måndag 28 januari 2013

The Royal Inquisition, England, Compared to Others

"Discover how the Word was preserved through the 1,000 year period of the Dark and Middle Ages, when possession of scripture in any language other than Latin meant certain death at the hands of the organized church."

source of quote:

It did not.

Possession in English might have meant death during the anti-Lollard Inquisition, decided by one law of the English Parliament, for about one hundred years.

This is what wikipedia states:

The De heretico comburendo (2 Hen.4 c.15) was a law passed by Parliament under King Henry IV of England in 1401, punishing heretics with burning at the stake. This law was one of the strictest religious censorship statutes ever enacted in England.

The statute declared there were "...divers false and perverse people of a certain new sect...they make and write books, they do wickedly instruct and inform people...and commit subversion of the said catholic faith".[1] The sect alluded to is the Lollards, followers of John Wycliffe.

De heretico comburendo urged "...that this wicked sect, preachings, doctrines, and opinions, should from henceforth cease and be utterly destroyed...", and declared "...that all and singular having such books or any writings of such wicked doctrine and opinions, shall really with effect deliver or cause to be delivered all such books and writings to the diocesan of the same place within forty days from the time of the proclamation of this ordinance and statute."[1]

"And if any person...such books in the form aforesaid do not deliver, then the diocesan of the same place in his diocese such person or persons in this behalf defamed or evidently suspected and every of them may by the authority of the said ordinance and statute cause to be arrested...". If they failed to abjure their "heretical" beliefs, or relapsed after an initial abjuration, they would "...be burnt, that such punishment may strike fear into the minds of others...".[1]

Section 6 of the Act of Supremacy (1 Eliz.1 c.1) (1559) repealed the statutes but it was not until March 1677 that a bill to take away the Crown's right to the writ was introduced in the House of Commons. It passed in that session.

Footnote 1 links to full text of the Royal - not Papal! - decree, English version:

De Hæretico Comburendo (1401)

Continued: While we are speaking about Lollards: they petitioned the parliament in 1395. It seems they wanted the Parliament to force their ways on the Catholic Church in England, which was at the time the only Church there, the Church of everyone, except, recently, these Lollards. Now, 1401 Henry IV decides they shall be burned. What happened? Did the Parliament listen to their demands, make a decision, that the Pope wanted the King to override, and did the King dissolve the Parliament in order to push this, in obedience to the Pope?

No, you will happen to recall that 1401 was during the period of 39 years when there were two Popes.

One was in the Holy Roman Empire of Germanic Nation (a part of it that was Roman enough to speak Provençal), namely in Avignon, close to the French border (it became Spanish briefly during Thirty Years War and was conquered by France under Louis XIV). Not in England. The other one was in Rome. Not in England either. It seems the English decision has something to do with English independence from either Pope rather than with Papal decisions.

It seems that the Parliament debated the Lollard petition and came to the conclusion that the Lollards were wicked and dangerous. They took the decision to persecute heresy in those particular ways (burning was staple rather than as elsewhere rare, inquiry was free rather than regulated - i e torture was elsewhere limited to maximum three days - and it was in the hand of a bishop rather than of Friars like Franciscans or Dominicans depending on the Pope). And Henry IV ratified it in 1401.

When John Foxe started writing his Booke of Martyrs, he was writing about that one, not about the French or Spanish or Italian Inquisitions. For some reason, maybe that Mary Tudor persecuted him out of England (under that English law, since Cardinal Reginald Pole had advised her not to burn any heretics, but she insisted), and he was given shelter on the continent, the heretics there saw an opportunity to achieve a book about their glorious past, as they mythologised it. And John Foxe widened the scope of his book.

Had anything like the English Inquisition gone on on the Continent? Yes. In France. In the parts where English King was recognised as the French one too. After 1401.

I will now turn to a better historian than John Foxe, and "as good an Inquisition hater as he", namely Henry Charles Lea. Since I read a French translation, I will backtranslate to English, beside the official French translation of the work. Histoire de l'Inquisition au Moyen-Age has been translated to French in 1900 and reedited in 1986, the text is by one Salomon Reinach. "American" original 1887. Page references are to original English (or "American") edition, which are given in the margin, this is 139 and Pope Martin V finds the Inquisition needs financing, it had no money to fulfill its functions any more:

Peut-être trouverait-on une réponse à cette question dans une pétition signée, en cette même année 1418, par les citoyens d'Avignon en faveur des Juifs.
 Maybe one would find an answer to this question in a petition signed, this same year 1418, by the burghers of Avignon in favour of the Jews.
La protection accordé par les papes avignonnais à la race proscrite avait fait de la ville un centre juif.
 The protection accorded by the Popes of Avignon to the proscribed race had made the city a Jewish centre.
Ils y rendaient des services que la population appréciait, mais ils étaient sans cesse molestés par les inquisiteurs, qui entamaient, contre eux des poursuites sans motifs, mais non, peut-être, sans profits.
 They there rendered services appreciated by the population, but they were unceasingly molested by the Inquisitors, who began pursuits against them without any motive, but not, perhaps, without any gain.

Note that the assessment of Jewish innocence here is his, not mine. In religious matters they were quite offensive now and then. A bit more than Lollards, perhaps even. And I suspect H-C Lea to be more than a bit obtuse about that.

