(Continued from page 273)Who really massacred millions?
Who really began the witch-hunts!
You write: 'Entire nations that were Catholic had every vestige of their original Christianity wiped out. It was not until more than three centuries later that Catholics were allowed to practice their faith again, and they still had to endure persecution at that'.
As described above, we are well aware of the actions of such inadequately reformed Reformers of many countries - but let us see you supply details of these 'entire nations' and 'centuries' of persecution. You also ignore the example set by Papal Rome which is the legacy given to all those who were struggling to escape the practices that they had been trained in by the popes!
You write: 'Protestants did not stop with Catholics, either. In Protestant Germany, it is estimated that 100,000 women were burned at the stake for allegedly practicing witchcraft in the 16th and 17th centuries'
TCE: How is it that you can argue against the millions killed by Rome, yet readily accept these figures! You can eagerly point the finger at Protestants while trying to ignore 'the three fingers pointing back at you'! You also ignore the way in which these figures were arrived at and the part played by Papal Rome in the history of hunting 'heretics' and 'witches.' The two centuries of the witch-hunt craze were instigated by two documents in the 1480s. One was the Papal bull, Summus Desiderantes Affectibus, of Pope Innocent VIII issued in 1484, which recorded the apparent spread of 'witchcraft' in Germany, and instructed the fanatical Dominican inquisitors, Heinrich Krämer and Jakob Sprenger, to stamp it out. Krämer was the inquisitor in Tyrol, then in Bohemia and Moravia where he persecuted Waldenses/witches alike. The Bishop of Strasburg was clearly instructed to give the inquisitors his support. The other document was the complementary book, Malleus Maleficarum, a vade mecum of witches and demonology published two years later in 1486. The inquisitors solicited the Bull to authorize and maximise their campaign in Germany and published it so that no one had any doubts over their duty and the methods they proposed to use.
The legacy of Papal Rome followed that of her originators, for torture was permitted by the Roman civil law. Although no fanatical denunciation and persecution of witches arose at the origin of the papacy, and Pope Nicholas I (866) banned the use of torture, records of the reign of pope Damasus, of the fourth century, shows that (as early as 367 A.D.) a Papal Roman Catholic Church synod acknowledged that women rode on beasts at night with Herodias. This slowly changed and, at the end of the tenth century, Abbot Regino of Prüm collected together many Church laws and canons and one of these, De Ecclesiasticis Disciplinis (ca. 906), dealt with witches:
'And we must not overlook this, that certain wicked women, who have turned aside to Satan, seduced by the illusions and phantasms of the demons, believe and profess that during the night they ride with Diana the goddess of the pagans [another version says, or with Herodias] and an innumerable crowd of women on certain beasts, and pass over great spaces of the earth during the night, obeying her commands as their mistress, and on certain nights are summoned to her service. Would that these had perished in their perfidy and had not dragged many with them to destruction! For an innumerable multitude, deceived by this false opinion, believe that these things are true and so depart from the faith and fall into the error of the pagans, believing that there is some divinity apart from the one God …It is the duty of priests earnestly to instruct the people that these things are absolutely untrue and that such imaginings are planted in the minds of misbelieving folk, not by a Divine spirit, but by the spirit of evil.'
Papal Rome had traditionally opposed witchcraft in a mild form, although even Pope Sylvester II, was accused of magic. However, the Dominican monk, Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) eventually began to take such 'scholarship' seriously and had the case against witchcraft confirmed by the highest authority in Christendom - the Pope! Another factor renewed interest in witchcraft during the 1200s - the hunt for Albigensian heretics which led to the establishment of the Inquisition, which spread over Europe. Pope Innocent IV now authorized torture and, under interrogation by Dominican priests, screaming victims were stretched, burned, pierced and broken on fiendish pain machines to make them confess to disbelief and to identify fellow transgressors. Inquisitor Robert le Bourge sent 183 people to the stake in a single week.
The year after Aquinas died, 1275, Hugues de Banyoles, another Dominican and Inquisitor, was trying heretics at Toulouse, the centre of Catharism. Amongst them was a noble, fifty six year old Cathar lady, Angela de la Barthe, who was accused of witchcraft. She became one link between witchcraft and heresy when she 'confessed' under torture that she spent the nights in intercourse with the devil, and that she had given birth to a child with a wolf's head and a serpent's tail, which had to be fed on the flesh of babies stolen by her at night. After judicial sentence the Cathar lady was condemned for having intercourse with the devil, and was burned to death. Carnal intercourse with demons was taken for granted by men like Thomas Aquinas and 'Saint' Bonaventure - although there is not one Scriptural example! From now on convicted witches were increasingly executed as Papal Rome built on the foundations of her scholars. Again, this shows the foolishness of relying on extra-Biblical methods to determine doctrines and truth! The evidence that the Cathars had gone into hiding, but were still active, invented a satanic conspiracy to destroy rivals to Papal Rome. Thus the Papal Roman Catholic Church began the Great Witch Hunt which resulted in Catholics and Protestants alike in Western Europe being gripped by fear of this conspiracy.
