PBS Program "Secrets of the Inquisition"

Did anyone watch the PBS program on the Inquisition? I did. In school “a hundred years ago” I learned a little about the Inquisition, but this program went into much more detail. I saw the episode involving the Cathers and the Good Men in France. People came into the Inquisitor and told him tales and he believed them. It seemed like the Church was being used to destroy the Church.

From here and now looking back on then (through the eyes of the PBS program) it was amazing that the Church had the political power to execute anyone especially based on tale telling.

I saw the first episode, not as bad as I thought it would be, but kinda boring.

out of interest…

In 1998, Pope John Paul II requested the Historical-Theological Commission of the Committee of the Great Jubilee Year 2000 to hold a congress on the Inquisition to prepare for the Day of Forgiveness in 2000. To this end, an International Symposium was held in October 1998 attended by historians from around the world — Catholics and non-Catholics — whose scientific competence was universally recognized. In 2004, a 783-page book titled "Minutes of the International Symposium: The Inquisition” was published containing all the addresses delivered at the Symposium. The editor of the Minutes was historian Agostino Borromeo, a professor at Rome’s La Sapienza University and an expert on the Inquisition. In giving an evaluation of the book at a June 15, 2004 press conference, he said: "Historians no longer use the topic of the Inquisition as an instrument to defend or attack the Church.” He said there had been a "great step forward” in 1998 when Pope John Paul II ordered the opening of the secret archives of the CDF, formerly the Holy Office. Borromeo added that the Minutes "are a point of reference for studies on the Inquisition; in the first place, for the scientific rigor of the reports, exempt from controversy or an apologetic nature which is typical of recent historiography.”

Borromeo pointed out that the Spanish Inquisition held 44, 674 trials between 1540 and 1700. Of these 1.8% were condemned to death, including 1.7% condemned in "contumacy,” meaning dummies were burned or hanged in their stead.138 The most reliable estimates of the number of witches hanged or burned throughout Europe between 1450-1750 puts the figure at between 40,000 and 60,000. Estimates cited by Borromeo include Switzerland 4000, Poland-Lituania 10,000, Germany 25,000, Denmark-Norway 1,350. In the Spanish Inquisition’s history, said Borrromeo, 59 witches were condemned to death, while in Italy the figure was 36 and in Portugal it was 4. Borromeo pointed out that civil tribunals rather than ecclesiastical ones accounted for the vast majority of these killings. Also, much of the killings were carried out in areas under Protestant domination.


There’s one VERY good way to tell if the “Inquisition” report you are watching/reading is legitimate or merely defamatory. If they are intellectually honest enough to distinguish between “Inquisitions” held by civil governments in the NAME of the faith and “Inquisitions” actually conducted BY the Church or with the explicit supervision of the Church, they are probably being honest. If they never mention the difference, they are hacks.

It’s on SBS in Australia right now. The episode with the treatment of Jews in the 1850’s is most distressing. It’s like the prequel to Hitlers Germany.

But as Hitchens puts it. With one apology the church goes back to begin infallible once more.

I take it you’re referring to the Mortara case. There was no issue of infallibility involved there, although a lot of pain was caused and rightly acknowledged as such. It is not dogma that Jewish children should be either baptised, kidnapped from their parents or raised as Catholics.

While the child should never have been baptised - and current Canon Law on the matter is clear that a child must not be baptised against the wishes of its parents - the fact is the deed was done. And not by a priest, but by a misguided laywoman. Papal infallibility is no guarantee that laypersons will not do imprudent things.

The Church was trying to make the best choice in what must have been an impossibly difficult situation. And being that its primary role is care of souls rather than bodies, why would it be shocking that it took the decision that it thought was best for the child’s spiritual welfare? What kind of church worthy of the name would ignore such a consideration?

Oh no I was talking about making the Jews live in ghettos and forced to identify with yellow arm bands (wow that sounded just like WWII Germany). The environment in which the montaro case was conducted. The inquisition police etc…

The church has no right to take a boy away from his loving and caring parents… Australia said sorry for the same acts… The aboriginal stolen generation. I’m sure the apology was included in that inquisition apology the church gave. Regardless the church choose poorly.

Funny thing is the aboriginal children were taken away for their spiritual and physical welfare as well… This was only about 50 years ago. I guess if we don’t know we made a mistake we can’t really learn from it. Well at least we know now that we were wrong.

Hitchens and those who think this way don’t understand the Church, nor what infallible means. If it restores the confidence of one, that is different. However, the Church has never ever lost her infallibility, of course as properly understood in the true meaning.

Still, you haven’t discussed anything related to infallibility.

Here are some of the best sources available about the Inquisition:




God bless!
Holly :slight_smile:

But isn’t that the problem. The Catholic church said jump and everyone said how high rather than why are we jumping. It was good to see some priests even though they were heads of the inquisition disagreed with the church and bode thier time until they could ally with Napolean.

Laws were put down by the church to put jews in ghettos strip them of their rights and make them identify themselves from others. These laws were decreed by the infallible church.

What does it mean?

  1. incapable of error
  2. always successful: an infallible cure
  3. (of the Pope) incapable of error in setting forth matters of doctrine on faith and morals

Ahhhh so in this context it is only the pope that is incapbable of error. Does the treatment of humans come under doctrine of morals?

Well that was unbiased… See I really liked the documentary because it presented the story of what happened, the writings, the drawings and the environment. We then decide the morality of these actions. All those links you gave us was telling me what to think and what I should believe.

While you start off explaining the cruel, abhorrent immoral act committed against the Mortara family, you end up seeking to justify and explain these actions.

