When did executing heretics become immoral?


No…I think most people against the death penalty agree it’s bad when a state executes heretics. The core difference is though when a state reforms they say “Yeah, we messed up, sorry, we won’t do it again”.

Religions, not just Catholicism, do not do this generally speaking, it’s more like “Yeah, we killed him, so what? We can’t make mistakes, it was good then, but it’s not good now”.

This is special pleading, and not especially endearing from an institution that claims to speak for God I trust you understand. Not to mock, but it’s not exactly good publicity.


Bruno was under arrest for 7 years. It doesn’t say if that meant house arrest. Obviously he was treated well, or he wouldn’t have made through the 7 years. The Church excommunicated him and condemned him. It was the secular authorities that executed him. That would have been under the time of pope Clement VIII. In what I’ve read, It doesn’t say one way or the other, that pope Clement VIII approved of the execution of Bruno.

As an aside, When the Church condemns someone, that doesn’t mean execute them. Just look at Luther, like Bruno, another renegade priest. Luther was condemned and excommunicated as a heretic, just like Bruno. Nothing happened to Luther. Look at all the heresies throughout history https://www.catholic.com/tract/the-great-heresies , were their leaders executed by the Church? No

Are there rogues in the Church throughout history? Yes.


Well, except for heretics directly under Church authority, like Giordano Bruno. And why should anyone have to pretend to believe differently than they do? Surely a man making a false recantation of his heretical beliefs is still bound for Damnation, even if it allows him to elude execution during his life time.


So why can’t you behave as if you believe that divorce is acceptable, gay marriage is fine and pro-choice is all good.

What? You can’t do that because of your deeply held convictions?

…But he was supposed to.

More special pleading.


Jamie, have you read through the comments… “Church” “Church” “Church”

Nothing else registers. Not the fact that thems were thems times nor that right now, during our exchange, millions are suffering from their own governments abusive practices and zealots and their :see_no_evil::hear_no_evil::speak_no_evil: compatriots remain silent as people are being terrorized, oppressed, raped, murdered, exiled, and sold into slavery.

Throwing out accusation is great–taking a moral stance while ignoring reality is fantastic.

Real, it is not!

Maran atha!



I thought you had presented it?

Maran atha!



Another baiting and trolling post from a poster who is not seeking a reasonable answer but just wants to argue and spit at the Church and her history. The Middle Ages were barbaric, accept it and get over it.
Why even dignify a post like this??


Reality bites, don’t it.

Have you read up on the united states of Russia or Mao or the many other states that have killed their own citizens and have not and will not accept their heinous acts as evil/horrendous?

That’s why I can only see threads like this as a farce.

Pretending to care for morality and life only as a means to demean the Church or, as you’ve just extended, religion… the problem is that atheism is also a religion–but their devout followers do not own up to it because they would have to agree that their religion far out strips the destruction and abuse of two thousand years of “claimed” Christian abuse and destruction.

Maran atha!



Why are you trying to place your immaculate God guided church on the same pedestal and expecting it to be held to the same standards as a bunch of laypeople or even worse godless heathens?

Surely your church deserves to be treated much better, and held to a far higher standard as befitting the majesty of your God? Would it not be insulting to your God to not expect better of his chosen agents than those without those special graces and blessings?


Can you see how it does not matter what is put forth… “Church” “Church” “Church;” I doubt that your agenda has more than one item: “Church.”

I think we have hit that circle; compelling information does not register, quotes do not register, not even off the hip rebuttals register…

Got to get of this circular!

Maran atha!



Again, circular.

Maran atha!



Hi, Joey!

There’s always the temptation to think that rationality would hit the coco hard enough and deep enough to make reason a reality… but as it usually turns out hate God, Christianity and the Church, that’s the cause for all of their follies–as that passage in Scriptures say, ‘the fool says in his heart, there is no God.’

After a while we have to allow them their temerity as science; that’s what makes the world go round!

Maran atha!



Nuh uh. You don’t get off that easy.

You claim it’s wrong for us to judge the Church then by the standards of today and in the very same breath spew scattergun attacks against secularists and atheists about how low we are before your faith and what evil we’ve spread around the world (I’d actually like to judge in this case the church by the standards of the time, I don’t recall cases of Protestants executing heretics as late as the 1800’s but that’s another argument).

Pick one. Do we judge your church as something special or do we judge it at the same standard as everyone else at the time? I have a feeling the majority consensus will be the same in either case in this instance because of how it behaved so late into the last millennium.