Thomas Aquinas has long been regarded as a genius of the Papal Roman Catholic Church, but the witch hunts and the charred remains of the persecuted in the centuries afterwards are his memorial, as well as that of the Dominican order and the 'inspired' wisdom and 'papal infallibility' of the Papal Roman Catholic Cult. From the massacre of the Albigenses to the last person to die in the Inquisition, the numbers who suffered under this particular delusion certainly run into tens or hundreds of thousands. The Inquisition focussed at first on heretics, but, after the middle of the thirteenth century, that changed and the new Papal Inquisition began to concern itself with charges of witchcraft. The range of crimes inquisitors prosecuted widened to include witchcraft and sorcery in 1258 but, because the Canon Episcopi had declared against the existence of witches, pope Alexander IV insisted that no charge of witchcraft was sufficient of itself. Alexander IV ruled (1258) that the inquisitors should limit their intervention to those cases in which there was some clear presumption of heretical belief. In 1326, the Church reversed its earlier position and allowed the Inquisition to investigate witchcraft after it developed the theory of the satanic conspiracy against the church. Until the twelfth century, only a few isolated witches were executed for practising black magic. In the thirteenth century trials of witches were still few, until another pope gave an impetus to the campaign. Pope John XXII, who had been a bishop in Languedoc, authorized the Inquisition to proceed fully against the perceived enemy of the church. He also declared as heretical the poverty of Christ to justify the obscene wealth of his cult! The Papal court was then at Avignon. The hundred years of comparative virtue since Hildebrand, which had followed one hundred and fifty years of vice, were now over and the Papacy was as corrupt as ever. Francesco Petrarch called the 'sacred palace' at Avignon 'the sink of all vices,' and there were certainly not many vices that were not practiced by the cardinals. One was black magic and when, in 1320, some cardinals sought to bring about the death of the pope using poison and alleged witchcraft, John began to take a peculiar interest in the black art. Thus John XXII (1316-1334) and Benedict XII (1334-1342), in their Papal constitutions, formalized and stimulated the prosecution of witches by the Inquisitors, especially in the south of France. From then on witchcraft was a 'secret heresy', and witches and heretics were accused of the same crimes, for the punishments for witches were identical to those of heretics.
Papal Rome published many tracts stating the similarities of witches and heretics. The Catholic, Thomas Stapleton, said: 'Witchcraft grows with heresy, heresy with witchcraft.' Witchcraft was now considered as potentially heretical and in the remit of the Inquisitors, being inferred from any suspected magical practice. A 'manifest heresy' was praying at the altars of idols, offering sacrifices, consulting demons, eliciting responses from them, and associating publicly with heretics. Thus, witches were accused of heresy and heretics accused of witchcraft. Fire had been the punishment juridically appointed for witchcraft in the German secular codes of 1225 and 1275 and the popes declared that fire was required to purify heresy, and therefore witchcraft. From 1300-1500, 702 executions are reported in the whole of Europe and the Inquisition was responsible for a fifth of them. The Inquisition put 'heresy' on the decline and Norman Cohn, in his book Europe's Inner Demons (1975), showed that interest in 'witchcraft' occurred just where 'heresy' had been strong - France, Holland and Flanders, northern Italy and the Rhineland.
Until 1484, the efforts of the Inquisition had been concentrated in the Pyrenees first, then the Alps, the mountain valleys where the 'heretics' were taking refuge. In the Alps, in Lyonnais and in Flanders, witches were called Waldenses, and they supposedly met in Vauderye or Valdesia. In the Pyrenees, witches were given the name 'Gazarii,' a dialectal form of Cathari. The main regions were mountainous or wild uphill country, places where the hunted might take refuge. These were also intellectually uncultivated areas where the superstitions of the natives about the refugees were encouraged by Papal Rome. The natives could look down upon the poor but industrious refugees as worse off than themselves when they betrayed them to the authorities as witches.
Both witches and heretics were accused of consorting with Satan. Pope Gregory particularly directed the Inquisitors to seek heretics who were in league with the Devil. Thomas Aquinas gave Papal Rome a finished persecution manual and, before the end of the thirteenth century, the Inquisitors in the south of France were condemning women for compacts or cohabitation with the Devil. The first witch to have confessed to sexual intercourse with the Devil was burnt to death in 1275 at Toulouse, according to Lea. If you wonder where Martin Luther was indoctrinated with the anti-Semitic views and un-Scriptural attitude towards women which he demonstrated, look no further than the trends in Papal Roman Catholic Church clerical circles in regards to women before the Reformation unfolded. The drift towards flagrant misogynism was directly related to the influence of monastic ideas, in which extremely prejudicial views about women were maintained for centuries. The most outrageous statements, however, did not appear until the end of the fifteenth century. Briefly stated, a view was formed about women in which they were cast as the 'internal' enemy, or at least inciters of the ultimate adversary, the devil. This negative depiction of women coincided with stricter and more encompassing definitions of heresy and witchcraft, in which defendants were accused not merely as being wrong-headed or misguided, but as worshippers of Satan. Since the tenth century, Papal Roman Catholic Church monks aspiring to unsullied communion with God, grew increasingly alarmed at the danger posed by women. The Cluniac reform, beginning in the tenth century, was momentous for several reasons - the Cluny reformers resolved to free the clergy from both kings and 'wives,' to create an independent and chaste clergy. 'Thus, the distinctive western separation of Church and state and the celibacy of the Catholic clergy . . . had their distinctive origins in the Cluny reform movement.' [S. Ozment] Cluny did not entail a similar spiritual renewal for women - quite the contrary. Odo (942), an abbot of Cluny, upbraided his fellow monks to flee the snares from women: 'Since we are loath to touch spittle or dung even with our fingertips, how can we desire to embrace such a sack of dung?' A century later, monks still seeking protection in sanctifying isolation, branded women as 'she-wolves' in the sheepfold. Geoffroy of Vendôme, abbot in the early twelfth century, damns 'woman': 'Woe unto this sex, which knows nothing of awe, goodness, or friendship, and which is more to be feared when loved than when hated!' Monastic attitudes were integrated into more mainstream Catholic teachings in various forms of literature, such as devotional works and catechetical manuals. In the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches), written 1486, a monastic fear of fleshly contamination was combined with a systematic denunciation of women's bodies, minds, and spirits. Drawing upon classical sources and the writings of church fathers, the Dominican inquisitors, Krämer and Sprenger, wrote their vitriolic attack against women. The Malleus Maleficarum explicitly condemns women as 'a wheedling and secret enemy.' Krämer and Sprenger, followed a long tradition of clerical antagonism towards women and, according to these men, the Inquisition of Como burnt 41 witches for intercourse with 'incubi.'. The authors' animus toward women was so great that they flatly contradict scripture in order to substantiate their argument. Eve was said to have come from a 'curved' rib of Adam, which, according to the inquisitors, revealed the twisted nature of 'woman' from the moment of creation.
