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    Post The Holy Inquisition: Myth or Reality

    The Holy Inquisition: Myth or Reality

    Taken from the March, 1998 issue of Catholic Family News

    Editor's Note: Centuries of false propaganda have convinced most people, good Catholics included, that the Inquisition was one of the most evil institutions ever devised. Presented here is a long-overdue defence in which Dr. Marian Horvat, Professor of Medieval History, sets the record straight by completely debunking five of the most common myths about the Holy Inquisition.


    To 20th Century sensibilities, to speak of Holy and Inquisition in the same phrase would seem a contradiction. Never has a subject seen so much ink-slinging — or whitewashing — as the Holy Inquisition. The modern mentality has a natural difficulty in understanding an institution like the Inquisition because the inquisitorial process was not predicated on liberal doctrines such as freedom of thought, which became central in Western culture in the 18th Century. The modern mind has difficulty in grasping religious belief as something objective, outside the realm of free private judgment. Nor does the modern mind see the Catholic Church as a perfect and sovereign society where orthodoxy should be maintained at any cost.

    Religious intolerance is not a unique product of the Middle Ages: everywhere and always in the past men believed nothing disturbed commonweal and public peace so much as religious dissensions and conflicts. By the Middle Ages, it had become accepted that the gravest kind of crisis was that which threatened the unity and security of the Latin Church, and not to proceed against the heretics with every means at the disposal of Christian society was not only foolish, but a betrayal of Christ Himself. The modern concept of the secular State, neutral toward all religions, would have shocked the medieval mind.

    Modern men experience difficulty in understanding this institution because they have lost sight of three facts. First of all, they have ceased to grasp religious belief as something objective, as a gift of God, and therefore outside the realm of free private judgment. Second, they no longer see in the Church a perfect and sovereign society, based substantially on a pure and authentic Revelation, whose first and most important duty must naturally be to retain unsullied this original deposit of faith. That orthodoxy should be maintained at any cost seemed self-evident to the medieval mind. Heresy, since it affected the soul, was a crime more dangerous than murder, since the eternal life of the soul was worth much more than the mortal life of the flesh.

    Finally, modern man has lost sight of a society in which the Church and the State constitute a closely-knit polity. The spiritual authority was inseparably intertwined with the secular in much the same way as the soul is united with the body. To divide the two into separate, watertight compartments would have been unthinkable. The State could not be indifferent about the spiritual welfare of its subjects without being guilty of treason to its first Sovereign, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Before the religious revolution of the 16th Century, these views were common to all Christians.1

    As William Thomas Walsh points out in Characters of The Inquisition, the positive suppression of heresy by ecclesiastical and civil authorities in Christian society is as old as monotheism itself. (In the name of religion, Moses put to death far more people than Torquemada ever did).2 Yet the Inquisition per se, as a distinct ecclesiastical tribunal, is of much later origin. Historically, it operated as a phase in the growth of ecclesiastical legislation that adapted certain elements of Roman legal procedure. In its own time, it certainly would not have been understood as it is presented today.3 For, as Edward Peters points out so well in his landmark study Inquisition, "the Inquisition" was an "invention" of the religious disputes and political conflicts of the 16th Century. It was later adapted to the causes of religious toleration and philosophical and political enlightenment in the 17th and 18th Centuries. This process, which was always anti-Catholic and usually anti-Spanish, became universalized. Thus, eventually the Inquisition became representative of all repressive religions that opposed freedom of conscience, political liberty, and philosophical enlightenment.


    Myth: The medieval Inquisition was a suppressive, all encompassing, and all-powerful, centralized organ of repression maintained by the Catholic Church.

    Reality: Except in fiction, the Inquisition as a single all-powerful, horrific tribunal, "whose agents worked everywhere to thwart religious truth, intellectual freedom, and political liberty until it was overthrown sometime in the enlightened 19th Century" simply did not exist. The myth of the Inquisition was actually shaped in the hands of "anti-Hispanic and religious reformers in the 16th Century."4 It was an image assembled from a body of legends and myths, which took shape in the context of the intense religious persecution of the 16th Century. Spain, the greatest power in Europe, who had assumed the role of defender of Catholicism, was the object of propaganda that decried "the Inquisition" as the most dangerous and characteristic of Catholic weapons against Protestantism.

    Later, critics of any type of religious persecution would adopt the term.

    In fact, there was not one monolithic Inquisition, but three distinct inquisitions.

    The Inquisition of the Middle Ages began in 1184 in southern France in response to Catharist heresy, and dissolved at the end of the 14th Century as Catharism died out. Modern studies show conclusively that there is no clear evidence that people in medieval Europe conceived of the Inquisition as a centralized organ of government. The Popes of the times had no intention of establishing a permanent tribunal.5 For example, not until 1367 does the title inquisitor hereticae pravitatis even appear when the Dominican Alberic was sent to Lombardy.

    Pope Gregory IX did not establish the Inquisition as a distinct and separate tribunal, but appointed permanent judges who executed doctrinal functions in the name of the Pope. Where they sat, there was the Inquisition. One of the most damaging legends that was spun through the centuries is the image of an omniscient, omnipotent tribunal whose fingers reached into every corner of the land. The small number of inquisitors and their limited scope far belie the exaggerated rhetoric. At the end of the 13th Century, there were two inquisitors for the whole of Languedoc (one of the hotbeds of the Albigensian heresy), two for Provence and four to six for the rest of France.6

    As for the accusation that the Inquisition was an omnipresent body throughout Christendom, the Inquisition did not even exist in northern Europe, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, or England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. The vast majority of cases in the 13th Century were directed against the Albigensian heretics in southern France. It was not even established in Venice until 1289 and the archives of that city show that the death penalty was inflicted by the secular power on only six occasions in totu.7

    El Santo Oficio de la Santa Inquisition, better known as the Spanish Inquisition, started in 1478 as a State institution appointed to discover heresy, deviations from the true Faith. But Ferdinand and Isabella also instituted it to protect the conversos, or New Christians, who had become victims of popular indignation, prejudices, fears and greed.8 It is important to note that the Inquisition had authority only over baptized Christians, and that the unbaptized were completely free of its disciplinary measures unless they violated natural law.

    Finally, The Holy Office at Rome was begun in 1542, the least active and most benign of the three variations.9 A recent study by John Tedeschi, The Prosecution of Heresy, deals with the Roman Inquisition and the procedures it followed after its reconstitution in the mid-16th Century in its struggle to preserve the faith and to eradicate heresy. The value of Tedeschi's study is that it overturns long-standing assumptions about the corruption, inhumane coercion, and injustice of the Roman Inquisition of the Renaissance, assumptions that Tedeschi admitted he harbored when he began his extensive work in the documents. What he "very gradually" began to find was that the Inquisition was not a "drumhead court, a chamber of horrors, or a judicial labyrinth from which escape was impossible". Tedeschi points out that the inquisitorial process included the provision of a defense attorney. Further, the accused was given right to counsel and even received a notarized copy of the entire trial (with the names of prosecution witnesses deleted) so that he might make a response. In contrast, in the secular courts of the time, the defense attorney was still playing only a ceremonial role, the felon was denied the right to counsel (until 1836), and evidence against the accused was only read in court, where he had to make the defense on the spot. Tedeschi concluded that the Roman Inquisition did dispense legal justice in terms of the jurisprudence of early modern Europe and even goes so far as to say, "it may not be an exaggeration to claim, in fact, that in several respects the Holy Office was a pioneer in judicial reform".10


    Myth: The Inquisition was born from the bigotry, cruelty and intolerance of the medieval world, dominated by the Catholic Church.

    Reality: The Inquisition found its beginnings in a calm, measured, and deliberate attempt to set up a juridical instrument of conformity that would eliminate the caprice, anger, and bigotry of the mobs. Further, the medieval inquisitors were combating a social, and not just theological, danger.

    At the end of the 12th Century, the Inquisition was established in southern France in response to the Albigensian heresy, which found particular strength in the cities of Lombardy and Languedoc. It is important to point out the social dangers presented to all society by this group, which was not just a prototype of modern Protestant fundamentalism, the popular view of our day. The term Albigensian derives from the town of Albi in southern France, a center of Cathar activity. The Cathars (the name refers to the designation of its adherents as cathaaroi, Greek for the "pure ones") held that two deities, one material and evil, the other immaterial and good, struggled for the souls of man. All material creation was evil and it was man's duty to escape from it and reject those who recognized it as good. The God of the Old Testament, who created the world, which is evil, was repudiated. It was the New Testament, as interpreted by the Cathars,11 that acted as guide for man to free his spiritual soul from evil matter, the body. A 13th Century authority, Rainier Sacconi, summarized the belief of the Cathars thus:

    "The general beliefs of all the Cathars are as follows:

    The devil made this world and everything in it. Also, that all the sacraments of the Church, namely baptism of actual water and the other sacraments, are of no avail for salvation and that they are not the true sacraments of Christ and His church but are deceptive and diabolical and belong to the Church of the wicked. . . . Also a common belief to all Cathars is that carnal matrimony has always been a mortal sin and that in the future life one incurs no heavier a penalty for adultery or incest than for legitimate marriage, nor indeed among them should anyone be more severely punished on this account. Also, Cathars deny the future resurrection of the body. Also, they believe that to eat meat, eggs, or cheese, even in pressing need, is a mortal sin; this for the reason that they are begotten by coition. Also that taking an oath is in no case permissible, this consequently, is a mortal sin. Also that secular authorities commit mortal sin in punishing malefactors of heretics. Also that no one can attain salvation except in their sect."12

    The Cathars thus held that the Mass was idolatry, the Eucharist was a fraud, marriage evil, and the Redemption ridiculous. Before death, adherents received the consolamentum, the only sacrament permitted and this permitted the soul to be free from matter and return to God. For this reason, suicide by strangulation or starvation was not only permitted, but could even be laudable.

