Defending the Inquisition?


#1

Pax tecvm, gang.

I am wondering whether it is possible to reconcile Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae: On the Right of the Person and of Communities to Social and Civil Freedom in Matters Religious with the theological presuppositions behind the medieval Inquisitions.

Please note that I am not looking to defend the Inquisition against commonly held myths. Yes, these courts were far more lenient and just than their secular counterparts. And yes, it can be argued that the Inquisitions saved more lives than it destroyed, by exonerating those who would otherwise have been killed by the mob or theologically inept secular tribunals.

Still, the doctrine of the medieval Church, as articulated by Saint Thomas Aquinas, held that a man could be executed by the State if was an unrepentant heretic. Not only if he were actively promulgating his beliefs, not only if he were a violent iconoclast, not only if he was actively trying to steal Catholics away from their religion. The more holding of his belief was enought so subject him to death.

(And while it is true that Saint Thomas was by no means infallible, anyone who knows the rudiments of medieval Catholic thoughts on this issue knows that he was just articulating the universal viewpoint of this Church in his day.)

I just do not see how we can reconcile what was once arguably the teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium (i.e. that heretics may be burned by the state for the holding of a heresy) with the infallible teaching of the 21st Ecumenical Council.

What’s to stop the Church from changing her teaching once more, if we should ever see the existence of Catholic States?

Any thoughts?

:confused:


#2

[quote=Sacramentalist]Pax tecvm, gang.

I am wondering whether it is possible to reconcile Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae: On the Right of the Person and of Communities to Social and Civil Freedom in Matters Religious with the theological presuppositions behind the medieval Inquisitions.

Please note that I am not looking to defend the Inquisition against commonly held myths. Yes, these courts were far more lenient and just than their secular counterparts. And yes, it can be argued that the Inquisitions saved more lives than it destroyed, by exonerating those who would otherwise have been killed by the mob or theologically inept secular tribunals.

Still, the doctrine of the medieval Church, as articulated by Saint Thomas Aquinas, held that a man could be executed by the State if was an unrepentant heretic. Not only if he were actively promulgating his beliefs, not only if he were a violent iconoclast, not only if he was actively trying to steal Catholics away from their religion. The more holding of his belief was enought so subject him to death.

(And while it is true that Saint Thomas was by no means infallible, anyone who knows the rudiments of medieval Catholic thoughts on this issue knows that he was just articulating the universal viewpoint of this Church in his day.)

I just do not see how we can reconcile what was once arguably the teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium (i.e. that heretics may be burned by the state for the holding of a heresy) with the infallible teaching of the 21st Ecumenical Council.

What’s to stop the Church from changing her teaching once more, if we should ever see the existence of Catholic States?

Any thoughts?

:confused:
[/quote]

Nothing, which is why we should fight to preserve the separation of Church and State.


#3

Nothing, which is why we should fight to preserve the separation of Church and State.

Well, one would need to be more specific, since separation of Church and State is a distinctly Christian concept, and one which the Church fought hard to maintain throughout her history.

Of course in the classical conception, this spearation does not preclude cooperation between the two spheres in the work for the common good.

But that’s beyond the scope of this thread. Can we please keep to the topic?


#4

[quote=Sacramentalist]Well, one would need to be more specific, since separation of Church and State is a distinctly Christian concept, and one which the Church fought hard to maintain throughout her history.

Of course in the classical conception, this spearation does not preclude cooperation between the two spheres in the work for the common good.

But that’s beyond the scope of this thread. Can we please keep to the topic?
[/quote]

It depends on the context. Perhaps it fought the idea of a state-run Church (i.e. Anglican church), but it was not a big defender of individual freedoms.

Here is a list of errors condemned by Piux IX papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9syll.htm

Among the things condemned are the following:

  1. The ecclesiastical power ought not to exercise its authority without the permission and assent of the civil government. – Allocution “Meminit unusquisque,” Sept. 30, 1861.
  1. Besides the power inherent in the episcopate, other temporal power has been attributed to it by the civil authority granted either explicitly or tacitly, which on that account is revocable by the civil authority whenever it thinks fit. – Ibid.
  1. It is not lawful for bishops to publish even letters Apostolic without the permission of Government. – Allocution “Nunquam fore,” Dec. 15, 1856.
  1. Favours granted by the Roman pontiff ought to be considered null, unless they have been sought for through the civil government. – Ibid.