Women, in today's parlance, were considered to be physically, mentally, and spiritually 'challenged' to such a debilitating extent, that they were prone to renounce the faith: 'Therefore a wicked woman is by her nature quicker to waver in her faith, and consequently quicker to abjure the faith, which is the root of witchcraft.' Their disabilities relate exactly to the areas in which they pose an internal and secret threat to male society. Well into the early modern era, it was assumed that women were more libidinous than men. In the Hammer of Witches, women's insatiable carnal lust is the primary cause of witchcraft. Moreover, owing to women's spiritual limitations, they are prone to superstition. All these deficiencies supposedly impair women's discernment; they can not distinguish between real, human lovers and demonic shape-shifters. They eagerly enlist in the hordes of hell against Christendom. And where does the assault come? Primarily, in the bedroom. Witches were said to make men impotent and to kill newborn children.
The Malleus Maleficarum did not spring from a vacuum. In the Late Middle Ages and Reformation periods, developments in Papal Roman Catholic instruction and supervision spelled a uneasy future for women. The Hammer of Witches represented the most overtly misogynous manifestation of these trends, but it should not be seen as an aberration. Tragically, these un-Scriptural views about women, the most likely suspects to the twisted minds of the inquisitors Krämer and Sprenger, passed over with the leaders of the major Reform programmes. These movements, affecting both sides of the confessional camps in the Reformation, had momentous consequences for women. Protestant and Catholic leaders alike determined that women were the weakest link in the defence against the forces of evil; hence they must be restricted, regulated, and repressed. In both the Catholic and Protestant reformations, controls were placed on both religious and lay women. Papal proclamations issued throughout the sixteenth century decreed tighter regulations on women in orders; the weaker sex had to be cloistered. Abbesses and nuns had hoped to enlist in the counter-offensive against the Protestants. In most instances, Catholic authorities informed them that they need not volunteer. The Ursulines is one case in point. The papacy created new orders in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. In 1525, the order of the Theatines was recognized by Pope Clement VII. The Theatines were priests who, like the mendicants, took special vows to develop more intensely their devotional lives. A new order for women, the Ursulines, was eventually granted recognition by the papacy. The foundress, Angela Merici of Brescia (1474-1540) had been a tertiary of the Franciscan order. In 1535 she organized a group of lay sisters into the Company of St. Ursula, named after the legendary martyred British princess. At first, the Ursulines were not cloistered; they lived at home and wore no habit. Pope Paul III officially recognized the order in 1540; however, in 1566, Pius V decreed that the Ursulines must be cloistered. The most famous and influential new order was the Jesuits.
Women in these semi-official religious orders communicated with God through mysticism. While denied the privilege to administer the sacraments and participate in much of the ritual of the Catholic church, they accessed the divine by turning inward. Within their closeted world, not surprisingly, they developed a 'mystical spirituality' which was often ever more wayward than the tradition fuelled mysticism and outright heresies of the male authorized channels, concentrating even more on devotion to Mary and the saints. Thus the proliferation of female mystics in the 16th century was a phenomenon accelerated by popes. But, while Catholic leaders restricted women's religious venues, Protestant authorities correctly abolished them as hiding from the world has no Scriptural warrant. They expelled nuns from cloisters and intended to make 'honest' women of them. Luther set a fine example in marrying an ex-nun, no doubt out of love rather than as an example of any kind (although both husband and wife were no doubt severely damaged by their experience with the Papal Roman Catholic Church).
The confused religious authorities, Protestant and Catholic, had convinced the elites of society as well as the 'common people' of a dualistic supernatural universe. Papal Rome, struggling under the influence of demonic doctrines, such as forbidding marriage is severely condemned by Scripture (1 Timothy 4:1-5):
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
The Reformers likewise struggled to escape the bonds of the false doctrines they sought to throw off and the forces of God were locked in battle with the forces of evil. At a critical point in the late 16th century, the hysteria had reached such a level that the Devil was believed to be assaulting Christian men in their bedrooms by means of witches. For generations women had been viewed as the 'secret enemy'; as witches they were perceived as a public menace. City magistrates indicted them on charges of worshipping the Devil, while villagers turned on widows and older women as harmful manipulators of special powers, bent on ruining their neighbours. Admittedly, not all the victims were women, but a European woman was four times more likely to be accused of the crime and executed for witchcraft than a man. Belief in witches had been maintained through the Middle Ages. The idea then was that a witch was someone who used magic to do evil deeds (maleficia). A woman or man was branded a witch on the basis of an act; one's basic nature was not indicted. This idea of witches continued through the early modern period in popular culture. But in the later middle ages, a new idea about witches was being developed in learned culture, specifically clerical culture. One can see this new view of witches in The Hammer of Witches (1486). In this work, statements taken from classical and scriptural sources were adduced to prove that women were most susceptible to Satan's temptations and schemes. Especially owing to 'carnal lust,' women were most likely candidates for Satan's deceptions. They were insatiable, and because they are spiritually suspect they could not distinguish between real bodies and demonic apparitions. In learned society, witches were condemned as those individuals who had made a covenant with the Devil or with his demons, the sin of diabolism. They no longer simply did evil deeds; they became tools of Satan, ready to do his bidding. This demonological view of witchcraft became pervasive and persuasive because most people had been deceived by Papal Rome and had lost sight of Christ's gospel. Their world was in disarray and the forces of evil were believed to be on the rise, and witches serving in the hordes of the devil stood accused of forming an unholy conspiracy with 'heretics' to overthrow Christendom. In the sixteenth century rulers and princes sought validation and justification for policies which gave central governments more power, that is, influence or control over their subjects. Protestant rulers had to justify their decisions to break away from the Catholic fold and switch to Protestantism. They foolishly believed they had to ensure that the people continued to revere, or at least, fear rulers. In this new world where drastic changes were occurring in so many areas, rulers and their bureaucrats used religion to project and enforce a model of proper behaviour. These rulers felt compelled to prove their piety and religious commitment by suppressing heresy, and sniffing out then stamping out witches. Changes in prosecution made witch hunting easier and the Inquisitorial procedure easily gained approval. Charges against the offenders were readily brought up by state officials provoked by church officials. The state had more resources at their disposal and torture was allowed and encouraged by the church, in order to draw out confessions and the names of co-conspirators.