    To preach that marriage was evil, that all oaths were forbidden, that religious suicide was good, that man had no free will and therefore could not be held responsible for his actions, that civil authority had no right to punish criminals or defend the country by arms, struck at the very root of medieval society. For example, the simple refusal to take oaths would have undermined the whole fabric of feudal legal structures, in which the spoken word carried equal or greater weight than the written. Even Charles Henry Lea, a Protestant amateur historian of the Inquisition who so strongly opposed the Catholic Church, had to admit: "The cause of orthodoxy was the cause of progress and civilization. Had Catharism become dominant, or even had it been allowed to exist on equal terms, its influence could not have failed to become disastrous."13

    In response to the severity and frequent brutality with which the northern French waged the Albigensian Crusade, in which many heretics were killed without formal trial or hearing, Pope Innocent III set in motion a process of investigation to expose the secret sects. Another problem confronting the papacy was the willingness on the part of the laity to take the most severe steps against heresy without much concern for the heretics' conversion and salvation. The real father of the medieval institution is considered to be Pope Gregory IX, friend of both St. Francis and St Dominic. He would call upon the newfound mendicant orders to assume the dangerous, arduous, and unwanted task of inquisitors.

    What Pope Gregory IX instituted was an extraordinary court to investigate and adjudicate persons accused of heresy. The unprecedented growth of the Albigensians in southern France surely played into his decision. In northern France as well, the Church was facing sporadic mob violence that often fell on the innocent. The practice of putting heretics to death by burning at the stake was assuming the force of an established custom. The Pope was also concerned about the reports coming from Germany about a sect known as the Luciferians, a secret society with fixed rituals that profaned the Sacred Host.14

    On the secular plane, the Pope was facing a formidable power, Emperor Frederick II, the supposedly "modern" and "liberal" Hohenstaufen, a ruler utterly indifferent to the spiritual welfare of the Church and continually at loggerheads with the Papacy. A Christian ruler in name only, Frederick II was heavily influenced by astrologers and Muslim customs (he kept a harem); he ruined two crusades, and was excommunicated twice. As early as March 1224, he ordered that any heretic convicted in Lombardy be burned alive (the ancient Roman penalty for high treason) or as a lesser penalty, their tongues torn out. Pope Gregory, fearful that Frederick was committing to flames men who were not heretics but merely his own personal enemies, sought to find a more measured way to deal with the problem.

    In 1233 Pope Gregory IX responded with his own solution: to replace the lynch law with a regular legal process headed by the mendicant Dominicans and Franciscans. They would be examiners and judges specially trained for the detection and conversion of heretics, protected from avarice and bribery by the vow of poverty, and devoted to justice.

    The first point, therefore, to be noted in connection with the mendicant Inquisition is that it came into being in response to a defined need. In the matter of heresy, it introduced law, system, and even justice where there had been limitless scope for the gratification of political jealousy, personal animosity, and popular hatred. When we find one historian describing the introduction of the Inquisition as a "step forward in juristic theory," we must understand him in that sense.15 Inquisitio means investigation, and this was the Pope's concern: a real investigation, a judicial procedure, instead of outright lynching, instead of acts motivated by irrational mob emotions and private vengeance.

    The second point is that the mendicant orders were charged with the task of preserving the integrity of the Faith as well as the security of society. The failure to stem the tide of this heresy would have allowed a collapse of Western Christendom. One of the most thoroughly successful tribunals in all history, it succeeded in extirpating the anti-social poison of the Albigenses and thus preserved the moral unity of Europe for another three hundred years.


    Myth: The hideous procedures of the Inquisition were unjust, cruel, inhumane, and barbaric. The Inquisition roasted their victims' feet over fire, bricked them up into walls to languish for all eternity, smashed their joints with hammers, and flayed them on wheels.

    Reality: Despite the compelling Gothic fictions, the evidence leads us to a wholly different conclusion. The procedures of the Inquisition are well known through a whole series of papal bulls and other authoritative documents, but mainly through such formularies and manuals as were prepared by St. Raymond Peñaforte (c1180-1275), the great Spanish canonist, and Bernard Gui (1261-1331), one of the most celebrated inquisitors of the early 14th Century. The Inquisitors were certainly interrogators, but they 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 Gregory IX.16

    The inquisitorial procedures were surprisingly just and even lenient. In contrast with other tribunals throughout Europe at the time, they appear as almost enlightened. The process began with a summons of the faithful to the church where the inquisitor preached a solemn sermon, the Edit de foi. All heretics were urged to come forward and confess their errors. This period was known as the "time of grace," which usually lasted between 15-30 days, during which time all transgressors had nothing to fear, since they were promised readmittance to the communion of the faithful with a suitable penance after confession of guilt. Bernard Gui stated that this time of grace was a most salutary and valuable institution and that many persons were reconciled thereby.17 For the principal aim of the process was to draw the heretic back into the grace of God; only by persistent stubbornness would he be cut off from the Church and abandoned to the scantier mercy of the State. The Inquisition was first and foremost a penitential and proselytizing office, not a penal tribunal. Unless this is clearly recognized, the Inquisition appears as an unintelligible and meaningless monstrosity. In theory, it was a sinner, and not a criminal, who stood before the Inquisitor. If the lost sheep returned to the fold, the Inquisitor counted himself successful. If not, the heretic died in open rebellion against God, and, as far as the Inquisitor was concerned, his mission was a complete failure.

    During this time of grace, the faithful were commanded to provide full information to the Inquisitor concerning any heretics known to them. If he thought there were sufficient grounds to proceed against a person, a warrant was dispatched to him ordering his appearance before an Inquisitor on a specified date, always accompanied by a full written statement of evidence held by the Inquisitor against him. Finally, a formal order of arrest could be issued. If the accused failed to appear, which rarely occurred, he would become an excommunicate and a proscribed man, that is, he could not be sheltered or fed by anyone under pain of anathema.

    Although the names of witnesses against the accused were suppressed, the accused was given an opportunity to protect himself from false accusations by giving the Inquisitor a detailed list of the names of personal enemies. With this, he could conclusively invalidate certain testimony against him. He also had the power to appeal to a higher authority, even the Papacy if need be.18 A final advantage of the accused was that false witnesses were punished without mercy. For example, Bernard Gui describes a father who falsely accused his son of heresy. The son's innocence quickly came to light, and the father was apprehended and sentenced to prison for life.

    In 1264 Urban IV further added that the Inquisitor should submit the evidence against the accused to a body of periti or boni viri and await their judgment before proceeding to sentencing. Acting more or less in the capacity of jurymen, this group could number 30, 50, or even 80. This served to lessen the enormous personal responsibility of the Inquisitor. Again, it is important to emphasize that this was an ecclesiastical court, which neither claimed nor exercised any jurisdiction over those outside the household of faith, that is, the professing infidel or the Jew. Only those who had been converted to Christianity and had subsequently reverted to their former religion came under the jurisdiction of the medieval Inquisition.19

    Torture was first authorized by Innocent IV in the bull Ad exstirpanda of May 15, 1252, with limits that it could not cause the loss of a limb or imperil life, could only be applied once, and then only if the accused seemed already virtually convicted of heresy by manifold and certain proofs. Certain objective studies carried out by recent scholars have argued that torture was practically unknown in the medieval inquisitorial process. The register of Bernard Gui, the inquisitor of Toulouse for six years who examined more than 600 heretics, shows only one instance of where torture was used. Further, in the 930 sentences recorded between 1307 and 1323 (and it is worthwhile to note that meticulous records were kept by paid notaries chosen from civil courts), the majority of the accused were sentenced to imprisonment, the wearing of crosses, and penances. Only 42 were abandoned to the secular arm and burned.20

    Legends about the brutality of the Inquisition in regard to the numbers of persons sentenced to prison and of those abandoned to the secular power to be burned at the stake have been exaggerated through the years. Working carefully from extant registers and available documents, Professor Yves Dossat estimated that in the diocese of Toulouse 5,000 people were investigated during the years 1245-1246. Of these, 945 were judged guilty of heresy or heretical involvement. Although 105 persons were sentenced to prison, 840 received lesser penances. After painstaking analysis of all the available data, Dossat concluded that in the mid-13th Century, only one out of every hundred heretics sentenced by the Inquisition was abandoned to the secular power for execution, and only ten to twelve percent even received prison sentences. Further, the Inquisitors often reduced sentences to lesser penances and commuted others.21 The large numbers of burnings detailed in various histories are generally unauthenticated, or are the deliberate invention of anti- Catholic propagandists of later centuries. From the growing evidence, it seems safe to assert that the general integrity of the Holy Office was maintained at an extraordinarily high level, much higher than that of contemporary secular courts or later.


    Myth: It was the Spanish Inquisition that exceeded all barbarousness, terrorizing all of society with its tyrannical and cruel practices.

