Witchcraft is an area of history that most people feel familiar with. From the Salem Witch Trials to the witches of Macbeth, the figure of the witch is embedded in our culture. The problem is that most of what we think we know is wrong.
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Answered by Eugene Byrne
Published: August 16, 2012
St Thecla of Iconium (died early first century AD) was supposedly saved from burning by a miraculous downpour. Or there’s Lassi Didriksson, sentenced to burning for sorcery in Iceland in 1675, whose fire was put out by rain three times. The most famous rained-off burning wasn’t an execution, but a trial by fire in which the Italian preacher Girolamo Savonarola (1452–98) would demonstrate his divine protection as the rain fell.
Within the opening chapters of my book, Burning Blood, the witch Aurelia finds herself about to be burned at the stake.
‘Witch, you have been tried and convicted under the benevolent will of God. You are a consort of Satan and shall burn at the stake. Repent now and God may have mercy on your soul. Fail to repent and you shall writhe on that stake just as you shall writhe for eternity in the pits of Hell!’
The rough rope grazed her neck as it tightened, ready to take away her breath and leave nothing but an empty shell to cook in the flames. The cross danced in front of her face, with Christ’s tortured body hanging limply on it, the crown of thorns cutting painfully into his forehead.
‘Bring the flames and let that be the end of it,’ she intoned, her voice cutting through the rabble’s clamouring.
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.
After decades of ambivalence, document prepared by clergy says hundreds of priests gave spiritual guidance to Hitler’s soldiers on front, ‘lent war an additional sense of purpose’
In a new report after decades of ambivalence, Germany’s council of Catholic bishops has finally admitted to the church’s complicity in the actions of the Nazi regime during World War II, The Times reported Friday.
The 23-page document by the council reportedly states, “Inasmuch as the bishops did not oppose the war with a clear ‘no,’ and most of them bolstered the [German nation’s] will to endure, they made themselves complicit in the war.”
Germany’s Catholic bishops have acknowledged that they were “complicit” in allowing the Nazis to rise to power and stood by while they launched World War II, according to new reports.
In a 23-page report made public this weekend, Germany’s Council of Catholic Bishops said it didn’t do enough to oppose the rise of Nazi power and even cooperated with Adolf Hitler’s regime during the Second World War, according to a report originally published in the UK’s Sunday Times.
The Catholic Church’s actions during World War II have long been a matter of historical debate
By Theresa MachemerSMITHSONIANMAG.COM MAY 5, 2020
Pope Pius XII led the Catholic Church during the tumult of World War II, but his silence on the fate of the millions of Jews killed during the Holocaust has clouded his legacy with controversy.
To critics, the pontiff’s refusal to publicly condemn the Nazis represents a shameful moral failing with devastating consequences. In his polarizing 1999 biography of Pius, British journalist John Cornwell argued that the religious leader placed the papacy’s supremacy above the plight of Europe’s Jews, winning a modicum of power—and protection from the rising threat of communism—by becoming “Hitler’s pope” and pawn. Supporters, however, say that Pius’ silence was calculated to prevent German retaliation and ensure the continued success of the Catholic Church’s behind-the-scenes efforts to aid victims of Nazi persecution.
Following eleven years’ work, in 1998 a high-level Vatican commission instituted by Pope John Paul II offered what has become the official position of the Roman Catholic Church denying any responsibility for fomenting the kind of demonization of the Jews that made the Holocaust possible. In a 2001 book, The popes against the Jews, I demonstrated that in fact the church played a major role in leading Catholics throughout Europe to view Jews as an existential threat. Yet defenders of the church position continue to deny the historical evidence and to launch ferocious ad hominem attacks against scholars who have researched the subject. The anti-Semitism promulgated by the church can be seen as part of the long battle it waged against modernity, with which the Jews were identified.
The lawsuit is based on the admission by the three most recent popes of the crimes and evils against humans and peoples committed by the Roman Catholic Church throughout history up to the present moment.
This letter will be sent to the international institutions which in the world represent a morally ethical equivalent of rightfulness, truth and justice to raise their voice and publicly condemn and sanction (prohibit) the religious institution which has done a lot of evil throughout history and still does.