How do you handle the inevitable Crusades and Inquisition charges?


#1

This always seems to come up in anything resembling talk of religion in my world. I’ve been trying to not seem apologetic (in the newer sense) because I sense that there are historical & political reasons for these movements that are lost in the haze of time and Protestant attacks. But I can’t seem to marshall my thoughts and my words. I know there were atrocities committed in the Crusades, but overall I think they were an understandable reaction to the march of Islam after the death of Mohammed. (Of course, few people seem to know anything about that–it’s always the devil you “know” that gets the blame.)

But how to answer for the Inquisition?


#2

Start here:

The Inquisition
catholic.com/library/Inquisition.asp


#3

The Church is a hospital for sinners. Men have failed the Church in the past and will in the future. That does not diminish the teaching authority and expectations. Failures do not invalidate Christ’s teaching or the authority of the Church.


#4

Convert Matthew Arnold’s 3-tape set (“Fire and Sword”, I believe it’s called) is also pretty interesting as new findings are coming regarding French and Spanish Inquisitions. If Arnold is even half way accurate with his study, the truth about this period has been totally buried beneath several centuries of lies, repeated over and over again.

Just 1 example (French Inquisition): The Cathars (Albigensians) saw spirit as good, all matter as evil. Therefore marriage was evil because it led to babies (more created physical beings, more evil).
I believe their 2 sacraments were called “the Endura” and “the Consolatum”. The ultimate sacrament assuring one of heaven was suicide, by your choice of smothering or starvation. It was even ocasionally applied to children. As one might imagine, these beliefs would lead to the destruction of human society. The group was clashing so strongly with the rest of French society that vigilante groups began to take matters into their own hands, executing members without even hints of a trial. The Church eventually moved in to stop the vigilante activities, which were beginning to be used by some to remove not just religious heretics, but political enemies as well.

And where did this group claim to get their religious ideas and practices from? SCRIPTURE ALONE.

This is not my stuff, it’s all from Matthew Arnold’s tapes. I may not remember it all exactly, but this is pretty close.

God Bless Us All…


#5

You can get Fire and Sword: Crusade, Inquisition, Reformation by Matthew Arnold at:

saintjoe.com/p/prod_desc.pl?id=325

God bless,
Paul


#6

A friend and I watched a history channel documentary on the Inquisitions. As liberal and anti-Catholic as you may expect it to be, it actually wasn’t. It was pretty, well, I guess good!

 Not being an expert by any means, I'll pass along a few things:
  1. There were different “periods of Inquisition” that were geared towards suppressing certain heretical groups or practices. Such as Jewish converts to Catholicism reverting to particular Jewish practices. The Cathari and Waldensians, the Reformers, those are examples of “Periods of Inquisition.”

  2. The Inquisition was actually carried out, for the most part by theologians. Particularly Dominicans. And from what I understand, they stuck to the Biblical mandate that “every fact shall be confirmed by 2 or 3 witnesses” so that if somebody who didn’t like somebody else came to them accused that person they didn’t like of being a heretic, then they would seek more witnesses, and if any of the witnesses had contradictory stories, the charges were dropped. As far as the torture went, there were probably extreme cases with certain Inquisitors, but the general rule was that a person was not to be tortured for more than like 15 minutes or so and if they started bleeding, the procedure was to stop. The idea was that the Church is responsible for people’s spiritual life, and to protect people from spiritual death, some physical pain is ok.

  3. What I’ve said above refers to the Inquisition practices under the Pope. The Spanish Inquisition is what gets the bad rap so much, and for good reason. However, the Pope handed over the responsibility of heresy suppression to the civil powers in Spain and so all the Spainairds were at the mercy of the civil authority, rather than the mercy of the church. Even if a person repented and renounced their heretical beliefs, they would still be killed. I think the church was more merciful than that.

  4. The “Holy Office of the Inquisition” was done away with by a recent Pope (John 23rd or Paul 6th I think) and reorganized/renamed the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” If not for that, then Cardinal Ratzinger would be the “Grand Inquisitor.”


#7

In terms of the Crusades-- a lot of people get really thoughtful looks on their faces when you remind them that Islam, within the first 300 years of its existence, invaded, conquered and converted all of Northern Africa, Palestine, and Turkey (formerly entirely Christian). So, even after one admits to some horrible atrocities, it doesn’t really seem all that terrible, in a comparative sense, that Christendom tried to secure access to its holiest sites when it was denied by the conquering Muslims.


