Monday, April 18, 2016

The Spanish - Australian Inquisition.

The Grand Inquisitors in Oz these days are TV presenters. Weekly we are subjected to the excruciating tortures of Q & A's Tony Jones on the ABC.
Tony Jones interviews Cardinal Pell
And even the 'commercial' morning glory programmes that are supposed to waken us over breakfast have the fatuous Andrew O'Keefe pontificating on matters he knows nothing at all about and fearless in demonstrating it.

O'Keefe, some may recognise from a quiz show on afternoon TV some time back that featured a briefcase full of money. It was perhaps too much for him so he was sent to the five am slot. 

Little did we know he was an expert on Comparative Religion.

He featured recently defending Islam and rubbishing Catholicism.  Some of the points he raised had several of the customers in the Tavern groaning in pain, so poor was his grasp of either Islam or Catholicism. Take a look.

That was just the start.  He compared the thousands of attacks by Muslims to one bombing by non-Catholic, so-called Christians on an abortion centre. His chosen ally in the interview, Patrick Conron, also a Queensland media mouth  brought in the IRA as an example too of Catholic terrorists, seemingly oblivious to what  the acronym IRA stood for. Here's a hint, O'keefe and Conron..... *Republican*. Get it? Nothing to do with religion despite what the murderous terrorists said or how the media chose to spin it. 

And then Anders Brevik, a nordic nazi psychopath gets roped in as a 'Christian', too, all in order to show how Mulsims are just one of many religions to be nasty and murderous. But misunderstood, of course.

And of course, the Crusades. All those nasty, rich Catholics (there weren't any other Christians at the time) waging war on all those inteeligent, urbane Muslims who had brought so much civilisation to Europe.

Frankly you have to be a raving, gibbering drunk to perform like O'Keefe, and guess what. That is what he is. See the link that even You Tube is reluctant to let me show here. O'Keefe, falling over drunk in the street, groping a woman and spewing in the gutter.

But then he had to bring in the Spanish Inquisition.

Oy Vey. My life already !! 

