No One Expects the Inquisition, to Apologize

In another display of mock repentance, the Vatican sort of apologizes for the Inquisition. Well, not really, they just want people to forgive them, so that they can go back to hiding child molesters and supporting Saddam.
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Talk of trials, burned witches and forbidden books echoed in the Vatican on Tuesday as Pope John Paul asked forgiveness for the Inquisition, in which the Church tortured and killed people branded as heretics.
Thanks Your Holiness, I am sure all the dead people and their non descendants will get right back to you with a Hallmark card.

He repeated a phrase from a 2000 document in which he first asked pardon “for errors committed in the service of truth through use of methods that had nothing to do with the Gospel.”
The truth was that the Church was happy to exterminate Jews, gypsies, scientists, and the occasional “witch”. I don’t see that much has changed, except, since you guys are not running Western Europe you don’t get to put the thumbscrews on any more.
That was shorthand for torture, summary trials, forced conversions and burnings at the stake.
That’s what I was saying.
But in the letter, the pope went further, saying the request for forgiveness was for “both the dramas connected to the Inquisition as well as for the wounds to the (collective) memory that followed.”
I have to wonder why the Pope thinks the Church deserves forgiveness, or how any can be given to them? I guess the world Jewish population could do that, and maybe the modern Wiccans could bring the love. But, I don’t see why they would.
A chart showed that Germany was where more male and female “witches” were killed by civilian tribunals around the start of the 15th century. Some 25,000 people of the then population of 16 million, were killed. But the percentage record went to Lichtenstein, where 300 people, or some 10 percent of the tiny population of 3,000, were killed for convictions of witchcraft.
Way to rack up the blessed numbers! I bet they got frequent angel miles.
Professor Agostino Borromeo, the book’s editor, said fewer people were actually killed by the Inquisition than commonly believed.
Huh, what number do we commonly believe? I personally never had an exact figure in mind.
He said that only about 1.8 percent of those investigated by the Spanish Inquisition were killed. Mannequins were burned to represent those tried in absentia and condemned to death.
Hey, Agostino, how many people were killed and their deaths not recorded? Or how many tortured, recanted, and were let go? And why punish the garment industry by taking their mannequins and burning them? I’m pretty sure God can tell the difference between a burned dummy and a immolated “heretic”.
Cardinal Georges Cottier was asked why the Vatican did not condemn past popes who had sanctioned the Inquisition.
Because we don’t say bad things about the dead, especially when they are true. That hurts their feelings. Plus, we hate confession, as it is not good for the soul.
“When we ask for forgiveness we don’t condemn. We are all conditioned by the mentality of our times. Fifty years from now we may be accused of not seeing certain things,” he said.
Ah, don’t tell us we were wrong, just let us cry on your shoulder, and give us some candy. I’m happy to accuse the Vatican of things they are doing wrong now, I don’t plan on waiting 50 years.
Edit: Reader John Anderson has an excellent point:
“Oh? And the other 98.2% got off free? I somehow doubt any prosecutor with that record would last a year, let alone centuries. ”



  1. John Anderson

    [Professor Agostino Borromeo] said that only about 1.8 percent of those investigated by the Spanish Inquisition were killed.
    Oh? And the other 98.2% got off free? I somehow doubt any prosecutor with that record would last a year, let alone centuries.
    The Roman Church still refuses to condemn those at the lead, because these leaders probably thought they were (mostly) doing the right thing. As, I’m sure, did Ghenghis Khan, Tamerlane, Rasputin, Nero, Jack the Ripper…

  2. Karen

    See, this is the problem with running around apologizing for things done hundreds of years ago. It’s all so much hot air as the people who were persecuted have been dead for hundreds of years as have the people who persecuted them. No redemption is possible. I understand the Pope is representative of the Catholic Church but, as you said, he, and we, would be better served were he to pay attention to the sins of the Church today. It’s easier to apologize for things you can’t do anything about and nobody really blames you for (cause they’re all dead). To address the abuses of today would cost something.

  3. Al Maviva

    Whaddaya want Steve? The Pope to kick his own ass? Maybe he invites Abe Foxman over to rough him up a bit, hide his dentures? Make him watch Woody Allen films?
    The point is, it’s an institutional apology. You don’t have to forgive, it’s the institution’s duty to seek forgiveness, per its own bylaws.
    The opposite of forgiveness, of course, is to bear a grudge. Ought Jews to bear a grudge against Catholics for something that went on a good 400 – 500 years ago? Now we’re getting into Islamacist-level hatred and grudge bearing. And if we’re going to go that way, I suppose I might as well chuck bombs at the English, because they did a number on my Irish forebears.
    The apology isn’t exactly as worthless as Bill Clinton’s crawling before Africa, or other secular groveling. Unlike secular institutions, such as governments and companies, the Catholic Church by its own rules purports to be a moral institution, and to be morally responsible for its actions. Therefore an apology isn’t the empty political posturing of a career politician, but the official apology of an institution. I’m reasonably sure it wasn’t tendered to win votes…

  4. steven saporito

    Al, I think the current trend of working for religious tolerance and rapprochement with the Jews is a good thing. Bringing up past wrongs and trying to make some amends is a good thing, but…I’m not sure it isn’t a political posture.
    The Church needs some good publicity, and there is no real downside to denouncing the Inquisition, and asking for forgiveness, so it does make them look good.
    Pope John Paul will die soon and his successor could use some positive feelings towards the Church. And this may also be an attempt to “clear the deck” of old business during the twilight years of the aging pontiff.
    After all, who wants to look like a bully taking on an old man?
    No one, unless you simply consider him part of an institution that could do so much good, yet often wanders away from the humanitarian lessons of it’s founder, and into darker areas.
    So, I’ll just see how the institution performs in the future, and I’ll ask for forgiveness if I have erred against it. I seem to have plenty of time to make my mind up about that.