I think the Church’s reasons for separating Church a state had more to do with its own survival than the rights of people to believe as they please.

The following further support this:

X. ERRORS HAVING REFERENCE TO MODERN LIBERALISM

  1. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship. – Allocution “Nemo vestrum,” July 26, 1855.
  1. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship. – Allocution “Acerbissimum,” Sept. 27, 1852.
  1. Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indifferentism. – Allocution “Nunquam fore,” Dec. 15, 1856.

#5

Askeptic:

Like I said: this disucssion, while interesting, has no place on this thread. I already made passing mention of the fact that the teaching of the Second Vatican Council is reconciable with that of the 19th century Popes, including Blessed Pius IX. For evidence, I would direct you to two scholarly articles written by Fr. Biran W. Harrison: “Pius IX, Vatican II, and Religious Liberty” and “Vatican II and Religious Liberty: Contradiction or Continuity?”

The purpose of this thread, intended primarily for fellow Catholics, it to see whether the teaching of the medieval Church can be likewise reconciled with Vatican II.


#6

[quote=Sacramentalist]Pax tecvm, gang.

I am wondering whether it is possible to reconcile Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae: On the Right of the Person and of Communities to Social and Civil Freedom in Matters Religious with the theological presuppositions behind the medieval Inquisitions.

Please note that I am not looking to defend the Inquisition against commonly held myths. Yes, these courts were far more lenient and just than their secular counterparts. And yes, it can be argued that the Inquisitions saved more lives than it destroyed, by exonerating those who would otherwise have been killed by the mob or theologically inept secular tribunals.

Still, the doctrine of the medieval Church, as articulated by Saint Thomas Aquinas, held that a man could be executed by the State if was an unrepentant heretic. Not only if he were actively promulgating his beliefs, not only if he were a violent iconoclast, not only if he was actively trying to steal Catholics away from their religion. The more holding of his belief was enought so subject him to death.

(And while it is true that Saint Thomas was by no means infallible, anyone who knows the rudiments of medieval Catholic thoughts on this issue knows that he was just articulating the universal viewpoint of this Church in his day.)

I just do not see how we can reconcile what was once arguably the teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium (i.e. that heretics may be burned by the state for the holding of a heresy) with the infallible teaching of the 21st Ecumenical Council.

What’s to stop the Church from changing her teaching once more, if we should ever see the existence of Catholic States?

Any thoughts?

:confused:
[/quote]

I want to know how the Church reconciles Leo X’s condemnation of Luther’s proposition:

“It is against the Will of the Holy Spirit to burn heretics”

with her teaching since 1965. The position since then, is a return to the position she used to take in her whole first millennium. Burning other Christians is wicked - it is as simple as that. The Fathers deplored the notion of killing heretics.

So the teaching has changed - twice. Nothing wrong with that in itself - but it does destroy the ficton of a Church which never changes her teaching. Sometimes, change to an earlier position is the healthiest choice available. One form of this is repentance: there is nothing good in a changeless lack of repentance - that, is damned foolery, in the strictest sense possible.

As you say, what’s to stop another change ? God apart, nothing whatever. Man is a very fickle creature. ##


#7

You’re on the right track, Gottle of Geer.

Do we happen to know what the Eastern Orthodox Church’s historic teaching has been on this matter?


#8

[quote=Sacramentalist]Pax tecvm, gang.

I am wondering whether it is possible to reconcile Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae: On the Right of the Person and of Communities to Social and Civil Freedom in Matters Religious with the theological presuppositions behind the medieval Inquisitions.

Please note that I am not looking to defend the Inquisition against commonly held myths. Yes, these courts were far more lenient and just than their secular counterparts. And yes, it can be argued that the Inquisitions saved more lives than it destroyed, by exonerating those who would otherwise have been killed by the mob or theologically inept secular tribunals.

Still, the doctrine of the medieval Church, as articulated by Saint Thomas Aquinas, held that a man could be executed by the State if was an unrepentant heretic. Not only if he were actively promulgating his beliefs, not only if he were a violent iconoclast, not only if he was actively trying to steal Catholics away from their religion. The more holding of his belief was enought so subject him to death.

(And while it is true that Saint Thomas was by no means infallible, anyone who knows the rudiments of medieval Catholic thoughts on this issue knows that he was just articulating the universal viewpoint of this Church in his day.)

