Skip to content ↓

Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition

Articles Collection cover image

“I didn’t expect the truth about the Spanish Inquisition.”

“NOBODY expects the truth about the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is dishonesty…dishonesty and revisionism…revisionism and dishonesty…. Our two weapons are dishonesty and revisionism…and your reckless apathy…. Our *three* weapons are dishonesty, revisionism, and your reckless apathy…and an almost fanatical devotion to deception…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as dishonesty, revisionism…. I’ll come in again.”

“I didn’t expect the truth about the Spanish Inquisition.”

“NOBODY expects the truth about the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: dishonesty, revisionism, your reckless apathy, an almost fanatical devotion to deception, and nice red uniforms…”

“You are hereby charged that you did on diverse dates believe that the Holy Church would reveal the truth about the inquisition. Now, how do you plead?”

“We’re innocent.”

“Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

“Now — you are accused of naivety on three counts — naivety by thought, naivety by word, naivety by deed, and naivety by action — *four* counts. Do you confess?

“I don’t understand what I’m accused of!”

“Ha! Then we’ll make you understand! Fetch…THE EVIDENCE!”

Vatican ‘dispels Inquisition myths’

The Vatican has published a new study on the abuses committed by the medieval Inquisition and come to a rather surprising conclusion – that in fact the much feared judges of heresy were not as brutal as previously believed.

According to the 800-page report, the Inquisition that spread fear throughout Europe throughout the Middle Ages did not use execution or torture to anything like the extent history would have us believe.

In fact the book’s editor, Professor Agostino Borromeo, claims that in Spain only 1.8% of those investigated by the notorious Spanish Inquisition were killed.

Nonetheless, as the report was published, Pope John Paul II apologised once more for the interrogators’ excesses, expressing sorrow for “the errors committed in the service of the truth by the recourse to non-Christian methods”.

Hunting heretics

After the Roman Catholic Church consolidated its power across Europe in the 12th and 13th Century, it set up the Inquisition to ensure that heretics did not undermine that authority.

It took the form of a network of ecclesiastical tribunals equipped with judges and investigators.

The punishments meted out for wrongdoers ranged from being forced to visit churches and make pilgrimages, to life imprisonment or execution by burning at the stake.

The report is the result of six-years of investigation

A key component of the Inquisition was that it did not wait for complaints and accusations to be made, but actively sought out so-called heretics, who included witches, diviners, blasphemers and members of other sects.

The accused did not have the right to face and question their accuser and it was acceptable to take testimony from criminals and excommunicated people.

The Inquisition reached its peak in the 16th Century as it battled the Reformation, but its most famous trial was that of Galileo in 1633, condemned for claiming the earth revolved around the sun.

Death by burning

The Spanish Inquisition which became independent from the Vatican in the 15th Century, carried out some of the most infamous abuses under its “autos da fé” or act of faith, shorthand for death by burning.

They zealously tortured victims, held summary trials, forced conversions and passed death sentences.

“There is no doubt that at the start, the planned procedures were applied with an excessive rigour, which in some cases degenerated into true abuses,” the Vatican study simply says of this dark period.

But the Vatican report, the product of a six-year investigation, insists that the Inquisition was not as bad as often believed.

Professor Borromeo says for example that for 125,000 trials of suspected heretics in Spain, less than 2% were executed.

He says that often mannequins were burned to represent those tried in absentia and condemned to death and heretics and witches who repented at the last minute were given some sort of relief when they were strangled before being burnt.

Source: BBC News

What can we say? The Vatican is once again downplaying the inquisition. Until they admit to the full extent of the terrible acts done in the name of the Church and until they prove their sorrow in changed doctrine, their apology amounts to nothing. Their apology means as much as if a man beats his wife until she is black and blue and then apologizes for raising his voice at her. It means nothing!

We will, of course, never have completely accurate numbers for the lives lost in the various inquisitions and crusades. The Church continually persecuted Protestants (even in the pre-Protestant era – groups such as the Waldenses), Jews and Muslims alike. Traditionally, and based on some careful (though biased) research, the number of lives lost in the inquisitions was placed in the tens of millions. John Dowling who wrote History of Romanism did years of research and arrived at a number close to 50 million. In recent years the numbers have fallen from millions to thousands and in some cases even to the hundreds.

Do not allow yourself, your children, your church to lose sight of history. We absolutely must continue to allow ourselves to remain students of history.

  • Like an iPhone

    Like an iPhone, Only Much More So

    Can I confess something to you? There’s one thing Aileen does that really bugs me. We will be talking together and enjoying one another’s company. But then, as we chat, I’ll hear the telltale buzz of her phone. And I can tell that I’ve lost her. I can see it in the look on her…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 21)

    A La Carte: When cultural tailwinds become cultural headwinds / Talking with kids about gender issues / Try to be more awkward / Life is more than mountaintop experiences / Tinder / Unpacking “separation of church and state” / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 20)

    A La Carte: How hell motivates holiness / The bond of love / How to love our friends in truth, even when it stings / The distorting power of the prosperity gospel / Thinking about plagues / and more.

  • A Difference Making Ministry for Any Christian

    A Difference-Making Ministry for Any Christian

    The experience of preaching is very different from the front than from the back, when facing the congregation than when facing the preacher. The congregation faces one man who is doing his utmost to be engaging, to hold their attention, and to apply truths that will impact their hearts and transform their lives.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 19)

    A La Carte: Courageous pastors or overbearing leaders? / Jesus didn’t diss the poor / 8 qualities of true revival / Why don’t you talk about the sermon? / The idol of competence / The danger of inhospitality / and more.

  • Why Those Who Seem Most Likely to Come, Never Come At All

    Why Those Who Seem Most Likely to Come, Never Come At All

    It is something we have all observed at one time or another and something we have all wondered about. Why is it that those who seem most likely to come to Christ so often reject him? Why is it that those hear the boldest invitations and who have the greatest opportunities so commonly turn away?…