#8

[quote=patricius]In terms of the Crusades-- a lot of people get really thoughtful looks on their faces when you remind them that Islam, within the first 300 years of its existence, invaded, conquered and converted all of Northern Africa, Palestine, and Turkey (formerly entirely Christian). So, even after one admits to some horrible atrocities, it doesn’t really seem all that terrible, in a comparative sense, that Christendom tried to secure access to its holiest sites when it was denied by the conquering Muslims.
[/quote]

Except that Constantinople was Christian, not Moslem. We’ve just witnessed the return of the relics of St John Chrysostom which were taken during the sack of Constantinople.
Not that the sack of Constantinople was sanctioned by the Pope (though he did try to take advantage of the situation after the fact)

John.


#9

I have like wise thought and considered this same question for a number of years. You really do not have to read much to know that the history of the Church is written in blood. The Church leadership has been responsible for some pretty gruesome issues over time; however, Christ’s promise is that “The gates of hell would not prevail,” which they have not. We have seen other institutions fall apart when wrong doing were uncovered. Even with its scandals, the Church continues to weather each crisis and has continued to be a beacon of Faith, Hope, and Charity to the entire world. The latest sexual abuse scandal is but one example. It never fails to amaze me how our Church leadership thinks that they need to “protect” the Church against any criticism. If we truly believe that Christ is “Head of the Church” then it does not been protecting. In fact, I believe that its greatest strength is shown when its shortcomings are surfaced and reviewed by the world. Although, we may not be perfect, we are still part of Christ.


#10

[quote=caroljm36]But how to answer for the Inquisition?
[/quote]

I’ve found that discussions about the Inquisistion and the Crusades usually go nowhere. The people who bring it up don’t want to know the truth, they simply want to show that the Church is somehow untrue because there have been bad people in it. I don’t bother discussing the history with those types, but instead turn the tables on them I ask “What is it you think the Crusades or the Inquisistion prove, assuming your understanding of them is correct?” They usually answer “Well, how can the Catholic Church be Christian (or true) when it does these types of things?” I answer “The Catholic Church is made up of people, and, as the Bible says, we are all sinners. Are you claiming that the people who lead your church are not sinners?” Usually they will mumble “ummm no…” “Good, since we’ve established that all people are sinners and all Churches are made up of people and therefore all Churches are led by sinners of one sort or another, lets discuss something important.”


#11

[quote=prodromos]Except that Constantinople was Christian, not Moslem. We’ve just witnessed the return of the relics of St John Chrysostom which were taken during the sack of Constantinople.
Not that the sack of Constantinople was sanctioned by the Pope (though he did try to take advantage of the situation after the fact)

John.
[/quote]

Acually, Mr. Arnold also addresses Constantinople in his series. The Pope was offering indulgences for participation in these pilgrim trips to help reclaim the Holy Sepulchre. When he received rumors of an impending attack on Constantinople, he issued a condemnation of the idea, urged everyone to continue straight for their original purpose, and even withdrew the indulgence for anyone who participated in the unapproved act. So almost no one listened to the pope, so that’s not really new either (slavery and birth control immediately come to mind).

The Spanish Inquisition is also discussed at length by Matthew Arnold. Really, his point appears not to “rewrite” a new false history of the Spanish Inquisition, but rather to investigate current history’s accounts of these events (with newly available documents, recently released by the Vatican) to see what is true and what is not true. He acknowledges that many people (Catholics as well) will dismiss his actions as “misguided”. I, for one, welcome Mr. Arnold’s dissection of these events in an attempt to uncover Truth.

Yes, we all understand our Church is full of us sinners, and yes, because of that the Church has been guilty of a number of misguided deeds in the past (and in the future no doubt). But to acknowledge such DOES NOT mean we must roll over and apologize for every accused misdeed in history that someone can come up, without checking it out first. That’s all Matthew Arnold is doing…checking it out!

God Bless Us All!


#12

[quote=ChrisR246]claiming that the people who lead your church are not sinners?" Usually they will mumble “ummm no…” “Good, since we’ve established that all people are sinners and all Churches are made up of people and therefore all Churches are led by sinners of one sort or another, lets discuss something important.”
[/quote]

The people I’m talking with inevitably are non-believers, who think religion is “outdated,” “disproved” by Science, and is responsible for all wars and bloodshed. This at the same time wars are imputed with economic motivations (go figure). Even the ones who fancy themselves educated know very little history and these are huge topics. I don’t like the comparative atrocities angle, or the “nobody’s perfect” angle because I fear they make no headway with this sort of skeptic. Yet I don’t think they’re hopeless; they just haven’t heard a good argument and won’t seek one out.

Obviously, I need to study this more because from the posts above I see there were legal & social angles–like the idea of locals depending on ecclesiastical courts etc. and trying to prevent more bloodshed over heresies–I think there is a lot of promise there. Slay 'em with history! I have studied English legal history and it’s amazing how the various courts and remedies developed. Most people don’t know much history and a few facts could go a long way.

Thanks.


