Saturday, May 27, 2006

Gems from The Latin Mass magazine
On the Black Legend of Spain, or nobody expects the Dutch Inquisition:
It was not Spaniards who rejoiced that Indians were dying of disease ‘to make way for a better growth’. That was Cotton Mather in New England. Nor was it the Inquisition that killed supposed witches; that was New England too, late in the following century.
The Calvinists probably thought the Indians were damned anyway.
In fact, at almost exactly the same time as the Salem witch trials, the Inquisition in Mexico was asked to examine a number of cases of alleged diabolical possession in a town. After carefully examining the evidence the court found nothing to get upset about and reprimanded the Franciscan preachers whose emotional sermons and vivid imaginations seem to have run away with them and unsettled their listeners!

The several treatises of
[Fray Bartolomé] de las Casas, biased and seriously flawed as they were, had the merit of keeping the issue of Indian rights alive.
The living tradition of pre-conciliar Catholicism has both its ‘charismatics’ and its workers for social justice and peace!
It is often said as an excuse for the very different English relations with the Indians that the Aztecs and other [Mesoamerican] tribes were civilised while the North American Indians were still savage... the Guaraní of Paraguay were Stone Age people when the Jesuits first converted them.
Writer Diane Moczar recommends the film The Mission as do I:
[It] is remarkably accurate except for the Jesuits taking up arms at the end which they did not do.

From the melancholy fate of the Indian neighbours of the English colonists and their American successors, denied the true faith, done out of their land, given worthless treaties and herded onto reservations, the Aztec cannibals were — by a mysteriously divine dispensation — blessedly free.
On the Inquisition:
[In] Henry Kamen’s The Spanish Inquisition ... an interesting detail is that the Dutch, arch-enemies and arch-critics of Spain, had an Inquisition more harsh than that of the Spanish; in Antwerp [now in Belgium] alone 103 heretics were executed over a five-year period, more than in the whole of Spain for the same period.

Kamen makes the point that torture was limited and often not used at all; it was employed only for the purpose of gaining information, not as punishment. (This reminds me of the quaint English custom of hanging, drawing and quartering criminals such as Catholics.)

The inquisitors were trained lawyers, not monks; torture... never included the monstrous gadgets sometimes found in German prisons.

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