    Reality: On November 6, 1994, the London BBC aired an amazing testimony to the falsity of these claims in a documentary titled "The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition." In it, historians admitted that "this image is false. It is a distortion disseminated 400 years ago and accepted ever since. Each case that came before the Spanish Inquisition in its 300-year history had its own file." Now, those files are being gathered together and studied properly for the first time. Prof. Henry Kamen, an expert in the field, admitted candidly that the files are detailed, exhaustive, and bring to light a very different version of the Spanish Inquisition.

    Protestant antipathies nourished this propaganda campaign against the Catholic Church and the powerful leader of the Hapsburg dynasty who commanded the most powerful armies in Europe, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Their fears intensified especially after the battle of Mulburg in 1547, where Charles' enemies were virtually annihilated.22 Philip II's succession to the Spanish throne and his own dedicated opposition to Protestantism fanned such fears. As Philip wrote to his ambassador in Rome in 1566, "You may assure His Holiness that rather than suffer the least damage to religion and the service of God, I would lose all my states and a hundred lives if I had them. For I do not propose nor desire to be ruler of heretics."23 Yet while the Spanish often triumphed in the field of battle, they were abject losers in the propaganda war. They made no defense against the legend of Spanish cruelty and barbarism created so that Europe would sympathize with the Protestant revolt in Netherlands. Defaming the Inquisition came to be the most natural choice of weapon to achieve this end.

    Many pamphlets and brochures, too numerous and horrendous to enumerate here, have been written since the 16th Century. It suffices to mention only a few: The Apologie of William of Orange, written by the French Huguenot Pierre Loyseleur de Villiers in 1581, enshrined all the anti-Inquisition propaganda of the past forty years into a political document that "validated" the Dutch Revolt. In 1567, Renaldo González Montano published his Sanctae Inquisitionis Hispanicae Artes aliquot detectae ac palam traductae, which was soon translated into all the major languages of Western Europe and widely circulated. It contributed decisively to what became known as the "Black Legend" that associated the Inquisition with the horrors of the torture chamber.24 Such accounts were enlarged upon by other Protestant writers, such as the Rev. Ingram Cobain in the 19th Century, who described one of its fictitious items of torture: a beautiful full-size doll that cut up the victim with a thousand knives when he was forced to embrace. The myth had been created and would assume proportions bordering on the ridiculous in the literature, travelers' reports, masonic narratives (see illustration), satires (Voltaire, Zaupser), plays and operas (Schiller, Verdi), histories (Victor Hugo) and gothic novels of later centuries.25

    Concerning torture, Prof. Kamen recently said, "In fact, the Inquisition used torture very infrequently. In Valencia, I found that out of 7,000 cases only two percent suffered any form of torture at all and usually for no more than 15 minutes . . . I found no one suffering torture more than twice." Prof. Jaime Conterras agreed: "We find when comparing the Spanish Inquisition with other tribunals that the Spanish Inquisition used torture much less. And if we compare the Spanish Inquisition with tribunals in other countries, we find that the Spanish Inquisition has a virtually clean record in respect to torture."26

    During this same period in the rest of Europe, hideous physical cruelty was commonplace. In England, transgressors were executed for damaging shrubs in public gardens, poaching deer, stealing a woman's handkerchief and attempting suicide. In France, those who stole sheep were disemboweled. During the reign of Henry VIII, the recognized punishment for a poisoner was to be boiled alive in a cauldron. As late as 1837, 437 persons were executed in England in one year for various crimes, and until passage of the Reform Bill, death was the recognized penalty for forgery, coining, horse thieving, burglary, arson, robbery and interference with the postal service, and sacrilege.27 It is clear that in indicting the Spanish Inquisition upon specific charges of physical cruelty and callous brutality, we must proceed with some circumspection.

    The myth of unlimited power and control exercised by the Spanish Inquisition has also been found to be groundless. In 16th- Century Spain, the Inquisition was divided into twenty tribunals, each covering thousands of square miles. Yet each tribunal had no more than two or three inquisitors and a handful of administrative clerks. Prof. Kamen has noted: "These Inquisitors had no power to control society in the way historians have imagined they had. They had no power. They had no function, they had no tools to do the job. We, enforcing that image, have given them the tools that never existed."28

    In reality, the Inquisition's limited contact with the population comprised part of the reason it did not attract the hostility of Spaniards. Outside major cities, towns might see an inquisitor once every ten years or even once in a century. One reason people supported the Inquisition was precisely because it was seldom seen, and even less often heard. Kamen also records that at every period in its history, there are records of strong criticism and bitter opposition. Yet based on the exploitation of inquisitorial documents first by Llorente, and then by Henry Charles Lea, scholars have made the error of studying the Inquisition in isolation from all other dimensions of Spanish culture and society, as though it had played a central role in the religion, politics, culture, and economy and as though no opposition or criticism was permitted.29 Menendez y Pelayo's satire on those who have blamed the tribunal for all the ills of Spain underscores this view:

    "Why was there no industry in Spain? Because of the Inquisition. Why are we Spaniards lazy? Because of the Inquisition. Why are there bullfights in Spain? Because of the Inquisition. Why do Spaniards take a siesta? Because of the Inquisition."30

    The Inquisition cannot be blamed for the "decadence of Spanish learning and literature," states Peters in his acclaimed objective study Inquisition, despite the claims of Protestant historian Charles Lea or Catholic historian Lord Acton. "After the thunderclap of the 1559 Index," he states, "which was directed mainly against vernacular piety, no attacks were mounted against Spanish literature and not one in a hundred Spanish writers came into conflict with the Inquisition. Indeed, long after the measures of 1558-59 Spain continued to have an active intellectual life based on a world experience vaster than that of any other European nation."31

    A final and most important myth remains to be examined.


    Myth: Man is more free and happy when the State or Nation does not make public profession of any one true religion. Therefore, true progress lies in separation of Church and State.

    Reality: This is the crux of the question. The most dynamic element, the most essential matter is found in the attitude of the human spirit in relation to the questions of religion and philosophy. To fully understand the response, it is necessary to assume several presuppositions.

    The Catholic concept of history is based on the fact that the Ten Commandments are fundamental norms of human behavior that correspond to natural law. To aid man in his weakness, to guide and direct him and to preserve him from his own tendency toward evil and error resulting from original sin, Jesus Christ gave the Church an infallible Magisterium to teach and guide the nations. The adhesion of man to the Magisterium of the Church is the fruit of faith. Without faith, man cannot durably know and entirely practice the Commandments.

    Therefore, as man elevates himself in the order of grace by the practice of virtue inspired by grace, he elaborates a culture, a political, social, and economic order in consonance with the basic and unchanging principles of natural law. These institutions and this culture so formed in its ensemble can be called Christian Civilization. Further, nations and peoples can only attain a perfect civilization, a civilization in complete harmony with the natural law in the framework of a Christian civilization and through correspondence to grace and the truths of the Faith.

    For this, man must give his firm recognition to the Catholic Church as the one true Church of God and to its authentic universal Magisterium as infallible. Therefore, man must know, profess, and practice the Catholic faith.

    Historically, one must ask when this Christian civilization existed. The answer may shock and even irritate many. There was a time when a large portion of humanity knew this ideal of perfection, knew and tended toward it with fervor and sincerity. This period, sometimes referred to as the Golden Age of Christianity, is the epoch of the 12th and 13th Centuries, when the influence of the Church in Europe was at its zenith. Christian principles then dominated social relations more fully than at any other period before or since, and the Christian State then approached most nearly its full development. Leo XIII referred to this period in his encyclical Immortale Dei (1885) in these terms:

    "There was a time when the philosophy of the Gospel ruled the States. In this epoch the influence of Christian Wisdom and its Divine Wisdom penetrated the laws, institutions and customs of the people, all the categories, all the relations of civil society. The religion instituted by Jesus Christ, solidly established in all dignity due it, flourished everywhere, due to the favor of Princes and the legitimate protection of the magistrates. In this time, the Priesthood and Empire were linked with a happy concord and the friendly exchange of good offices. Organized in this way, civil society gave fruits superior to all expectations and its memory persists and will continue to persist, and no artifice of its enemies will be able to corrupt and obscure it."

    A portrayal of Catholic society implies above all else an exact idea of what the relationship between the Church and temporal society should be. The State in principle has the obligation to profess officially the truth of the Catholic faith, and, as a consequence to prohibit the functioning and proselytizing of heretics. For not only the Church, but all of temporal society was created for the salvation of our souls, as St. Thomas Aquinas shows conclusively in De Regimine Principum. In it, St. Thomas shows us how absolutely all things created by God were created for the salvation of our souls and must be means that serve positively for our sanctification. Men themselves were created for the salvation of one another. This is why they live together in society. Thus, temporal as well as spiritual society should assist in the primary purpose of man's existence, the salvation of his eternal soul.

    This exposition of society implies an understanding of the hierarchy of values, wherein spiritual values have a greater worth than material ones. For example, in the Summa Theologica (II, II, ii, 3), St. Thomas notes that if it is just to condemn counterfeiters to death, then surely it is necessary to put to death those who had committed the far worse crime of counterfeiting the Faith. For eternal salvation must be regarded as greater than temporal property, and the welfare of all must be regarded as greater than the welfare of the individual.

