A Inquisição - Enciclopédia Católica

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RETIRADO DA ENCICLOPÉDIA CATÓLICA DE 1907

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 “Inquisição” esta expressão é normalmente significa uma instituição eclesiástica especial para combater ou suprimir a heresia. Sua marca característica parece ser a auto-outorga de juízes especiais de poderes judiciais em matéria de fé, e isto por suprema autoridade eclesiástica, e não temporal ou de casos individuais, mas sim como um gabinete permanente e universal. Os homens modernos tem dificuldade em compreender esta instituição, porque eles, não em pequena medida, perderam de vista os dois fatos.

Por um lado, eles deixaram de compreender a crença religiosa como algo objetivo, como o dom de Deus e, portanto, fora do âmbito do julgamento privado livre; no outro já não veem a Igreja como uma sociedade perfeita e soberana, baseada substancialmente em uma pura e autêntica revelação, cujo primeiro dever mais importante deve ser de manter imaculado naturalmente original o depósito da fé. Antes da revolução religiosa do século XVI essas opiniões ainda eram comuns a todos os cristãos; que ortodoxia deveria ser mantida a qualquer custo, parecia evidente.

No entanto, enquanto os efeitos positivos de supressão da heresia pela autoridade eclesiástica e civil na sociedade cristã é tão antiga quanto a Igreja, a Inquisição como um tribunal eclesiástico é distinto de origem muito mais tardia. Historicamente, é uma fase no crescimento da legislação eclesiástica, cujos traços distintivos só podem ser plenamente compreendidos por um cuidadoso estudo das condições em que ela nasceu. O nosso objeto pode, portanto, ser convenientemente tratados como se segue:

• I. A repressão da Heresia durante os primeiros doze séculos cristãos;

• II. A repressão da Heresia pela Instituição conhecida como a Inquisição sob suas várias formas:

(A) A Inquisição da Idade Média;

(B) A Inquisição na Espanha;

(C) O Santo Ofício em Roma.

The suppression of heresy during the first twelve centuries

(1) Though the Apostles were deeply imbued with the conviction that they must transmit the deposit of the Faith to posterity undefiled, and that any teaching at variance with their own, even if proclaimed by an angel of Heaven, would be a culpable offense, yet St. Paul did not, in the case of the heretics Alexander and Hymeneus, go back to the Old Covenant penalties of death or scourging (Deuteronomy 13:6 sqq.; 17:1 sqq.), but deemed exclusion from the communion of the Church sufficient (1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 3:10). In fact to the Christians of the first three centuries it could scarcely have occurred to assume any other attitude towards those who erred in matters of faith. Tertullian (To Scapula 2) lays down the rule:

Humani iuris et naturalis potestatis, unicuique quod putaverit colere, nec alii obest aut prodest alterius religio. Sed nec religionis est religionem colere, quae sponte suscipi debeat, non vi.

In other words, he tells us that the natural law authorized man to follow only the voice of individual conscience in the practice of religion, since the acceptance of religion was a matter of free will, not of compulsion. Replying to the accusation of Celsus, based on the Old Testament, that the Christians persecuted dissidents with death, burning, and torture, Origen (Against Celsus VII.26) is satisfied with explaining that one must distinguish between the law which the Jews received from Moses and that given to the Christians by Jesus; the former was binding on the Jews, the latter on the Christians. Jewish Christians, if sincere, could no longer conform to all of the Mosaic law; hence they were no longer at liberty to kill their enemies or to burn and stone violators of the Christian Law.

St. Cyprian of Carthage, surrounded as he was by countless schismatics and undutiful Christians, also put aside the material sanction of the Old Testament, which punished with death rebellion against priesthood and the Judges. "Nunc autem, quia circumcisio spiritalis esse apud fideles servos Dei coepit, spiritali gladio superbi et contumaces necantur, dum de Ecclesia ejiciuntur" (Epistle 61, no. 4) religion being now spiritual, its sanctions take on the same character, and excommunication replaces the death of the body. Lactantius was yet smarting under the scourge of bloody persecutions, when he wrote this Divine Institutes in A.D. 308. Naturally, therefore, he stood for the most absolute freedom of religion. He writes:

Religion being a matter of the will, it cannot be forced on anyone; in this matter it is better to employ words than blows [verbis melius quam verberibus res agenda est]. Of what use is cruelty? What has the rack to do with piety? Surely there is no connection between truth and violence, between justice and cruelty . . . . It is true that nothing is so important as religion, and one must defend it at any cost [summâ vi] . . . It is true that it must be protected, but by dying for it, not by killing others; by long-suffering, not by violence; by faith, not by crime. If you attempt to defend religion with bloodshed and torture, what you do is not defense, but desecration and insult. For nothing is so intrinsically a matter of free will as religion. (Divine Institutes V:20)

The Christian teachers of the first three centuries insisted, as was natural for them, on complete religious liberty; furthermore, they not only urged the principle that religion could not be forced on others — a principle always adhered to by the Church in her dealings with the unbaptised — but, when comparing the Mosaic Law and the Christian religion, they taught that the latter was content with a spiritual punishment of heretics (i.e. with excommunication), while Judaism necessarily proceeded against its dissidents with torture and death.

(2) However, the imperial successors of Constantine soon began to see in themselves Divinely appointed "bishops of the exterior", i.e. masters of the temporal and material conditions of the Church. At the same time they retained the traditional authority of "Pontifex Maximus", and in this way the civil authority inclined, frequently in league with prelates of Arian tendencies, to persecute the orthodox bishops by imprisonment and exile. But the latter, particularly St. Hilary of Poitiers (Liber contra Auxentium, c. iv), protested vigorously against any use of force in the province of religion, whether for the spread of Christianity or for preservation of the Faith. They repeatedly urged that in this respect the severe decrees of the Old Testament were abrogated by the mild and gentle laws of Christ. However, the successors of Constantine were ever persuaded that the first concern of imperial authority (Theodosius II, "Novellae", tit. III, A.D. 438) was the protection of religion and so, with terrible regularity, issued many penal edicts against heretics. In the space of fifty seven years sixty-eight enactments were thus promulgated. All manner of heretics were affected by this legislation, and in various ways, by exile, confiscation of property, or death. A law of 407, aimed at the traitorous Donatists, asserts for the first time that these heretics ought to be put on the same plane as transgressors against the sacred majesty of the emperor, a concept to which was reserved in later times a very momentous role. The death penalty however, was only imposed for certain kinds of heresy; in their persecution of heretics the Christian emperors fell far short of the severity of Diocletian, who in 287 sentenced to the stake the leaders of the Manichæans, and inflicted on their followers partly the death penalty by beheading, and partly forced labor in the government mines.

So far we have been dealing with the legislation of the Christianized State. In the attitude of the representatives of the Church towards this legislation some uncertainty is already noticeable. At the close of the forth century, and during the fifth, Manichaeism, Donatism, and Priscillianism were the heresies most in view. Expelled from Rome and Milan, the Manichaeism sought refuge in Africa. Though they were found guilty of abominable teachings and misdeeds (St. Augustine, De haeresibus", no. 46), the Church refused to invoke the civil power against them; indeed, the great Bishop of Hippo explicitly rejected the use force. He sought their return only through public and private acts of submission, and his efforts seem to have met with success. Indeed, we learn from him that the Donatists themselves were the first to appeal to the civil power for protection against the Church. However, they fared like Daniel's accusers: the lions turned upon them. State intervention not answering to their wishes, and the violent excesses of the Circumcellions being condignly punished, the Donatists complained bitterly of administrative cruelty. St. Optatus of Mileve defended the civil authority (De Schismate Donatistarum, III, cc. 6-7) as follows:

. . . as though it were not permitted to come forward as avengers of God, and to pronounce sentence of death! . . . But, say you, the State cannot punish in the name of God. Yet was it not in the name of God that Moses and Phineas consigned to death the worshippers of the Golden Calf and those who despised the true religion?

This was the first time that a Catholic bishop championed a decisive cooperation of the State in religious questions, and its right to inflict death on heretics. For the first time, also, the Old Testament was appealed to, though such appeals had been previously rejected by Christian teachers.