#13

Lots more good information about the Inquisition from the Catholic Educators Resource Center.

catholiceducation.org/links/search.cgi?query=inquisition


#14

No, atrocities like this don’t “prove” anything, but I think it’s entirely reasonable that people should expect the Church to seem *good *in at least some sense. After all, the whole rationale for belief is that God made us and wants us to be happy, so we should do what He tells us-- but if what he tells us to do is (or seems to be) somehow intrinsically repugnant, then I think that repugnance is a valid prima facie objection to the truth of the existence of that god, or of that particular divine command.

In other words-- associating oneself with an organization that was involved in the Crusades and the Inquisition can seem to a lot of people to be against the spirit of love and of Christ’s preaching, especially if they have a distorted understanding of history. The mortal-venial distinction is intuitive, and even non-Catholics will understand that sins committed by modern church leaders (of all denominations) are not as serious as some of the charges levelled against Catholic leaders of that time. Defending the Church’s “reputation” against these charges-- not by lying or concealing, but by plain honesty-- is part of letting our light shine among men!


#15

The same way you handle the Henry VIII question.


#16

[quote=caroljm36]The people I’m talking with inevitably are non-believers, who think religion is “outdated,” “disproved” by Science, and is responsible for all wars and bloodshed.
[/quote]

I find it helpful to point out that the deaths at the hands of atheistic/non-Christian leaders in the 20th century alone far outweigh all of the deaths due to all wars in previous centuries.

Hitler: 12 million
Stalin: 14 million
Pol Pot: 19 million
African civil wars and genocides: still unknown, at least 4 million to date

(during the period of the crusades and inquisitions, the total population of Europe was less than 12 million)


#17

Usually I ask people what references they have for their information…I have yet to meet anyone that has based it on more than hearsay.

Many believe that the crusades were nothing more than an attempt of the Church to secure land. In fact, the Eastern Church called the Western Church for help because of the Moslem invasion and slaughter of Christians in the lands they controlled. Many of the crusaders were rich nobles who gave up their lives and fortunes to answer this call for help. The 700+ year Moslem occupation of Spain, in my opinion, simply explains the militant attitude of Spain after they were finally able to extricate them. The captives sometimes become very much like the captors.

The Inquisition was started in Spain in the 15th century and was very similar to the methods used to sort out modern day treason. Religion was law of the land and there were those who wanted to do away with Catholicism in Spain. Those who were brought in the first time were questioned by the Church to ensure orthodoxy and if they failed the test were handed over to the State and given a chance to leave the country, if they were caught a second time and found guilty, they were executed. Considering that there were only around 2000 executed in 350 years time pales in comparison to other atrocities that have taken place throughout history. I am not trying to make an excuse for it, but people tend to pass it off as an entirely Church function rather than what it was…a State instituted process for rooting out treason.

Obviously there were abuses in both cases, I don’t try to argue this. I simply state the obvious, people are human and thus make mistakes. We know of atrocities that far outstrip those they can present and yet people still try to magnify what those within the Church have done inaccurately. We’re persecuted for not being perfect enough in one moment and condemned for not following the world in the next. It’s simply the work of Satan and the sinful state of man showing it’s duplicity.


#18

This, I think, would be G.K. Chesterton’s answer to your question about the Inquisition and the Crusades:

*When people impute special vices to the Christian Church they seem to entirely forget that the world (which is the only other thing there is) has these vices much more. The Church has been cruel; but the world has been much more cruel. The Church has plotted; but the world has plotted much more. The Church has been superstitious; but has never been so superstitious as the world is when left to itself. *


#19

Hi all!

As a point of onformation, we Jews have very bitter memories of the Crusades, specifically of the massacres of Jews perpetrated by Crusaders in the Rhine Valley & in Jerusalem. I am certainly not speaking against Pope Urban II & we certainly remember how Archbishop Ruthard of Mayence and Bishop John of Speyer (among other senior churchmen) tried as best they could to protect us, but we still remember the Crusades very poorly. If you played a word association game with most orthodox Jews like myself, who know something about the history, and said, “Crusades,” we would probably respond with words like “Fire,” “Blood,” “Slaughter,” and the like.

See tinyurl.com/5rhu3 & tinyurl.com/4zjpg.

Be well!

ssv :wave:


#20

Just a thought for you Catholics:

How about just acknowledging that it is a good thing to hold people accountable to their Baptism and Confirmation vows? And when people leave the teaching of the Catholic Church and start spreading heresy, track them down and stop them, so they don’t infect others with their poisonous novelties.

Apologize for the abuses, but not for the whole “Holy Office of the Inquisition” that has to it’s credit many saints and even St. Dominic as one of the first Inquisitors!

Many of the Inquisitors actually did their job. Think for instance, how many Cathari do you know today? The Dominicans did their job:clapping:?

What would the Holy Office be busy with today were it still in it’s pristine existence? We will never know, because there are no Inquisitors.


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