfill the destiny?

          • Tony Jokin


            The Church was not "wrong" or "mistaken" to execute or jail heretics. What on earth are you saying?

            Please read the Catholic Encyclopedia on Heresy


            Specifically the section on "Intolerance and Cruelty". To quote part of it (you can read the rest)

            "The Church's legislation on heresy and heretics is often reproached with cruelty and intolerance. Intolerant it is: in fact its raison d'être is intolerance of doctrines subversive of the faith. But such intolerance is essential to all that is, or moves, or lives, for tolerance of destructive elements within the organism amounts to suicide."

          • Max Driffill

            I don't care if they thought the people were guilty. They convicted them of fake crimes, and for which many admitted under torture. It was an inhuman way to treat other humans and the Church condoned these hugely immoral acts despite the fact it's leaders tell us it has greater moral authority than the average citizen. Was the church wrong to participate in the brutal torture and murder of heretics or wasn't it? If you admit it wasn't you admit the Church is no more capable a moral body than any body with which it is contemporaneous. If you agree that it was right, then you marginalize yourself as a barbarian, who would convict people of thought crime.

            What shocks me in this face of this sad history, is that we are still told on this site that we need religious, specifically Catholic faith to be moral. Clergy continue to use faith to arrogate the authority to tell everyone else what to do with their lives. One might think that with this history of moral error, and of cover-up and continued scandal, champions of Catholicism might approach the discussion of morality with a bit more humility.

          • Doug Shaver

            That's wholly different that what you accused them of, condoning the slaughter of innocents.

            OK, they were actually guilty of heresy. But you admit that they were not guilty of any offense for which the death penalty was appropriate?

      • Brandon, do you not think it is reasonable to expect the Catholic Church to, in communicating the teachings of God, to have something to say about torture and its use? And shouldn't we expect its position to be that torture is never acceptable?

        Would you not agree that as an organization whose morality is derived from a perfect and objective source, that the prohibition against torture should have been obvious as it is today?

        Instead we find that to the contrary, it condoned and participated in torture. I'm not so sure of what Catholicism says about torture, we have millions worshipping under a god being tortured to death, we have a history of self abuse, canonization of people who tortured themselves. What's the deal?

        • Brian, thanks for the comment. I detect a lot of confusion here. Perhaps I can respond to each of your questions one by one.

          "Do you not think it is reasonable to expect the Catholic Church to, in communicating the teachings of God, to have something to say about torture and its use?"

          I do. And the Church has definitively condemned torture as intrinsically evil. That said, the Church has always maintained a progressive understanding of God's revelation. This means that the first-century Church did not understand God's moral character as well as we do twenty centuries later. There's a development there--not a contradiction, but a development.

          "Would you not agree that as an organization whose morality is derived from a perfect and objective source, that the prohibition against torture should have been obvious as it is today?"

          No, I would not. We must make the distinction between moral ontology--what *is* objectively right and wrong--and moral epistemology--how and whether we *know* those objective moral facts.

          "Instead we find that to the contrary, it condoned and participated in torture."

          Perhaps you've found that, but I haven't. Can you show me where the Church, as an institution, officially participated in torture?

          "I'm not so sure of what Catholicism says about torture..."

          Thank you for admitting your uncertainty. It's a sign of your humility and honesty. This will help clarify the Church's position for you: http://bvogt.us/1hETfJP

          "We have millions worshiping under a god being tortured to death..."

          Assuming you're referring to Jesus, this is a very poignant observation. Christianity hinges on a God who suffers torture at the hands of men, not one who inflicts it on them.

          "We have a history of self abuse, canonization of people who tortured themselves...."

          This is somewhat of a red herring, which we can save for another time, but what you're referring to--commonly known in the Church as "taking the discipline"--is distinguishable from torture because, among other reasons, it is a freely-chosen act performed on oneself. It is not punishment or suffering imposed by others.

          • Andre Boillot


            "Can you show me where the Church, as an institution, officially participated in torture?"

            I'm not sure what you mean with your phrasing here. Are you saying that no Church officials ever participated in torture? That the Church never proscribed that torture be used? What do you mean by 'officially'?

          • I can indeed show you where the the Catholic Church as an institution officially participated in torture. In this very article the author notes that Pope Innocent the IV authorized its use 1252.

      • Casey Braden

        Murdering people is a bit different than embezzling money. But my point was EVEN if the church was responsible for the deaths of a fraction of those we once thought, we can still criticize them for the deaths they were responsible for. Which is still many, as with the Cathars. I most certainly did not create a straw-man here. I was referencing the Albigensian Crusade, initiated by Pope Innocent III. In just one incident in this Crusade in the city of Bezierss, the entire population of the city was slaughtered, with estimates being somewhere between 7,000 and 20,000 dead. Papal legate Arnaud-Amaury, who commanded the attack, wrote to Innocent III, telling him "Today your Holiness, twenty thousand heretics were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex." So, as I said before, even if the total number of those killed in the inquisition and related events is less than originally thought, I can still criticize church sanctioned murder where it occurred. As a former Catholic, I understand your position that the Church's teachings are different than the Church's actions. However, right or wrong, the actions of a Church that claims the authority to teach faith and morals affect the willingness of people to listen.

        I also understand how the circumstances of any particular scenario affect the morality of that scenario. However, that was not what the author was saying. His comment was that we are unable to judge "the realities of the Spanish Inquisition according to modern Western sentiments." Morality is the same today as it was in the past. And while our understanding of morality may have improved, we can still look back and say "that was wrong." So, the morality of your death penalty example (and the specific context you presented) would be the same in the past as today, correct?

      • DannyGetchell

        when deciding whether the death penalty would have been immoral back in nineteenth-century........We have to consider the context first.