Economic and demographic factors were consequential factors too, for population displacement meant more vagrants and transients passed through towns and villages. It has been estimated that 10-15% of the population never married and better living conditions meant that female life-spans increased and, therefore, in western Europe there seemed to have been an unusually large number of older widows, unattached to male figures and dependent on neighbours' aid. These were the people most likely charged with witchcraft and about 80% of those charged in England, France, Germany and Switzerland were women. In the last three named areas one finds more large-scale witch hunts and executions. In the Scandinavian countries and Russia (37%) less women than men were charged, and there were no mass panics. Why were women singled out as the most likely abettors of demons? Women often had connections to areas of life that seemed mysterious, beyond rational explanation, such as the births of babies. The Hammer of Witches singled out mid-wives as particularly suspicious - a strange idea springing from supposedly learned culture whereas, in popular culture, this strong animosity toward mid-wives was not present. Women took care of sick humans and animals who might suddenly die. Older, widowed women had reputations as scolds, busybodies, and healers. Their reputations may have protected them in past generations, but as pressures built up, villagers and townspeople lashed out at these women. An accused woman or man was handed over to authorities who interrogated and tortured the suspect, intent on determining whether or not the suspect had made a pact with the Devil. Suspects were stripped and shaved in order to find 'witches' marks' on their bodies. If no mark was found, the defendant might be pricked with a needle in order to discover a spot on the body insensitive to pain, a 'sure' sign of demonic contact!
Another model was present which severely affected the judgment of popes who had replaced sound Biblical doctrine with the traditions of men. The early days of the Roman empire had set a pattern within Papal Rome as her leaders began to use the same attacks on their rivals that Tacitus aimed at them. In the second century, St Clement of Alexandria, in Stromata, painted the followers of Carpocrates in lurid and perverted terms. In the fourth century, St Epiphanius, in Panarion, made the same accusations against the Gnostics he was attacking and St Augustine said the same things against the Manichæans. They were all the same vile accusations revived by the Catholic Church of the twelfth century for use against the Waldensians and the Albigensians, in the fourteenth century for use against the Fraticelli, and then for use against the witches. The Dominicans accused the Cathars of indulging in sexual promiscuity and orgies while worshipping Satan. The same Catholic monks accused the witches of precisely the same behaviour and were responsible for the hysteria which grew out of these un-Scriptural accusations. In a witch trial at Toulouse in 1334, out of sixty-three persons accused of witchcraft offences, eight were handed over to the secular arm to be burned and the rest were imprisoned either for long-terms or life. Two of the condemned, both elderly women, after repeated application of torture, confessed that they had assisted at witches' sabbaths where they worshipped the Devil and committed indecencies with him and with the other persons present, and had eaten the flesh of infants whom they had carried off by night from their nurses.
In every part of Europe the tribunals of the Inquisition were busy with witch 'trials'. Between 1320 and 1350 the tribunal at Carcassonne tried more than 400 cases of magic and half led to execution. At Toulouse, 600 were charged and two-thirds were executed. In Lorraine, Judge Remy boasted he sentenced 900 in fifteen years. In the diocese of Como, 1000 were executed in a year. In three months in 1515, 600 witches were burned in the bishopric of Bamberg, and 900 in the bishopric of Wurzburg. In five years, a fifth of the 600 inhabitants of the small town of Lindheim were burned as witches. The reign of Henri III of France may have accounted for as many as 30,000 victims. People were massacred in Switzerland and many were burned in Italy. Papal Rome showed itself capable of accusing just about anybody they saw as an 'enemy of Rome' of paying homage to the devil. This was well before relatively minor massacres, instigated by incompletely 'reformed' Protestants who failed to shake off all of their Papal-training, had begun!
An early case of witchcraft was in Ireland. In 1324 a noblewoman, Lady Alice Kyteler (or Kettle) was arrested, with her son, daughter and others, and tried by the bishop of Ossory in his ecclesiastical court for worshipping a deity other than the Christian God. It seems she did not deny it. A pot of ointment found in her room was declared to be witch ointment, made of the blood and fat of murdered children to give these witches the power of flying through the air on broomsticks. The Inquisitor declared that she was guilty of criminal intercourse with the devil, whose name was given as Robin Artison, and she was condemned. However, the Inquisitor was foiled when Lady Alice was smuggled away to England by her noble friends and he had to be content with the execution of a young woman associate. The bishop of Kilkenny, reporting the event, spoke of 'this new pestilential sect,' suggesting it was seen as a new phenomenon, and other clerics of the time confirm it as a phenomenon of that century. When the persecutors were active at Berne in 1337, they complained that this pestilence had haunted the city 'about sixty years.' The Dominican Inquisitor, Jaquier, spoke in 1458 of this recent' sect which held 'synods of the devil,' and ended its meetings with orgies. The inquisitor, Bernard of Como, wrote that the secta strigarum, the witch sect, arose in the first half of the fourteenth century.
