Has the Inquisition been over-hyped by Catholic haters?

I hear the Vatican opened up their archives on this a few years ago, and claimed it was really a minor event with torture only being rarely used and only a very few been actually killed. So is the common perception of the Spanish Inquisition as extraordinarily cruel and vindictive really unjustifiable hype from Catholic haters?


Here is an example of the Spanish Inquisition in what is now the USA applied to a Russian Orthodox:

According to the most fully-developed version of the story, in 1815 a group of Russian employees of the Russian American Company and their Aleut seal and otter hunters, including Peter, was captured by Spanish soldiers, while hunting illicitly for seals near San Pedro. According to the original account, the soldiers took them to Misión San Pedro y Pablo for interrogation. One Russian source states that after being taken prisoner near modern Los Angeles, the captives were taken to Mission Dolores—that is, modern San Francisco. With threats of torture, the Roman Catholic priests attempted to force the Aleuts to deny their Orthodox faith and to convert to Roman Catholicism.

When the Aleuts refused, the priest had a toe severed from each of Peter's feet. Peter still refused to renounce his faith and the Spanish priest ordered a group of Native Americans, indigenous to California, to cut

Update 2:

off each finger of Peter's hands, one joint at a time, finally removing both his hands.[2] They eventually disemboweled him, making him a martyr to the Eastern Orthodox faith. They were about to torture the next Aleut when orders were received to release them.

As one poster correctly stated, the church wasn't really involved in torture or murder here, it was the fault of others in this case the pagan native Americans.

Update 3:

The Siege of Beziers (22 July 1209)

The Pope ordered the legates to preach a crusade against the Cathars and wrote a letter to Phillip Augustus, King of France, appealing for his intervention—or an intervention led by his son, Louis. The crusader army came under the command, both spiritually and militarily, of the papal legate Arnaud-Amaury, Abbot of Cîteaux.

The Béziers army attempted a sortie but was quickly defeated, then pursued by the crusaders back through the gates and into the city. Arnaud, the Cistercian abbot-commander, is supposed to have been asked how to tell Cathars from Catholics. His reply, recalled by Caesar of Heisterbach, a fellow Cistercian, thirty years later was "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius."—"Kill them all, the Lord will recognise His own."[13][14] The doors of the church of St Mary Magdalene were broken down and the refugees dragged out and slaughtered. Reportedly, 7,000 people died there. Elsewhere in the town many more thousands were mutil

19 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    the Spanish Inquisition (as distinguished from the Papal Inquisition) did not proceed against sincere followers of any religion, but only against those Spaniards, Jews, and Moors who, having once been members of the Catholic Faith, pretended to be Catholics, but had actually given up their faith and become involved in treacheries against Spain.

    Circa 1492, the top Jews in Spain had wormed their way into high positions of Church and State by pretending to be Christians. These false Marrano Jews, as they were called, were working with the Muslims across the strait of Gibraltar to overthrow Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, and turn a Christian country into a Moslem country.

    Queen Isabella reacted in time and instituted the Spanish Inquisition, which was constituted to inquire who were the false Marrano Jews were who were working in Church and in State to betray both. The Spanish Inquisition was not a mad rampage where millions were killed indiscriminately, but a careful rooting out of traitors who were about to betray and perhaps destroy Spain first, and then Christian Europe.

    In a recent documentary produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (certainly not a pro-Catholic organization!) called "The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition," historians presented their conclusions from the first-time-ever study of the actual cases taken from the archives of the Inquisition itself, from which they are discovering that the common notion of the Spanish Inquisition as some horrible, fanatical, all-encompassing blood- thirsty monster could not be further from the truth.

    The documentary stresses that the Spanish Inquisition was governed by very strict manuals of procedure, which spelled out what could and could not be done. By contrast to the other (Protestant) tribunals of Europe, they emerge as almost enlightened. Anyone breaking the rules was sacked. The inquisitors were interrogators, but restrained interrogators, skeptical of the usefulness of hardship and torture. The torture chamber was never used in Spain. It was practiced in the Protestant Northern European countries at the time. For example, the register of Bernard Gui (1261-1331), the Inquisitor of Toulouse for six years, who examined more than 600 heretics, shows only one instance where a (mild) torture was used. In the vast majority of cases, those who were found guilty were enjoined to say some prayers, or perhaps recite the Seven Penitential Psalms.