    These affirmations have consequences painful for the liberal spirit of our days. For, if the State proclaims that one single religion is the true one, it has an obligation in principle to prohibit the diffusion of sects of a heretical character. It is understood that in Catholic society the highest purpose of the State lies in recognizing the Catholic Church, in defending her, in applying her laws, in serving her. In a Catholic society, the Pope has an indirect authority over all that touches on the interests of the Church. In this way, the Pope is elevated above all the temporal powers. When a head of State is heretical, the Pope has the right to depose him, as in the case of Henry IV of France, the legitimate pretender to the French throne. In other words, a heretic does not have the right to govern a Catholic country

    As Father Denis Fahey points out in The Kingship of Christ, in the Middle Ages the State fulfilled its obligation of professing that religion which God Himself had established and through which He wanted to be adored and worshiped — the Catholic religion. When Catholics answer the objections of non-Catholics to the Inquisition, they sometimes seem to lose sight of the formal principle of order animating the civilization of the Middle Ages. If a State proclaims a religion as being the true religion, it has an obligation as a matter of principle to prohibit the diffusion of heresy and heretical sects. This obligation is a most painful one for the liberal mentality to accept. Heresy was considered a crime because the State recognized the Catholic religion for what it objectively is, the one true Religion established by God, and not a simple temporary arrangement, here today, gone tomorrow.

    In presenting the principles of the social Kingship of Christ, Father Denis Fahey says:

    "The truth is that the State then grasped the formal principle of ordered social organization in the actual world and that the Inquisition was set up to defend the hold of the world on order against the fomenters of disorder. . . That same principle is meant by God to mold the new matter and the new circumstances of all succeeding ages. Socially organized, man in the world redeemed by Our Lord is not as God wants him to be unless he accepts the supernatural, supra-national Catholic Church.

    The modern world has turned aside from order and is suffering for its apostasy and disorder. This great truth needs to be proclaimed unequivocally, so that the interior life with which we celebrate the feast of the Kingship of Christ may be deepened. It is infinitely better to go down struggling for the integral truth than to win a seeming victory by whittling it down."32

    Blackening the name of the Holy Inquisition has obviously found root in this widespread tendency, even among princes of the Church, to "whittle down" these principles of the Catholic social order. While, at base, the problem of the Holy Inquisition must be examined at the philosophical level, there is also no doubt that through the centuries "the Inquisition" has assumed a monstrous dimension out of proportion to the facts.

    The pens of Protestant propagandists during the Reformation began the myth-making process by depicting the Inquisition as just another example of the evils of Rome. In their works the tribunal was presented as the supreme instrument of intolerance. Wherever Catholicism triumphed, they claimed, not only religious but civil liberty was extinguished. The Reformation, according to this interpretation, brought about the liberation of the human spirit from the fetters of darkness and superstition. Propaganda along these lines proved strikingly effective.

    However, as the scholars of the last decade have begun to examine the archives, their studies are showing that the interests of truth demand that the Inquisition be reduced to its proper dimensions. Its significance can be grossly exaggerated if we rely on the largely fictitious images presented by the propagandists and philosophers of the Enlightenment and age of Romanticism and liberalism that followed. These writers, who even included Lord Acton, falsely assumed the Inquisition was part and parcel of a special philosophy of blatant intolerance and cruelty. In reality, it evolved as a product of the society it served. In sum, for those objective Catholic minds who are militant against the errors of liberalism and modernism of our own age and who look with admiration on the spirit and institutions of the Age of Faith, there can still remain a healthful admiration for the Holy Inquisition.



    1. The Lutheran ideal, recognized at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, permitted each

    Protestant State to organize its particular form of religion as a department of State. That "peace," said Rev. Denis Fahey, "has been well termed the funeral of the Catholic order of the world. Luther's separation of the Christian from the Citizen prepared the way for the deification of the State, realized in modern times, and the social influence of Protestant society thus made easy the advent of the modern public man who may, as a private citizen, be a Catholic, but as a public man will get himself represented at Protestant worship or even on occasion assist thereat." The Kingship of Christ, 3rd ed., (Palmdale, Ca: 1990), 40-41.

    2. (Rockford, Ill: 1987), pp. x-xi.

    3. By 1230 a substantial revolution in legal thought and procedure had taken place throughout most of Western Europe, which included the introduction of the Roman-inspired inquisitio procedure, which in many respects could be regarded as a modernization of the legal practices of the time. Edward Peters, Inquisition, (New York, London: 1988), pp. 52-57.

    4. Peters, Inquisition, pp. 231, 3.

    5. Kieckhefer has pointed out that it would be inappropriate to even speak of "the Inquisition" in a medieval context. The sources themselves show that even regional and local institutionalization of the inquisitorial procedure was partial and fragile, depending mainly on the dedication and organizing power of the individual inquisitor and on the concrete need for action perceived in a specific time and place. Richard Kieckhefer, "The Office of Inquisition and Medieval Heresy: The Transition from Personal to Institutional Jurisdiction," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 46 (January 1995), 59; Kieckhefer, Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germany, Philadelphia-Liverpool: 1979, p.

    6. A. L. Maycock,the Inquisition from Its Establishment to the Great Schism, (New York: 1969), 117.

    7. Ibid, 100.

    8. There were incidents of mob violence in Toledo in 1449, civic riots in 1470 in Valladolid, and the murders of conversos in Jaén and Cordóba three years later. The direct instrument of violence in all these cases was the populace. Henry Kamen, Inquisition and Society in Spain, (Bloomington, Ind.: 1985), pp. 30-31.

    9. By the 18th Century, the Congregation of the Holy Office had virtually no power or influence outside the Papal States. In its principal tasks, the censorship of clergy and of printed books, it overlapped with the Congregation of the Index. It was closed during the Pope's exile from Italy in 1809-1814, after which it was restored with further curtailed powers. In 1965, Pope Paul VI changed its name to Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and in 1966 he abolished the Index.

    10. The Prosecution of Heresy: Collected Studies on The Inquisition in Early Modern Italy. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, Vol. 78, (Binghampton, NY: 1991), XI-XIV, 7-9.

    11. Albert Clement Shannon gives a detailed explanation of the beliefs of the Cathars and their biblical proofs taken from one of the Albigensian treatises written toward the end of the century. For example, to prove that man comes from the devil, the Cathars quoted John 8:44: "Your father is the devil." and 1 John 3:8: "The man who sins is the child of the devil." The Medieval Inquisition, (Washington D.C.: 1983), 2-19.

    12. Summa of Rainerius Sacconi, trans. in Walter L Wakefield and Austin P. Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages, (New York: 1969), 330.

    13. H.C.Lea, A History of The Inquisition in the Middle Ages, Vol. I, (New York: 1906-08), 1064.

    14. Maycock, The Inquisition. pp. 77, 52-53; Walsh, Characters of the Inquisition, 41-3.

    15. Gustav Schnürer, Kirche und Kultur in Mittelalter, (Paderborn, 1926), II, p. 434.

    16. Maycock, The Inquisition, 128-29.

    17. In 1323, the inquisitor Bernard Gui (unjustly maligned in Umberto Eco's novel, The Name of the Rose) produced the Practica officii inquisitionis heretice pravitatis, an elaborate and balanced inquisitorial manual. The doctrines and procedures of the inquisitors derived from both theology and canon law, as well as from the early works of Church Fathers and general council and popes. Peters, Inquisition, pp. 60-64.

    18. Despite the apparent prohibition of appeals (appelatione remota), Gregory IX and his successor Innocent IV repeatedly entertained appeals made by complainants and voided unjust decisions. Throughout this whole period it appears that appeals found their way to Rome for redress. In fact, modeled on the long forgotten regulations of the Justinian Code, through the inquisitorial process the Church brought the appeals procedure into the legislation of the Middle Ages, for appeals were quite out of character for the local, feudal manorial courts. The success of the Church system of justice was not lost on secular rulers, who eventually adopted appeals as regular procedure in their own reorganized and centralized court systems. Shannon, The Medieval Inquisition, pp.139-40.

    19. Hamilton, Inquisition, pp. 150-51, 130-33, 140-41.

    20. Ibid., p. 160.

    21. Ives Dossat, Les Crises de l'inquisition toulousaine au XIIIe siècle (1233-1273), Bordeaux: Imprimerie Bière, 1959, 247-268.

    22. Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, pp. 252-54.

    23. Peters, Inquisition, 131.

    24. Foxe, The Book of Martyrs, London: 1863, p. 1060; Peters, Inquisition, 133; Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, p. 254, Peters, Inquisition, 152-4.

    25. For a more detailed account of how the myth took shape in literature, see Peters, Inquisition, pp.152-262.

    26. "The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition," BBC documentary, Nov. 6, 1994.

    27. Maycock, The Inquisition, p. 41, 259.

    28. "The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition," BBC documentary, Nov. 6, 1994.

    29. Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, pp. 257-58.

    30. La Ciencia Española , Madrid 1953, pp. 102-3.

    31. Peters, pp. 260-61.

    32. Kingship of Christ according to the Principles of St. Thomas Aquinas, (Palmdale, Ca:

    1931, 1990 rep.), p. 38.

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    Post The Inquisition Re-examined

    The Inquisition Reexamined
    "Even if an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema" — Gal. 1:8

    by Carey J. Winters.

    October has become an interesting time in postConciliar Catholicism. Last Halloween, a Vatican symposium addressed the issue of ‘anti-Judaism’ throughout the centuries in Catholic environments. This year, yet another ‘unprecedented symposium’ was held – this one to review the Inquisition. "The problem of the Inquisition belongs to a tormented phase of Church history, upon which I have invited Christians to reflect with sincerity," the pope said. He also stated that the Inquisition’s actions require a moral evaluation by Church leaders today.