        Brandon, please expand upon the "context" of the Albigensian Crusade. What harm was being wreaked upon their neighbors by the Cathari, harm for which death was considered an appropriate punishment? We aren't talking about Billy the Kid here.

      • Ku Chu Wandaba

        ''So if you were a pioneer settler in Western America in the
        mid-nineteenth century, and you didn't have a well-developed prison
        system, the death penalty might be justifiable as the only way to
        prevent further harm.''

        Our prison system in Uganda is, overcrowded, underfunded, rudimentary; not unlike mid-nineteenth century W America. Nevertheless we campaign against the death penalty because it is cruel, inhuman and unecessary, never mind the context. ''Thou shalt not kill except in self defense'' falls short of Christ's teaching and example.

      • Doug Shaver

        This is not moral relativism. It's simply contextualization, which is necessary to make any moral judgement.

        A distinction without a difference. Taking context into consideration when judging the morality of an action means recognizing that the morality of the action is relative to its context.

  • Vasco Gama

    I am a Catholic (not a good one, however) and I feel some repulse (and shame) by the evil deeds made by members of the Church along these last two millennia. In this I am in deep agreement with many atheists that point and bring those atrocious acts to our mind. And in fact I guess that pretending that it was not so
    bad as claimed brings little comfort.

    The thing is a little worst for a devout Catholic as our faith requires the acceptance of a few dogmas, which in general are not problematic and one accepts them quite easily. However there is one that from time to time I find some difficulty to deal with as it states that “The Church founded by Christ is holy.” It is clearly
    a very difficult thing to accept, as we know that the Church is composed by
    ordinary men and women that are not saints (in spite of a very
    restrict minority is found to be saint), that, for some reason show to
    have a strong will (and calling) to serve the Church to carry the burden
    of the apostles of bringing God to the layman, but apart from that, they
    are quite normal people, sharing the same imperfections as you and me

    In the beginning of the XXI century, things are quite different and we possess a sharp critical view that is only possible with the time that separates us from these unfortunate times. In the comfort of our existence we know that those things that seemed so natural and trivial for people from the past, in reality are true horrors not to be repeated. However being a Catholic I am aware that I must be charitable
    with others, and as I must accept the dogma of the holiness of the Church, I
    finish by accepting that probably the course of events that actually occurred
    was the best way.

    Trying to validate my view I happen to compared those unfortunate (miserable) events to others that took place outside the Christianity also in the past, such as in the Islamic world, or in the far East, such as China or India. I can even look to the most recent atheistic regimes (in the XX century, less than one hundred years ago) such as the communist (URSS, China, Korea, Cuba), where an attempt to devoid society from “religious superstition” was firmly followed. At this point usually I rest myself and recognize that it is not so difficult after all to accept that dogma.

    In spite of my acceptance of the dogma, in my view the Church must ask for forgiveness of its mistakes and wrongdoings (until they are actually forgiven).

  • DannyGetchell

    Even so, there were certainly abuses committed in the name of Christianity during the Inquisition. The question is, did the Church encourage theses (sic) abuses?

    Respectfully, no. The question is, did the church, or any of its leaders, discourage them?

    Citations of some contemporary bishops, cardinals, or popes who spoke out loud and clear against those abuses would go a long way in my mind to establish the church's claim to moral authority.

  • DannyGetchell

    Can't say I agree with your article, but love your choice of a header picture. Were psuedonyms allowed here I would certainly go for "Cardinal Fang".

    • Thanks, Danny! If that's the only thing we agree on, I'd still be a happy man.

  • DannyGetchell

    It appears that this discussion has wound down to an end.

    A shame, really. Not only the lead article, but many of the posts, are such classic examples of the no true Scotsman fallacy that I'm considering editing the Wikipedia entry on same to point here.

  • thursday

    I realize the discussion here seems to have come to an end but just a few thoughts. Sin is a problem. Sin always begets more sin. It is like a cancer. We all know that the treatment for cancer, while often life saving, does, collateral damage. We live in a world full of sin. The Church while instituted by God is full of sinners. This makes us an easy target for criticism and that is as it should be I suppose.

    This article argues for historical perspective. Historical perspective is necessary to understand our past. Decisions were made by men in authority in a time very different from our own. This is not about moral relativity but the difficulty we all have in morally complex and difficult situations. When is it justified to do something that you would otherwise see as wrong. Is the church's survival, not as a power, but as the bride of Christ so vital that even violence can be used to defend her. Was the heresy of the time so threatening to truth that the heresy had to be stopped by any means necessary? How do we stand against evil? Is there a time when we must fight against it? These are the legitimate moral questions the Church had to grapple with. Now mix in a time when the lines between politics and religion were blurred and you have a recipe for abuse of power and abuse of religion.

    In no way does a reasoned and factual look at those conditions condone wrong doing. It is clear that the teaching of Christ and the Church stands in stark contrast to those acts that offend all of us, that is the take away here, that is the purpose of the Church and that is the evidence of her influence and divine nature.

  • Connie Criscitello

    It makes me shudder to think you had the task of writing to try and make the cruelty of the Inquisition seem less severe. My stomach twists in knots when I see the cruelties that have plagued human kind throughout history. Being an empath, I become physically ill when I read or hear about the atrocities that humans have always done to one and other. I have always been a very spiritual person and I do believe in Jesus and pray to the Holy Spirit, but I believe the bible is evil and has perpetuated torture and wars even still today. Read the history of how the King James bible came about and you will see that it is a work of man, not of God.