I just do not see how we can reconcile what was once arguably the teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium (i.e. that heretics may be burned by the state for the holding of a heresy) with the infallible teaching of the 21st Ecumenical Council.

What’s to stop the Church from changing her teaching once more, if we should ever see the existence of Catholic States?

Any thoughts?

:confused:
[/quote]

Didn’t Pope Innocent IV authorise the use of torture to extract confessions? I guess that the Church has changed her teaching on a few issues, such as you have mentioned, and possibly others such as ecumenism and slavery, although these changes are usually described as developments or fuller understanding of core truths as new knowledge has come to light.


#9

[quote=stanley123]Didn’t Pope Innocent IV authorise the use of torture to extract confessions? I guess that the Church has changed her teaching on a few issues, such as you have mentioned, and possibly others such as ecumenism and slavery, although these changes are usually described as developments or fuller understanding of core truths as new knowledge has come to light.
[/quote]

I actually would argue that the Church’s teaching has not changed, in the sense of being contradicted, regarding slavery and ecumenism. But that’s for a whole other thread.

(What is it with this forum and people wanting to go off-topic? It keeps these disucssions from going anywhere.)


#10

[quote=Sacramentalist]I actually would argue that the Church’s teaching has not changed, in the sense of being contradicted, regarding slavery and ecumenism. But that’s for a whole other thread.

(What is it with this forum and people wanting to go off-topic? It keeps these disucssions from going anywhere.)
[/quote]

And what about the use of torture. Did not Pope Innocent IV authorise the use of torture, and it was used during the Inquisition? However, now it is taught that the use of torture is wrong. So it is a change. (And I won;t mention the other examples illustrating a change in teaching).


#11

[quote=stanley123]And what about the use of torture. Did not Pope Innocent IV authorise the use of torture, and it was used during the Inquisition? However, now it is taught that the use of torture is wrong. So it is a change. (And I won;t mention the other examples illustrating a change in teaching).
[/quote]

Sorry I forgot to give you props on that. :smiley:


#12

[quote=stanley123]And what about the use of torture. Did not Pope Innocent IV authorise the use of torture, and it was used during the Inquisition? However, now it is taught that the use of torture is wrong. So it is a change. (And I won;t mention the other examples illustrating a change in teaching).
[/quote]

I don’t remember the answer, but I know that has been addressed on CA live tons of times.


#13

[quote=askeptic]Nothing, which is why we should fight to preserve the separation of Church and State.
[/quote]

You try telling that to God when you get to heaven.:whistle:


#14

Because it was a totally different world back then.

Almost everything was totalitarian or monarchical.

Including areas governed by Muslims. (That’s an issue very few people talk about.)

Almost none of the countries and nations we know today existed back then. Borders were totally different. There were numerous city-states. Wars erupted every 30 days or so.


#15

The inquisition wasn’t a “teaching” but a *practice. *We should admonish the sinner. But we should do so as Christ would do so.


#16

Because it was a totally different world back then. Almost everything was totalitarian or monarchical.

Aren’t we the moral relativist! :smiley:

The inquisition wasn’t a “teaching” but a practice.

It was a practice that was made possible only by the teaching of the medieval Church. Namely: The Catholic state can and should put heretics to death, for the mere fact that they are heretics.


#17

[quote=Sacramentalist]The Catholic state can and should put heretics to death, for the mere fact that they are heretics.
[/quote]

You mean captial punishment? I’ve checked the Catechism and capital punishment is still doctrine. So what doctrine has changed? Or is it simply the particular application of that doctrine (aka practice) that has changed, hmmmmm? :hmmm:


#18

Sacramentalist,

I recommend the following articles by Fr. Brian Harrison on the religious liberty before and after Vatican II…

Vatican II and Religious Liberty: Contradiction or Continuity?
catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Dossier/00MarApr/continuity.html

**PIUS IX, VATICAN II AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY **
rtforum.org/lt/lt9.html#II

Religious Liberty: “Rights” versus "Tolerance"
rtforum.org/lt/lt16.html#II


#19

[quote=Sacramentalist]Aren’t we the moral relativist! :smiley:

.
[/quote]

Sorry, don’t understand. In what way is what I wrote “moral relativism”?

Can you explain somewhat more fully?

Thanks,

Al


#20

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