    The Oct. 29-31 symposium, sponsored by the Central Committee of the Great Jubilee, is expected to form a basis for a "mea culpa" pronouncement by Pope John Paul II on Ash Wednesday in the year 2000. Dominican Father Georges Cottier, the papal theologian who helped organize the symposium, said the Church’s examination of conscience was part of what the pope has called a "purification of memory," which will allow the Church to admit past mistakes and face the new millennium freed from the burden of what Cottier termed "paralyzing spiritual trauma." Cottier said the "heart of the theme" was the pope’s call for acknowledgment of intolerance in the Church’s own history, "and even the use of violence in the service of truth."

    Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who heads a Vatican planning committee for the millennial jubilee, opened the meeting by announcing that the Church "is not afraid of submitting its own past to the judgment of historians." According to Catholic News Service correspondent John Thavis, "The symposium’s sponsors highlighted the fact that participants were chosen with no regard to nationality, religion or ideological orientation." ("Vatican meeting on Inquisition examines dark chapter of Church"). Etchegaray urged the avoidance of "revisionist understatements" which would attempt to absolve the Church from the guilt of the Inquisition.

    According to an Oct. 23 CNS release, "To many Catholics and non-Catholics, the Inquisition represents the worst side of the Church’s activities over the last millennium. The methods employed by heretic-hunting tribunals, which included secret informers, summary trials, torture and burning at the stake, have long symbolized the height of religious intolerance."

    Tolerance for error has, of course, become a chief postConciliar virtue. Last year, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger called the excesses of the Inquisition a "sin" and said it was right that the Church ask forgiveness. "The Church must always be tolerant. Therefore, we ask the Lord’s forgiveness for these facts, and ask that we not fall into these errors again," Ratzinger said (CNS, Oct. 22,1998)


    James Hitchcock notes that "The image of the Inquisition needs no elaboration. According to traditional views, it was a kangaroo court operated by possibly psychotic fanatics with a taste for blood, who tortured innocent people to obtain false confessions, then sent them off to be burnt at the stake.

    "Even that stereotype has always contained an unresolved ambiguity — were the defendants innocent of the charges against them, hence victims of malign hysteria, or were they heroes of free thought, hence in a legal sense guilty as charged? Depending on their purposes, those who write about the Inquisition emphasize either one or the other, although the two are obviously contradictory" ("The Inquisition," Catholic Dossier, Nov./Dec. 1996).

    Literary contributions to the myth

    Marvin R. O’Connell cites several of the best known literary works which have helped to form the public perception of the Inquisition’s nature ("The Spanish Inquisition: Fact Versus Fiction," Catholic Dossier, Nov./Dec. 1996).

    Edgar Allen Poe: "Even while I breathed there came to my nostrils the breath of the vapor of heating iron. A suffocating odor pervaded the prison. A deeper glow settled each moment in the eyes that glared at my agonies. A richer tint of crimson diffused itself over the pictured horrors of blood. There could be no doubt of the design of my tormentors. Oh, most unrelenting! Oh, most demoniac of men! ‘Death,’ I said, ‘any death but that of the pit.’" Poe’s "The Pit and the Pendulum" continues for some 20 pages in this vein – and the story remains the most familiar literary indictment of the wickedness of the Spanish Inquisition.

    Dostoyevsky, in The Brothers Karamazov, imagines the Grand Inquisitor, with "his withered face and sunken eyes," in confrontation with Jesus on the streets of Seville, where a Savior has just restored to life a dead child. "The Inquisitor sees everything; he sees them set the coffin down at Jesus’s feet, sees the child rise up, and his face darkens. He knits his thick grey brows, and his eyes gleam with a sinister light. He holds out his finger and bids the guards arrest Jesus. And such is his power, so completely are the people cowed into submission and trembling obedience to him, that the crowd immediately makes way for the guards, and in the midst of a deathlike silence they lay hands on Jesus and take Him to the Inquisitor who says: ‘Tomorrow I shall condemn thee and burn thee at the stake as the worst of heretics.’" in Ralph McInerny’s view, "Dostoyevsky obviously takes the Inquisition to be the kind of aberration that is logically entailed by the errors of the Catholic Church" ("Remote Motes and Present Beams," Catholic Dossier, Nov./Dec. 1996).

    Bernard Gui in the film version of The Name of the Rose was an obvious fanatic, and Umberto Eco was not much fairer in the novel. Even Professor Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady, sings that he would "prefer a new edition/Of the Spanish Inquisition" to matrimony – and the well-conditioned audience knew precisely how strong his aversion must have been.

    The Facts of the Matter

    *Spanish Background: "The Longest War"

    In the 8th century, Muslim conquerors subdued half of the Iberian peninsula. "After Toledo, Tariq’s forces moved north, systematically attacking the principal settlements, killing many Goths as they went along. In many towns, the Jews opened the gates before the Moorish armies in a new state... [IN Seville] as in so many other towns... the Jews, resentful of their treatment under the Goths, flung open the main gaits of the city, welcoming their new overlords..." (1) (Wilfredo-Tomas Cornellas Y Suarez, "The Longest War," The Angelus, Sept., 1995).

    "The remnants of the Visigothic government assembled in the city of Meridia, the most sacred city of the Goths, where the kings of Spain took their oaths of coronation and were consecrated. On the 30th of June, Meridia fell. Every able-bodied man was put to the sword, all Churches without exception were plundered and burned, and the rest of the population were enslaved. The most handsome youths and most beautiful maidens were sent as trophies to Damascus, there to adorn the Sultan’s harems and seraglios" ("The Longest War").

    The Muslim conquest of the Iberian peninsula was accomplished in a scant ten years. It took nearly eight centuries and 3,000 battles for the Catholic reconquest. By 1492, Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon occupied the Spanish throne, and the reconquest was complete except for the Moorish stronghold of Granada.

    During the two preceding centuries, however, the Muslim empire had emerged as a true world power. (Constantinople had fallen to the Turks 27 years before, and the Hagia Sophia Cathedral there, the greatest in all Christendom, had been converted into a mosque.) Mohammed the Conqueror had just launched an attack on Southern Italy, successfully storming the Italian city of Otranto. Warren Carrol describes the ensuing events: "22,000 of Otranto’s people fell into Tuurkish hands. Twelve thousand were killed, many after refusing offers to spare their lives if they converted to Islam; the rest were sold into slavery. The Archbishop of Otranto stood fast at the altar of his Cathedral; the Turks sawed him in two, along with deliberately killing every cleric in the city....

    "The storming of Otranto and the ensuing massacre was a warning to all Christendom of the danger that had arisen because of the Turkish conquests. Turkish ships and men could go anywhere in the Mediterranean, seize any port and wreak similar devastation. Though they had not yet reached Spain, it would be very easy for them to do so, for the Muslim-ruled land of Granada in the South had two major Mediterranean ports... which they could use" (Isabel of Spain: The Catholic Queen, p. 137). Furthermore, the ‘Barbary states’ – now Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia – formed part of the Turk’s vast imperial system, and it was a mere 16 miles across the Straits of Gibraltar from the Barbary coast to Spain.

    Much of the reconquered Spain, at that juncture, was composed of a population with religious and racial ties to Muslim North Africa. Carroll explains that "any Castillian or Aragonese part could become an Otranto. And there were tens of thousands in Spain, outside Granada, who might well rise to greet invading, slaughtering Turks as liberators: the false conversos....

    "Conversion of Muslims or Jews in Spain to Christianity, at least for the preceding century, had often been stimulated by ambition and greed – only Christians were allowed to hold high public office, and obviously only they could hold positions in the Church, which was very influential.... Most of the baptisms of the conversos were not force; it was their motives that were suspect. There is convincing, indeed overwhelming evidence — which even most critical modern historians have acknowledged – that tens of thousands of false conversos, who did not believe in the Christianity they professed and by all indications never had believed in it, continued to live secretly by the teachings and rites of their former religion. Many had risen high in society, and even in the Church; some were priests who mocked the Mass as they said it..." (Isabel of Spain, p. 138). Marranos, or falsely converted Jews, made astounding inroads in Catholic society. From 1391 onward, some 300,000 crypto-Jews, outwardly Catholic but secretly practicing their old rites, entered religious orders as monks and nuns. They entered the priesthood, and rose rapidly in its ranks, some to the level of bishop. Members of the Church but not adherents of the faith, they subverted Christianity from within its structuer (cf. de Poncins, Judaism and the Vatican, p. 116ff).

    Carroll points out that every false convert in Spain was a potential traitor... "very possibly inclined to opening the gates to the likes of the Turkish mass killers of Otranto... By the same token, every converso – and there were now millions of them, including Hernando de Talavera, Isabel’s saintly confessor.... — was open to suspicion of infidelity and treason, his reputation and career forever in jeopardy of a false accusation to this effect. The danger was greatest in the South, particularly in Sevilla, the most populous city in Spain, not reconquered until 1250, where at least half of the population had been non-Christian....

    "On November 1, 1478, at the request of the Bishop of Osma, Pope Sixtus IV issued a bull authorizing Isabel and Fernando to set up an Inquisition in Spain, if they thought it necessary. At that time, they did not think it necessary. It was probably the catastrophe at Otranto that changed their minds" (Isabel of Spain, pp. 138-139).

