The Inquisition as an Instrument of Ideological Control and Repression in Transcultural PerspectiveThe historian and theologian Tomáš Petráček presents a view on the Inquisition from a broad anthropological perspective. He builds on the basic proposition that in the pre-modern time faith is not a private matter of an individual but of the entire community, which by unbelief of an individual is threatened in its entirety. This assumption affects intolerance against all forms of otherness in matters of faith, and the need to combat this otherness. The situation was not different in the Christian Middle Ages, when the church was – moreover – one of the pillars and guarantors of a state power. This comprehension led to their joint combat against heresies, understood as offence both against the official faith and the state.
The Inquisition Was One of the Tools of War for the Soul
The interview with the Polish historian Paweł Kras refers to the main issues of historical reality of the Inquisition: why the Dominicans were associated with the Inquisition; why there were so many regional differences in practice of the Inquisition; the ways of financing of the Inquisition; whether it is possible to outline a typology of an inquisitor; what arguments were used for the use of violence during the trials; what are the historical estimates of the number of victims of the Inquisition; what was its real importance in the fight against heresies; how the image of its Black Legend was hatched. Kras does not obscure its negatives, but puts the Inquisition into the broader historical context of the increase of the Papal power. He shows its importance for shaping of legal thought, its own supervisory mechanisms, by which he corrects the often exaggerated idea of the Inquisition’s actions.
The historian Tomáš Černušák in his brief review focuses on the medieval Inquisition in Bohemia and on the inquisitors belonging to the Dominican Order. Although the sources of that period are fragmentary, it can be said that, especially in the first half of the 14th century, in the Czech lands appears a broad and systematic persecution of waldensians. And that it was just the Dominican Order which played the crucial role in this process.
Bernard Gui O.P.
The historian and theologian Tomáš Petráček offers in this article a commented and annotated translation of several eloquent examples from the famous Inquisition Manual of the Dominican Bernard Gui, which are related to methods and procedures of search for heretics and the forms of interrogation.
Štěpán M. Filip O.P.
The treatise of Štěpán M. Filip, the Dominican from Olomouc, discusses one particular article of the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas dealing with (in)tolerance of heretics (II-IIae, q. 11. a. 3). Firstly the author locates this article into both broader and closer context of Summa Theologica, then presents and comments the text of the article itself, and then offers an evaluation. Thomas’ analysis of heresy as well as its punishment by excommunication from the Church holds enduring validity. As a period element, corresponding to the then social situation of the christianitas, can be considered his claim of the capital punishment for heretics. However, the doctrine of St. Thomas contains the principles for substantiation of religious freedom.
The Czech philosopher Karel Šprunk explores the principles on which the Inquisition was based. As a starting point he uses historical understanding of the history of the Inquisition, but he also deals with differences between the Church Inquisition and an institution frequently called the Modern Inquisition, which isn’t grounded in the power of the Church, but in the secular one. The Inquisition is, according to the author, mainly a question of authority, which doesn’t stand in opposition to the freedom, with which is nevertheless inextricably linked the question of power, and of course, the highest reason for authority. This would be – in the case of the Church – God. As a result of the diversity of spiritual authority of the Church and temporal authority of the state there is evident the difference in their relationship to the truth. We can say, the Church herself has not been able to reach the goal of eliminating of heresy; if she wanted to be righteous, she had to be relentless, and therefore the absolute first requirement – to manifest the God’s goodness of in her acting – was missing. However in the eyes of medieval people there was nothing more natural than the use of power, and then the negative evaluation of the Inquisition from the perspective of our historical experience would be rather unfair. The judges of the Inquisition, who used torture and handed culprit over to the secular arm, which is a serious mistake itself, could do this without subjective guilt.
Ludvík Grundman O.P.
Development of (Theological) Reflection of the Inquisition in the Catholic ChurchThe Inquisition represent a problem not only historical and moral, but also theological. A vital contribution to this issue suggested Jean-Miguel Garriggue at a colloquium in Rome. His reflection is based on the presentation of historical influences projected into the work of theologians and to the attitudes of the Magisterium. From the originally pragmatic attitudes of St. Augustine through the centuries developed a systematized basis for the argumentation which tried to defend the Inquisition on the theological level. With this attitude concurred also the response of the Magisterium, which for a long time didn’t take a fundamental position in the issue, on the contrary, the Inquisition was supported by its practical actions. Only a change of a paradigm allowed to exit the vicious circle of (self)advocacy. The crucial turning point can be spotted in the Vatican II, particularly in the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae. The Declaration became a binding norm for theological reflection, and also provided a base for a penitential ceremony, organized by Pope John Paul II, during which the Pope apologized among others for the Inquisition.
Guy Bedouelle O.P.
The French Dominican historian opens with his article a part devoted to the other life of the Inquisition, the Black Legend. The author deals with works of literature and art, lastly also with cinematographic works of art, which distorted the historical picture of the Inquisition since the time of the Reformation. Finally he asks a question, why the theme of the Inquisition is in European culture so vivid; besides the importance of freedom for the modern person and the relationship to the principle of the institution, there is, according to the author, paradoxically, also a certain nostalgia for the pure and perfect Church, which would truly reflect the Gospel.
In this article we focus on the interpretation of the movie Witches’ Hammer (Malleus Maleficarum), and we ask what a symbolic meaning could be represented by a picture of the Inquisition portrayed in the movie. We approach to the interpretation primarily from the theological-anthropological point of view; on that account we try to understand the significance of the movie in the light of anchoring human dignity in the substantive participation on the Christ’s divine sonship. The interpretation itself deals firstly with the pictured conflict between religion and humanity. On this basis, it is further pointed out to the potential of the work to refer towards the fact of abuse of religious faith by the instrumentalisation of the human person. Then, there is indicated a burning question about a final guarantee of the human person and there are outlined options how a movie can represent supernatural anchoring of human dignity. Evil is there described as a withdrawal of the created person into himself. We can say that the interpretation of artistic expression of horrifying inquisitional process doesn’t lead so much to the understanding of the historical phenomenon of the Inquisition itself, but rather raises the general question about the relationship of religion and humanity. This question however can create a background for the search of the right attitude towards the phenomenon of the Inquisition itself.
František Burda in his study deals with three cases of thematization of the Inquisition’ legacy in the art of the Czech underground culture, explicitly in the Assassination of Culture by Milan Knížák, To Father Koniáš by Vlastimil Třešňák, and Beef Slaughter by The Plastic People of the Universe. With the help of the philosophical fundament of R. Girard the author points to mechanisms common to both the Inquisition and the totalitarian power of the communist regime, which describe the works mentioned. The author mainly deals with the issue of abuse of power, otherness as a reason for repression, development of mechanism searching for a scapegoat. To the contrast with these principles he places Christian Trinitarian principles of unity in diversity, love, staying on the side of the victim.
Chronology of the Inquisition
The chronology compiled by the historian and theologian Tomáš Petráček provides an overview of data and events of the Inquisition since 380, when Christianity became the state religion, to the Pope´s apology in 2000.