  • Skijo

    This article is so blatantly jesuit disinfo as to be hilarious. You do a great job of setting the reality by equating the factual notions of people about the inquisition as being urban legends like with aspartame. You are probably correct, because the danger and damage caused by aspartame is not an urban legend, just as the facts about the catholic churches brutal and violent history are not legend. There are more than enough facts to show both. Of course, aspartame has its disinfo campaigns just as the catholic church does through the jesuits.

  • Joe Ser

    101 Questions and Answers on the Crusades and the Inquisition: Disputed Questions -
    Takes an honest look at two controversial events in Christian history,
    showing in what ways the seemingly different historical events are
    related, and undoing several misconceptions about both.


  • Maroon5

    I find this telling o the inquisition to be simply an attempt to avoid the Catholic Church's responsibility and is a case of history revisionism. First it is false that the catholic church executed no one.. be one of the chief supporters of the Alhambra Decree which expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492... did iI forget that he was a Spanish Catholic Friar? Second, the Inquisition made no bones about using prisons and torture.. as the Catholic Encyclopedia report, "Torquemada made the procedures of prior inquisitions somewhat less
    brutal by moderating the use of torture, limiting its use to suspects
    denounced by two or more "persons of good nature.,and by cleaning up the Inquisitorial prisons. So there you have it.. people Jews were imprisoned and tortured over their faith- and you present this as somehow acceptable? Its nice he used "less torture".. any torture is a sin against gd himself.
    If we add the figures, we find that the entire Inquisition of 500 years, caused about 6,000 deaths.. (OH.. OK.. THAT MAKES IT MUCH BETTER..Y'ALL ONLY EXECUTED 6,000 INNOCENT HUMANS.... VERY NICE OF YOU).

    I am insulted by your story.. I am insulted by the way you present it.. you serve to whitewash an atrocity and minimize the value of the human lives that were torn apart, their herritage stolen, their property seized, and those who lost their lives. You to not mention that many of the jews were wealthy and that the crown and the church made off with the spoils.

    • Louis Mingüey

      Not even remotely, it is the sum of academic studies while your position more likely rises from cultural biases as old as the Inquisition itself, even if you are an atheist.

      First of all, to judge a time 500, 400, 300 years ago by today´s morality is beyond obtuse, wrong, and sadly misguided. By that way of thinking, ALL humanity would be seen as horrid and wrong. That is simply a product of today´s "outrage society" that seems hell bent on being arrogant about its place in history, one that will yield similar notions 200, 300 years from now when things we think are normal will be seen as aberrations. And that will happen as it always does.

      The amount of deaths of 350 years PALES in comparison to the amount of dead during almost the same amount of years in the northern European protestant nations who dispatched between 60,000 to 70,000 victims , mostly women , with often no trials, or trials that followed no modern equivalent whatsoever. If the church may have used tortured, the protestants used it as means to get a person to confess for their execution: Dunking a woman in cold water until she gave up. That was the common procedure.

      Believing in witches was FORBIDDEN by the Catholic Church, something that is anthropologically logical as northern Europe, much of it having remained outside the Roman Empire, held many folk believes that came from their tribal traditions where the idea of the "evil female witch" came from, reason why you did not find any reference to such in most Southern states, the majority catholic.

      There is no whitewash, there are facts that have been distorted by centuries of myths, many started by protestants and England during the Golden Era of the Spanish Empire, specially from the British and the Dutch. The Black Legends did not simply die out, they live in folks such as yourself, too arrogant, to ignorant and too narrow-minded to actually listen to facts and not repeat the same nonsense that has been spread around for ions.

      • SchroedingersDeplorableDog

        Modern times are immoral, but ancient times were demonic. I'm feeling better about today's common sins after reading this, which is about the last thing I expected.
        Those who live in the USA today are blessed, even as most gradually destroy it.

  • YehoshuaFriedman

    The article states that the Inquisition was moderate compared to contemporary secular law at the time. This implies that rules of evidence and procedure similar to what we have in contemporary law didn't exist. Hence defendants were leaned on heavily to confess to their alleged sins or crimes. Nowadays we have a standard by which a person's confession under duress is ruled out and a defendant may refuse to testify on the grounds that it may incriminate him. Such a position was, you say, unknown at the time in any system of jurisprudence. So what if I tell you that in the Talmud, contemporary with the church fathers, the whole possibility of self-incrimination is ruled out? Also there were rules for accepting and rejecting evidence which were extremely rigorous. I'm still not impressed.

    • Louis Mingüey

      Yes...TODAY, being the keyword. By the standards THEN, yes it was....way more advanced that any other in Europe at the time. and very similar to what the system is today: There was a judge, a clerk, a jury, an accuser and his witnesses, a defendant, his lawyer and his witnesses. And as he mentioned, in over 350 year that yield 45.000 trial cases of which only between 5000 to 6000 ended in death.

      And Talmud did have a rule about self-incrimination. But did not have none of the other elements the Inquisition had which makes it closer to the modern court system than the Talmud is, specially when it came to the subject of...debt.

    • SchroedingersDeplorableDog

      Well, the Talmud had no kingdoms, no land and no soldiers. Put a piece of fancy paper up against an sword, and the paper does not win.

  • Isabel Castilla

    Citing Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Please use sources from verified journals or books to point something out about the Inquisition. When writing papers at the University level, you are not allowed to cite from Wikipedia to make an argument, a point, or whatever it is. Wikipedia can be changed to state what ever they want in a biased way or it may not. The point is, it is not reliable information.

    • David Nickol

      Wikipedia is very reliable.

    • Louis Mingüey

      Using wikipedia can be reliable IF the sources in it are so. That is a bit of a myth within itself, it all depends which sources are used.