    *Origins of the Inquisition

    Fr. John Laux explains that "Until the year 1231 the duty of detecting and repressing heresy had devolved upon the bishops.... The Council of Toulouse (1229) established a special ecclesiastical tribunal known as the Inquisition (Lat. Inquisitio, an inquiry)... In 1231 Pope Gregory IX appointed a number of Papal Inquisitors (Inquisitores haereticae pravitatis), mostly Dominicans and Franciscans, for the various countries of Europe" (Church History). In southern France and northern Italy, the neo-Manichaean doctrines of the Cathari were viewed as subversive of the State as well as the Church, so Church and State cooperated in the venture. The Inquisitor established the juridical facts in each case; the government exacted punishment from those deemed to be unyielding heretics.

    "The Inquisition was thus regularly established; but in the course of time more or less important changes were made in its mode of procedure. Pope Gregory IX was opposed to torture, but Innocent IV approved its use for the discovery of heresy, and Urban IV confirmed this usage, which like the death penalty for heresy, had its origin in the Roman Law. Although intended for the whole of Christendom it was only in the Latin countries that the Papal Inquisition was permanently active.

    "The Inquisitors at first traveled from place to place. On arriving in a district they addressed its inhabitants, called upon them to confess if they were heretics, or to denounce those whom they knew to be heretics. A ‘time of grace’ was opened, during which those who freely confessed were dispensed from all penalties, or only given a secret and very light penance; while those whose heresy had been openly manifested were exempted from the penalties of death and perpetual imprisonment. But this time could not exceed one month. After that began the Inquisition properly so called." Denunciations were received, the accused brought before the Inquisitors, and witnesses examined. The sentences were solemnly pronounced on a Sunday, in a church or public place. This was known as the sermo generalist (in Spain Auto-da-fe – ‘act of faith’). Those who had confessed were reconciled and various penances imposed, such as fasting, prayers, pilgrimages, public scourging; the obstinate heretics and the renegades were for the last time called upon to submit, to confess, and to abjure. If they consented, they were condemned to perpetual imprisonment; if they did not consent, they were handed over to the secular arm, which was equivalent to sentence of death by fire. The number of those delivered over to the secular power has been grossly exaggerated. Even H. C. Lea in his History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages – a bitter Protestant account – admits that comparatively few people suffered at the stake in the Middle Ages, probably not more than three or four per cent of those convicted of heresy" (Church History)

    * The Spanish Inquisition

    the Spanish Inquisition, according to Fr. Laux, was composed of "mixed tribunals, with the civil element predominating, and their excesses cannot be charged to the Church. The Spanish Inquisition... was intended primarily for the Mohammedan converts to Catholicism, in the old Arab kingdoms, who were suspected of wishing to return to their old religion, and for disguised Jews, many of whom had succeeded in becoming priests and even bishops. The tribunal, once established, also directed its activity against murder, immorality, smuggling, usury, and other offenses. The king appointed the Grand Inquisitor and the other official, and also signed the decrees; and the penalties were inflicted in his name" (Church History).

    Carroll writes that "the Inquisitorial tribunals were generally very fair; many Spaniards preferred to have their cases heard before them rather than other courts. Those questioned were not allowed to face their accusers, because of the danger of blood feuds and revenge-seeking if their identity were known; but no one could be confined even briefly without the prior testimony of three witnesses against him, and the first thing that was done when a man was called before the Inquisition was to ask him to make a list of all his personal enemies, whose testimony was immediately thrown out. No anonymous testimony or denunciation was permitted. The accused had a defense attorney, often two, although they were assigned by the Inquisition.

    "The Inquisition was a Church court, because by Catholic belief only the Church has the right to decide whether a man is or is not a Christian; therefore it did not execute the death penalty in its own authority, but turned the most guilty over to the state for the punishment reserved for heretics and traitors. These two crimes were regarded similarly, though heresy was deemed even worse, as treason against God" (Isabel of Spain, pp. 140-141).

    The vast majority of those questioned by the Spanish Inquisition were completely cleared – including St. Teresa of Avila and St. Ignatius of Loyola. For those cleared, the Inquisition provided a shield against calumny. Another 15,000 were found guilty of false profession of Christianity, but were reconciled with the Church through the Auto-da-fe (act of faith) – a public confession. Most of those burned at the stake had been convicted twice.

    *The Truth about Torquemada

    Carroll notes that the Spanish Inquisition’s "initial abuses were eliminated following the appointment of Tomas de Torquemada as Inquisitor-General for Castile in 1483... [He] was a just and devout man and a careful administrator, who took his responsibilities to the accused as well as the accusers very seriously, and seems to have been the architect of most of the procedures that kept the Inquisitorial tribunals fair and almost universally respected... There is evidence that torture was rarely used by the Inquisition during Torquemada’s years as Inquisitor-General" (Isabel of Spain, pp. 140, 143).

    Born in 1420, Tomas de Torquemada was a nephew of the celebrated theologian and cardinal, Juan de Torquemada. In his early youth he entered the Dominican monastery at Valladolid, and later was appointed prior of the Monastery of Santa Cruz at Segovia, an office which he held for twenty-two years. Isabel chose him as her confessor while at Segovia, and when she succeeded to the throne of Castile in 1474 he became one of her most trusted councilors, but he refused all high ecclesiastical appointments, preferring to remain simply a friar. According to Elizabeth Dilling, "one must learn from Jewish authorities that Torquemada himself... was Jew" (The Plot Against Christianity, p. 94).

    Torquemada urged Ferdinand and Isabel to compel all the Jews either to convert or to leave Spain. The Jews offered the pay the Spanish government 30,000 ducats if left unmolested. Tradition has it that when Ferdinand was tempted to accept their offer, Torquemada appeared before him, bearing a crucifix, exclaiming: "Judas Iscariot sold Christ for 30 pieces of silver; Your Highness is about to sell him for 30,000 ducats. Here He is; take Him and sell Him." Leaving the crucifix on the table he left the room.

    Sebastian de Olmedo, a contemporary Spanish chronicler, called Torquemada "the hammer of heretics, the light of Spain, the savior of his country, the honor of his order" (Chronicon magistrorum generalium Ordinis Praedicatorum, fol. 80-81).

    The ‘Black Legend’

    Debunking the myth

    According to James Hitchcock, "The modern historiography of the Inquisition, most of it by non-Catholic historians, has resulted in a careful, relatively precise, and on the whole rather moderate image of the institution, some of the most important works being: Edward Peters, Inquisition; Paul F. Grendler, The Roman Inquisition and the Venetian Press; John Tedeshi, The Prosecution of Heresy; and Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition. Some of their conclusions are:

    The Inquisitors tended to be professional legists and bureaucrats who adhered closely to rules and procedures rather than to whatever personal feelings they may have had on the subject.

    Those rules and procedures were not in themselves unjust. They required that evidence be presented, allowed the accused to defend themselves, and discarded dubious evidence.

    Thus in most cases the verdict was a "just" one in that it seemed to follow from the evidence.

    a number of cases were dismissed, or the proceedings terminated at some point, when the Inquisitors became convinced that the evidence was not reliable.

    Torture was only used in a small minority of cases and was allowed only when there was strong evidence that the defendant was lying. In some instances (for example, Carlo Ginzburg’s study of the Italian district of Friulia) there is no evidence of the use of torture at all.

    Only a small percentage of those convicted were executed — at most two to three percent in a given region. Many more were sentenced to life in prison, but this was often commuted after a few years. The most common punishment was some form of public penance.

    "The dreaded Spanish Inquisition in particular has been grossly exaggerated. It did not persecute millions of people, as is often claimed, but approximately 44,000 between 1540 and 1700, of whom less than two per cent were executed."

    Brian Van Hove, SJ, explains that the Inquisition was a court system, and "jurists kept good records, clean records, and abundant records. Curialists write neatly. Scribes are taught to be legible. We can study the Inquisitions (and we should really use the plural) because of this legal dimension. Along with the juridical aspect of the Inquisition is the intrinsic nature of juridicism: the authors... time and time again speak of how fair the system was, of how many people were released because of technicalities, or how the law was not abused because it was the law, and of how many opportunities the accused had of avoiding further prosecution. It was not an unfair system, given the times" ("A New Industry: The Inquisition," Catholic Dossier, Nov./Dec. 1996).

    Ellen Rice reviewed The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition, a 60 minute, 1994 BBC/A&E production. She notes that "The special includes commentary from historians whose studies verify that the tale of the darkest hour of the Church was greatly fabricated... The Inquisition had a secular character, although the crime was heresy. Inquisitors did not have to be clerics, but they did have to be lawyers. The investigation was rule-based and carefully kept in check. And most significantly, historians have declared fraudulent a supposed Inquisition document claiming the genocide of millions of heretics.

    "What is documented is that 3,000 to 5,000 people died during the Inquisition’s 350 year history. Also documented are the ‘Acts of Faith,’ public sentencings of heretics in town squares. But the grand myth of thought control by sinister fiends has been debunked by the archival evidence. The Inquisitors enjoyed a powerful position in the towns, but it was one constantly jostled by other power brokers. In the outlying areas, they were understaffed – in those days it was nearly impossible for 1 or 2 Inquisitors to cover the thousand-mile territories allotted to each team. In the outlying areas no one cared and no one spoke to them. As the program documents, the 3,000 to 5,000 documented executions of the Inquisition pale in comparison to the 150,000 documented witch burnings elsewhere in Europe over the same centuries.

    "One facet of the Black Legend that evaporates under scrutiny in this film is the rumor that Phillip II, son of Charles V, killed his son Don Carlos on the advisement of the aging blind Grand Inquisitor. But without a shred of evidence, the legend of Don Carlos has been enshrined in a glorious opera by Verdi" ("The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition," Catholic Dossier, Nov./Dec. 1996).