Would I let O'Keefe into the Tavern? Of course. Until he started being soiling my carpets and being stupid. Like bringing up the Spanish Inquisition. It is one of the oldest calumnies in the book, dating back to the 'reformation'. But then he is a TV presenter and mouth, not a mind as such. But let us look at this great stain. Doug Beaumont did the honours for us.
The Spanish Inquisition: Debunking the Legends
The Catholic Church is often the victim of the same kinds of urban legends that surround the Titanic or Aspartame. Whether it is the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, chained church Bibles, or Galileo, people are being led to believe falsehood and making bad decisions based on those falsehoods. Given the gravity of the decisions being made, any intelligent person deserves to have the facts.
If there is a hierarchy to urban legends that skeptics use to try to discredit the Catholic Church, the Spanish Inquisition is probably at the top. 
It’s an easy one, because most people think they know enough about it to not ask questions, and the knee-jerk reaction to the images brought to mind of thousands being tortured or killed for their beliefs are usually all one needs to make the point: the Church is untrustworthy at best, and genuinely evil at worst.
However, it turns out most of what people think they know about the inquisition is simply not true
Early AgitProp
The urban legends surrounding the Spanish Inquisition span from Reformation-era England to modern-day Fundamentalism, and are unfortunately so widespread that even many Christians believe them.
It is easily forgotten just where the Inquisition stories originated. The English 'Nationalists' King Henry the Eighth and Queen Elizabeth the First had clever and ruthless 'spin doctors' who were not only adept at calumnising Catholics but foreigners too.  Their tales  of wicked foreign Catholics (especially Spanish ones) have stood the test of time. "A lie repeated" (especially a BIG lie) is a mantra as powerful in today's media as back then in the market places.
To put it up front: yes, there were abuses done in the name of the Church—some committed by members of the Church. The urban legends concern the nature and extent of the abuses, as well as who was responsible for them. Although the evils present during various phases of the Inquisition were very real, should not be defended, and have been admitted by the Church, many historical misunderstandings and falsehoods based in anti-Spanish or anti-Catholic propaganda remain to this day.
Modern historical research has uncovered facts that dismantle many of these centuries-old falsehoods. Here are some quick corrections concerning popular misunderstandings:
o The Inquisition was originally welcomed to bring order to Europe because states saw an attack on the state’s faith as an attack on the state as well.
o The Inquisition technically had jurisdiction only over those professing to be Christians.
o The courts of the Inquisition were extremely fair compared to their secular counterparts at the time.
o The Inquisition was responsible for less than 100 witch-hunt deaths, and was the first judicial body to denounce the trials in Europe.
o Though torture was commonly used in all the courts of Europe at the time, the Inquisition used torture very infrequently.
o During the 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition, between 3,000-5,000 people were sentenced to death (about 1 per month).
o The Church executed no one.
So, what was the Spanish Inquisition?
In order to understand the urban legend status of the Spanish Inquisition, one must first understand the Inquisition in general. Existing in various parts of Europe as early as the 12th Century, the inquisition was part of the judicial system of the Church which dealt with heresy. 
The Bible records instances where God commanded that formal inquiries were to be carried out to discover believers in false religions (e.g., Deuteronomy 17:2–5; 13:5, 17:7, 12; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:13), and this idea was put into practice in the time when the Church and state were much more closely associated than they are today. Although, as part of the Church, the Inquisition was concerned only with its own members, loyalty to the Church assumed loyalty to the State and vice versa. This may seem unfair or oppressive, but it is how things were back then.
The original Inquisition of the 12th Century concerned the Catharists who blended Gnosticism with Manichaeism and believed in two gods. Their beliefs led to potentially civilization-destroying social consequences. 
Catharists refused to take oaths, which back then meant opposing government authority. Marriage was considered sinful while secret fornication was permitted. Even suicide was encouraged. 
These were not faithful bands of “Bible Christians” or a hidden “remnant” of true believers trying to avoid the evil institutional Church. 
Eventually Europe was so endangered by this group heresy that the Inquisition seemed to be a political necessity.
By the late Middle Ages, the subjects of Portugal and Spain were often Muslim or Jewish, and the re-conquering of those lands created a clash between these subjects and the Crown as well as the Church. King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile thus established the Spanish Inquisition in 1478 to weed out any remaining traitor-heretics (mostly focusing on converted Jews). Unlike the historical Inquisition of the Church, this Inquisition was essentially controlled by the secular government (even when staffed by clergy). It thus operated largely outside the control of the Church. In fact, when abuses were reported, Pope Innocent VIII complained to no avail.
Facts and Fictions.
Two major factors make a fair evaluation of the Spanish Inquisition difficult today. The first is that most of what we think we know about it is simply not true.  
The second is that we judge the realities of the Spanish Inquisition according to modern Western sentiments. 
Most of European life in the period covered by the Inquisition would be judged barbaric by this standard, and, ironically, the Inquisition was actually rather progressive compared to the rest of the world at the time. Here are some specific examples:
Fairness in Trials
Although the days of having court-appointed lawyers and access to one’s accusers were a long way off, at one time the Spanish Inquisition was widely hailed as the best run, most humane court in Europe. 
There are records of people committing blasphemy in secular courts so they could have their case would fall under the Inquisition’s jurisdiction. 
Further, the Inquisition was the first to pronounce Europe’s witch hunt a delusion and prohibited anyone from being tried or burnt for witchcraft (the number of witches killed by the inquisition was less than 100 out of over 125,000 trials).
Europe was not a set of Democratic states where the will of the people ruled. Kings and Princes did, along with Queens and Princesses putting their claws in. Trials were usually secret (at high levels) and what we call 'Star Chamber'. No 'defence' lawyers; no 'evidence' and cross examination. No 'seeking the truth'. Torture and execution was the norm. At town and village level the 'law' was what the local big-wig said it was and 'trials' did not even exist as we know them. Punishments were vicious in the extreme.  
When the Inquisition found someone guilty of heresy, most of the sentences were not unfair—many simply required the performance of some penitential good works. Heretics were unrepentant threats to the state—not confused, simple folk (in fact, the Inquisition had little impact on the vast majority of people because it simply did not exist in many rural areas). 
Finally, while verdicts of guilty or not-guilty fell to the inquisitors, the use of violent punishments was up to the secular authorities.
Use of Torture
Most of the torture and executions attributed to the Church during the various inquisitions didn’t occur at all, and historians now concede that Inquisition torture chambers never existed. Torture was indeed used during some Inquisition trials (hardly uncommon for the court system of the time). The Inquisition, though, had strict rules regarding its use that put it far ahead of its time.
Torture was unauthorized until 20 years after the Inquisition began. It was first authorized by Pope Innocent IV in 1252—not as a mode of punishment, but as a means of discovering truth. It was not to be used to threaten life or cause loss of limb, was to applied only if the accused was uncertain and seemed already convicted by many weighty proofs, and after all other options had been used. When it was used it was not to be used more than once, and for no more than 15 minutes. 
Unfortunately these rules were sometimes circumvented by creative readings of the rule book. Torture was most cruelly used under the pressure of secular authority (Frederick II, for instance, abused the Inquisition to persecute his personal enemies). So, while torture was used in some cases, the idea of continent-spanning torture and death caused by the Church is simply not the case.
There were no rapes, feet burning, creative torture chambers, iron maidens, etc., and reports show that between 98%-99% of all Inquisition trials did not involve torture at all. 
Compared to secular courts that decreed the death penalty for damaging shrubs in England, or disembowelment for sheep-stealing in France, the Inquisition was actually far more conservative than the secular Europe of the day.
Death Toll
No one knows exactly how many people perished because of the Inquisition, but it is thought to be  between 3,000 and 5,000 people during the 350 years of its existence. 