  • heather

    article is nothing more than propaganda. The author conveniently takes
    things out of historical context, an/or complete context. For instance,
    he compares it to secular courts and says the catholic courts were more
    lenient; but he does not say that it was the catholics that created that
    entire secular (catholic) system and it was the catholic pope who had
    control over kings, courts, whether wars were waged ... on absolving
    marriages, excommunicating kings, etc. So the authors comparison is
    extremely narrow sighted, which is what he must do in order to make his
    propaganda work (in his own mind).

    also says: "The Inquisition was responsible for less than 100
    witch-hunt deaths, and was the first judicial body to denounce the
    trials in Europe."
    true AND false. The catholic church did denounce witch hunts, then it
    announced them. So, while the author is correct in saying the church was
    the first "judicial" body to denounce the trial, he forgets to mention
    that after they denounced ... they later carried them out --- and they
    were brutal.

    I found almost comical is how he puts so much credit into the catholic
    church opening "secret archives" about the inquisitions. Does he expect
    people to believe that the catholic church did not purge those records
    first? AN, "secret archives" ... if there was nothing incriminating in
    them, why were they "secret"? AND why does the catholic church have a
    "secret archive" in the first place?

    are so many holes, lies, and contextually wrong information in that
    article to give it any serious thought. It is written by a catholic for
    catholics. Anyone who puts any credence into the words of that author
    has not done any serious research into history, otherwise they would
    know his self-proclaimed 'facts' are wrong, and nothing more than mere
    catholic (religious) justifying propaganda.

    There is so much that urks me in that article ... because it is lies:

    of the torture and executions attributed to the Church during the
    various inquisitions didn’t occur at all, and historians now concede
    that Inquisition torture chambers never existed." ...

    Then he immediately afterward says:
    was indeed used during some Inquisition trials (hardly uncommon for the
    court system of the time). The Inquisition, though, had strict rules
    regarding its use that put it far ahead of its time."

    and are these "historians" basing their conclussions on the files that the pope 'allowed' them to see from the "secret vault"?

    ... no torture chambers (yeah right), but "torture was indeed used",
    and was "had strict rules ... that put it far ahead of its time".

    this person (and believe who believe his BS) are delusional

    is what the lying catholic WILL NOT TELL YOU.... Remember, the catholic
    church is replete in it false tales of 'martyrdom', which then leads to
    the invention of "saints" ... blah blah blah ...

    earliest unambiguous Christian reference to persecution under Nero is a
    statement made by Melito, bishop of Sardis, about AD 170. It would be
    surprising if a “great multitude” of Christians lived at Rome as early
    as AD 64 . . . The evidence for persecution under Domitian is [also]
    admitted to be very slight indeed.

    What persecutions the Christians did suffer were not as gross as portrayed by propagandists in either number or severity:
    punishments [of Christians] lacked the public finality of the death
    sentence: until, 180, no governor in Africa was known to have put a
    Christian to death. In the late 240s, Origen insisted with rare candour
    that “few” Christians had died for the faith . . . They were “easily
    numbered,” he said.

    as the editor of Eusebius’s The History of the Church states: In fact,
    up to the persecution under the Emperor Decius (250-51) there had been
    no persecution of Christians ordered by the Emperor on an imperial

    bolster their claims of massive martyrdom, pious Christians began
    around the ninth century to forge the martyrdom traditions. As Walker
    relates: The martyrs of the famous Roman “persecutions” under such
    emperors as Nero and Diocletian, seven centuries earlier, were largely
    invented at this time, since there were no records of any such specific
    martyrdoms. Names were picked at random from ancient tombstones, and the
    martyr-tales were written to order. In reality, it was the Christian
    church that did much more persecuting and made many more martyrs than
    Rome had ever done, because religious tolerance was the usual Roman

    weave their martyr-tales, the conspirators used the Jewish apocryphon
    the Fourth Book of Maccabees, which described gruesome “martyrdom” by
    torture: “The tale told in the 4 Maccabees was widely read by Greeks and
    early Christians and served as a model for Christian martyrdom
    stories.”xiii The methods described in Fourth Maccabees are disturbingly
    similar to those used by the later Catholic Church:
    . . the guards had produced wheels, and joint-dislocators, and racks,
    and bone- crushers, and catapults, and cauldrons, and braziers, and
    thumb-screws, and iron claws, and wedges, and branding irons . . .

    author of Fourth Maccabees goes on to describe the most foul torture
    imaginable, including the infamous “racks” being used to tear limbs from
    the body, as well as the flesh being stripped off and tongues and
    entrails ripped out, along with the obligatory death by burning. These
    techniques were later adopted with tremendous enthusiasm by the
    Christians themselves, who then became the persecutors.

    want to point out his (catholic) lies about church “justice” as
    compared to secular justice. This is what the catholic did not, nor will
    not, tell you. Notice the “one-ness” of government and religion in the
    edicts and laws they pass.

    many, many centuries the scriptures were not in the hands of the
    people; the Roman Catholic Church would not allow it - why was the
    catholic bible in Latin, why was the mass said in latin? Greek was the
    more popular language. So metaphorically speaking — yes, that bible was
    chained up. Furthermore, anyone who was still not (forcibly) converted
    would not only not speak Greek, they certainly would not speak the less
    popular Latin. So out of all the people, those already forcibly
    converted, and those still possessing their ancient ancestral beliefs,
    that bible was effectually ‘chained’ up... whether those chains were
    physical or not (which they could have been). But he attempts to make
    you thing that this catholic (new) governmental religion was able to be
    freely accessed by people; that is not true. It was forced on people of
    other cultures and languages who did not want it by brutal means, and
    then once they “nation” converted and catholic leaders were placed in
    positions of power, most of the people still did not want it, nor
    understand it (Latin, foreign (false) Jewish god, and new).

    even before becoming the official govt sanctioned religion of Rome
    there was ‘in-fighting' of the early Christian sects. Then, once
    sanctioned by the Roman govt, it was a Roman Emperor (Theodosius I at
    the Constantinople conference) who decided among the sects on the issue
    of "oneness" and the doctrine of the “trinity” was born, as well as ‘one
    holy apostolic Catholic church' (Nicene Creed).
    Catholic church then began eliminating its opposition, the Arians being
    one, (the Arians were those who believed that Christ never claimed
    divinity, and that he taught of Gods, not God).

    it was not until the Roman emperors created, sanctioned, and gave might
    to the catholics that they were able to add to their numbers ... by
    force of the Roman military. So, right from the inception of
    catholicism, they were are brutal, militaristic, government sanctioned
    new-age religion.

    Roman govt religion then moved on to ‘convert or die' tactics
    throughout that known world, inventing doctrine as it went (i.e. hell
    being a place of fire, brimstone, torment, and describing its topography
    (Augustine); purgatory; indulgences; holy relics; Dum Diversas (if you
    were not Catholic you were made a perpetual slave, and all your property
    (moveable and immoveable), and land were automatically to be the
    property of the ‘Catholic' king); additions of Christ mass with all the
    made up additions (Creche in a field being one, 1225AD Francis Assissi);
    Easter (good Frigga-day through Sun's-day), with bunnies and eggs;
    relic purchasing; and so much more)

    how, the author attempts to say that “inquisitions” were only done to
    those who were already catholic, and that those “judicial” inquiries
    were more human than the secular?
    Well, here are papal bulls, examples of the many more, that show the author of the article is a blatant liar:

    - - Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull Dum Diversas on 18 June,
    1452. It authorised Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any "Saracens
    (Muslims) and pagans and any other unbelievers" to perpetual slavery.
    same pope wrote the bull Romanus Pontifex on January 5, 1455 to the
    same Alfonso. As a follow-up to the Dum diversas, it extended to the
    Catholic nations of Europe dominion over ‘discovered' lands during the
    Age of Discovery. Along with sanctifying the seizure of non-Christian
    lands, it encouraged the enslavement of non-Christian peoples in Africa
    and the New World (Europe had already been brought under papal control
    of Catholicism; Viking lands were ‘absorbed' beginning in the 11th

    the catholic church opened up the “secret archives” ... LMAO. Indeed,
    for a person to believe the rubbish that the catholic author put into
    that article, they are searching for ‘excuses’ as hard as he is; and
    willing to stretch, bend, and utterly destroy facts as much as that
    catholic author, fabricating more catholic propaganda as they go ...
    like the access to the “secret archives” (scary music now plays in the
    background - LOL)

    • Louis Mingüey

      Your entire diatribe is filled with unproven facts, long standing biases, a painful lack of context which you claim to understand yet violate from the word "go" and like most, the absolute violation of TRUE historical studies which is "You shall not apply todays' morality to ancient times". It is simple bothersome to you because it annihilates whatever notion you are holding on to for religious, political or cultural prejudices. The archives in Seville, Salamanca and Valladolid are considered among the most reliable of the period and the source of much of what we know about precolonial Soith America. Any empire required record keeping and not having been part of WWI and WWII, even with a civil war in between, spared much of the information from being destroyed.

      And you are using references to material even less reliable by any account that the actual archives and almost 1500 years older: Fourth Book of Maccabees is date around 1 BC. You have got to have a lose screw in the head to try to make logic of your thesis by using examples from 1500 before this time.

  • heather

    Hmmm... my rebuttal was removed. I guess the moderator doesn't really buy the verse at the bottom of the page about reasoning together...

  • Zia

    I'm grateful for your reporting. It was obvious to me years ago protestant book, tape and lecture circuits were promoting these types of lies.. ie "A Woman Rides The Beast" by David Hunt

  • BO_stinks

    We all know that Big Government has killed far more people than all religions combined X 100. See atheistic communism for example in the 20th century.

    • SchroedingersDeplorableDog

      What happens when religion and government become one thing?

  • BO_stinks

    ISIS in comparison to the inquisition, has in a few short years, killed approximately 20,000. Let's talk about current events and relevance.

  • filomena seiffert

    Torture is a thing that still happen today. My big problem is that the protestants lie and exacerbate everything about the Catholic Church but do not mention how many catholic were killed and tortured by protestants. Luther incited the farmers to desecrate catholic church and kill the priests and took their property. Calvin killed and expelled Catholics, even protestants that did not agree with him. Henry VIII tortured and kill all Catholics that did not apostate the faith. The tortures were so horrible, but many Catholics kept the faith and were martyred. They killed and took the land of the people in Ireland, forcing them to move to areas where a million and half starved to death.

  • Jim Carlin

    no correction of distortions of theology or actions of the church can restore any of those killed or damaged-unlike St Paul - I see little repentance-whatever is preached has little value if it is not practiced--"he that troubleth his house shall inherit the wind" jim carlin md 2nd generation preachers kid

  • vaquero711

    Everybody tortured back then . It was legal and morally ok . Stop crying about " inquisition torture " . Muslims still torture and burn people alive around the globe in the name of bloody alla and pedophile prophet .

  • SchroedingersDeplorableDog

    "Catharists refused to take oaths, which back then meant opposing government authority. Marriage was considered sinful while secret fornication was permitted. ...."
    "Eventually Europe was so endangered by this group heresy that the Inquisition seemed to be a political necessity."

    Really? They sound annoying, but hardly a rebellion capable of taking down one kingdom, much less many. The Popes and monasteries were not known for marriage, but were rather well known for a certain form of fornication. Some of the Popes, admittedly, were heterosexual, but none bothered with the small detail of marriage.