Thank you, you have fully expressed the Reality of the Faith!

I hope that it is picked up by all Believers and that they endeavor earnestly to build the Body of Christ into the Image of our Creator: Holy and True.

Maran atha!



Please, understand; to me a circular argument is that where neither agent gains anything more than go on the ‘round.’

I will not accept your accusations on the merits of accusations; you will not accept anything I can put forward unless I were to accept your accusations as fact.

It’s a spinning wheel exercise.

If you were to really want to dialogue, there could be opportunity for it. But mere exchange for exchange sake is futile.

Maran atha!



But then you must also admit the Church stumbles on occasion, which is rather the point here. I don’t really hold the Church in any special contempt over its conduct in the Middle Ages. It was a major religious and political institution populated by people of similar upbringing and views as their secular/temporal counterparts. There was a time when the Church was not adverse to the execution of heretics. Yes, in many cases it tended to try to get the heretic to at least publicly recant, but at the same time it sent many heretics to their doom, and within the Papal States the Church was the government, and the executions of heretics there was done by the Church.

But the Church, as with much of Western Civilization, changed its views on such practices. To some extent, the Church’s position was altered for it. The loss of the Papal States essentially ended the Church as a significant political power in Europe, and thus its ability to impose itself even within its own neighborhood came to an end. It no longer had the actual ability to impose any kind of sentence. With the Lateran Treaty, the Church’s actual sovereignty became limited to Vatican City.

In other regards, like the change in tact by the Church on the topic of democracy was really a shift within the upper echelons of the Church hierarchy to the fact that democracy was becoming the norm and that many Catholics had every expectation that they should be able to have the political voice that comes along with the right to vote. I’d say all in all the Church did an admirable job shifting to being more fully a spiritual institution and abandoning any desire or ability to exercise any kind of political control.

That all being said, whether many of my fellow atheists like it or not, the Church was very much a critical institution in the Middle Ages. It gave at least Western Europe some veneer of unity even as princes battled each other for territory and influence. For some time, it was the chief source of scholastic preservation and progress, and the history of the era is littered with priests in the courts of kings, princes and emperors serving as advisers, bureaucrats, record-keepers, and so forth. Without the Church’s at least somewhat calming and unifying influence, the Germanic princes that ended up ruling much of Western and Central Europe would have probably plunged the continent into a true dark age.


If you’re ever interested in a discussion on this topic I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this, because while I won’t go into detail here I think the diametric opposite about this influence. Europe had philosophers, academies, public libraries etc…Until they were hacked to death with scallop shells (the end of the Classical world is traditionally pinpointed on the death of Hypatia, the last Pagan Philosopher who was quite gruesomely assassinated for refusing Baptism and to submit to men having been a leader herself), shut down or burnt to the ground.


This is the exchange that we can always have… here’s the excellent point you found that the Church was forced to assimilate:

When you read history, you find that the Church was festered with politicos–Bishops came from wealthy families, from monarchies, from the intellect (elite); the Pope was rundown at many junctions… Bishops kept family moneys, clout, political and financial aspirations… so having to experience exile and running for their lives in the middle of the night, and having the Pope’s personal army exterminated in one single assault those were cause for pause, redirection–I would dare say Divine Intervention.

All of these experiences caused the Church to Change… not her Doctrinal Teachings but the behavior of her representatives (don’t know if you are aware of the time when there were “three Popes?”)–the hardest thing for the Church is that when her members fail she is the worst of the world because she is suppose to uphold Justice, Mercy, and Truth.

I do not defend the error. I simply cannot agree to dump on the Church from what we now believe happened without all the factors being considered.

I apologize for any heated exchange on my part, and I welcome your collaboration on this site.

Maran atha!



I’m glad we can find a mutually agreeable position. I suppose I should have picked another monicker. Being an atheist it seems people just assume that I’m completely anti-Church which is rubbish. The Church, with all its flaws, really in many important ways kept Western and Central Europe afloat after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, and I think anyone reviewing the history of the Dark and Middle Ages can see that the Papacy had little choice but to become a political actor, seeing as it was the only institution to have fully survived the collapse in the West.


I concur!

I also think that part of the problem lies in “the hidden agendas;” too many times both on line and live people seek to undermine and exploit fractions of information without accepting the measures that must be place. So when issues come up and they seem to be running through the same old trenches… it becomes an exercise in futility… it is funny that when reason prevails even the darkest episodes in the human experience can be found to contribute to our learning process…

Maran atha!


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