St. Augustine, on the contrary, was still opposed to the use of force, and tried to lead back the erring by means of instruction; at most he admitted the imposition of a moderate fine for refractory persons. Finally, however, he changed his views, whether moved thereto by the incredible excesses of the Circumcellions or by the good results achieved by the use of force, or favoring force through the persuasions of other bishops. Apropos of his apparent inconsistency it is well to note carefully whom he is addressing. He appears to speak in one way to government officials, who wanted the existing laws carried out to their fullest extent, and in another to the Donatists, who denied to the State any right of punishing dissenters. In his correspondence with state officials he dwells on Christian charity and toleration, and represents the heretics as straying lambs, to be sought out and perhaps, if recalcitrant chastised with rods and frightened with threats of severer but not to be driven back to the fold by means of rack and sword . On the other hand, in his writings against the Donatists he upholds the rights of the State: sometimes, he says, a salutary severity would be to the interest of the erring ones themselves and likewise protective of true believers and the community at large (Vacandard, 1. c., pp. 17-26).

As to Priscillianism, not a few points remain yet obscure, despite recent valuable researches. It seems certain, however, that Priscillian, Bishop of Avila in Spain, was accused of heresy and sorcery, and found guilty by several councils. St. Ambrose at Milan and St. Damascus at Rome seem to have refused him a hearing. At length he appealed to Emperor Maximus at Trier, but to his detriment, for he was there condemned to death. Priscillian himself, no doubt in full consciousness of his own innocence, had formerly called for repression of the Manichæans by the sword. But the foremost Christian teachers did not share these sentiments, and his own execution gave them occasion for a solemn protest against the cruel treatment meted out to him by the imperial government. St. Martin of Tours, then at Trier, exerted himself to obtain from the ecclesiastical authority the abandonment of the accusation, and induced the emperor to promise that on no account would he shed the blood of Priscillian, since ecclesiastical deposition by the bishops would be punishment enough, and bloodshed would be opposed to the Divine Law (Sulpicius Severus, Chronicle II and Dialogue III). After the execution he strongly blamed both the accusers and the emperor, and for a long time refused to hold communion with such bishops as had been in any way responsible for Priscillian's death. The great Bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose, described that execution as a crime.

Priscillianism, however, did not disappear with the death of its originator; on the contrary, it spread with extraordinary rapidity, and, through its open adoption of Manichaeism, became more of a public menace than ever. In this way the severe judgments of St. Augustine and St. Jerome against Priscillianism become intelligible. In 447 Leo the Great had to reproach the Priscillianists with loosening the holy bonds of marriage, treading all decency under foot, and deriding all law, human and Divine. It seemed to him natural that temporal rulers should punish such sacrilegious madness, and should put to death the founder of the sect and some of his followers. He goes on to say that this redounded to the advantage of the Church: "quae etsi sacerdotali contenta iudicio, cruentas refugit ultiones, severis tamen christianorum principum constitutionibus adiuratur, dum ad spiritale recurrunt remedium, qui timent corporale supplicium" — though the Church was content with a spiritual sentence on the part of its bishops and was averse to the shedding of blood, nevertheless it was aided by the imperial severity, inasmuch as the fear of corporal punishment drove the guilty to seek a spiritual remedy (Epistle 15).

The ecclesiastical ideas of the first five centuries may be summarized as follows:

St. Augustine (Epistle 100, n. 1), almost in the name of the western Church, says: "Corrigi eos volumus, non necari, nec disciplinam circa eos negligi volumus, nec suppliciis quibus digni sunt exerceri" — we wish them corrected, not put to death; we desire the triumph of (ecclesiastical) discipline, not the death penalties that they deserve. St. John Chrysostom says substantially the same in the name of the Eastern Church (Homily 46 on Matthew, no. 1): "To consign a heretic to death is to commit an offence beyond atonement"; and in the next chapter he says that God forbids their execution, even as He forbids us to uproot cockle, but He does not forbid us to repel them, to deprive them of free speech, or to prohibit their assemblies. The help of the "secular arm" was therefore not entirely rejected; on the contrary, as often as the Christian welfare, general or domestic, required it, Christian rulers sought to stem the evil by appropriate measures. As late the seventh century St. Isidore of Seville expresses similar sentiments (Sententiarum, III, iv, nn. 4-6).

How little we are to trust the vaunted impartiality of Henry Charles Lee, the American historian of the Inquisition, we may here illustrate by an example. In his "History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages" (New York, 1888, I, 215), He closes this period with these words:

It was only sixty-two years after the slaughter of Priscillian and his followers had excited so much horror, that Leo I, when the heresy seemed to be reviving in 447, not only justified the act, but declared that, if the followers of a heresy so damnable were allowed to live, there would be an end to human and Divine law. The final step had been taken and the church was definitely pledged to the suppression of heresy at any cost. It is impossible not to attribute to ecclesiastical influence the successive edicts by which, from the time of Theodosius the Great, persistence in heresy was punished with death.

