PBS 4-Part Series: Secrets of the Inquisition. Your Take

Tonight the PBS started with 2 parts of a 4 part Series on the Secrets of the Inquisition.

If you saw it or Recorded it, what is your take on it so far?

My take is that they deviated substantially from their “proof documents” and peppered it with opinions of anti-catholic accusations from the last 300 years.

As a Catholic, you may get confronted with their Presentation.

The last Part MAY be a rebuttal. We shall see.

I have not seen this show, but I have LONG since given up any hope for PBS. To their credit, PBS produces numerous shows which have a religious context. Sadly, however, they only seem interested in questioning the fundamental beliefs of religion – not in exploring or illuminating religious beliefs. Indeed, it has made me greatly question the validity of their other shows (historical, scientific, etc.).

In my view, when PBS choses to do a show of some religious context they should only explore a religion as the LEADERS and FOLLOWERS of that religion view it. How helpful it would be to see shows that tell us what does the Catholic Church teach, what does the Eastern Orthodox Church teach, what do ORTHODOX Jews believe, what do REFORMED Jews believe, what do Muslims believe, what do FUNDAMENTAL Muslims believe, what do Baptists believe, what do the Amish believe, the Mormons, the Quakers, etc. They could do shows which show how VERY MUCH these religions have in common. Then they could tell us about the eastern religions: Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, etc.

Instead, they question the fundamental tenets of the various religions: does God exist, isn’t the Bible just myth and allegory, there is no proof that a large number of the persons in the Bible never existed or that the events did not take place, etc.

Any “reasonable” person cannot watch these PBS productions without reaching the conclusion that there is no real basis for religious belief, that no two persons within a denomination believe the same thing, that the various religious hierarchies themselves are in great disarray and confusion, that the various religions are rife with dissenters, that no one follows any religion’s teachings correctly or in their entirety, that the followers are hypocrites, that there is no evil, no sin, no devil, no hell, etc. etc. etc.

Why does PBS have such an anti-religious bias? How dare they even pretend to be objective, fair, balanced, etc. Although PBS is funded by corporations and “viewers like you,” are they not also funded by our tax dollars?

I thought is was very fair, almost sympathetic to the Roman Catholic church. One of the commenters included was a representative of the Vatican.

The stories came directly from the actual records of the church. Even their characterization of the Cathars, as latter day Gnostics, was consistent with the official position of the RC church.

What we actually know about the Cathars comes from the Roman Catholic church. Nobody looked at that assumption critically. Were they really gnostic in their theology or was that a slander against them, used to justify their persecution?

Do confessions obtained through torture have any historical merit?

Why did it take 600 years for the documents to be released?

I watched only a part of it… The part that I saw seemed to have an unspoken theme of anti-catholic. It wasn’t so much a blatent attack, but rather a selective filtering and presentation of the facts.

I watched the first part of it, and I had a kind of strange reaction. I kept wondering why the whole thing seemed so familiar. According to the show, there were officials in the Church who kept meticulous records of what people said (the people they ordered into the inquisition). There were very detailed testomonies from the people involved. There was a parish priest back in the 1300’s who was not only a heretic - he had affairs with several women in a village somewhere in France. The Church officials who questioned the people reminded me of today’s lawyers.

I kept wondering why it seemed that I had heard it all before. Then it dawned on me! Back then, the Church and State were one. Now, in modern times, we have separation of church and state. Today’s “inquisition” would be lawyers, judges and juries. Instead of a testimony about a heretic priest who slept with several women in the village in the 1300’s, we now have detailed testmonies about priests who molested little boys in the 1950’s!

Although a few people did get burned at the stake, it seemed that they put some of them in prison for awhile, and then they let them go.

I expected the show to be anti Catholic, but it just didn’t come across to me that way. After all, if these things happened, and the Church released the documents regarding these events, what would be gained by trying to hide it?

The last 2 parts are on tonite.

I saw some of it. They did mention at the beginning of one part that Pope John Paul II had publicly apologized for the “wounds” of the Inquisition. It’s an interesting subject. I did like the one about Pio Nono - Pope Pius IX. But I think the show was somewhat biased.

Apparently, what I saw tonight was the last part of the 4 part series. I did not see any of the previous parts.
But I am wondering if any of you know more about Pius IX? What I saw was about how he had kidnapped a young Jewish boy (last name Monara?) and kept him from his family for at least 12 years. Of course, he didn’t do the kidnapping personally, but had his “inquisitor” kidnap him and bring him to Rome, where he resided until he was finally released. The boy did not want to go back to his family and became a priest. Apparently, the boy did write to his family trying to convince them of the truth of Catholicism. The implication left by the show (in my opinion), is that the boy had been brainwashed during his lengthy time in Catholicland.
Does anyone know any more about this "incident?"
The program also talked about a House of Catechumans (? spelling) in Rome that was supposedly used by the Catholic church to indoctrinate young Jewish children in the Catholic faith—children who had been taken from their families (and the series said that this type of kidnapping was a common occurence).