It took the Inquisition 200 years, from about 1230, to disinfect the Languedoc of Cathars and, during this time, witchcraft accusations increased in Europe. By the end of the thirteenth century the Essenic dualistic heresy which had spread from Anatolia and Bulgaria to France was driven underground by the Inquisition as witchcraft was employed by Papal Rome against Albigensians and related 'heresies'. When people participate with Papal Rome today they should bear in mind that this is the kind of society we had in Europe when the popes were in full control! Inquisitor, Pierre Gui, tried 63 people for sorcery and witchcraft in June 1335. Others confessed under torture to the same beliefs or confessed that they ate babies or killed cattle. During this mixed witch-hunt the last Cathar Prefects persecuted to death in this era were Pierre Autier (1310) and Guillaume Belibaste (1321), and the remaining scattered Cathars were driven underground. Note that the Cathars were not the forerunners to the Reformers, as some claim, but originated with the heresy of Manichaeanism, which took root in Persia during the 3rd century CE. Both share a common belief in Dualism, i.e., the concept of good and evil, or light and dark in the physical world, everything in it having been created by the force of darkness, and therefore regarded as irrelevant to salvation. The spiritual, or unseen world was created by a God of Light, unconcerned with the material world, and a God who did not judge on the basis of your deeds in this life - a view clearly opposed by the Bible, particularly with regard to the judgment of unbelievers. Their Gnostic views considered the Cross of Calvary as a symbol of being bound to the physical, which they regarded as an illusion. They also believed in reincarnation, another un-Biblical doctrine, and that the only way to free yourself from an endless round of incarnations was the denouncement of the material world as illusionary and transient.
We remember that the Papal Roman Catholic Church finally accepted that Galileo might be right in 1983 and conceded to forgive him. In September 1998 the newspapers reported that the Vatican had prepared a document, in advance of the millennium, asking to be pardoned for the sins that they had committed in the name of God, over the last 2000 years. The 35 page document was said to analyse the violence and repression prohibited by Church teachings, but used to suppress those that challenged their views. This was the first time that many of these atrocities had been mentioned by the Church at all but, of course, they really meant that it was the errant common believers and not the 'infallible' popes or their councils who were guilty.
Nine months later, on 28th July 1999, Pope John Paul II gave further evidence that Papal Rome continues to 'make it up as they go along' by declaring that heaven and hell are not places, but rather, states of being. Hell is now declared the result of having separated yourself from God, who is the source of all life and joy, whereas the Bible makes it clear that it is an actual place where physical pain is felt (Luke 16; Revelation 19-20). Ironic that it took Papal Rome hundreds of years of persecution to find that they had doctrines closely related to the heretical Cathars!
The size of the Satanic sabbats was detailed by some Inquisitors and it was claimed that thousands attended and many demons were among them! At St John's eve, in 1388, at La Mirandole, 6000 were said to have attended a sabbat. Martin Le Franc, in 1440, in his post as secretary to the anti-pope, Felix V, reported a sabbat at Valpute attended by 10,000 witches and in the Basque country and in the German Black Forest, sabbats of 25,000 were reported. De l'Ancre claimed that 100,000 people attended a witches' gathering near Toulouse in 1612 and Madame Bourignon (1661), recorded at Lille:
'No assemblies were ever seen so numerous in the city as in these sabbaths, where came people of all qualities and conditions, young and old, rich and poor, noble, and ignoble, but especially all sorts of monks and nuns, priests and prelates'.
We can only speculate about the true nature of these gatherings, accepting that they are not simply invented, which could have been any sort of festival or religious meetings which Papal Rome wished to disband. Considering the vast range of occult practices indulged in by her present-day clergy, and tolerated by contemporary Papal Rome, it is again a case of having come full circle. Yet still papists attempt to defend Papal Rome and her whoring - past and present!
In 1390, the Paris Parlement had checked persecution by transferring trials to the civil tribunals but, some decades later, the Inquisitors returned to work. A professor of Paris University, W. Adeline, was brought before the bishop in 1453 for denying the reality of witchcraft. In face of the terror, the scholar fell on his knees, weeping, and confessed that he was himself in league with the devil and had trampled on the crucifix. He was leniently dismissed with a sentence of imprisonment for life! Papal Rome had regained power and made fearful use of it. At Douai, a woman was brought before the Inquisition on the grounds that she was a Waldensian. In France, at this period, the crime of witchcraft was frequently designated as 'Vauderie' showing that it was associated with the Vaudois, the Waldenses. She was forced to name names, and these unfortunates in turn denounced others under torture, until a large number of victims confronted the inquisitor. Under a promise of light sentences if they confessed, they all glibly agreed that they had gone to witch meetings on oiled broomsticks, had met the devil in the form of a goat or ape, and had concluded with a general orgy. The savage inquisitor then handed them over to the secular arm, and the victims, protesting that they had been deceived into making the statements, said that it was all false. Nonetheless, six were executed.
The following year the inquisitor sought to repeat his work at Amiens, but the bishop there dismissed the claims and discharged the accused. The inquisitor went on to Arras, where the bishop allowed the charges to spread from house to house until there was a reign of terror in the city. Under torture - one woman was tortured fifteen times - they recklessly denounced any acquaintance to get relief. A large number of victims were condemned, and men and women fled in panic from the city, which actually lost its commercial prestige. In 1491, the lawyers of the Paris Parliament took up the cases, analyzed the records, and found that the whole of them had been wrongly condemned, and by royal order their findings were nailed on the door of the bishop's palace.
Except in England, torture was habitually used in the examination of witnesses, and the tortures were fiendish. There was one especially used for women accused of witchcraft and comprised of a chair with a seat studded either with spikes (one chair had two thousand spikes) or made of metal plate under which a fire was lit. There the supposed witches sat until they either accused themselves or a neighbour of consorting with the devil - or died. At Lindheim, where the most fearful persecution occurred, six women were executed because they confessed, under torture, that they had stolen the body of a child for purposes of witchcraft. After the execution, the husband of one of the women opened the grave and found the child's body there untouched. The monk inquisitor declared the body to be a counterfeit made by the devil and ordered it to be burned!
The Inquisition also imposed heavy fines and confiscated the goods of its victims. The clergy, the inquisitors, and the informers who were never named in court, shared these funds. Around 1400, witches were prosecuted at Berne in Switzerland by Peter de Gruyères, a secular judge, and in the Valais (1428-1434), where 200 witches were put to death by the secular courts, and at Briancon, in 1437, where over 150 suffered, some by drowning. Others were victims of the inquisitors at Heidelberg in 1447, and in Savoy in 1462. In 1459, a massive trial of heretics, mainly Waldenses, occurred in Arras, which Papal Rome labelled a hot-bed of heretics. Thirty two years later the dead heretics were exonerated, and the sentences declared illegal!
