It’s hard out here for a pope. See, when it comes to religious history, the list of Catholic Church transgressions makes for pretty uncomfortable reading. Despite exalting virtue and kindness in its teaching, church leadership has spearheaded a long history of outright unforgivable Catholic actions.
You might remember some of these improprieties from school – the Inquisition, Joan of Arc, and the trial of Galileo should all ring a bell. But not everything here is medieval. Though Vatican violence goes way back, a number of disturbing episodes are from recent history. Some of this repugnant behavior comes from popes, some was church-endorsed, and some, most unsettlingly, was just straight-up regular church practice.
Dark church history contains scandal after scandal rife with every vice and taboo you can imagine. When the church was at the height of its power (at which point it was the most powerful organization in the Western world), it’s safe to say everything went to its head. Combine that with church leaders seeming to stubbornly resist adapting to changing morality and you’ve got a whole lot of unforgivable moments on your hands.
A new wave of sex scandals and allegations he personally covered for an abusive cardinal have Pope Francis under fire. But is he in trouble?
n August 2013, Józef Wesołowski, the Vatican‘s ambassador to the Dominican Republic since 2008, abruptly abandoned his island home. He’d been a staple on the waterfront in Santo Domingo, the capital city, where—often dressed like he was out for a jog—he assumed a laid-back and less-than-holy presence. The shoeshiners knew him casually as “the Italian,” because of the way he spoke Spanish with a distinct accent. (He was actually Polish.) He often had beers in the sun at a popular restaurant. He seemed, well, normal.
Like many Dominican monks of his time, Bernard Gui rose through the ranks of the Inquisition. At the age of 35 he was named Grand Inquisitor of Toulouse, a repressive office he held from 1306 to 1323. The church hierarchy rewarded his efforts with a 1314 appointment as the Vicar of Toulouse, and he was sent on several papal missions to Italy and the French court. [Lea, Inq II, 104]
Gui was a four-star general in the war on heresy. He wrote its principal battle plan, a handbook for Inquisitors entitled Practica Inquisitionis Hereticae Pravitatis: a “guide for inquiring into heretical depravity.” A classic interrogatory manual of the medieval Inquisition, it detailed forbidden beliefs, practices and rituals, and set out formulas of abjuration to be repeated by those the Church Militant had tortured into submission. Interrogatory torments administered before the tribunal did not count as punishment, but as the means of extracting “confessions.” Official penalties included death, imprisonment, exile, confiscation of property, and enforced pilgrimage to distant sites.
“. . . millions of witches, sorcerers, possessed and obsessed were an enormous mass of severe neurotics [and ] psychotics. . . for many years the world looked like a veritable insane asylum. . . .” (Gregory Zilboorg).
“. . . the witch-craze was neither a lynching party nor a mass suicide by hysterical women. Rather, it followed well-ordered, legalistic procedures. The witch-hunts were well-organized campaigns, initiated, financed and executed by Church and State. . . .” (Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English)
It was, the annalist of the city Worms tells us, the year of Our Lord 1231:
There came by divine permission a miserable plague and most harsh sentence. For indeed there came a certain friar called Conrad Dors, and he was completely illiterate and of the Order of Preachers, and he brought with him a certain secular man named John who was one-eyed and maimed, and in truth utterly vile. These two, beginning … firstly among the poor, said that they knew who were heretics; and they began to burn them, those who confessed their guilt and refused to leave their sect. … And they condemned many who, in the hour of their death, called out with all their heart to our Lord Jesus Christ, and even in the fire strongly cried out, begging for the help of the holy Mother of God and all the saints.
The Socio-Economic Pressures and Religious Obligation as Driving Force behind the Papal Inquisition against the Cathars and the Testimonies of the Inhabitants of Southern France.
“The Penance of all the Cathari is, beyond all doubt, false, vain, delusive, and noxious. For in order to constitute true and fruitful penance, three things are required, namely, the contrition of heart, the confession of the mouth and the satisfaction of works,”
Rainer Sacconi, a Catholic priest on Cathars
In the year 1209, Arnauda da Lamotha of Montauban and her sister Peirona arrived at the house of Raymond Aymeric in Villemur, a region in the Midi-Pyrenees of southern France. Both women were asked by Raymond to swear themselves to God and the Gospel, and to refrain from eating meat, eggs, and cheese. The women promised not to swear or lie, not to give themselves to any passion and never to leave the sect in fear of punishment. After reading a prayer together, Raymond kissed both women on the mouth before witnesses while the women stood together with their shoulders turned sideways. The participants of this particular event were known as the Albigensians or Cathars. The ceremony performed by Raymond was referred to as consolamentum, which was an initiation ceremony for a widespread heretical sect in the medieval Europe.
Abstract The Albigensian Crusade was an internal campaign against the Albigensian/Cathar heretics in the south of France through the alliance of the Papacy and French Monarchy between 1209 and 1229. The Albigensians posed a great threat to the institutional Church with their unorthodox beliefs such as the rejection of baptism and church hierarchy. The reasons for the Albigensian Crusade are still a source of debate among the historians though there are many studies on the subject. This paper will try to contextualise the Albigensian Crusade by examining multifaceted factors that resulted in the mass persecution of the heretics. It will be argued that it is crucial to discuss the interaction of various factors such as the rising power of the Papacy, Crusading ideology, medieval heresy and socio-economic and political conditions in the region to understand fully the Albigensian Crusade.
An international court has found twelve co-conspirators in the genocide of native people to be in legal default for failing to reply to a Notice of Liability issued to them by Reverend Kevin Annett on February 26.
According to a Default Notice issued today by the court, the co-conspirators have until March 31 to admit their wrongs and issue reparations, or face court-ordered financial foreclosure and arrest.
The Co-Conspirators include former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and top officials of the United Church of Canada, the RCMP and Weyerhauser Ltd.