I don’t pay enough attention to PBS, as I should. I would have wanted to catch the whole series.

PBS did a great documentary on Islam, as I recall. It was very upbeat and positive about the accomplishments of the Arab / Muslim world over the centuries.

It did not really deal with the philosophical problems of Islam. Catholic Apologist HIllaire Belloc (? if I haven’t botched that name) calls Islam a external heresy of Christianity. It is so Judeo-Christian in its basic tenets, it’s no coincidence, but then it turns heretical on so many points. Its view on Christianity is based on the exposure of the Prophet to Arian heresies and the Arian view of Christianity.

But, from viewing about an hour of the PBS program, I’m very depressed that it is very accurate, especially the parts about why Napoleon wrestled control of Italy from the Pope and seized thousands of crates of Inquisition documents and took them to Paris.

The incident of the kidnapping (from one point of view) or of the liberation (from the other point of view) of Edgardo Montarro (Montarra?) is also very troubling.

That takes the inquisition down to the very personal level, of what it did even in the last decades to one Jewish family.

It is very uncomplimentary to the Catholic Church. Even the recent announcement about Limbo questions the teaching and almost-fanaticism about baptizing infants. I had to look into JPII’s book, Crossing the Threshold of Truth to remind myself of what he said. He said that the Church does not have a monopoly on truth. During the Inquisition, the Church acted as if it did.

In the final analysis, the PBS series estimates the number of heretics burned at the stake was around 12,000. An earlier program on the History Channel gave an estimate of 5,000 executions over the life of the Inquistition. The depiction of anti-semitism during the Inquisition is also not very complimentary-- for good reason. (those estimates are very close, compared to protestant propaganda over the centuries that hundreds of thousands of people were executed; also, the discovery of devices of torture does not prove that they were used in fact, except in many cases for the pure terror of showing the intended victim “the instruments” .)

Overall, the heavy-handedness of the Catholic Church shows that it has perhaps relied too much on itself and not enough on God, or trusted enough in HIs direction.

I watched those religion-oriented programs on the History Channel on Mother’s Day and they showed the heavy-handedness of the nation of Israel as it was coming out of Egypt and following the directions of God to capture the Holy Land. So, the Jews cannot escape their history of barbarism.

Neither can Christians (Catholics) or Muslims. God help us.

They looked like they were trying to give the appearance of being fair and balanced, but their shots at the Church were apparent.

[/FONT]Catholic League Questions Accuracy of PBS Docudrama on Inquisition


I’m wondering who has watched the PBS “documentary” on the Inquisition. Man, it is really a scathing, horrible attack on the Catholic Church. Last night it presented Pope Paul IV as a mastermind of the Reformation era Inquisition. The church burned many manuscripts.
They used a Vatican representative in an interview and obviously edited his replies in a manner to reflect unfavorably on the Church at that time. When will the Vatican become more media savvy? they shouldn’t allow their sound bytes to be used by unscrupulous productions in this way. Tonight , I think its about how the Church hated Jews and created the ghetto in Rome. What next?
I think this documentary will inflict untold damage and encourage non-catholics to hate us.

Any views on this I am interested in. The Catholic encyclopedia does not give much history on this. Wonder where PBS got their’s?:eek:

Our Tax dollars at work…against us.:mad:

I just started a thread on this topic:


God bless,

I did watch part of the special and it certainly did put the Catholic Church in a bad light. Typical media - they always enhance and publish the negative, but never talk about the positive.

While I’m not Catholic, it did leave me wondering what the truth really is in this manner. The Inquisition has (and probably always will be) a difficult area for the Church to explain.

Are there any objective sources out there that tell what actually went on? I personally don’t care for the hate mongering TV specials.


I think the series went to great length to be fair to its subject. It was done apparently with the full cooperation of the Vatican.

It provided historical context to the events influencing the course of Christendom in Europe from the high middle ages to the modern era.

It also provided insight into the inclination to secrecy for the North American bishops with regard to the recent scandals of child sexual abuse. (Fr. Hans Kung has written eloquently on this habit.)

I would recommend purchasing this series to people who are interested in the truth.

How do you know that? In any case they seemed to cut short the Vatican rep almost everytime. I think they lifted sound bites to their advantage.

Look at the bottom of this page. There are a ton of threads on this.

Was there anything in the series that was not true?

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