In 1468, the pope declared witchcraft a 'crimen exceptum' thus removing all restrictions on the application of torture. Roman apologists argue in vain that popes such as Sixtus IV, Innocent VIII, Leo X and Clement VII, all of whom stimulated the persecution of witches, were not guilty of these heinous crimes. For men claiming to represent Christ to actually instigate these tortures is to prove their demonic allegiance. The popes were responsible for the majority of the horrors inflicted upon the people of Europe. In 1437, Engenius IV encouraged the Inquisitors in their search for witches and the reign of terror intensified in France, Italy and Switzerland. Only in Germany was their zeal checked by comparatively humane rulers and bishops as the spirit that began the Reformation grew, but some Germany inquisitors still reported to Papal Rome that witchcraft was growing strong in the country and the Dominicans worked increasingly hard to extend their evil work into southern Germany to deal with Luther. In the Alps the Dominican Inquisitor of Como claimed a thousand witches were burnt every year! The persecution extended down the Appenines into Italy, where it was taken up in the Pyrenees by the Spanish Inquisition and enforced by the secular authorities in Germany.
As stated at the beginning of this section: The two centuries of the witch-hunt craze were instigated by two documents in the 1480s. One was the Papal bull, Summus Desiderantes Affectibus, of Innocent VIII issued in 1484, which recorded the apparent spread of 'witchcraft' in Germany, and instructed the fanatical Dominican inquisitors, Heinrich Krämer and Jakob Sprenger, to stamp it out. Krämer was the inquisitor in Tyrol, then in Bohemia and Moravia where he persecuted Waldenses/witches alike. The Bishop of Strasburg was clearly instructed to give the inquisitors his support. The other document was the complementary book, Malleus Maleficarum, a vade mecum (a concise reference book) of witches and demonology published two years later in 1486. The inquisitors solicited the bull to authorize and maximise their campaign in Germany and published it so that no one had any doubts over their duty and the methods they proposed to use.
Roman apologists say it was a routine reiteration of the authority of the Inquisition, adding nothing new. This is plainly absurd, for no law that is in the statute book needs to be re-issued or re-stated. Clearly the Inquisitors needed the bull to broaden the Inquisition and, with its offspring, the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of the Witches), it spread its message of hatred over the whole of the papacy in more certain terms than ever. It obliged all secular authorities to stop their dithering and join in the persecution of witches. By the fifteenth century, the Catholics had succeeded in driving the heretics underground, as Papal Rome declared that the two forms of error - witchcraft and heresy - were inseparable. One led to the other and the pursuit of their utter extermination became the forerunner to the methods of the Nazis.
Pope Innocent VIII's famous bull gave the approval of the Church to witch hunting and Adrian VI followed this up, in 1521, with a decretal epistle denouncing the witches:
'… as a sect deviating from the Catholic faith, denying their baptism, and showing contempt of the ecclesiastical sacraments, treading crosses under their feet, and, taking the Devil for their Lord, destroyed the fruits of the earth by their enchantments, sorceries, and superstitions.'
After the publication of the Malleus at the end of the fifteenth century (1486), the worst horrors began. Most witch hunts were not lawless mobs but were systematically organized by rulers and government officials by order of the popes. By the early sixteenth century, Papal Rome considered heresy to be out of hand as the Reformation gained momentum and the Inquisition concentrated on the matter in hand - prosecuting 'heretical' Protestants using witchcraft as an accusing finger if necessary. Malleus Maleficarum was the first inquisitorial manual published and was authoritative and therefore widely distributed. Approval was gained from sources that should have been more learned, such as the University of Cologne, and it became one of the first books to be printed on the recently invented printing press, being reprinted fourteen times before 1520 and appearing eventually in 20 editions. Incredibly, although written by an Inquisitor, the Inquisition censured him only a few years later and rejected the book which they had supplied to secular courts to use to judge those supposedly guilty of witchcraft. The contradiction is one in a long line perpetrated by Papal Rome.
It is a historical fact that Luther, Calvin, and their followers, failed to completely shake off the yoke of Papal Rome and mistakenly continued the un-Scriptural error of trying to recreate a 'new' theocratical 'Israel,' in which those practicing witchcraft, or any occultic activity, were removed. Catholic apologists are eager to try and prove that Protestants were more active in hunting down witches in Germany than Catholics but while it is true that, to their shame, the early Reformers continued these errors as well as persecuting the infant Christianity that struggled to exist in peace, it is impossible to prove that any other group in history, not even Islam, matches the atrocities of Papal Rome which continue to this day.
Charles V's law, Constitutio Criminalis Carolina (1532), made sorcery throughout the Holy Roman Empire (mainly Germany), a criminal offence resulting in many more being tortured and burnt at the stake. Lutheranism spread throughout Germany and Denmark, and Calvinism to Transylvania and Scotland where John Knox said the Scottish witch law was introduced 'to please the Godly.' Knox personally saw a witch condemned in Saint Andrews in 1572 and, to his shame, allowed her to be tied to a pillar of the church while he delivered a gospel message - after which she was burnt! The 'Protestant Inquisition' is a term applied to the severities of John Calvin in Geneva and Queen Elizabeth I in England during the 1500s. Calvin's followers burned 58 'heretics,' including 'theologian' Michael Servetus, who doubted the Trinity. Calvin personally called for the death penalty for Servetus, first by be-heading as he followed Papal Rome's example of using a state trial to condemn the man, but then resorting to the cruel method of burning with half-green wood (while a sulphur strewn wreath was placed on the poor man's head) so that it took 30 minutes, according to one eye-witness account, or 3 hours, according to another, to kill him! It is to the shame of hagiographic Calvinists that they cannot recognise the lack of any Scriptural support for these acts. Elizabeth I (1558-1603) outlawed Papal Catholicism and executed about 200 Catholics after Catholic oppression during the reign of Queen Mary (1554-58) led to about 300 being executed for their Protestant faith in 3 years. Within months of her ascension to the English throne in 1553, Mary restored Papal Roman Catholicism to the nation, re-instated Papal supremacy, wedded the Spanish prince Philip, and sealed an alliance with Catholic Spain. Her marriage failed to produce an heir, however, and that failure appeared to be a sign, in Mary's view, of God's displeasure at the practice of 'heretic' religion in England and prompted the childless queen to initiate her purge. Thus began the fires at Smithfield, and resulted in Protestants, among them the Anglican bishops Latimer and Ridley and Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, as well as many prominent members of the nobility, meeting their end at the stake.