What arrogant disdain for Jews, Judaism, Torah and the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people. Jews are not defective. The spiritual welfare of a Jewish boy growing up in the warmth of a Jewish family does not need to be rectified by sprinkling bath water on him and the saying of incantations that are meaningless to Judaism. If a Christian mother requests her infant son to be circumcised and the person performing the circumcision secretly and against the will of the Mother, performs a full Jewish religious circumcision bringing the child into God’s covenant with Abraham and the Jewish people, would you hold that the child had ceased to be Christian and became Jewish if he were deemed so under Jewish law? Would you justify and explain his permanent removal from his mother and father and siblings to be brought up in a Yeshiva eventually to be a Rabbi? Indeed do you believe that this "was best for the child’s spiritual welfare? Do you think that Judaism would be a religion and a people “worthy of the name” if it “would ignore such a consideration?”

The Spanish inquisition ended one thousand years of Jewish life and culture on the Iberian peninsula, effecting one hundred and forty thousand Jews. Why is it not possible to simply recognize that fact in a clear unequivocal voice.

The laws of the Papal states concerning Jews, their being forced to live in ghettos, being made to wear clothing marking them as Jews, being stripped of basic legal and civil rights are abhorrent. The Mortara case is immoral. Why can that not be stated in a clear strong moral voice?

Well, we could always have done as Joshua’s godly Jews did in Jericho and other places - not just slaughter those of other faiths wholesale, children, livestock and all, but commemorate the slaughter in scripture and song for ever afterwards. Never noticed any moral outrage recently over that massacre of the innocents. Seems the Mortaras didn’t fare so badly at all considering :shrug:

A disappointing answer but then apparently you feel that Christian religious persecution of Jews is simply the Jews getting what’s coming to them. Of course it was God that closed the Red (reed) sea on the Egyptians and who instructed Joshua in taking Jericho. So your right in the respect that the Jews got God and Torah and they had both coming to them.:thumbsup:

And how do Jews understand the reason that God behaves so differently today versus in the time of Joshua? The bible makes everything seem awfully cut and dry, but I suspect that then, as today, it was necessary to discern God’s will, not simply hear with ears and obey. Surely there were great miracles and signs, but God always leaves enough room for doubt that the faithless can explain Him away. No other explanation makes sense when you read how the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and shortly afterwards made a gold cow to worship!

It is the same with the Church in history. She is infallible in preserrving Divine revelation and teaching moral principles, but NOT in how she behaves. In EVERY era of history, she behaves imperfectly. The trick is that by virtue of having those infallible principles staring us in the face all the time, the Church DOES typically behave in a manner slightly BETTER than the culture in which she is immersed. This is true today, when the Catholic Church stands strong in principle against abortion, but does a pretty lousy job in action. It was true the same way with minority civil rights in the 1960’s. It was true in regards to slavery. It was true with the Nazis. And it has always been true of treatment of the Jews.

For all the crimes committed against the Jewish people in history, I have noticed that the culture at large ALWAYS wanted (and often actually DID) commit worse crimes in that same era. This does NOT excuse the members of the church for failure to live by the principles we preach. It IS, however, precisely what catholic teaching would predict to happen. The members of the Church are fallen humans like the rest of us. The presence of the truth in the teaching of the catholic church IMPROVES the behavior of its members compared to the human culture at large, but doesn’t automatically make them impeccable!

What people always do is look back in hindsight and proclaim shock and horror at the misdeeds of catholics in history. This is intellectual dishonesty. Most of those expressing the horror would be guilty of worse crimes if they had grown up IN that culture and era. This isn’t moral relativism, we’ll ALL be judged by objective standards of right and wrong. But it is realism in terms of how to judge the impact of the Church on history. Individuals must all by judged by objective standards. Organizations must be graded on a curve or the perfect becomes the enemy of improvement.

Now how strange. Apparently “The Jews” are guilty as “the Jews” at all times throughout history for all acts from the time of Joshua until the present day. The Church on the other hand apparently always behaves at a higher moral standard then its adherents. The adherents, as opposed to “the Jews”, apparently must be judged in relation to the time and era.

The Jews were persecuted by the Catholic Church which expounded anti-Jewish dogmas and promulgated anti-Semitic papal edicts and laws against the Jews. The Priest whipped up the Catholic adherents against the Jews. What Catholic Church morality concerning the Jews? There was no separation between Church and State. The Church taught the attitudes toward the Jews not the other way around. The Church taught that Jews were cursed like Cain for rejecting Jesus, that Jews were guilty of deicide, that the Jew was a corrupting influence, that the Jews should wear marked clothing and live in ghettos, that Jews should be kept totally socially separate from Catholics, that Jews should not employ or be employed by Catholics or eat with them or do business with them or study with them. The Church made laws and edicts to enforce these attitudes. If a Catholic Saint taught that Jews are like beasts fit only for slaughter how did you expect the Catholic adherent to behave toward the Jews?

Let me get this straight. Referring to The Jews and blaming today’s Jews for sins of the past is anti-Semetic. But Jews can refer to The Catholic Church and blame Catholics of today for sins of the past and that is not wrong. Got it.

What irritates me is how the Catholics here by and large defended the Jewish people against this sort of injustice a few months ago. Now I would except a little reciprocity and less kindling for the fire.

It’s a problem for you, as still, you don’t understand what infallibility means and applies to. So, your use of it here is inappropriate.

If you want to discuss the behaviors of men, then please do so. This is not related to the Church’s infallible teaching on faith and morals.

Just so you’ve been told, infallibility applies in teaching. It does not apply to behaviors. Going by what you’ve expressed here, I don’t hold high hope that we’ll see balanced approach, but nevertheless, I’ll pray for you that you do. In doing this, I’m praying that you honor God’s eighth commandment about not bearing false witness.

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