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The Cathar Martyrs

Inquisition

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The Inquisition.

The first body bearing this name was founded in 1184 and soon set about rooting out heresy, including the Cathars.  This involved brutal interrogations, including torture and burnings at the stake.

Later forms of the Inquisition were set up in Spain, where they set about destroying the Jewish and Moorish communities who had both lived there for hundreds of years and had created flourishing colonies.  It also carried out a reign of terror in Spanish colonies such as the Philippines and South America, before finally being abolished in Mexico in 1821 and Bolivia in 1834.

The Portuguese Inquisition from 1536 terrorised Spanish Jews who had been forced to free from Spain.  Later they operated in the Portuguese province of Goa in India where they targeted Jews and Hindus.  They also worked in Brazil.  It was finally abolished in 1821.

The Roman Inquisition or Congregation of the Holy Office of the Inquisition was established in 1542 and likewise set about terrorising anyone seen as not following the doctrine of the Catholic Church to the letter.  Galileo for example was imprisoned and died under arrest after committing the crime of proposing that the earth revolved around the sun and not vice versa.  In 1908 the name of the Congregation became "The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office", which in 1965 was further changed to "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" as retained to the present.

Cardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger presided over the "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" from 1981 until becoming Pope in 2005.  He was known as God's Rottweiler for his defence and promulgation of traditional Catholic doctrine.

Perhaps one of his most worrying comments was regarding Buddhism, which he called an "autoerotic spirituality" that seeks "transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations."  He also made the point that, by the year 2000, Buddhism would replace Marxism as the church's biggest foe. (See National Catholic Reporter  Vol. 35, No. 17, Feb. 27, 1999).  Perhaps he was not aware that Marxism had all but disappeared by 1990.  He has also made other blunders such as quoting a former Byzantine monarch's comment regarding Islam at a particularly insensitive time.

Whilst it can be accepted that the former German Cardinal may not have volunteered for the Hitler Youth, which he joined aged 14, his views seem to be, from these and other remarks, to be to put it mildly, far right, reactionary and very insensitive.

The Cathars have been described as western Buddhists, the comments of Pope Benedict XVI can't help but to give the uneasy feeling that perhaps little has changed in over 800 years and that there are still those within the Catholic Church who would like to see their 'foes' again burnt at the stake.

Hasn't there been enough genocide?  I appeal to all my readers to advocate tolerance towards the views and differences of others, to regard all people as friends until proven otherwise, never to blanket people as 'foes' without justification and to support the persecuted and needy.

 

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