The Truth about Inquisition

Source: Visualized Church History

by:

Sister Mary Loyola, O.P. Ph, D.

What is Inquisition?

The inquisition was a tribunal for the discovery, trial and punishment of heretics. An Episcopal Inquisition was first step up by the Council of Verona in 1184. 

The Twelfth ecumenical council of 1215 gave explicit instructions for the procedure to be followed. However, it was not until 1229 that the Episcopal Inquisition was definitely organized at Toulouse.

As we have seen, Pope Gregory IX. in 1233, sent the Dominicans to Languedoc to perform the duties of Inquisitors against the Albigensians. The Pope did this because he feared that if the local Bishops were authorized to try the heretics, they would favor their friends.

The inquisition was not a pontifical court. The Inquisitors were theologians who examined the suspects and, if they found them guilty, prescribed spiritual penances. Then the heretics were handed over to a civil court for physical punishment, such as imprisonment, torture or death, Later, the rigors of the Inquisition were modified somewhat. The Inquisition was used not only in Languedoc, but in the whole of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland and England.

The above description applies to the Inquisition established and supervised by the Church. However, there was a national Inquisition established in Spain in 1479 which lasted for three centuries and was responsible for hundreds of deaths annually.

This was directed particularly against the Moors and Jews. Some biased historians attitude the notorious Spanish Inquisition to the Church, but this is confusing and unfair.

Even so, the Spanish Inquisition was not so bad as the bloody conflicts introduced into Europe by Protestantism.

Historians such a Gibbon and De Maistre attest to this fact.

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