1447 L Sun 10 Mar 2002
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
2298 In times past, cruel practices were commonly used
by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without
protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted
in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning
torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught
the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood.
In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices
were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with
the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contary, these
practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to
work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their
I have been reading a book about such cruel practices: The
Inquisition (Viking, 1999), by Michael Baigent and Richard
Leigh. It gives an unflattering account of the Roman Catholic
Church. Some of the chapters are:
4. The Spanish Inquisition
6. A Crusade Against Witchcraft
7. Fighting the Heresy of Protestantism
8. Fear of the Mystics
9. Freemasonry and the Inquistion
12. The Holy Office
14. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
16. The Pope as the Problem
There were news reports that the Dominicans are having a conference
on their order's role in the Inquisition. I expect they would
disagree with parts in this book, as I do. However the fact remains
that horrible things were done by popes, bishops, priests and
Yesterday in The Age newspaper there was an article
by Hugh MacKay "an author and social researcher":
Religion can lift us to a higher plane
Religion has been getting a bad rap these past few weeks.
In some people's minds, an almost automatic link has been forged
between the clergy and sexual impropriety. ...
I disagree with his arguments about separating religion from
morality. But the psychological information he reports I found
In a review of research into the nature and effects of religious
(especially Christian) belief recently published by the British
Psychological Society, Professor Michael Argyle notes that churchgoers
enjoy longer life-expectancy than non-churchgoers, have healthier
life-styles (less drinking, smoking, and promiscuity), strong
social support from church groups ...
He lists other benefits, but I think an important point is
But it's not all sweetness and light: research suggests many
churchgoers suffer from a kind of "cognitive bondage"
-- a closed mind and a tendency to reject those whose views are
different from theirs.
I think this is a danger and that studying things like the
inquisition can help with it.
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 10 March 2002.