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Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Historian - 04-29-2009

From CE

Quote:Curiously enough, torture was not regarded as a mode of punishment, but purely as a means of eliciting the truth. It was not of ecclesiastical origin, and was long prohibited in the ecclesiastical courts. Nor was it originally an important factor in the inquisitional procedure, being unauthorized until twenty years after the Inquisition had begun. It was first authorized by Innocent IV in his Bull "Ad exstirpanda" of 15 May, 1252, which was confirmed by Alexander IV on 30 November, 1259, and by Clement IV on 3 November, 1265. The limit placed upon torture was citra membri diminutionem et mortis periculum -- i.e, it was not to cause the loss of life or limb or imperil life. Torture was to applied only once, and not then unless the accused were uncertain in his statements, and seemed already virtually convicted by manifold and weighty proofs. In general, this violent testimony (quaestio) was to be deferred as long as possible, and recourse to it was permitted in only when all other expedients were exhausted. Conscientious and sensible judges quite properly attached no great importance to confessions extracted by torture. After long experience Eymeric declared: Quaestiones sunt fallaces et inefficaces -- i.e the torture is deceptive and ineffectual.

Had this papal legislation been adhered to in practice, the historian of the Inquisition would have fewer difficulties to satisfy. In the beginning, torture was held to be so odious that clerics were forbidden to be present under pain of irregularity. Sometimes it had to be interrupted so as to enable the inquisitor to continue his examination, which, of course, was attended by numerous inconveniences. Therefore on 27 April, 1260, Alexander IV authorized inquisitors to absolve one another of this irregularity. Urban IV on 2 August, 1262, renewed the permission, and this was soon interpreted as formal licence to continue the examination in the torture chamber itself. The inquisitors manuals faithfully noted and approved this usage. The general rule ran that torture was to be resorted to only once. But this was sometimes circumvented -- first, by assuming that with every new piece of evidence the rack could be utilized afresh, and secondly, by imposing fresh torments on the poor victim (often on different days), not by way of repetition, but as a continuation (non ad modum iterationis sed continuationis), as defended by Eymeric; "quia, iterari non debent [tormenta], nisi novis supervenitibus indiciis, continuari non prohibentur." But what was to be done when the accused, released from the rack, denied what he had just confessed? Some held with Eymeric that the accused should be set at liberty; others, however, like the author of the "Sacro Arsenale" held that the torture should be continued, because the accused had too seriously incriminated himself by his previous confession. When Clement V formulated his regulations for the employment of torture, he never imagined that eventually even witnesses would be put on the rack, although not their guilt, but that of the accused, was in question. From the pope's silence it was concluded that a witness might be put upon the rack at the discretion of the inquisitor. Moreover, if the accused was convicted through witnesses, or had pleaded guilty, the torture might still he used to compel him to testify against his friends and fellow-culprits. It would be opposed to all Divine and humanequity -- so one reads in the "Sacro Arsenale, ovvero Pratica dell Officio della Santa Inquisizione" (Bologna, 1665) -- to inflict torture unless the judge were personally persuaded of the guilt of the accused.

But one of the difficulties of the procedure is why torture was used as a means of learning the truth. On the one hand, the torture was continued until the accused confessed or intimated that he was willing to confess. On the other hand, it was not desired, as in fact it was not possible, to regard as freely made a confession wrung by torture.

It is at once apparent how little reliance may be placed upon the assertion so often repeated in the minutes of trials, "confessionem esse veram, non factam vi tormentorum" (the confession was true and free), even though one had not occasionally read in the preceding pages that, after being taken down from the rack (postquam depositus fuit de tormento), he freely confessed this or that. However, it is not of greater importance to say that torture is seldom mentioned in the records ofinquisition trials -- but once, for example in 636 condemnations between 1309 and 1323; this does not prove that torture was rarely applied. Since torture was originally inflicted outside the court room by lay officials, and since only the voluntary confession was valid before the judges, there was no occasion to mention in the records the fact of torture. On the other hand it, is historically true that the popes not only always held that torture must not imperil life or but also tried to abolish particularly grievous abuses, when such became known to them. Thus Clement V ordained that inquisitors should not apply the torture without the consent of the diocesan bishop. From the middle of the thirteenth century, they did not disavow the principle itself, and, as their restrictions to its use were not always heeded, its severity, though of tell exaggerated, was in many cases extreme.

