A volume entitled “The Inquisition,” based on the Symposium on the subject that took place in the Vatican in 1998 was presented this morning by Cardinals Roger Etchegaray, former president of the Central Committee of the Grand Jubilee of the Year 2000, Jean-Louis Tauran, archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church and George Cottier, O.P., pro-theologian of the Pontifical Household.
The Holy Father wrote a message on the occasion affirming that the symposium and presentation of the volume responds concretely to a desire expressed in the Apostolic Letter “Tertio Millennio Adveniente (1994)”:
"As the second millennium of Christianity comes to an end, it is appropriate therefore that the Church assumes a greater awareness of the sins of its sons and daughters when recalling the circumstances in which, throughout history, they deviated from the spirit of Christ and His Gospel, offering to the world the spectacle of ways of thinking and acting that were true forms of 'counter-witness and scandal', instead of witness to a life inspired by the values of faith."
"In public opinion," writes the Pope, "the image of the Inquisition represents in some way the symbol of this counter-witness and scandal. In what measure is this image faithful to reality?”
“Before asking for forgiveness”, writes the Pope, “it is necessary to know exactly what are the facts and to recognize the shortcomings with respect to the evangelical needs in appropriate cases. This is why the Committee referred to historians whose scientific competence is universally recognized."
John Paul II recalls that on March 12, 2000, a Day of Forgiveness was celebrated and forgiveness was asked "for the errors committed in the service of the truth when unethical methods were used." This petition for forgiveness "is also valid for the drama related to the Inquisition as well as the wounds that are its consequence. ... This volume," he concludes, "is written in the spirit of this petition for forgiveness."
Professor Agostino Borromeo, responsible for the volume, also spoke during the conference. He said that the volume is “a point of reference for studies on the Inquisition” for three reasons:
“In the first place, for the scientific rigor of the reports, exempt from controversy or an apologetic nature which is typical of recent historiography;
In the second place, for the richness of the information laid out which allows us to look at many places so widespread among non-specialists (the use of torture and the death penalty were not as frequent as once believed);
And in the third place, due to the amplitude of the volume, it is a reason to hope that intellectual debate on the theme is sparked and that there is stimulus for new research."