[Buddha-l] Inquisition

G. McLoughlin caodemarte at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 17 20:32:40 MDT 2013

I am baffled by the response below.
"There is no reason to cast this as a purely political
matter ("treason") rather than religious.'' No one has.  I do not believe you can always separate
those elements out in the context of the times. However, this is an important point to make regarding the religion and nationalism (states often consider themselves the very embodiment of nationalism) discussion, the point of departure for the Inquisition side bar.
"...aside from a desire for face-saving of Catholicism
and its Holy institutions." Well, there is a desire for some historical accuracy.  I am not a member of the Catholic Church by the way.
“The Church was (and is) a political institution." Yes,
like any human institution. It is also a religious and ideological
organization. So was the Spanish state which very much wanted as much control over religion as it could take from the Church for both political and religious/ideological  reasons.
The Moors (and yes, we know this is a catch all Christian
term for the various N. African  groups), in the main, served a refuge for Spanish Christians and Jews fleeing persecution, did not run inquisitions for
themselves nor persecute or expel (discriminate against, sure) Christians or
Jews. In this sense, "liberal" seems a good word to use.  I don't  understand why you would think "The stories you are spinning sound like the self-serving faux histoire spun in hispanic textbooks." What "hispanic textbooks"  are being "self-serving"  by saying  anything like this about Moorish conquerors of Spain? or about the Inquisition and the Spanish state? and how would this serve them?
For more general information on relations between the peoples of Spain at that time there are hundreds,  if not thousands, of well documented books. Henry Kamen's The
Spanish Inquisition (1997), is a fascinating book to read for more detailed
information on the Inquisition itself. 
The first target of the (church and state) Inquisitions in Spain were the
conversos  ("converted" Jews and "converted" Muslims).  Initially the Muslim "converts" or
moriscos, unlike the Jewish conversos, were not severely persecuted, but
experienced a policy of evangelization without torture (historians suspect this was due to their financial/political /social relationship with local authorities in the regions where they were concentrated).  Christian related heretical
groups (especially the alumbrados, a Gnostic sounding group, and later on the
Freemasons) and witches of any background were next on the hit list. Around the 1540s the state Spanish
Inquisition in particular focused heavily on the Protestants in an attempt to
further unify the nation. These groups would all be considered bad Catholics by the
authorities at the time, but probably not by us. Politically, they provided an "outside" enemy to unify against. Religiously, the Crown apparently really believed they were dangerous enemies of God.
From around 1184 there were a variety of Catholic Church
controlled inquisitions in Europe, including the Episcopal Inquisition
(1184-1230s) and later the Papal Inquisition (1230s). A major reason for their
formation was to protect religion and to provide a means for heretics and the
falsely accused to escape death and return to the community. In an old, but
still useful, if over enthusiastic, article Madden
(http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1155995/posts) examines the Church history
of the Inquisitions. He points out that heresy was a crime against the state.
Roman law in the Code of Justinian made it, as well as other forms of treason against rulers whose authority comes from God, a capital offense. Common people saw
the accused as dangerous outsiders who would bring down divine wrath. When
someone was accused of heresy in the early Middle Ages, they were brought to
the local lord for judgment or killed.  It
was impossible to discern whether the accused was really a heretic without
basic theological training — something most lords and commoners lacked. The
result is that thousands, who were not "a threat to religion and the state," even by the standards of the day were
executed.  After 1184 suspected heretics were identified by the general population and brought before a Church established
tribunal (at least in principal) . Quite a few were indeed found innocent. Some were warned to be more careful. If found guilty 
the Church had a theological mandate  to get them to repent if possible (the state only had a mandate to defend against its enemies and the enemies of God). If they
repented, confessed, and, if possible, turned in other “enemies of the Church”
(part of the repentance/renunciation of sin process), they were either released
or sentenced to a prison penalty. Among possible punishments the Church
Inquisitions could dole out were prayer, pilgrimage, wearing a yellow cross for
life, banishment, or long-term imprisonment. The unrepentant or repeat
offenders could be "relaxed" to secular authority, however, opening
the convicted to the possibility of various corporal punishments, up to and
including being burned at the stake. Execution was neither performed by the
Church, nor was it a sentence available to the officials involved in the
inquisition, who, as clerics, were forbidden to kill. Hence, you were almost
always better off if tried by the Church which used an actual legal process in which you could either get off or repent.  This should not be considered a defense of inquisitions or heresy trials, but there was a choice of evils.
The Spanish Crown, busily imposing uniformity in everything it could to create a nation, clearly regarded heresy as a crime against the state and true religion (which it did not cleanly separate, although it certainly distinguished between the Church and the Spanish state). The whole Church controlled repentance process is a major
part of what the Spanish state objected to (they wanted to punish and eliminate enemies of the Crown, not free them). The Church controlled Inquisition
did not have an office in Castille, presumably because the Crown would not allow
it. Making an appeal to Rome against the (illegal under cannon law) forced conversions was made a capital crime!  The Tribuna del Santo Oficio de
la Inquisición, commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition was established by
the state to replace the so called Medieval Inquisition under Papal control.
Ferdinand II of Aragon pressured Pope Sixtus IV to agree to an Inquisition
controlled by the crown by threatening to withdraw military support at a time
when the Turks were threating Rome. The pope then issued a bull to stop the
Inquisition, but was pressured into withdrawing it. On November 1, 1478, Pope
Sixtus IV published the Papal bull, Exigit Sinceras Devotionis Affectus,
through which he gave the monarchs exclusive authority to name the inquisitors
in their kingdoms. The Spanish Inquisition was finally shut down by Spain in 1834.
The Catholic Church controlled Sacred Congregation of the
Roman and Universal Inquisition, staffed by cardinals and other officials whose
task it was "to maintain and defend the integrity of the faith and to
examine and proscribe errors and false doctrine," was established in 1542
and became an important part of the Counter-Reformation (primarily against bad Catholics in their eyes or what we would call Protestants).  The Roman Inquisition
was responsible for prosecuting individuals accused of committing offences
relating to heresy, including "Protestantism, sorcery, immorality, blasphemy,
Judaizing, and witchcraft,"  as well as for censorship of printed literature. 
It lives on, although much reduced. It
was renamed the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in 1904. The
Congregation's name was changed to Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith in 1965. By the end of 1983, it was known as the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith. 

