Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
It explicitly condemns the extravagances and unwarranted cruelty of certain individuals who held office in the Inquisition. On the other hand, it explicitly approves the Inquisition as it should have been administered according to the social conditions prevailing in those times, and according to the particular evils to be eradicated. She would not approve the same measures in the present era. Changed conditions of society require a different approach to its various problems.
Firstly, not a majority membership, but relatively few of the members of the Catholic Church were responsible for inexcusable excesses during the dominant days of the Inquisition.Secondly, whilst the Church is responsible in inculcating religious zeal, she is not responsible for any excesses of such zeal in individual members. She did not inspire such excess, and she condemned it over and over again. Her legislation was often unheeded, but her inability to control wayward members is an inherent difficulty in all societies composed of human beings. God Himself, who gave the Ten Commandments, does not compel men willy-nilly to keep them. The State takes upon itself the responsibility of educating its future citizens; but always it will find that it lets loose upon society some whom it is unable to govern, and who will respond to no appeals for law and order. Even in the Church, as a religious society, men still retain their freedom. If obedient to the Church, men are voluntarily obedient. And once you bring in the voluntary element, you must be prepared for individual failures.
She does not condemn the principle that the State has the right to safeguard the common good even, if necessary, by inflicting the penalty of death upon its enemies. However the application of the principle must vary according to the type of society prevailing in any given age. Apart from the manner, which the Church had often to condemn, the Church does not condemn the matter of Inquisitorial executions in the times when they occurred. For, as I have so often pointed out, the State then, as a State, professed Catholicism and the disturbance of Catholic principles meant the destruction of the existent form of society. The propagation of heresy was, by the very fact, an offence against the State and the common good. The State could, therefore, defend itself against such sedition. But much water has gone under the bridge since then. We live in very different times. And whilst the Church does not condemn today the matter of Inquisitorial executions then, she would condemn such executions were they suggested today. Circumstances alter cases.
Firstly, and by the way, non-Catholics today are not defaulters. They have never professed to belong to the Catholic Church; and were born to non-Catholic parents, so that their being outside the Church is no fault of their own. But let us take your main difficulty. The Church would deviate from the course set for it by Christ, if it did not alter its practices and discipline from time to time. Of course it could not alter any defined teachings as to what is to be believed by faith, or as to principles of morality. But in her relations with the changing conditions of this world, the Church must be able to legislate to meet new emergencies, and to relax that legislation when such emergencies have passed—probably to give place to new ones. For this reason Christ said to His Church "Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven." Matt. XXVIII., 18. This power of binding and loosing allows for a fluctuating disciplinary legislation according to the necessities of various ages.Again you must note this. The application of the principles and legislation of the Church is in the hands of human beings. At times the very officials may fail to discern the mind of the Church; or may exceed the authority given them by the Church; or even ignore the laws of the Church. In such cases one should blame the individuals responsible, and not the Church whose laws they violate. Thus the Popes protested again and again against abuses in the Spanish Inquisition. Thus, too, a recalcitrant Bishop in France handed over Joan of Arc to be burned at the stake. The Church absolutely disowns his conduct. Many practices of clerics horrify us as we study the history of the ages, but such practices cannot rightly be called practices of the Church. And, in any case, the disciplinary laws of the Church need not be the same in one age, as in another whose conditions are very different. Nor does the alteration of such legislation mean that the Church has deviated from the course set for it by Christ.
Quite easily. The Reformation period is over. Protestants today are children of Protestants and are not therefore personally renegade Catholics. Most Protestants sincerely take their religion for granted, and are honestly convinced that the Catholic Church is wrong.Now let us suppose that 95% of the population were Catholic—the other 5% Protestant.The Catholic Church declares that no one can be received into her fold against his will. The Catholic Church then, on her own principles, cannot compel the 5% to become Catholics if they don't want to do so. Therefore, even in a Catholic State, they must be tolerated in the sense that they be allowed to worship God in their own mistaken way and according to their personal, if erroneous, conscience.