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Timi Celcer Aug 12, '13 2:28 pm

Did the Roman Catholic Church order witch-hunts?
I heard most of witch hunts were commited by protestants but did the Roman Catholic Church order at least one burn at the stake or a witch hunt?

thequietsinger Aug 12, '13 4:39 pm

Re: Did the Roman Catholic Church order witch-hunts?

KendraDZ1902 Aug 12, '13 4:46 pm

Re: Did the Roman Catholic Church order witch-hunts?

Originally Posted by thequietsinger (Post 11091635)

Do you mind sharing? :D

thequietsinger Aug 12, '13 8:30 pm

Re: Did the Roman Catholic Church order witch-hunts?

Originally Posted by KendraDZ1902 (Post 11091664)
Do you mind sharing? :D

Nope, I sure don't ;)

manualman Aug 13, '13 8:43 am

Re: Did the Roman Catholic Church order witch-hunts?
This gets messy because it hasn't FIRST defined the church. I have no doubt that if you look hard enough, you can find a priest somewhere, sometime directly involved in a witch hunt. That, of course, proves nothing since one can ALSO find a priest or two involved in South American Marxist revolutions. That hardly proves that the church endorses Marxism, does it?

So what this question comes down to is "Has the church ever doctrinally endorsed the idea that people should hunt down and execute witches?" I seriously doubt it. If anybody wants to assert that she has, the burden of proof is on you.

Arizona Mike Aug 13, '13 6:20 pm

Re: Did the Roman Catholic Church order witch-hunts?
I could get better cites for you if you want, but the Church has generally acted as a counterbalance to the witch hunts of Europe, and priests, who were the best educated people in most areas generally talked the locals out of witchcraft purges before the Reformation. In colonial America (like Salem), there weren't many Catholics and they held no civil power. Two Dominicans, Sprenger and Kramer, wrote a book on witchcraft (The Malleus Maleficarum, "The Hammer of Witches") but it was repudiated by the Church and it was mostly used by Protestant witchfinders - a bad kind of ecumenism, I guess. Even the Inquisition said it was bad theology and not to be used as evidence.Wikipedia says:


The Malleus Maleficarum was published in 1487 by Heinrich Kramer (Latinised as "Institoris")[7] and James Sprenger (also known as Jacob or Jakob Sprenger). Scholars have debated how much Sprenger contributed to the work. Some say his role was minor,[8] and that the book was written almost entirely by Kramer, who used the name of Sprenger for its prestige only,[7] while others say there is little evidence for this claim.[9]
In 1484 Kramer made one of the first attempts at a systematic persecution of witches in the region of Tyrol. It was not a success: Kramer was thrown out of the territory, and dismissed by the local bishop as a "senile old man". According to Diarmaid MacCulloch, writing the book was Kramer's act of self-justification and revenge.[10] Some scholars have suggested that following the failed efforts in Tyrol, Kramer and Sprenger requested and received a papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus in 1484. It allegedly gave full papal approval for the Inquisition to prosecute witchcraft in general and for Kramer and Sprenger specifically.[11] Malleus Maleficarum was written in 1486 and the papal bull was included as part of the preface.[11]

The preface also includes an approbation from the University of Cologne's Faculty of Theology. The authenticity of the Cologne endorsement was first questioned by Joseph Hansen but Christopher S. Mackay rejects his theory as a misunderstanding.[12] The university in fact condemned the book for unethical legal practices and contradicting Catholic teaching on demons. Scholarly opinion is divided on whether the Cologne endorsement was a complete forgery, but there is general agreement that even if it were genuine it was misrepresented by Kramer, and that neither the Pope nor the University of Cologne was aware of the true authorship of the book, or even of its contents.[13][14][15][16] The Malleus Maleficarum drew on earlier sources such as Johannes Nider's treatise Formicarius, written 1435/37.[17]

The book became the handbook for secular courts throughout Renaissance Europe, but was not used by the Inquisition, which even cautioned against relying on the work.[18] Between the years 1487 and 1520 the work was published thirteen times. It was again published between the years of 1574 to 1669 a total of sixteen times. Regardless of the authenticity of the endorsements which appear at the beginning of the book, their presence contributed to the popularity of the work.

Folk belief in reality of witchcraft had been denied by the church in earlier centuries; Charlemagne had specifically outlawed the old practice of witch burning "in the manner of the pagans" since witchcraft was originally viewed by many early medieval Christians as a pagan superstition.[19] By the 15th century, belief in witches was once again openly accepted in European society, but they typically suffered penalties no more harsh than public penances such as a day in the stocks.[10] Persecution of witches became more brutal following the publication of the Malleus, with witchcraft being accepted as a real and dangerous phenomenon.[20]

Between 1487 and 1520, twenty editions of the Malleus were published, and another sixteen editions were published between 1574 and 1669.[37] However, there is scholarly agreement that publication of the Malleus Maleficarum was not as influential as earlier modern historians originally thought.[38][39][40] According to MacCulloch, the Malleus was one of several key factors contributing to the witch craze, along with popular superstition and tensions created by the Reformation.[10]

In 1490, only 3 years after it was published, the Catholic Church condemned Malleus as false. In 1538 the Spanish Inquisition cautioned its members not to believe everything the Malleus said, even when it presented apparently firm evidence.[41]

Bruised Reed Aug 13, '13 6:37 pm

Re: Did the Roman Catholic Church order witch-hunts?
Who Burned the Witches

The Witches Next Door

Both are by Sandra Miesel, who has the coolest job title ever.

chevalier Aug 17, '13 4:20 pm

Re: Did the Roman Catholic Church order witch-hunts?
Friedrich Spee, a German Jesuit, contributed to the development of the modern notion of the legal requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt with his work in opposition of witch hunts. Some individual clerics have acted up (and some have been condemned for that by the higher authority), but the Church has consistently preached high legal standards, right from the Roman Antiquity to this century.

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