The consuls of Carcassonne in 1286 complained to the pope, the King of France, and the vicars of the local bishop against the inquisitor Jean Garland, whom they charged with inflicting torture in an absolutely inhuman manner, and this charge was no isolated one. The case of Savonarola has never been altogether cleared up in this respect. The official report says he had to suffer three and a half tratti da fune (a sort of strappado). When Alexander VI showed discontent with the delays of the trial, the Florentine government excused itself by urging that Savonarola was a man of extraordinary sturdiness and endurance, and that he had been vigorously tortured on many days (assidua quaestione multis diebus, the papal prothonotary, Burchard, says seven times) but with little effect.

It is to be noted that torture was most cruelly used, where the inquisitors were most exposed to the pressure of civil authority. Frederick II, though always boasting of his zeal for the purity of the Faith, abused both rack and Inquisition to put out of the way his personal enemies. The tragical ruin of the Templars is ascribed to the abuse of torture by Philip the Fair and his henchmen. At Paris, for instance, thirty-six, and at Sens twenty-five, Templars died as the result of torture. Blessed Joan of Arc could not have been sent to the stake as a heretic and a recalcitrant, if her judges had not been tools of English policy. And the excesses of the Spanish Inquisition are largely due to the fact that in its administration civil purposes overshadowed the ecclesiastical. Every reader of the "Cautio criminalis" of the Jesuit Father Friedrich Spee knows to whose account chiefly must be set down the horrors of the witchcraft trials.

So you have the Pope, in a bull, specifically allowing the use of torture - confirmed by two other popes, also, and that bishops in union with Rome gave specific permission for it to be used.

Is the teaching on torture in the Catechism still an "infallible teaching of the Magisterium"?




Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - SaintRafael - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:00 PM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: The same "infallible" Catechism that teaches capital punishment is illicit in direct contradiction of previous teachings?   ::)

It is not "of the centuries".  The Church allowed specific forms of torture during the Inquisition.

Moving this thread to theological debate.

I didn't say the Catechism was infallible. Catechism themselves are not infallible. They are books that contain infallible teachings.

I said the moral teachings against kidnapping, torture, and terrorism in 2297 were infallible. The central dogmas in that book are also infallible. That it contains error on the death penalty is a different topic and besides the point.  JPII's errors on the death penalty is a different issue.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - SaintRafael - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:00 PM)Texican Wrote: Is water-boarding evil?

Yes. It is torture that has been declared by many nations after WWII, in an era when there was still Christian values that where shared by countries and cultures.

Nuremberg and the Geneva Convention both declared it torture.

The Nazis were given the death penalty at Nuremberg for committing the crime of Waterboarding.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Bonifacius - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:09 PM)SaintRafael Wrote:
(04-29-2009, 05:00 PM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: The same "infallible" Catechism that teaches capital punishment is illicit in direct contradiction of previous teachings?   ::)

It is not "of the centuries".  The Church allowed specific forms of torture during the Inquisition.

Moving this thread to theological debate.

I didn't say the Catechism was infallible. Catechism themselves are not infallible. They are books that contain infallible teachings.

I said the moral teachings against kidnapping, torture, and terrorism in 2297 were infallible. The central dogmas in that book are also infallible. That it contains error on the death penalty is a different topic and besides the point.  JPII's errors on the death penalty is a different issue.

But the whole question, SaintRafael, is whether JPII was in error on the specifics of torture, just as he was on the death penalty.  You need to prove from sources *other than the Catechism* that the Catechism's position on torture is infallible.  I bet that *if* the Catechism authors were to give a source for 2297's teaching on torture, they would refer to Gaudium et Spes, which you said you didn't care about.  Please find the magisterial sources necessary for your argument.  *Please* check out what Fr. Harrison has to say about the magisterial testimony on the question.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Bonifacius - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:12 PM)SaintRafael Wrote:
(04-29-2009, 05:00 PM)Texican Wrote: Is water-boarding evil?

