Loading
Historian dismisses “black legend” about the Inquisition

.- In an interview with the Spanish daily ABC, historian and editor of a new study containing the results of an international conference on the Inquisition which took place at the Vatican in 1998, Agostino Borromeo, rejected falsehoods promoted by the “black legend” about the subject.

During the interview, the Italian history professor spoke about the 800-page volume which pulls together the conclusions of 60 historians and experts from around the world.

Borromeo told the Spanish newspaper the book “dispels the idea that those accused almost always ended up burned at the stake.”  “The punishment of heretics began in 1231 and ended with the abolition of the last Inquisition, that of Rome, in 1870, and it had different characteristics according to time and place.  The Spanish Inquisition, which was very active until it was abolished in 1834, judged 130,000 people in its entire history, of which less than 2% were condemned to death.”

“For a long time, judgments were confused with death sentences, and it was said that 100,000 were executed—a figure completely unreal.  Although some were sentenced to prison or to the galleys, most were given spiritual sentences: pilgrimages, penances, prayers, etc,” said Borromeo.

Asked about the punishment used by Inquisitions in other countries, Borromeo said that “between 1551 and 1647, it Italian court of Aquileia condemned only 0.5% of accused to death.  On the other hand, the Portuguese Inquisition between 1450 and 1629 condemned to death 5.7% of its 13,255 cases”

Borromeo added that the total number of cases in the entire history of the Inquisition which resulted in death sentences is around 2%.

Regarding torture, Borromeo said the study reveals surprisingly that “it was used in less than 10% of the cases and always in much more benign conditions than in the civil trials of the day.  Torture shocks us a lot today—unfortunately less so after what we saw in Iraq—but for a long time it was part of the normal process.”

The Italian professor explained later that “the Medieval Inquisition was not the same as the Inquisition of the 18th and 19th centuries, when people were much more sensitive to injustice.  In the Middle Ages, the Inquisition was very popular because heretics were seen as enemies and as dangers.  And the death penalty was very normal then.”

Lastly, Borromeo pointed to changes in the historical understanding of the Inquisition.  “Since the 16th century until the end of the fist half of the 20th, the Inquisition was a controversial subject.  Some used it to attack the Church, others responded with apologetics that went to ridiculous extremes, like saying that the trials were actually State trials and Church trials, which is false.”

“During her first 1000 years, the Church was opposed to the death penalty.  Then she accepted it for almost a 1000 more years.  John Paul II has asked for forgiveness for anti-Semitism and for the use of violence.  As historians, it is not for us to judge, but to clarify,” he concluded.


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)
Ads by Google
(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

New book 'The Vatican unknown'
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Aug
1

Liturgical Calendar

August 1, 2014

Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:54-58

Gospel
Date
08/01/14
07/31/14
07/30/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 26: 1-9
Gospel:: Mt 13: 54-58

Saint of the Day

St. Alphonsus Liguori »

Saint
Date

Homily of the Day

Mt 13:47-53

Homily
Date
07/31/14
07/30/14
07/29/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: