Purpose of the Inquisitions?


#1

I’m trying to give the Catholic view on another site and would like some opinions to this before I respond.

What purposes was the Inquisitions and were these ordered by the philosophies of men, rather than directives from Jesus Christ through revelation to the leaders?

Thanks for anyones help.


#2

A good idea is to know the definition of the word inquisition. As far as I know it means “to ask questions and examine evidence” The word was applied to courts of law , either secular or church courts. It was just the common usage applied to hearings or trials.
I was trying to remember the name of US process whereby evidence is submited to see if there is enough for trial. Is it Grand Jury? Once a death sentence was applied by secular courts to the charge of heresy Rome set up a group that would examine the evidence of the secular courts. Many lives were saved because of this.
Ledgends are hard to bypass but courts and the rule of law are found in every culture. One can make great mockery of anything they want but there is often little understanding of the reality of the times.

st julie


#3

…conversion of a special kind:eek:


#4

A little known fact: the Inquisition actually *saved *lives. That’s right. Saved them.

The most important part of understanding the Inquisition is to understand that it was not the Church that burned people at the stake. During medieval times, it was imperative to the social order that all people ascribe to the same faith. It was a time much different from our own in which freedom of thought is well received. The whole of Europe was constantly in danger and unity of belief was necessary for unity of the nation. Thus, kings and lords would hold trials and execute anyone who taught heterodox teachings.

Now, the problem is that these kings, lords, and their judges were not the greatest theologians. Thus, you had countless people accused of heresy and disturbing the social order who were clearly in line with Church teachings. In order to correct this process and ensure the safety of innocent individuals who either were really orthodox or simply did not know any better out of ignorance, the Church opened the Inquisition. Its sole purpose was to send educated theologians to these kingdoms and faciliate in the hearings. Countless lives were *saved *from kings and lords ignorant of complex theology by the Inquisition, and the Church even went out of its way to place limitations on what a heretic could suffer under the hands of their respective king or lord.

I highly recommend this article from National Review Online: nationalreview.com/comment/madden200406181026.asp


#5

NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!!!

[left]…sorry, couldn’t help myself :smiley: [/left]


#6

Thanks Mike, the the link helps a lot :slight_smile:


#7

[quote=mike182d]A little known fact: the Inquisition actually *saved *lives. That’s right. Saved them.

[/quote]

I have read that the Inquisitions also saved lives by preventing the orgy of witch-burnings from taking hold in the areas in which the inquisitions were active. The number of people who died in these witchhunts dwarfs the number of people who died through the Inquisitions.


#8

[quote=mike182d]A little known fact: the Inquisition actually *saved *lives. That’s right. Saved them.

The most important part of understanding the Inquisition is to understand that it was not the Church that burned people at the stake. During medieval times, it was imperative to the social order that all people ascribe to the same faith. It was a time much different from our own in which freedom of thought is well received. The whole of Europe was constantly in danger and unity of belief was necessary for unity of the nation. Thus, kings and lords would hold trials and execute anyone who taught heterodox teachings.

Now, the problem is that these kings, lords, and their judges were not the greatest theologians. Thus, you had countless people accused of heresy and disturbing the social order who were clearly in line with Church teachings. In order to correct this process and ensure the safety of innocent individuals who either were really orthodox or simply did not know any better out of ignorance, the Church opened the Inquisition. Its sole purpose was to send educated theologians to these kingdoms and faciliate in the hearings. Countless lives were *saved *from kings and lords ignorant of complex theology by the Inquisition, and the Church even went out of its way to place limitations on what a heretic could suffer under the hands of their respective king or lord.

I highly recommend this article from National Review Online: nationalreview.com/comment/madden200406181026.asp
[/quote]

Hey that’s a good link. I would reccommend a booklet called “Why Apologize for the Inquisition”??? which was based off of a BBC documentary in the mid-90s gleaning information directly from the Inquisition Records. The booklet is short at 30 some pages and is chalked full of information and statistics related to the Spanish Inquisition and the Witch Hunts in primarily in Protestant Europe. Thanks and God Bless.


#9

One must remember that it was **states ** who saw heresy as a great threat in many cases.

It spawned division, disruption and revolt, as well as forming the basis for civil war, and providing a group of people (often of apocalyptic belief) likely to ally with internal traitors and foreign enemies.


#10

The modern historiography of the Inquisition, most of it by non-Catholic historians, has resulted in a careful, relatively precise, and on the whole rather moderate image of the institution, some of the most important works being: Edward Peters, Inquisition; Paul F. Grendler, The Roman Inquisition and the Venetian Press; John Tedeschi,* The Prosecution of Heresy*; and Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition.

Some of their conclusions are:

The inquisitors tended to be professional legists and bureaucrats who adhered closely to rules and procedures rather than to whatever personal feelings they may have had on the subject.

Those rules and procedures were not in themselves unjust. They required that evidence be presented, allowed the accused to defend themselves, and discarded dubious evidence.

Thus in most cases the verdict was a “just” one in that it seemed to follow from the evidence.
A number of cases were dismissed, or the proceedings terminated at some point, when the inquisitors became convinced that the evidence was not reliable.

Torture was only used in a small minority of cases and was allowed only when there was strong evidence that the defendant was lying. In some instances (for example, Carlo Ginzburg’s study of the Italian district of Friulia) there is no evidence of the use of torture at all.

Only a small percentage of those convicted were executed - at most two to three percent in a given region. Many more were sentenced to life in prison, but this was often commuted after a few years. The most common punishment was some form of public penance.

The dreaded Spanish Inquisition in particular has been grossly exaggerated. It did not persecute millions of people, as is often claimed, but approximately 44,000 between l540 and l700, of whom less than two per cent were executed.

The celebrated case of Joan of Arc was a highly irregular inquisitorial procedure rigged by her political enemies, the English. When proper procedures were followed some years later, the Inquisition exonerated her posthumously.

Although the Inquisition did prosecute witchcraft, as did almost every secular government, the Roman inquisitors by the later sixteenth century were beginning to express serious doubts about most such accusations.

The Inquisition has long been the bete noir of practically everyone who is hostile to the Church, such as Continental European anti-clericals. But its mythology has been especially strong in the English-speaking lands, including America.

[font=‘Times New Roman’]catholic.net/RCC/Periodicals/Dossier/1112-96/column1.html[/font]


#11

I appreciate everyone’s reply and I learned a lot about the Inquisition and how the Church handled it especially the witch trials. It’s been very informative and now I have no problems defending Church on this issue. :smiley:


#12

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