    The documentary notes that from 1450 to 1750 there was a terrible persecution of witchcraft in the Protestant countries of Europe and in the United States. At the merest accusation of horrible crimes such as killing babies or sleeping with the devil, women were tortured or burned at the stake. The Papal Inquisition, however, said that witchcraft was a delusion, and in fact no one could be tried or burned for it.

    In Protestant Europe 150,000 persons were prosecuted for the crime of witchcraft, and perhaps half that number were condemned and executed. In one year alone (1692), in the United States, the Protestant Salem Witch Trials executed 20 "witches." Protestants even sold as slaves those they considered heretics, like Anne Hutchinson, under the authority of the General Court of Boston, and four of them were hanged, including the Quaker, Mary Dyer.

    Historian John Tedeschi described the Papal Inquisition as "not a drumhead court, a chamber of horrors, or a judicial labyrinth from which escape was impossible. Capricious and arbitrary decisions, misuse of authority, and wanton abuse of human rights were not tolerated."

    The Inquisitors were theological experts who followed the rules and "instructiones" meticulously and were dismissed and punished when they showed too little regard for justice. When, for example, in 1223 Robert of Bourger gleefully announced his aim to burn heretics, not to convert them, he was immediately suspended and imprisoned for life by Pope Gregory IX. (Maycock, The Inquisition, pp. 128-129)

  • elts
    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    Yes, it has been over-hyped by Catholic haters.

    The so-called "millions" that were executed in the Spanish Inquisition was actually only a few thousand, and that was over the course of 350 years.

    Secondly, the Spanish Inquisition was actually under the control of the Spanish monarchy, who selected the inquisitors themselves, and even punished/executed the accused themselves. The Vatican's role in the Spanish inquisition WAS in fact minor, and the only reason the pope approved the Spanish Inquisition in the first place was because Ferdinand II threatened to pull his troops out of the Papal States (which were under threat of Ottoman invasion).

    So yes, the anti-Catholic media / Hollywood / Catholic haters have all over-hyped the Spanish Inquisition.

  • 10 years ago

    Modern historians have long known that the popular view of the Inquisition is a myth. The Inquisition was actually an attempt by the Catholic Church to stop unjust executions.

    Heresy was a capital offense against the state. Rulers of the state, whose authority was believed to come from God, had no patience for heretics. Neither did common people, who saw heretics as dangerous outsiders who would bring down divine wrath.

    When someone was accused of heresy in the early Middle Ages, they were brought to the local lord for judgment, just as if they had stolen a pig. It was not easy to discern whether the accused was really a heretic. The lord needed some basic theological training, very few did. The sad result is that uncounted thousands across Europe were executed by secular authorities without fair trials or a competent judge of the crime.

    The Catholic Church's response to this problem was the Inquisition, an attempt to provide fair trials for accused heretics using laws of evidence and presided over by knowledgeable judges.

    From the perspective of secular authorities, heretics were traitors to God and the king and therefore deserved death. From the perspective of the Church, however, heretics were lost sheep who had strayed from the flock. As shepherds, the pope and bishops had a duty to bring them back into the fold, just as the Good Shepherd had commanded them. So, while medieval secular leaders were trying to safeguard their kingdoms, the Church was trying to save souls. The Inquisition provided a means for heretics to escape death and return to the community.

    Most people tried for heresy by the Inquisition were either acquitted or had their sentences suspended. Those found guilty of grave error were allowed to confess their sin, do penance, and be restored to the Body of Christ. The underlying assumption of the Inquisition was that, like lost sheep, heretics had simply strayed.

    If, however, an inquisitor determined that a particular sheep had purposely left the flock, there was nothing more that could be done. Unrepentant or obstinate heretics were excommunicated and given over to secular authorities. Despite popular myth, the Inquisition did not burn heretics. It was the secular authorities that held heresy to be a capital offense, not the Church. The simple fact is that the medieval Inquisition saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.

    Where did this myth come from? After 1530, the Inquisition began to turn its attention to the new heresy of Lutheranism. It was the Protestant Reformation and the rivalries it spawned that would give birth to the myth. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from the printing presses of Protestant countries at war with Spain accusing the Spanish Inquisition of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Most of these lies are still being circulated as fact.