Some writers quote figures so wildly impossible it is amazing they have any purchase at all (I’ve seen numbers nearing 95 million—more than the entire population of the countries the Inquisition was held in!).
In 1998, Pope John Paul II stated that “The Inquisition belongs to a tormented phase in the history of the Church, which...Christians [should] examine in a spirit of sincerity and open-mindedness...[I]t is necessary to know the facts exactly and to recognize the deficiencies in regard to evangelical exigencies in the cases where it is so.”
Six years later, a symposium commissioned to study the Inquisition released its findings: the total number of accused heretics put to death during the Spanish Inquisition comprised 0.1 percent of the more than 40,000 who were tried. In some cases the Inquisition saved heretics from secular authorities.
Historical vs. Urban Legend Sources
If all this is true, then where did the misunderstandings come from? Political attacks on Spain (which was being equated with the Inquisition) and Protestant propagandists (identifying themselves with the heretical “martyrs” of ages past), resulted in the publication of falsehoods that were distributed via the new printing press throughout Europe. People like William of Orange and Montanus basically set the stage for historical thinking on the Inquisition for centuries to come—the so-called “Black Legend” of Inquisition terror. Further, activists, politicians, and even artists turned the Inquisition into a symbol of religious intolerance during the Enlightenment age which followed the Protestant revolution.
In recent years, however, the Vatican opened up its secret archives for historical investigation.
There was a very thorough BBC programme about this. 

Inquisition records that were made by and for the Inquisition were allowed to be researched for the first time in history. Since then, the above facts have been generally discoverable in modern history books (whether Catholic or not). Corrected Inquisition history can be found in sources such as Inquisition by Edward Peters and The Spanish Inquisition: An Historical Revision by Henry Kamen. Comparative secular documentaries include The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition (BBC) and the more sensationalistic The Spanish Inquisition (History Channel).
Conclusion: What Does this Say About the Church?
Even Monty Python turned bigotry into comedy.
When looking at the facts of the Inquisition, and placing those facts in their proper historical context, the picture we discover is far less terrible than is been believed. Even so, there were certainly abuses committed in the name of Christianity during the Inquisition. The question is, did the Church encourage theses abuses? The Church is most aware of her own failings and that she contains all sorts of sinners. She even knows some of them manage to work their way into positions of authority (Acts 20:29; Matt. 7:15).
But what matters for the Church, and what it should be judged by, is what it actually teaches. It would be absurd to criticize the Church for something done against what it advocates. Just as we don't judge the efficacy of a medicine by those who refuse to take it, so we should judge the Church only by her actual teachings and official actions.
Today's trial by media, presided over by leftist TV 'current affairs' hosts are a scandal. One could forgive them for being stupid, but what about all their peers and seniors, all supporting a 'Party Line' of Progressivism that denounces the good and excuses the sheer evil?  

Back in those days  they would be put to the sword as a mercy.



  1. Frankly you have to be a raving, gibbering drunk to perform like O'Keefe

    I was thinking similarly.

    1. He makes a fine addition to the hordes of plastic women that adorn our TVs.

  2. Thinking that the Cathars believed in two gods is another urban myth. As is the thought that they considered marriage sinful, they did not.
    At that point in history the church and the state were both trying to maintain their power base. The church and the state worked together leading to the Albigensian crusade and subsequently to the demise of the Knights Templar who were also accused for similar false reasons.

    1. The Prince of Lies has a grand old time on both sides.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..