How great a part did the men who became popes - and claimed to follow the example of Christ and to be successors to Peter - play in these atrocities? Pope Pius V (1566-1572), born Antonio Ghislieri in Bosco, Italy, was one of the foremost leaders of the Catholic Reformation. He joined the Dominicans, being ordained in 1528, studied at Bologna and Genoa, and then taught theology and philosophy for sixteen years before holding the posts of master of novices and prior for several Dominican houses. He was named Inquisitor for Como and Bergamo, and was so capable in the fulfilment of his office that by 1551, and at the urging of the powerful Cardinal Carafa, he was named by Pope Julius III Commissary General of the Inquisition. In 1555, Carafa was elected Pope Paul IV and was responsible for Ghislieri's swift rise as a bishop of Nepi and Sutri in 1556, cardinal in 1557, and Grand Inquisitor in 1558. While out of favour for a time under Pope Pius IV, who disliked his reputation for excessive zeal, Ghislieri was unanimously elected Pope in succession to Pius on January 7, 1566. As Pope, Pius saw his main objective as the continuation of the massive programme of reform for the Church, in particular the full implementation of the decrees of the Council of Trent. He published the Roman Catechism, the revised Roman Breviary, and the Roman Missal; he also declared Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church, commanded a new edition of Aquinas' works, and created a commission to revise the Vulgate. The decrees of Trent were published throughout all Catholic lands, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the New World, and the pontiff insisted on their strict adherence - Note: the Decrees of Trent contain over 100 curses against anyone believing in the Protestant faith! Who is it showing hatred to whom?
In 1571, Pius created the Congregation of the Index to give strength to the Church's resistance to Protestant and other 'heretical' writings, and he used the Inquisition to prevent any Protestant ideas from gaining a foot hold in Italy. In dealing with the threat of the Ottoman Turks who were advancing steadily across the Mediterranean, Pius organized an alliance between Venice and Spain, culminating in the Battle of Lepanto, which was a complete and shattering triumph over the Turks. How did he celebrate this victory? By more idolatry! The day of the victory was declared the Feast Day of 'Our Lady of Victory' in recognition of Mary's 'intercession in answer to the saying of the Rosary all over Catholic Europe.' Pius also spurred the reforms of the Church by example. He insisted upon wearing his coarse Dominican robes, even beneath the magnificent vestments worn by the popes, and was wholeheartedly devoted to the religious life. His reign was exemplified by the continuing oppression of those seeking the Biblical truth through the Inquisition, the brutal treatment of the Jews of Papal Rome, and the decision to excommunicate Queen Elizabeth I of England in February 1570, an act which also declared her deposed. Pope Clement beatified him on May 1, 1672, and Pope Clement XI canonized him on May 22, 1712. This man was a saint?!
In 1572, Augustus of Saxony imposed the penalty of burning for witchcraft of every kind, including fortune telling. In Osnabruck, Germany, in 1583, 121 people were burned in three months. At Wolfenbuttenl in 1593, ten witches were often burned daily. In the sixteenth century, there were cases in which witches were condemned by lay tribunals and burned in the immediate neighbourhood of Papal Rome. The unrest caused by these purges resulted in the 'Thirty Years' War' which produced another massive death toll among groups who had lost most of the truth of the Bible. War subsequently flared between Catholic and Protestant princedoms, drawing in supportive religious armies from Germany, Spain, England, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Italy. Sweden's Protestant soldiers sang Martin Luther's 'Ein Feste Burg' in battle but three decades of combat merely transformed central Europe into a wasteland of misery in which the poor and innocent suffered at the hands of the rich, powerful, and ignorant. But, by the end of the seventeenth century, the persecution almost everywhere began to slacken, and early in the eighteenth it practically ceased. Witch trials declined in most parts of Europe after 1680. Torture was abolished in Prussia in 1754, in Bavaria in 1807, in Hanover in 1822. The last English trial for witchcraft was in 1712, when Jane Wenham was convicted, but not executed (England finally abolished the death penalty for witchcraft in 1736). In Scotland, trials accompanied by torture were frequent in the seventeenth century until, finally, the last trial and execution took place in 1722. The last trial for witchcraft in Germany was in 1749 at Würzburg, but in Switzerland a girl was executed for this offence in the Protestant Canton of Glarus in 1783. In the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, one last wave of witch persecution afflicted Poland and other areas of eastern Europe, but ended by about 1740. The last 'legal' execution of a witch occurred in Switzerland in 1782. However, all of these witchcraft hunts were interspersed with Papal Rome's hunts for heretics and Jews. In 1723 the bishop of Gdansk, Poland, demanded that all Jews be expelled from the city. The town council declined, but the bishop's exhortations roused a mob that invaded the ghetto and beat the residents to death.
A popular Roman apology used of witchcraft and the Inquisition is that they were mainly conducted by secular courts, and of those conducted by the church only a tiny percentage were by the Inquisition. As we showed earlier, this excuse depends on the church being considered peripheral to society, as it is today for many people, but it was not then. Everything centred on the Church, and the Church could have stopped any of the cruelties had it declaimed clearly against them instead of issuing Papal decrees as the 'will of God' under her 'two swords' doctrine.