    For more information, see:

    The Real Inquisition, By Thomas F. Madden, National Review (2004) http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/madden200406...

    Inquisition by Edward Peters (1988)

    The Spanish Inquisition by Henry Kamen (1997)

    The Spanish Inquisition: Fact Versus Fiction, By Marvin R. O'Connell (1996): http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/history/...

    With love in Christ.

  • 10 years ago

    Fact is that it was always over hyped the process was so ponderous that it took forever to get through the system. execution didnt add up to that many people in fact I think the movie makers are responsible for its disproportionate status. THe Jewish people which was what it was all about had a far harder time in Italy in fact. Where a lot of people mostly women and the mentally ill were tortured was in the protestant catholic hunts in Britain and the witch hunts all over Europe, mostly protestant inspired. THe evil you see is contained within that damn book and whilst ever it exists as anything but a book of fairy tales this kind of behaviour will return again and again, I give you the Westbro baptists

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  • 10 years ago

    Possibly, as the first source link below suggests, an attempt to prove the Catholic Church is not the true Church of Christ.

    The BBC reported the torture and executions they found in studying the Spanish Inquisition records were minor when compared with what anti Catholic rhetoricians claimed in the past. The Spanish Inquisition was founded to "inquire" into subversive groups trying to overthrow the crown.

    The first link below contains this justification:

    "To that end, it is helpful to point out that it is easy to see how those who led the Inquisitions could think their actions were justified. The Bible itself records instances where God commanded that formal, legal inquiries—that is, inquisitions—be carried out to expose secret believers in false religions. In Deuteronomy 17:2–5 God said: "If there is found among you, within any of your towns which the Lord your God gives you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing his covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, and it is told you and you hear of it; then you shall inquire diligently [note that phrase: "inquire diligently"], and if it is true and certain that such an abominable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring forth to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones."

    Source(s): http://www.catholic.com/library/Inquisition.asp This video gives a historical background of the Spanish Inquisition from the time of 771 when the Moors conquered most of Spain by a highly respected Catholic historian. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnM4vHMcan0&NR=1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnHm7RQomDI&NR=1 Yes, the accusation is hype or propaganda to paint the Catholic Church in a bad light. The leaders were protecting their crown from pretender Catholics. We would do well to notice leaders in our own country today, Democrat and Republican, who seem to be selling us out to global interests, rather than representing the good of the citizens.
  • 10 years ago

    Yes and no... The Inquisition could indeed by extraordinarily cruel, but it was hardly on the scale that many people on here seem to think. Whenever I see people on here complaining about the history of the Church, it usually involves something about the Inquisition killing "millions"...

    Not to mention the fact that they willfully ignore the effect that Canon law and Inquisitorial procedures had on the development of justice systems in the West.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Yes. I have read that millions died from one poster. Lying is part of the game the play. They are right, therefore doing something wrong, to make someone look bad, is right.

    The Inquisition was a dark event in a dark time. Inexcusable, but you can't change the past. Those victims are better served now remembered than exploited.

  • mike s
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    or is it well covered up by the catholics themselves. i liked how the pope finally told us that the jews were not responsible for jesus dying. and yet i didn't see him telling us that ROME killed him!

    the fact that torture was used at all shouldn't have been needed. and i guess it really depends on what "they" define as torture.

    and there are no haters, there are text books filled with it. i never lived in those days, so i can't give you an eye witness. but there are many people that deny concentration camps ever existed, and that is covered up by the same people that covered this up as well.

  • LV426
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    While I agree people keep dusting it off for whatever reason, "torture only rarely being used" is still "torture being used".

    Tell ya what ... I'll come over and torture your family "rarely" over the next year.

    I find it interesting that people who have exactly ZERO connection to the past victims, keep hauling it out, demanding the rest of us (who have exactly ZERO connection to the participants) throw a mea culpa their way.

    Not happening.

  • 10 years ago

    I do think it has been blown out of proportion. I also believe that most of those who were tortured and killed were either Christian or the mentally ill. I don't believe the numbers that have been given, I've seen some claim as many as 9 million were killed....

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