 From: Dan Lusthaus <vasubandhu at earthlink.net>
To: Buddhist discussion forum <buddha-l at mailman.swcp.com> 
Sent: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 5:16 PM
Subject: Re: [Buddha-l] Inquisition

From: "Dog of Mars" <caodemarte at yahoo.com>
>In Spain, for example, the Catholic Inquisition was interested in souls and
>therefore a convincing or sincere conversion and repentance could
>sometimes get you out.

Technically the inquisition in Spain was not aimed at non-Catholics. One had 
to be Catholic (or a convert already) in order to be subject to inquisition. 
So there was no escape clause. There was paranoic distrust of converts, and 
impossible to determine who had "sincerely" converted (the actual number 
would have been close to zero), so the inquisition followed the expulsions 
and conversions to continue to purge the impurities. *Every* case was a 
lesson -- of intimidation and totalitarian oppression.

> It is worth remembering that Jews and others had rebelled against
>local leaders in some cities in order to open the gates to the Moors,
>who were far more liberal rulers than their competitors.

There is too much distorted information  to sort that out fully in an email. 
The Moors, with a brief exception, were *not* liberal. The notion of the 
golden age in Spain, prior to Christian domination, where Jews and Muslims 
danced merrily arm in arm in mutual joy and splendor is a myth that badly 
conceals the reality of those times. The Iberian peninsula had been under 
the rule of various Islamic groups (moor is a catchall term, but there were 
different groups from different regions in N. Africa who competed for 
control at various times). Jews were caught in the middle, but they weren't 
being persecuted for simply political reasons. The stories you are spinning 
sound like the self-serving faux histoire spun in hispanic textbooks. If you 
are interested in a more accurate picture of the times, two fairly recent 
books I would highly recommend are:

Joel Kraemer, _Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization's 
Greatest Minds_, NY: Doubleday, 2008.

Sarah Stroumsa, _Maimonides in his World: Portrait of a Mediterranean 
Thinker_ Princeton Univ. Press, 2009.

There is no reason to cast this as a purely political matter ("treason") 
rather than religious aside from a desire for face-saving of Catholicism and 
its Holy institutions. The Church was (and is) a political institution.

>Many Jews later fled to Muslim lands

Yes, and to Italy and Amsterdam, since very few European countries allowed 
Jews to live there, much less grant them citizenship. (e.g. Jews were 
expelled from England in 1290, and not permitted back on English soil until 
1657; they were not granted citizenship, and not admitted to any English 
universities until the late 1800s -- University of London was the first to 
admit them).
See e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Expulsion

Sefardic Jews in many places have maintained Ladino to this day, just as 
certain Ashkenazic groups still use Yiddish. A couple of decades ago (don't 
remember the precise date) a satellite hookup between Israel and Spain 
featured a telecast in which the Jews on the Israel side spoke to the 
Spaniards in Ladino, surprising the Spaniards who realized they could 
understand most of it with little effort.

> The colonies, where many also fled the Inquisitions, showed a different 
> view of what made a citizen or subject. When the Catholic Inquisition 
> opened in Bogota, it quickly arrested a "heretic." The Royal Governor 
> raided the office, freed the prisoner, and told the Inquisitors that they 
> would be in their own cells if they ever bothered anyone again.  This 
> policy was continued by all his successors.

A moment of sanity in the New World.


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