In these lines Lee has transferred to the pope words employed by the emperor. Moreover, it is simply the exact opposite of historical truth to assert that the imperial edicts punishing heresy with death were due to ecclesiastical influence, since we have shown that in this period the more influential ecclesiastical authorities declared that the death penalty was contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, and themselves opposed its execution. For centuries this was the ecclesiastical attitude both in theory and in practice. Thus, in keeping with the civil law, some Manichæans were executed at Ravenna in 556. On the other hand. Elipandus of Toledo and Felix of Urgel, the chiefs of Adoptionism and Predestinationism, were condemned by councils, but were otherwise left unmolested. We may note, however, that the monk Gothescalch, after the condemnation of his false doctrine that Christ had not died for all mankind, was by the Synods of Mainz in 848 and Quiercy in 849 sentenced to flogging and imprisonment, punishments then common in monasteries for various infractions of the rule.

(3) About the year 1000 Manichæans from Bulgaria, under various names, spread over Western Europe. They were numerous in Italy, Spain, Gaul and Germany. Christian popular sentiment soon showed itself adverse to these dangerous sectaries, and resulted in occasional local persecutions, naturally in forms expressive of the spirit of the age. In 1122 King Robert the Pious (regis iussu et universae plebis consensu), "because he feared for the safety of the kingdom and the salvation of souls" had thirteen distinguished citizens, ecclesiastic and lay, burnt alive at Orléans. Elsewhere similar acts were due to popular outbursts. A few years later the Bishop of Châlons observed that the sect was spreading in his diocese, and asked of Wazo, Bishop of Liège, advice as to the use of force: "An terrenae potestatis gladio in eos sit animadvertendum necne" ("Vita Wasonis", cc. xxv, xxvi, in P.L., CXLII, 752; "Wazo ad Roger. II, episc. Catalaunens", and "Anselmi Gesta episc. Leod." in "Mon. Germ. SS.", VII, 227 sq.). Wazo replied that this was contrary to the spirit of the Church and the words of its Founder, Who ordained that the tares should be allowed to grow with the wheat until the day of the harvest, lest the wheat be uprooted with the tares; those who today were tares might to-morrow be converted, and turn into wheat; let them therefore live, and let mere excommunication suffice. St. Chrysostom, as we have seen, had taught similar doctrine. This principle could not be always followed. Thus at Goslar, in the Christmas season of 1051, and in 1052, several heretics were hanged because Emperor Henry III wanted to prevent the further spread of "the heretical leprosy." A few years later, in 1076 or 1077, a Catharist was condemned to the stake by the Bishop of Cambrai and his chapter. Other Catharists, in spite of the archbishop's intervention, were given their choice by the magistrates of Milan between doing homage to the Cross and mounting the pyre. By far the greater number chose the latter. In 1114 the Bishop of Soissons kept sundry heretics in durance in his episcopal city. But while he was gone to Beauvais, to ask advice of the bishops assembled there for a synod the "believing folk, fearing the habitual soft-heartedness of ecclesiastics (clericalem verens mollitiem), stormed the prison took the accused outside of town, and burned them.

The people disliked what to them was the extreme dilatoriness of the clergy in pursuing heretics. In 1144 Adalerbo II of Liège hoped to bring some imprisoned Catharists to better knowledge through the grace of God, but the people, less indulgent, assailed the unhappy creatures and only with the greatest trouble did the bishop succeed in rescuing some of them from death by fire. A like drama was enacted about the same time at Cologne, while the archbishop and the priests earnestly sought to lead the misguided back into the Church, the latter were violently taken by the mob (a populis nimio zelo abreptis) from the custody of the clergy and burned at the stake. The best-known heresiarchs of that time, Peter of Bruys and Arnold of Brescia, met a similar fate — the first on the pyre as a victim of popular fury, and the latter under the henchman's axe as a victim of his political enemies.

In short, no blame attaches to the Church for her behavior towards heresy in those rude days. Among all the bishops of the period, so far as can be ascertained, Theodwin of Liège, successor of the aforesaid Wazo and predecessor of Adalbero II, alone appealed to the civil power for the punishment of