Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vatican Reform: Time for a New Inquisition

Do you remember the Roman Inquisition? Unfortunately, when people today think of “the Inquisition”, they think of the Spanish Inquisition, which was unduly influenced by the Spanish crown. Even so, its weaknesses were horrendously exaggerated by hostile English historians in what has come to be known as the Black Legend. It is this which gives the term “inquisition” such a bad sound.

But do you remember the Roman Inquisition? Back in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Roman Inquisition operated throughout significant portions of Europe, firmly under the control of the Papacy, with the purpose of protecting the faithful against priests, religious and bishops who did not fulfill their obligations under Church law. It was an ecclesiastical judicial system and, as such, it was primarily used for cases involving ecclesiastical persons, who in those days were universally accorded the right to be tried by the Church instead of by the Crown. This was called “benefit of clergy.” Indeed, it was a significant benefit, because the ecclesiastical justice system protected the rights of the accused substantially better than the secular systems of the day.  (more...)

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