Pope says sorry for Spanish Inquisition
NOBODY expects an apology for the Spanish Inquisition. But yesterday the Pope gave one, asking forgiveness for the wave of torture, trials and executions the Church unleashed across Europe in its hunt for heretics.
Pope John Paul II asked forgiveness in a letter read out at a news conference at the Vatican yesterday marking the launch of a book on the Inquisition.
He repeated a phrase from a 2000 document in which he first asked pardon "for errors committed in the service of truth through use of methods that had nothing to do with the Gospel" - shorthand for torture, summary trials, forced conversions and burnings at the stake.
But in the letter, the Pope went further, saying the request for forgiveness was for "both the dramas connected to the Inquisition as well as for the wounds to the [collective] memory that followed".
Pope Gregory IX created the Inquisition in 1233 to try to curb heresy, but Church officials soon began to count on civil authorities to fine, imprison, torture and kill heretics. It reached a peak in the 16th century to counter the Reformation.
However, Agostino Borromeo, professor of religious history at Rome’s Sapienza University and curator of the study to be published in the book, said that while about 125,000 suspected heretics were tried in Spain, only about 1 per cent were executed, far fewer than commonly believed.
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