.- Italian journalist Vittorio Messori responded this week to an article in the Communist daily Il Manifesto that portrays as truthful the black legend about the Inquisition. In a column translated from Italian by the Spanish daily La Razon, Messori maintains that “the imprudence—or shamelessness—of these ideologies never ceases to amaze me. A publicist named Adriano Petta published an article called ‘The Skeletons of the Holy Inquisition’. Dejá vu, of course. We’re talking about two and half centuries ago.”
According to Messori, the article “would not be worth reading were it not for the fact that it was published in Il Manifesto, one of the two or three newspapers in the entire Western world that still carries the title ‘Communist daily’on the front page.”
Messori noted that many other historical publications have been more precise in their accounts. “Just one year of the French Revolution, the reign of terror of 1793, left more victims that all of the centuries of all the inquisitions combined (the Protestants, in fact, did not fool around: the Geneva of Calvin was lit up by the bonfires, Lutheran Germany engaged in witch hunts as if they were a national sport; the last massacre encouraged by the Puritan pastors of Salem, Massachusetts, came at the threshold of 1800.)”
Messori noted as well that the number of victims of the communist regimes of the last century reached the hundreds of millions, all in the name of stamping out “deviations” from political “orthodoxy.” “It’s difficult, therefore, to take seriously the preaching that issues forth from certain pulpits,” Messori said.
The noted Italian journalist pointed out that an analysis of the modern historical data on the Inquisition, including information from the Vatican archives opened under Cardinal Ratzinger, would be of very much benefit to the Church. “Many pillars of the Black Legend would fall,” revealing a process characterized by an accurateness and a fairness “unheard of in the civil courts of that time.”
“Death sentences and torture were the exception,” Messori explains, noting that the typical images people have of the Inquisition were based on Protestant propaganda aimed at undermining Spain’s dominance in the Atlantic.
At the same time he emphasized that an authentic study of the Inquisition must acknowledge its “horrors” and that the authentic historian must avoid “the moral sin of anachronism.” The past must be understood in the context of the era, rather than analyzed through the lens of 21st century society, Messori maintained.
“Just as today’s leaders consider it their duty to provide health care for their people, so the Catholic Church was convinced that it had to answer to God for the eternal salvation of her children: Salvation that was jeopardized by the most toxic of venoms: heresy,” Messori wrote.