    " weed out any remaining traitor-heretics (mostly focusing on converted Jews). ..."
    So, the Jews had the fine choice of "Convert or die", but if they converted they were considered probable traitor-heretics to be 'weeded out'. Great, if Mary, mother of Jesus had been alive then she would have been executed either for being a Jew or for being a convert traitor-heretic. Some for Jesus's natural siblings. The Inquisition as described here sounds like it has a bit much overlap with Islam.

    I can readily believe that actual history is not equal to what makes it to Hollywood or common assumptions, but I think I'll pass on an warm fuzzy feelings for the Inquistion.

  • filomena seiffert

    Which is committing atrocities all over the world such as; genocide, drug trafficking, false flags to attack others, killing some thousands of its own, prostitution slavery traffic, satanic worship. Thanks to Spain and Portugal, the new world was civilized and Christianized . Unfortunately USA was taken by protestants, and the fruits are what we see.

  • zionita

    "The Inquisition technically had jurisdiction only over those professing to be Christians."

    Yes, technically, but in Spain tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced to join the Catholic Church, and the majority of those persecuted and killed during the Spanish Inquisition were Jews who were still secretly practicing their Jewish faith.

  • srbaruchi

    What a pathetic attempt at a whitewash!

    The Catholic Church (as did/do other mainline religious institutions, but we're talking about the CC) persecuted thought crimes for centuries. The claim was that this kept corrupted sinners and heretics from infecting others, and protected souls from eternal damnation. Many in and of the CC may well have believed that to be true. However, there was by no means universal agreement. In Spain alone (but certainly wherever the Inquisition existed), Protestants, other Christian sects, Jews, Muslims, atheists, pagans, etc. all had differing views on God, Jesus, and faith.

    But religion was/is about power and control over the loyalty and wealth of its "subjects." The CC and State were in locked arms to maintain and enlarge their dominion over the human landscape. The "only" disagreements were over the shares of property seized from the convicted/condemned and their families. (Fun Fact: To this day, the CC retains a vestige of the Inquisition at the Vatican.)

    The reality that so many people still declare themselves Catholics -- with the CC's long, egregious history of repression, cruelty, thievery, and genocide -- is sad, perplexing, and maddening. And the fact that billions of "civilized" people around the world still embrace the notion of a supernatural world is one of mankind's greatest failures.

  • Joe Spoor

    Where to begin....first, where are the citations for all of the so called facts this author users about the purpose, intent or results of the inquisition? What are the sources of these claims? Second, I couldn't help but laugh at the line that said something like, "these techniques may have seemed unfair or oppressive, but that that is just how things were back then. " LOL, yeah, UNFAIR AND OPPRESSIVE haha. Not sure how that is a justification. I guess murdering Jews in Nazi Germany may have seemed extreme, but that's just how it was back then. This is a very poor piece of misinformation meant to cover up accurate history of how the Catholic religion falsely used Christianity to torture and kill unknown thousands of people who did not kneel r to the Pope.

  • Arkenaten

    ''Their beliefs led to potentially civilization-destroying social consequences.''

    Is this statement satire?

  • Malu Ribeiro

    What a fucking joke!!!

  • Debbie Dee

    "The Church executed no one." That one sentence in the Google blurb for this site's Spanish Inquisition page was all it took to convince me that this site must be a Catholic Church sponsored "white-washing" of the systematic imprisonment and torture of thousands Spaniards in the hopes of stopping the spread of Islam from southern Spain to the rest of Europe...

    • Rose A. Ellis

      In fact, the Spanish Inquisition killed about 100 people in all, despite thousands who were given the death sentence. This is not coming from Catholic apologists, go read any current historical book and you will see that these facts are as true. In fact I just saw a documentary on BBC that said as much as this article. All I am seeing is people here using "presentism" i.e., judging the past with current thinking. Back 100s and 100s of years ago, if you try to understand beliefs at that time, they felt they were SAVING people from hell. Do some reading and then come back and argue.

  • filomena seiffert

    I am disgusted with hellish protestants falsehood, they just tell the lies their father satan, tell them to do. By the fruits we know the tree and their fruits are hatred, perjury, slander, false witness, joining the mahomedans to murder catholics, usure, vanity, pride and every sin on the book. They also are disrespectful to Mary, mother of Jesus because the human satan hates the most is the woman, as it was decreed by the CREATOR, she would crush his head. I do not want to hear they shit, I do not read it.

  • the quality of this article is a brief, uninformed opinion piece that is worthy of a "D" on the report card. Perhaps all those who find the evidence incongruous and lacking for clod (god) would be better off to leave and just live a life of rational and clear purpose separate from popes and the people he makes have poop for brains. I will.

  • gestr

    Good article, but would be improved by footnotes. I hope you add them. Thanks.

    • Karl Ahlmann

      When nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, expect the unexpected.

      You're absolutely welcome

      edit: oops I did it again, got lost in the game.

  • gestr

    Good article, Mr. Beaumont. However, I think it would be greatly improved if the major assertions had footnotes to convince fact checkers.

  • Jack Lacan

    It's notable that no one talks much about the horrors (real or not) of the Inquisition anymore since the eruption of the child abuse scandal over the last 15-20 years. Who needs to make up rabid stories of historical church cruelty when you have a horror unravelling in front of you, many of whose victims are still alive. The stifling silence (apart from bursts of media static) and casual disregard in the face of it by society is like claustrophobia to me.