Yes. It is torture that has been declared by many nations after WWII, in an era when there was still Christian values that where shared by countries and cultures.

Nuremberg and the Geneva Convention both declared it torture.

The Nazis were given the death penalty at Nuremberg for committing the crime of Waterboarding.

Sorry, but the Nuremberg officials (among whom were Soviets who covered up the Katyn Forest Massacre, and Brits and Americans, who did not condemn their own airmen for firebombing civilians) and Geneva Convention authors are not infallible authorities.  Please refer to the Church, not to secular sources. 


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Melita - 04-29-2009

For anybody will a little spare time on their hands, I found this paper an interesting read: http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:fGomMHyjuPEJ:www.usccb.org/sdwp/TortureIsAMoralIssueCatholicStudyGuide.pdf+catholic+position+on+torture&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&client=firefox-a (Torture Is a Moral Issue: A Catholic Study)


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - SaintRafael - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 04:50 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: You still haven't proven that the direct infliction of pain is inherently wrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torture

Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is: "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions."

It is not just a simplistic infliction of pain. Inflicting pain is not wrong, but it is, if it means the above conditions.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Bonifacius - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:07 PM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: From CE
So you have the Pope, in a bull, specifically allowing the use of torture - confirmed by two other popes, also, and that bishops in union with Rome gave specific permission for it to be used.

Is the teaching on torture in the Catechism still an "infallible teaching of the Magisterium"?

Fr. Harrison (whose work I'll keep on plugging) shows that Pope Nicholas I in the 800s condemned the use of torture in the investigation of crimes.  He argues that the letter in question rises to the level of "authentic magisterium" (?).  He also notes that permission of torture in investigations by the Inquisition is more a question of discipline within the Church than of doctrine; that nepotism flourished is not testimony that the Church approved of it.  He does show that evne Pope Nicholas' letter in the 800s did not prevent theologians from developing a "communis opinio" that torture might be used in interrogating people as to their guilt for *past deeds.*  The ticking timebomb scenario is different as it is not a matter of determining an individual's guilt but rather of preventing his crime (already in progress) from going forward.  It is a matter of self-defense, not of judicial inquiry.  I'm not saying you'd disagree, Quis (thanks for your great blog I've been having fun with!), I'm just making some stipulations explicit.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - SaintRafael - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:16 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: But the whole question, SaintRafael, is whether JPII was in error on the specifics of torture, just as he was on the death penalty.  You need to prove from sources *other than the Catechism* that the Catechism's position on torture is infallible.  I bet that *if* the Catechism authors were to give a source for 2297's teaching on torture, they would refer to Gaudium et Spes, which you said you didn't care about.  Please find the magisterial sources necessary for your argument.  *Please* check out what Fr. Harrison has to say about the magisterial testimony on the
question.

Pope John Paul II was not wrong on torture. He was right. The citation and footnote for CC 2297 is Denzinger-Schonmetzer.

The  teaching against torture comes out of Denzinger, the Handbook of Creeds, Definitions and Declarations concerning matters of Faith and Morals.
It is Catholic moral theology.


Re: Should torture ever be allowed? - Bonifacius - 04-29-2009

(04-29-2009, 05:23 PM)SaintRafael Wrote:
(04-29-2009, 04:50 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: You still haven't proven that the direct infliction of pain is inherently wrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torture

Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is: "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions."

It is not just a simplistic infliction of pain. Inflicting pain is not wrong, but it is if it means the above conditions.

Sigh.  We are not debating what the United Nations says about torture.  We are debating what the Church says about torture, how the Church defines it.  Simply because the UN says something is wrong, does not make it so.  The UN also supports abortion.  As you will not rely upon the Magisterium, I fear that you are admitting you cannot sustain your argument.  Note very well:  the UN distinguishes between the use of torture to get a *confession* and the use of torture to get *information.*  The Catechism (for whatever it's worth) condemns the use of torture to get "confessions" but DOES NOT MENTION "information."  We are dealing precisely with the use of torture to get *information* in a ticking timebomb situation. If anything, the details of the UN definition suggest that the Catechism authors were being quite discrete in *not* condemning torture for any and all reasons, and in not listing "extraction of information" among the ends for which pain may not be inflicted.