    Protestant Origins of the Myth

    Van Hove confirms that "Much of what the world thought about the Spanish Inquisition came from Protestant propaganda in the Low Countries during the interminable war there in the seventeenth century... Dutch and English Protestants hesitated to attack the King of Spain directly, because they themselves had kings in an era when monarchies were less and less stable. Charles I lost his head, and Cromwell represented a sizable anti-monarchist point of view. But it was ‘safe’ to attack Spain’s religion, and you could get at the religion through the institution which supposedly promoted or represented it. Dutch Calvinists spared no effort, aided by their German and English allies, in painting a picture of the religion of Rome in the most negative of terms. The Black Legend was the result of Protestant propaganda, according to [Edward] Peters and other historians" ("A New Industry: The Inquisition," Catholic Dossier, Nov./Dec. 1996).

    "The ‘Black Legend’ did not arise in 1480," Rice explains "It began almost 100 years later, and exactly one year after the Protestant defeat of the Battle of Muhlberg at the hands of Ferdinand’s grandson, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. In 1567 a fierce propaganda campaign began with the publication of a Protestant leaflet penned by a supposed Inquisition victim named Montanus. This character (Protestant of course) painted Spaniards as barbarians who ravished women and sodomized young boys. The propagandists soon created ‘hooded fiends’ who tortured their victims in horrible devices like the knife-filled Iron Maiden (which never was used in Spain). The BBC/A7E special plainly states a reason for the war of words: the Protestants fought with words because they could not win on the battlefield."

    There was a certain hypocrisy involved in the perpetuation of the Legend. Fr. Laux notes that "In Protestant as well as in Catholic countries heretics were imprisoned, tortured, and put to death by fire or otherwise. It was not until 1677 that the death penalty against heretics was removed from the statute books in England. Phillip of Spain considered heresy to be no less dangerous to the state than Elizabeth of England considered Catholicism to be; and Phillip’s prisons, were no more unsavory and noisome than the English prisons of the time. Luther, Melanchton, Calvin, and Theodore of Beza explicitly approved of capital punishment for obstinate heretics. Calvin even wrote a special work in defense of the principle that ‘Heretics are to be coerced by the sword,’ after he had burned Michael Servetus at the stake."

    Ongoing Usefulness of the myth

    Hitchcock maintains that "The reason why accurate information about the Inquisition fails to penetrate the popular mind is not such a mystery after all. Numerous people have a vested interest in keeping the traditional image alive, and unhappily some of them are Catholics. Those who resent the Church’s claim to moral authority use as their most effective weapon the allegation of hypocrisy – how can this Church which has the blood of millions on its hands dare to condemn abortion? For some Catholics the good news that the Inquisition was not as bad as they thought is really bad news, and they refuse to hear it. Post-conciliar Catholicism has spawned in many people a permanent attitude of obsequiousness before the secular world, and they know no other stance except that of continuous apology. Their view of the present Church requires them to believe that the Church of the past centuries was really a nightmare from which we are finally waking up" ("The Inquisition," Catholic Dossier).

    The Jews and the Inquisition

    Ritual Murder Convictions

    Carroll writes that "Isabel had protected the Jews of Castile to the best of her ability, as a long series of decrees and letters from 1483 to 1489 clearly attests. But the investigations of the Inquisition since its establishment in 1480 had uncovered numerous examples of professed jews inducing and pressuring conversos to abandon their Christian faith and return to Judaism; and one particular investigation, begun in December 1490 and concluded eleven months later with five spectacular executions at Avila had raised popular hostility to Jews to fever heat.

    "Three of those executed at Avila November 16, 1491 were conversos, but the other two were professed Jews charged with collaborating with and encouraging them in crucifying a four-year-old Christian boy (later known as the Holy Child of La Guardia). The boy’s heart was then said to have been cut out and used with two stolen consecrated Hosts in a ritual of black magic against the Christians. Before the executions, two independent judicial panels had reviewed and confirmed the Inquisition’s findings... Though no extant source makes any explicit connection between this case and the action of Isabel and Fernando four months later expelling all Jews from Spain, there is strong reason to expect that it was a precipitating factor in that decision, which was certainly recommended by the Inquisition ... public anger, particularly after the Inquisition’s revelation of the case of the Holy Child of La Guardia, was so great that it might be impossible to keep it under control and protect innocent Jews" (Isabel of Spain, pp. 207-208).

    Respected historian William Thomas Walsh offered additional details in that case. He wrote in Isabella of Spain (1931) that on October 17th, 1490, a Jew name Yuce confessed to having been present at the crucifixion of a boy called Christopher at La Guardia near Toledo. He made this confession without the "aid" of any torture. On July 19th, 1491, Yuce was promised immunity from punishment – and he described the crucifixion and named his accomplices. On October 25th of that year, a jury of seven scholars who occupied Chairs at Salamanca University examined the case and were unanimous in finding Yuce guilty. After this point Yuce did undergo torture – applied so that he would reveal the reason for the use of crucifixion rather than some other method. No "leading" questions were employed in the examination. The case later went before a second jury of five learned men of Avila, who considered the evidence concerning Yuce’s accomplices, who had been arrested and under examination; they unanimously declared them guilty.

    The twelve jurists who condemned the Jews in the ritual murder case of La Guardia were:

    Maestre Fray Juan de Santispiritus, Professor of Hebrew, Salamanca University;

    Maestre Fray Diego de Bretonia, Professor of Scripture;

    Fray Antonio de la Pena, Prior;

    Dr. Anton Rodriguez Carnejo, Professor of Canon Law;

    Dr. Diego de Burgos, Professor of Civil Law;

    Dr. Juan de Covillas, Professor of Canon Law;

    Fray Sebastian de Hueta;

    Licentiate Alvaro de Sant Estevan, Queen Isabel’s corregidor for Avila;

    Ruy Garcia Manso, Bishop Talavera’s provisor;

    Fray Rodrigo Bela, head of the Franciscan Monastery, Avila;

    Dr. Tristan, Canon of Avila;

    Juna de Saint Estevan

    Exhaustive efforts have been made to clear the Jews of the murder charges posthumously. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1903, Vol. III, p. 262) noted that "Modern historians even deny that a child had disappeared at all." In response to such efforts, Walsh asked: "Must we assume that they (the two learned juries) were all murderous fanatics, willing to sacrifice innocent men, and that Dr. Leob, Dr. Lea, and on the Catholic side the somewhat too credulous Abbe Vacandard were better qualified to weigh the evidence after the lapse of four centuries? ... The historian, far from being obliged to make wholesale vindication of all Jews accused of murder, is free, in fact, bound to consider each individual case upon its merit" (Isabella of Spain, p. 464). In Walsh’s view, this case of ritual murder was "one of the chief factors, if not the decisive one, in the decision of Fernando and Isabel" for the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (p. 441). The complete record of testimony of the trial of one of the accused has been available since it was published in 1887 in the Bulletin of the Royal Academy at Madrid (Vol. XI, pp. 7-160), from the original manuscript.

    The murdered boy was canonized as St. Christopher on the authority of Pope Pius VII, on 24th November, 1805.

    Bernard Lazare, a jew "without any religious convictions," wrote what he himself described as "an impartial study of the history and sociology of the Jews," calling his book L’Antisemitisme. In the 1934 edition, he addressed charges of Jewish ritual murder: "To this general belief are added the suspicions, often justified, against the Jews addicted to magical practices. Actually, in the Middle Ages, the Jew was considered by people as the magician par excellence; one finds many formula of exorcism in the Talmud, and the Talmudic and Cabbalistic demonology is now very complicated. Now one knows the position that blood always occupies in the operations of sorcery. In Chaldean magic it had a very great importance... Now, it is very probable, even certain, that Jewish magicians must have sacrifice children; hence the origin of the legend of ritual sacrifice" (L’Antisemitisme, Vol. II, p. 215). German scholar Dr. Erich Bischoff finds authorization for Ritual Murder in the Thikunne Zohar (Edition Berdiwetsch), a book of cabalistic theosophy. The passage reads: "Furthermore, there is a commandment pertaining to the killing of strangers, who are like beasts. This killing has to be done in a lawful method. Those who do not ascribe themselves to the Jewish religious law must be offered up as sacrifices to the High God."

    The La Guardia case did not exist in isolation; there had been earlier convictions of ritual murder. In 1468 in Sepulveda, another Christian child had been crucified. The Bishop of Segovia, Jean d’Avila, himself a converted Jew, investigated the crime, and ordered the guilty parties to Segovia, where they were executed.

    Expulsion of the Jews

    The Alhambra Decree of 1492 ordered the expulsion from Spain of all unconverted Jews. The main reason cited was the ongoing activity of professed Jews in urging converts and their descendants to leave Catholicism and return to Judaism. "We are informed by the Inquisition and others," the sovereigns stated, "that the great harm done to the Christians persists, and it continues because of the conversations and communications that they have with the Jews, such Jews trying by whatever manner to subvert our holy Catholic faith and trying to draw faithful Christians away from their beliefs." According to Carroll, "the contemporary historian Bernaldez estimates that 35,000 Jewish households – 170,000 people – left Spain because of this decree. More than half of them went to Portugal, where King John II allowed them to stay no more than 8 months..."

