Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
You have probably read many imaginary descriptions of that tribunal which pretend to be history. However let us be quiet about torture inflicted by Catholics four hundred years ago. Seventy years ago a young servant girl was transported for life to Tasmania for scorching linen whilst ironing, and that from England three centurie£ after the Reformation! We are rather in a glass house. In 1848 things occurred in Norfolk Island in the name of gentle English Protestant enlightenment which would make your hair stand on end. Here are the words of a document presented to Sir William Denison, of N.S.W.: "Floggings of the utmost brutality are incessant, as also the infliction of the 'Spread Eagle,' a species of racking and gagging with an instrument which cuts the tongue and mouth. Women are tortured by confinement in irons, iron collars around their necks, chained to the floor, and left on bread and water." And all this for the crime of stealing a tea-pot or a coat. These prisoners were our fellow Englishmen. Five are named from Middlesex; three from Surrey; others from Essex, Stafford, and Gloucester. Please don't ask me about the Inquisition. It makes me look up the records of what was done in the name of England after she had abandoned Catholic principles, and blush for our race.
Llorente is discredited as an historian even by Protestant scholars. He was secretary to the Inquisition, some three hundred years after the death of Torque-mada. But he was false to the Church and was expelled from Spain. After that he wrote his so-called and very biased history, pretending to make use of documents to which he said he had had access. When challenged even in his own day, he said that he had burned all the official papers upon which he had placed reliance. We cannot trust an historian who declares that he destroyed the original documents deliberately. Research has shown that about four thousand deaths occurred at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition during almost three centuries. But even did we accept 8,800 in a period of 18 years, that would work out at an average of some 500 a year. Sir James Stephens, in his History of English Criminal Law, shows that there were about 800 executions a year during the early post-Reformation period in England. Such severity was not due to Catholicism as such, but must be attributed to the general character of the times, which we are all glad have passed. If they have passed—the barbarity of the Great War leaves grave doubts!
I do not feel very proud of myself. I am very proud of the Catholic Faith which, owing to God's sheer goodness, I now possess. But you have a wrong idea of Torquemada. He was head of the Inquisition in Spain, a great 'theologian and a good man. All the opprobrium associated with the Inquisition has been heaped upon his head, but unjustly. The cruelty and extravagance of other officials were despite him, and despite the protests and instructions of the Church. Popes Sixtus IV. and Innocent VIII. protested strongly against the excesses of disobedient officials, their protests proving that such excesses were not committed in the name of the Church. Yet even whilst we admit excesses, we must remember that they have been greatly exaggerated by partisan writers.
On the same principle as that by which the U. S. Government passed the "Pure Foods Act" to prevent contamination of the foods we eat. The Inquisition was established and still exists in the Church to prevent the doctrine of Christ, which gives life to our souls, from being adulterated and contaminated. The Spanish Inquisition, of course, as a semi-political institution has lapsed,
Of course. It is as lawful and wise a tribunal as that for the censorship of films. And although the Holy See condemned brutal excesses, the Spanish Inquisition was as necessary for both Church and state in Spain as the Criminal Investigation Branch of the Police Department for the preservation of law and order in Chicago. There was no more need to suppress the Institution altogether because of abuses than there is to enforce prohibition because of individual abuses of drink, or to smash a pair of spectacles because dirt has spoiled their transparency.
The fact that God is love does not forbid the imprisonment of a criminal nor the hanging of a murderer. If love for the murderer does not prompt it, at least love for law and order, and love for other citizens suggests it. I am obliged to love my enemies, but not their crimes. Christ loved His enemies and prayed for them. Yet He told them that if they died in their sins they would be cast into hell for all eternity. Love does not forbid the punishment of crime. It insists that there should be some punishment so that men will not easily commit it.
The Duke of Alva was a man of good and bad qualities. For his good qualities the Pope honored him by presenting him with a hat and sword. He did tvot honor him for the slaughter of 18,000 heretics, an event which happened afterwards. Alva was sent, not by the Pope, but by Philip II. of Spain to suppress a rebellion in Holland, then subject to Charles. In this expedition Alva showed himself to be a man of iron and blood, and Catholics condemn him for his conduct as much as any others could do. In reality he slaughtered about 6,000 heretics, not as heretics, but as rebels. In his vanity he himself multiplied the number three-fold, boasting that he had killed 18,000. However his disgraceful cruelty remains, but the Catholic Church was not to blame. If my parents teach me the right thing to do, and forbid me to do the wrong thing, you could not blame them were I to turn a criminal by my own choice. The same dear Alva took up arms against the Pope when it suited him later on! His spirit of obedience to the Church was not very remarkable.
It is a grim fact that they were burned at the stake during the reign of Mary for high treason under laws framed by Cranmer himself during the reign of Edward VI. for the burning of both Protestants and Catholics who would not conform to the established Church of England!
Yes. That massacre had no connection whatever with the Catholic Church. The Church did not instigate the massacre, nor did the Pope have any knowledge of it beforehand. It was a purely political and deplorable murder engineered by Catherine de Medici, a woman almost completely irreligious. After its occurrence a lying report was sent to the Pope that it was a successful repression of a plot to murder the king. In thanksgiving for the king's safety, the Pope ordered a Te Deum to be sung in Rome. But when Gregory XIII. heard the real story he expressed his horror and condemnation, and refused to allow one of the leaders of the attack to be presented to him, saying, "I will not receive a murderer."
Bruno was not burned for that. His history would surprise, I think, even you. He apostatized from the Catholic Church and first joined the Calvinists. In 1580 he was excommunicated by them at Geneva. He went to England, but in 1584 had to leave because he proved to be a disturber of the peace, having among other things insulted the professors at Oxford by saying publicly that they knew more about beer than about Greek. He migrated to Germany, and was there excommunicated by the Lutherans in 1590. Returning to Rome he was excommunicated again by the Catholic Church, not for teaching the theory of Copernicus, but for blasphemy and heresy by denying the Divinity of Christ and asserting that He was but a magician. He was handed over to the secular authorities, and burned in the gentle style of those times as a traitor and as dangerous to the welfare of the state. Such, briefly, is the story of Giordano Bruno.
No. The Catholic Church has ever conserved knowledge and encouraged true science. Her doctrine is that Catholic truth is of God, and that scientific truth is also of God. There cannot be a conflict therefore between Catholic truth rightly understood and demonstrated scientific truths. But the scientific truth must be demonstrated. A mere hypothesis may or may not be true, and as long as a doctrine is in the hypothetical stage the Church is prudent in her judgment. If the doctrine has no religious consequences, the Church is all encouragement in the pursuit of inquiry. If religious consequences are involved, she encourages inquiry, but forbids positive utterances until the hypothesis is proved definitely to be a fact. This has never hindered scientists, but has spurred them on to the securing, if possible, demonstrative proof of their theories.
They were. But, as I have explained, the decision was not in any way connected with the infallibility of the Church. It was a reversible decision, and it was reversed in due time. The authorities at the time thought mistakenly that the theory of Galileo was opposed to Scripture, and also perceived as a fact that the propagation of the theory would tend to upset the faith of many of the simpler people. But this case does not justify the charge that the Church has consistently hindered scientific inquiry. As a matter of fact Galileo had not proved his case at all, and the Church encouraged men of science in every possible way to study the question and see whether his theory could possibly be demonstrated.