Even in Britain, where there was never an 'official' Inquisition, 'witches' were hunted just as they were in Europe. The 'Puritan' Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, a 'self-styled' lawyer, murdered over 200 women in the years from 1644 to 1647. This figure however has been criticised by Sharpe, who estimates that there were 200 trials and only 100 executions during this period. Many historians have suggested that the main reason why Hopkins was able to carry out his brutality on such a scale, with hardly any interference, was due to the political and religious struggle that made up the English Civil Wars and resulted in a scenario similar to that of the 'Thirty Years War' in Europe. It has been estimated that, between 1542-1736, a thousand people were executed for witchcraft in England. Not all witch trials ended in deaths. In England, the absence of judicial torture made the cases less numerous than they were on the European continent, and only about 20 percent of accused witches were executed (by hanging). Little can be written to try and excuse these 'witch-hunts', but the persecution of witches was apparently less violent than on the Continent and the torture used in England restricted to bread-and-water diets, trussing of the limbs and sleep deprivation, commonly known as 'watching'. There were none of the brutalities of squassation, thumb screws and 'Spanish boots' that were used on the Continent. The start of witchcraft persecutions in England was marked by the statute against witches passed by Henry VIII in 1542, which stated that should anyone:
'use, devise, practise or exercise ... any invocation or conjuration of spirits, witchcraft, enchantment or sorceries, to find money or treasure, or to waste, consume or destroy any person in his body, members or goods ... or to dig up or pull down any cross or crosses ... Then all and every such offence and offences ...shall be deemed, accepted and adjudged a felon ... and the offenders contrary to this act ... shall have and suffer such pain of death, loss and forfeiture of their lands, tenants, goods and chattels ... (and) lose privilege of the clergy and sanctuary'.
Despite the Statute of 1542 there was increasing legislation against witchcraft in England. This included the Statute of Elizabeth I, which repeated the basic warning against those '... practice or exercise any invocations or conjuration of evil and wicked spirits to or for any intentional purpose'. There was still no mention of any pact with the devil. This statute resulted in a significant rise in the conviction of witches in late Tudor England. There is a general consensus amongst historians that the rising tide of witchcraft accusations was due to the growing traumas within Tudor society. There was an increase in hostility between neighbourhoods due to demographic changes, rising inflation, enclosures and the commercialisation of agriculture. These conditions resulted in unemployment, poverty, disease and the religious changes that were creating a stress within the traditional fabric of society and which reached their peak during Elizabeth's reign. The most significant piece of legislation against witchcraft was passed in 1604 by James I - the pervert paedophile king who played the Catholic and Protestant factions off against each other - although the Catholics did not help their cause with the infamous Guy Fawkes 'Gunpowder Plot' of 1605 (which sprang from Catholic anger at the re-imposition of fines and penalties that James had earlier relaxed)! His self-centred reign played Protestants against Catholics, while remaining antagonistic towards Puritans, and his 'Witchcraft Act' brought England in line with the rest of Europe on the definition and prosecution of witchcraft with the concept of covenants or pacts with the devil, and remained in force until it was repealed in 1736. It resulted in several well-publicised trials for witchcraft in England, notably at Chelmsford and in Lancashire in 1612.
By 1646 the discontent among the Puritan elite - apropos the witch trials - finally gave voice. King James' suppression of parliament and the 'Witchcraft Act' had allowed the worst kind of malefactor to gain power. A Parliamentary news pamphlet, 'The Moderate Intelligencer', began to question Hopkins' methods. In addition a Puritan minister from Great Staughton in Huntingdonshire, John Gaule, published a pamphlet, 'Select Cases of Conscience' which hinted that Hopkins himself was a witch. Gaule remarked sceptically that:
' ... every old woman with a wrinkled face, a furrowed brow, a hairy lip, a gobber tooth, a squint eye, a squeaking voice or scolding tongue, having a rugged coat on her back, a skull-cap on her head, a spindle in her hand and a dog or cat by her side, is not only suspect but pronounced for a witch' .
In Scotland, where torture was used, nearly half of all those put on trial were burned at the stake, and almost three times as many witches (estimates between 1,350 and 4,000) were killed as in England. Many countries in Europe largely escaped the witch hunt mania: Ireland executed only four witches, Russia apparently only ten (and nearly all the accused were male). In the Dutch republic, no witches were executed after 1600, and none were tried after 1610. In south-western Germany alone, however, more than 3,000 witches were executed between 1560 and 1680. On occasions, whole villages were exterminated - which must surely make even the most obsessively gullible question the likelihood that an ulterior motive did not exist for such a holocaust! In the first half of the 17th century, about 5,000 'witches' were put to death in the French province of Alsace, and 900 were burned in the Bavarian city of Bamberg. The craze affected mostly Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and France, but few areas were left untouched by it. In parts of the Orthodox East, at least, witch hunts such as those experienced in other parts of Europe were unknown. In New England, the famous Salem witchcraft delusion (1691-1692) led to some convictions, although some of the accused were pardoned. On the continent of Europe, the beginning of the sixteenth century saw witchcraft cases taken out of the hands of the Inquisition in France and Germany, and the secular influence of the Malleus became dominant. In Spain, a woman was burnt in 1781 at Seville by the Inquisition and the secular courts condemned a girl to decapitation in 1782. In Germany, an execution took place in Posen in 1793.
While some have put the total number of victims of the witch persecutions from 100,000 into the millions, no one knows the exact total number of victims. Apologists say less than 15,000 definite executions have been uncovered in Europe and suggest there were perhaps 100,000 trials between 1450 and 1750, and between 40,000 and 50,000 executions in total (a quarter of the victims being men). Benedict Carpzov (1595-1666) alone has the reputation of sentencing 20,000 victims, while Remy, in his period in Lorraine, is said to have incinerated 2,000-3,000. Although some claim these figures are exaggerated, no one can be sure of the exact figures. But, as this brief survey reveals, the horror of the machinations set in place by Papal Rome and perpetuated by ex-Catholics, who were yet too ignorant to be fully aware of the New Testament teachings on the occult, are revealed well enough.
(Continued on page 275)