  • Thomas J. Hennigan

    A good summary on the Inquisition. There is another important positive thing which came about thanks to the Inquisition in Spain. There were no religious wars in Spain and the mid 16th century to the mid 17th are called the "Siglo de Oro", Golden Century of Spain. That was the time of Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, for instance, great Catholic theologians and mystics, the former especially from the University of Salamanca, great artists such as Diego Velázquez. Spain was the quintesselntial Catholic nation have been successful in the Reconquista and later the discovery of America.,The Catholic faith was its primary good to be protected. In that period Spain achieved the greatest missionary endeavor since the Apostles in the evangelization of America. Anyone who travels in countries like Mexico, Guadamala, Equador and Peru can see the great Baroque Churches and Cathedrals, which were bult not only by Spaniards but by local indigenous builders and artists, as the Spanish population in Ameriica was always rather small. Long before the foundation of Harvard, Spain had created many universities in the New World, the University of St. Mark in Lima being the oldest in the Americas.

  • Fred Littlefield

    This is a revision of History. It has been a historical fact that millions of people were killed by the church during the Dark Ages for their faith in the Bible, now all of a sudden were are going to say that It is true that some were killed, but it was just a very few that actually deserved it? I can't believe that all the past historians were wrong until now. Sounds like a revision of history to me. Ignatius Loyola would disagree with this article.

  • woulddragon

    Oh, if ONLY anti-Catholics like my 96-year-old dad would learn to read articles like this with an open mind, then my life would be SO MUCH easier.

  • TreeOfLifeSword

    The Spanish Inquisition was run by the Spanish government, not the Church. The Church even went so far at one point as to tell them to calm down.

  • I P Knightley

    This is very interesting, thank you!

  • Kurinto Uspirii

    The inquisitions are bad but the real sin of the church is the supression of science.. If the catholic church did not exist we probably has better technology, cures for most diseases and other technological advancements. The Church era stagnated technology by a thousan years.

    • I P Knightley

      " If the catholic church did not exist we probably has better technology, cures for most diseases and other technological advancements. The Church era stagnated technology by a thousan years"
      Nonsense! The RC church has akso promoted science, The discoverer of the Big Bang, and the man who did the first work in genetics (Lemaitre and Mendel) were both priests.

  • Enochered

    What was the role of the Jesuits and St Ignatius Loyola in the Inquisition if any? You would appear to have ignored the possibility that much of the so-called religious crimes, during the Middle Ages, were actually carried out by non-religious groups to remove any opposition to themselves. Not to mention the actual leadership of the Catholic Church at the time, the Borgia's for example.

  • bonobojean

    It occurs to me that the Spanish Inquisition is a misnomer. The "Vietnam War" was actually the "American War on Vietnam" and the "Spanish Inquisition" was actually "The Catholic Inquisitions". The Spanish Army was merely the enforcement arm of the Church as was the US military under control of Christianity.

    The Hierarchy then was God, The Pope, The King The Senate. There was no separation of Church and State. The Church dictated what the King and Senate did. Unite the peasants under one God, The Catholic God, and you will control them because no one can deny our God without being a sinner.

    Interesting how such a violent philosophy can still hold the loyalty of educated people today. Especially with the thousands of phedophile abuse being revealed. This is not new. It has been going on since the beginning of Catholicism.

    Desperation I guess. What do you do when you find out the basis of your faith is evil.

    • I P Knightley

      The Inquisition is not the basis of any faith! It was mostly political, and paid only lip-service to God, who makes clear in the Bible that he would not approve of the actions of the Inquisition.
      BTW, you spelt paedophile wrongly, it seems to me that you simply hate the Catholic church, and any hammer will do to destroy it.

  • bonobojean

    Oh I forgot. What a dufus! A perfect example Catholic indoctrination. Amazing that Pagan rituals, Idolatry and Incantations to mystify an ignorant audience still plays well today.

  • Geoff Kassover

    This re-making of the past is total foolish and dangerous. Simply (and as stated) The Inquisition forced Christianity on all – and to think the centuries of atrocities as many and as well reported (over many systems/sources and independent areas of the world) as they could be for the past (and still now being scientifically newly found or older ones supported) cannot be simply dismissed in the search for truth, nor to learn from in the present and future.

    The authors summary paragraph starts with a wonderful cleverly worded statement – but “misattributes” the ideal: He says “But what matters for the Church, and what it should be judged by, is what it actually teaches It would be absurd to criticize the Church for something done against what it advocates.”

    Many things matter and are taught by the Church (wonderful things and as done similarly to all faiths and religions) – hopefully the biggies (like commandments) – are the principles it officially teaches….
    But (and even staying to it making the parameters and judgments for all including itself) it absolutely positively MUST BE JUDGED including how it holds to those ideals (and not what it may want). Even when IT is the one acting against what it advocates? And while it is not the only actor, but that how it acts (as well as what it says) has followers. How else? Beyond judgment? That is way beyond the absurd.

    I submit (just like faith & the biggies) truth and history does not judge. Apparently, you do and are advocating not only degrees of acceptability, but dismissing or changing history to fit desire. The reformat tries to justify/deny the unjustifiable.

    For example - while the official cover of a trial (which may even be a fair one in some ways) which may have found someone to NOT be a heretic blows right over - even accepts as OK - the edicts, forces and pure evil even requiring a trial! Simply - as you say it was an enforced method of control of people and societies by the combination of religion and political absolute rulers. Most even didn't get trials. And that the subjects that didn’t go into hiding (where being found was not excused as a minor infraction) were forced to abandon their ancestry and homes of over 1,000 years.

  • Ann Brasile

    whew white male probably Christian.. I am white female and unbias and know the history , world history as a matter of fact.. I think you are not going to be able to pull this off much longer, people are leaving your "religion" in droves. So are you also concealing the fact of all the sexual abuse too?? horrible man!