    A Spirited Defense

    Converted Jew David Goldstein mounted a spirited defense of the Spanish INQUISITION in his 1943 book, LETTERS Hebrew-Catholic to Mr. Isaacs. "Jewish book after book, weekly and monthly publication after weekly and monthly publication, so incessantly harp upon the Spanish Inquisition that it has become a Jewish ‘persecution complex,’" he wrote. "It is necessary to bear in mind the fact that an Inquisition is a court of inquiry; that all societies, including your Masonic lodge, have temporary and permanent trial courts, under different names, to examine members charged with violating their principles. If adjudged guilty, such members are punished, though not by ‘having their throats cut across, their tongues torn out by the root, and their bodies buried in the sands of the sea,’ as you ‘solemnly swore’ to permit your lodge to do when you became a Master Mason, in the event that you revealed its secrets. If secular societies may legitimately institute such courts, and impose sentences, then why has not the Catholic Church a greater reason for the institution of an Inquisitorial court, considering that to violate her sacred principles is to violate the principles God taught man through Moses and His Son Jesus, the Messiah?"

    "George E. Sokolsky, publicist, of New York City, says in We Jews, ‘The task of the Inquisition was not to Persecute Jews but to cleanse the Church of unorthodoxy. The Inquisition was not concerned with infidels outside the Church but with heretics within it’ (N.Y., 1935, p. 53). The Spanish Inquisition was instituted to weed out those baptized jews and Moslems who pretended to be sincere Catholics, while they secretly adhered to the practices of Judaism and Mohammedanism, which is a most serious sacrilegious offense. They were also enemies of the State, which was Christian in principle and carried the Cross in battle against the Crescent. As further evidence, consider what Dr. Salo Wittmayer Baron, one of America’s foremost Jewish historians, has to say about this matter. I quote from A Social and Religious History of the Jews (N.Y., 1937, VOL 2 p. 58): ‘It appears to be a fact as well as a theory that Jews who never ceased professing Judaism were, on the whole, left undisturbed. In the fourteen years of the activity of the Spanish Inquisition, from its establishment in 1478 to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, we hear of only one persecution directed against a Jewish community, where the Jewry of Huesca was accused in 1489 of having admitted conversos (pseudo-converts from Judaism to Christianity) to the Jewish fold. It was precisely the inability of the Inquisitorial courts to check Jewish influence on the conversos that served as a decisive argument for the Catholic monarchs in banishing Jews from Spain...’

    "Many, many centuries before the Catholic Church came into existence the Jewish church put to death violators of the Mosaic Law, for infractions of that Law which were not as serious as the offenses of which Jews were guilty in Spain. This was done by the priests of Jewry, whereas the extreme penalties during the days of the Spanish Inquisition were imposed by the state, as heresy was considered to be a crime in those days. That abuses took place at times on the part of the Inquisitors is not denied. The Catholic Church, while divinely protected from error in defining matters of faith and morals, does not claim to be immune from acts of abuse of power on the part of some of her children, even in high places. Such an abuse on the part of officials of the Church caused Pope Leo X to excommunicated the Catholic tribunal at Toledo, and to have the witnesses who appeared before its Inquisitorial trial arrested for perjury. This was during Spanish Inquisition days. But such an abuse of power was rare, as the spirit of charity dominated those historic inquiries regarding heresy. Persons called before the Inquisitors who repented were released after promising to mend their ways and to do the penances...

    "... Jewry inflicted the same sort of sever punishments long before the Christian era, when blasphemy was rightly considered to be a major offense, being directed against Almighty God. It is for that offense, falsely charged, that the Sanhedrin, under the direction of the high priests, declared Jesus to be worthy of death, for claiming to be the Messiah. ...Such capital punishments were inflicted in Jewry not only for blasphemy, but for Sabbath-breaking, witchcraft, idolatry, refusal to submit to the decrees of the priests or judge, and for a dozen other offenses, as well as murder.

    ".... Deportation, which climaxed the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, is always to be deplored irrespective of the cause of it or whom it afflicts. It was resorted to because, as Dr. Baron the Jewish historian said, ‘The Inquisitorial courts could not check the Jewish influence on the conversos," the fake converts from the Synagogue to the Church, "who," the Encyclopedia of Jewish Knowledge says, "were the direct cause of the Inquisition" (p. 331).

    "The Catholic Church has as legitimate a right to weed out pseudo converts from Judaism as the priests and Sanhedrin in Jewry had to bring to book the members of their Church who violated the Mosaic Law. The Catholic Church had a much sounder right to do so than had the descendants of the deported Spanish Jews to excommunicated Spinoza and other pantheistic Jews from the Synagogue in Amdsterdam, finally driving them out of Holland.... That the charges against Spinoza and da Costa were warranted, no one can rightly deny, for the Jews of Amsterdam had a definite doctrinal code which they had a right to uphold, as did the Church and the State in Spain. Yet these Rabbis, who belonged to the Amsterdam community that was started by the Marranos (the pretended-to-be-Catholics), who cursed the Catholic Church and Spain for the deportation of their forbears, deemed it legitimate to curse, scourge, excommunicate, and drive from Amsterdam those of their fellow-Israelites who were guilty of heresy. To these Iberian descendants a Dutch Auto-da-fe was perfectly legitimate, but not one in Spain or Portugal, where the welfare of the State as well as the Church was at stake.

    "... The Marranos were tried, and rightly found guilty of heresy. They were under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church through baptism, hence their public declaration that they were Catholics, while they were secretly following Jewish practices, was heretical. It was their action that caused the Inquisition to be instituted in Spain... heresy is a sin. It is so declared in Jewish as well as Christian law... Heresy, properly understood, is worse than murder. Murder robs man of his physical life, which at best is limited to a short term of years; whereas heresy robs man of his spiritual inheritance; it murders the soul, with the result that the heretic is deprived of an eternity of happiness, in the event of dying unrepentant..." (Catholic Dispatch,

    One Current Example

    Jews continue to harp on the Spanish Inquisition. Benzion Netanyahu, father of Israel’s Prime Minister, published in 1995 a 1384 page tome on the Inquisition – The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain. Some reviewers found the work overly reliant on 19th century sources. Netanyahu’s thesis is that the Inquisition was a tool of racist conspiracy against the Jews.

    In Conclusion

    Carroll concludes that "as part of her essential task of unifying Spain and bringing it justice and peace and good order, [Isabel] found the Spanish Inquisition. The Black Legend that later grew up about it has brought much unjustified reproach upon her for that action. In fact the Inquisition, as she established it, was very much needed in Spain. Despite occasional abuses – some sever – it remained for centuries the most popular and most trusted tribunal in the country, sparing it the horrors of civil war and revolution, and much private revenge and calumny based on ethnic prejudice...

    "[Isabel’s] contemporaries uniformly and repeatedly testified to her extraordinary virtues, as have most historians since. Even those who vehemently disagree with some of her policies as a Queen... cannot deny her spotless moral integrity, her total commitment to the Catholic faith and its moral teachings, the harmony of her life with her belie, and the justice and benevolence of her rule in general" (Isabel of Spain, pp. 357, 359).

    The problem is that Isabel’s decision making is to be reevaluated in an age where heresy is considered a joke, rather than a crime. Isabel could not have foreseen that, as a ruler of a specifically Catholic country, she would be considered blameworthy by a postConciliar generation whose idea of Church/State relations has been shaped by the heterodox though of John Courtney Murray. No doubt the reevaluation of the Inquisition will be done in the light of Dignitatis Humae – a document the orthodox Isabel would have found utterly incomprehensible.

    We live in the bloodiest century the world has known. 20th century totalitarian regimes have engaged in mass slaughter unrivaled in any other period. On a single day in March, 1940, Stalin ordered the summary execution of 25,700 Poles. Poland’s intelligentsia lies buried in mass graves in the Katyn forest – people, mostly Catholic, whose only crime was that they were army officers, or former officers, or policemen, or priests, or professionals, or landowners. If there is a need for apologies as we enter the new millennium, we need not focus on 3,000+ (often twice-) convicted heretics executed over a period of 350 years. We could begin instead by begging pardon for the Church’s 30-year silence on the atrocities inflicted on subject populations by Communism.


    .... a monthly newsletter examining current statements and practices of the Church hierarchy, in the light of Magisterial teaching.... The ammunition you need to combat abuses — and to remain with the historic Catholic Faith. Subscription cost for one year $24 (Canadian3 $28). Please make checks payable to Carey Winters. RealCatholicism, PMB 244, 2241 State St. New Albany, IN 47150.


    1. This is confirmed in detail by the convert David Goldstein, in his 1943 book, LETTERS Hebrew-Catholic to Mr. Isaacs.""It is necessary to bear in mind," he wrote, "the fact that Spain was at war for more than a half dozen centuries against the Mohammedans with whom the Jews were lined up against the Spaniards. It was a battle of the Cross against the Crescent. This is vouched for by Graetz’s History of the Jews, the Jewish Encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia of Jewish Knowledge, Vallentine’s Jewish Encyclopedia, and other authorities of the foremost standing in Jewry. The two last named say:

    "‘The Spanish Jews welcomed, it is even said that they invited, the Arab invasion. Under the Caliphate of the West, with its capital at Cordova, their numbers [the Jews] grew and they attained great influence in the State’ (Dr. Cecil Roth, in Vallentine’s Jewish Encyclopedia, p. 612)

    "‘It is admitted that the African Jews aided the Arabs in the capture of Cordova, Malaga, Granada, Seville, and Toledo and these cities were placed under Jewish control by the conquerors’ (Encyclopedia of Jewish Knowledge, p. 531")

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