Faith/Spirituality Forum: Inquisitions
Inquisitions QUESTION from Bill Kautt on February 6, 2003 Bro. John-Paul,
I just saw the question about the Inquisitions in the Spiritual Warfare section and wanted to say (obviously before I see your reply) that the Church killed no-one during the Inquisitions.
The poster specifically refers to the Spanish Inquisition and it is important to specify that the Inquisition used common methods of interrogation at the time, but rejected many because they were barbaric. It is also important to note that the charges against these people were primarily State crimes, not Cannonical violations. Church officials were used because they were among the few people with the necessary qualifications in law to make determinations.
A good case in point (although not part of the Inquisitions) is that of St. Joan of Arc. She was tried by the English controlled bishop, the sentence was confirmed by the University of Paris (also under English control at the time) and she was turned over to the English civil authorities--her 'crime' was a State crime. When they turned her over, the English controlled bishop recommended leniency. Her conviction was later thrown out (post-mortem). But she was originally convicted of State crimes by a Church court and executed by the civil authorities.
Further, records of the Spanish Inquisition in the Escorial palace in Madrid (maintained by the Spanish state rather than the Church) were recently (1990s) opened to researchers. They found that the Inquisition legends (called the 'Black Legend') are mostly false. These records were maintained by the state rather than the Church because they were civil documents.
Finally, there were cases of accused confessing without coercion because they were, in fact, guilty.
The Holy Father apologized for the excesses and abuses by members of the Church, especially officials of the Church.
There were members of the Holy Office who violated Church rules--these rules, for instance, protected the rights of the accused.
For instance, the accused didn't have the right to legal council, it was an inviolate requirement--there was no other law forum in Europe that gave anything close to such protection.
I am an historian, but not of the Church. I hope this helps.
God Bless, Bill Kautt
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on February 13, 2003 Dear Mr. Kautt:
Thanks for an excellent summary of the issue of the Inquisitions.
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