Torture in the Inquisition

I was trying to find an answer to the question of whether torture was justified during the Inquisition in some old threads here on FE. I only found one thread and Walty described the explanation given by a moral theologian, explaining that torture is never permissable under any circumstances. That it is intrinsically wrong.

If that is so, what are we to think of torture used in the Inquisiton sanctioned by the Popes?

God bless.
Here is something I found quite useful;

It was made by the BBC (which isn't catholic, so it can't be accused of bias) - It's divided into 5 parts.

Torture if I remember correctly was used by everyone, it was just a device of the day and age (like questioning or interrogation is today) -- one cannot judge something in the past against the moral values of today...though watch it, it destroys the Inquisition myth.
Oh yes I've seen that before; I know much about the Inquisiton. What I was wanting to know however is the Church's traditional (unaffected by the Vatican II "Apologise for everything of the past" erroneous mentality) teaching on torture and if it can be reconciled with the torture used by the Inquisiton.
The use of various methods of interrogation were standard for the time periods in which the relevant events occurred. It also must be pointed out that a great number of "torture devices" held in museums were fabrications constructed during the Victorian era in order to shock people and sell museum admissions - most of those devices were, in fact, never used.

There are a large number of writings which came out during the same time periods as we are talking about now, which are still readily available - many of them on the internet. They tell a different tale than the protestant "historians" and liberal secular media does...

In fact, secular history pretty much claims rampant torturous massacre sweeping the European continent at the hands of cassock-clad madmen, foaming at the mouth to spread the blood of the innocent. On the other hand, ecclesiastical history shows simply the Church defending the Faith against heresies.

Food for thought.

(06-25-2012, 04:55 AM)TraditionalistThomas Wrote: Oh yes I've seen that before; I know much about the Inquisiton. What I was wanting to know however is the Church's traditional (unaffected by the Vatican II "Apologise for everything of the past" erroneous mentality) teaching on torture and if it can be reconciled with the torture used by the Inquisiton.
Well, I know people back then had this peculiar idea that  a confession was worthless if it wasn't under torture.  ???

It is only in our modern age when sciences like Psychology starting doing research, realised that someone being tortured would say quite literally anything.
(06-25-2012, 03:11 AM)TraditionalistThomas Wrote: If that is so, what are we to think of torture used in the Inquisiton sanctioned by the Popes?

God bless.

The Inquisitions were perhaps sanctioned by the Pope, but they were courts of law to determine certain facts. Do you expect the justice system to be perfect just because it is sanctioned by the Church? Regardless of the question of torture, the Inquisitions put a system into place, a system which was much better than what would have existed otherwise.

The Swiss Guard for example are sanctioned by the Popes. They recently arrested some people in the leak scandal issue. Now, if we examine the Italian court system (the court which will take the Vatican's cases) we can find injustices and imperfections...what would that prove?
A short history of the issue from the Catholic Encyclopedia will suffice for giving some background, but perhaps not answer the real question --

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 human equity — 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 of inquisition 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.

Most of the punishments that were properly speaking inquisitional were not inhuman, either by their nature or by the manner of their infliction. Most frequently certain good works were ordered, e.g. the building of a church, the visitation of a church, a pilgrimage more or less distant, the offering of a candle or a chalice, participation in a crusade, and the like. Other works partook more of the character of real and to some extent degrading punishments, e.g. fines, whose proceeds were devoted to such public purposes as church-building, road-making, and the like; whipping with rods during religious service; the pillory; the wearing of coloured crosses, and so on.
Good book:
(06-25-2012, 04:47 AM)Sondaar Wrote: Torture if I remember correctly was used by everyone, it was just a device of the day and age (like questioning or interrogation is today) -- one cannot judge something in the past against the moral values of today...

Wait, I thought moral values were timeless.

If torture is wrong today, it was also wrong yesterday.

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