  • Roadbathonthereef, New Times,

    The true figures are known by God what you have failed to mention and completely whitewashed is the fact that over a period of 600 years the true killings of the Catholic Church not included in the numbered trials at court happened in the hundreds of villages that were razed to the ground and all occupants murdered throughout France, Europe and Spain a virtual complete genocide add those to your numbers but I believe you wont even print this

  • Phil Tanny

    But what matters for the Church, and what it should be judged by, is what it actually teaches.

    Ok then, I teach peace, love, kindness, patience and forgiveness, as I burn you at the stake while raping your kids. So, do you judge me by what I teach?

    Honestly, what horse poopie. And a PhD in theology!

  • disqus_ZOSMh0illA

    A Theologian with a PH.D. says the Catholic Church never tortured anyone-*? Say it isn't so !

  • TC

    If you want to spread "Catholic church does no wrong" propaganda then at least try to make a better effort at it.

    You say the church executed no one. Yet:

    "In a letter written by Gregory IX to the Dominican priest, Conrad of Marburg, the first inquisitor in Germany, the pontiff instructs him as to the manner in which he is to proceed. “When you arrive in a city,” wrote the Pope, “summon the bishops, clergy and people, and preach a solemn sermon on faith; then select certain men of good repute to help you in trying the heretics and suspects brought before your tribunal. All who, on examination, are found guilty or suspected of heresy must promise complete obedience to the commands of the Church; if they refuse, you must prosecute them according to the statutes that we have already promulgated."

    A minimum of 1303 victims grotesquely tortured to death can be proven inspite of the era in which this took place. If 1303 can be proven back in the middle ages then the actual number is probably astronomically higher.

    Wikipedia lists the number of concretely provable deaths by torture at the hands of the church as a minimum of 1303 for fake crimes made up by the church such as witchcraft and heresy

    The fact remains that the church orchestrated the inquisition and its grotesque torture methods. Arguing that the orchestrator is not responsible for the outcome of that which they orchestrated is simply playing with words. You cant hide the facts. The catholic church is clearly one of the single most evil organizations guilty of mass genocide in the past and since genocide is no longer an option today its depraved priests resorts to child abuse instead.

    The following link highlights many of the key points which you conveniently ignore.


    Of course lets not forget the "St. Bartholomew's Day massacre" celebrated by the Pope and the catholic church. Sure you will present your wild card argument that "human souls are corruptible" Then you will say that "it was corrupt members of the church not doing the word of god". However the same excuse does not work when the Pope himself is involved. After all the Catholic church scriptures place the Pope as infallible to such corruption of the human soul. Plus not to mention the fact that the Pope is the leader of the organization.

    "The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (French: Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy) in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations and a wave of Catholic mob violence, directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants) during the French Wars of Religion.

    The Politiques, those Catholics who placed national unity above sectarian interests, were horrified, but many Catholics inside and outside France initially regarded the massacres as deliverance from an imminent Huguenot coup d'etat. The severed head of Coligny was apparently dispatched to Pope Gregory XIII, though it got no further than Lyon, and the pope sent the king a Golden Rose. The pope ordered a Te Deum to be sung as a special thanksgiving (a practice continued for many years after) and had a medal struck with the motto Ugonottorum strages 1572 (Latin: "Overthrow (or slaughter) of the Huguenots 1572") showing an angel bearing a cross and a sword before which are the felled Protestants.

    Pope Gregory XIII also commissioned the artist Giorgio Vasari to paint three frescos in the Sala Regia depicting the wounding of Coligny, his death, and Charles IX before Parliament, matching those commemorating the defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto (1571). The massacre was interpreted as an act of divine retribution; Coligny was considered a threat to Christendom and thus Pope Gregory XIII designated 11 September 1572 as a joint commemoration of the Battle of Lepanto and the massacre of the Huguenots."


    I'm sure you would have a different opinion had you found yourself at the mercy of the catholic church in the medieval times. You probably would be singing a different song while a church ordained torturer inserts a pear into your orifices and tear your insides while being observed in detail by the "pious" clergy of the catholic church with the blessings of the local bishop or cardinal or whatever.

    • Ficino

      After all the Catholic church scriptures place the Pope as infallible to such corruption of the human soul.

      This sentence is best deleted. It is either inaccurate or at least, misleading.

      • Jim the Scott

        Also according to the Wiki QUOTE"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_Inquisition#Papal_inquisition

        QUOTE"One reason for Pope Gregory IX's creation of the Inquisition was to bring order and legality to the process of dealing with heresy, since there had been tendencies by mobs of townspeople to burn alleged heretics without much of a trial. According to historian Thomas Madden: "The Inquisition was not born out of desire to crush diversity or oppress people; it was rather an attempt to stop unjust executions. ...Heresy was a crime against the state. Roman law in the Code of Justinian made heresy a capital offense" (emphasis in original). In the early Middle Ages, people accused of heresy were judged by the local lord, many of whom lacked theological training. Madden claims that "The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule" (emphasis in original).[13] Madden argues that while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death and return to the community.[13]" END QUOTE.

        I don't think this person even read the original article closely. Nobody is claiming Church officials are sinless or have never participated in great evil. Even today we had a Cardinal who was a perv.

        The article points out the total number of executions during the Spanish Inquisition was between 3000-5000 and his wiki link says the SAME THING!

        This clown is just throwing mud trying to see what sticks in scatershop fashion. Anti-Catholics are tedious. Wither they deny gods or pound pulpits or whatever.

        Cheer guy.

  • abrogard

    You've heard of Torquemada, perhaps? Grand Inquisitor. Estimated conservatively to have had burned at the stake some 2,000 individuals?