Martin écouta avec bienveillance la requête.
 Martin heard the request favourably.
Telle était la déchéance de l'Inquisition que le pape donna aux Juifs le droit de nommer un assesseur, chargé de siéger à côté de l'inquisiteur en toute affaire les concernant.
 Such was the downfall of the Inquisition that the Pope gave the Jews the right to name an assessor, charged to sit beside the Inquisitor in every proceeding where they were concerned.

Compare Jews and Lollards, or the English Parliament from 1395 to 1401 with the burghers of Avignon in 1418, and compare Henry IV, King of England, with Martin V, Pope of Rome (he was, I recall, the first one Pope after the Schism).

Now, Dr. Craig Lampe pretended that Julius II and Leo X "began Holy Wars against the Jews" ... well, no. They succeeded a century after Martin V, and the habit of protecting Jews was strong with Papacy. Here, fortunately, I found a source not favourable to Popes or to Inquisition, who documents this.

Henry-Charles Lea however considered the presence of assessors a downfall of Inquisition. On the contrary, one brag of the Inquisition over centuries was being more fairminded than secular courts. In Spain people would commit some religious offense - not on burning-at-the-stake-level, but something like swearing, which was considered blasphemy (and to be fair, it was). The Inquisitor would hear their confession of the crime, hear their extenuating circumstances, and thereby give them a fair hearing in the case tha really concerned them. He would then give them a penance for swearing, which penance was a pilgrimage to Santiago - during which time of course the secular court could not pursue them. Besides, they could not pursue them because the Inquisition was a higher court, simple as that.

Why were the Lollards hated? Look here:


Unlike what you may think, until the times when the martyrdoms inflicted on them by the English Inquisition had given them a halo of sainthood, Lollards may have been thought of as creepy odd-balls.

Number four blasphemes the Blessed Sacrament, and number eight the Holy Cross and other relics. And that in the land of Glastonbury, proud of having, somewhere hidden, the relic which is as holy as cross and lance, namely chalice. Thanks to St Joseph of Arimathea.

But can even St Joan of Arc have been executed as suspect of being a Lollard? Look at nr 10 "That. manslaughter in war, or by pretended law of justice for a temporal cause, without spiritual revelation, is expressly contrary to the New Testament, which indeed is the law of grace and full of mercies." Now, St Joan had precisely a spiritual revelation about her war against the English in France. Did she believe such a one was necessary for a war not to be sinful? No, of course not. She was Catholic. As Catholic as any Protestant in the Spanish-American War, on that point. But the fact remains, the charge of heresy in context with a spiritual revelation about a war, as well as the fact that the proceedings were like Inquisitorial proceedings in England rather than the usual ones in France, makes my point. I have not yet read H-C Lea's account of Saint Joan of Arc's process./HGL

söndag 27 januari 2013

Answers about "The Forbidden Book"

Chesterton wrote this in chapter II of his The Catholic Church and Conversion: "I owe it to the liberal and Universalist atmosphere of my family, of Stopford Brooke and the Unitarian preachers they followed, that I was always just sufficiently enlightened to be out of the reach of Maria Monk." Maria Monk is actually cited in a certain kind of anti-Catholic literature. "It is true that this general truth was hidden from many by certain definite assertions. I can only call them, in simple language, Protestant lies about Catholic lying. The men who repeated them were not necessarily lying, because they were repeating. But the statements were of the same lucid and precise order as a statement that the Pope has three legs or that Rome is situated at the North Pole. There is no more doubt about their nature than that. One of them, for instance, is the positive statement, once heard everywhere and still heard often: "Roman Catholics are taught that anything is lawful if done for the good of the Church." This is not the fact; and there is an end of it. It refers to a definite statement of an institution whose statements are very definite; and it can be proved to be totally false. Here as always the critics cannot see that they are trying to have it both ways. They are always complaining that our creed is cut and dried; that we are told what to believe and must believe nothing else; that it is all written down for us in bulls and confessions of faith. In so far as this is true, it brings a matter like this to the point of legal and literal truth, which can be tested; and so tested, it is a lie. But even here I was saved at a very early stage by noticing a curious fact. I noticed that those who were most ready to blame priests for relying on rigid formulas seldom took the trouble to find out what the formulas were." And a little further down: "I never dreamed that the Roman religion was true; but I knew that its accusers, for some reason or other, were curiously inaccurate."

So, even if a Protestant tells you so and so about Rome, it is not always so and so. I have seen a video, which is curiously inaccurate about almost any aspect of "Catholicism between 400 and 1400", including about who was Pope when. It does accurately state that Catholics were required, as always, to believe Transsubstantiation, that is that in Holy Mass the bread and wine truly and substantially, and not just symbolically, though usually not externally, are turned into the very and substantial Body and Blood of Our Lord. We are also required to believe Indulgences and Pilgrimages are good, and some of us are required by some penance to do a prayer which is indulgenced or make a pilgrimage, which are usually indulgenced.

Somewhat lower down, the statement is that indulgences stopped secular justice from pursuing criminals. Pilgrimages actually did that and the Culdees were actually very much for that. You see, criminals are often enough punished by the state so that bad men shall not continue to poison society. But penance is rehabilitation, it is so before God and in some cases - such as pilgrimages - before man as well. I made a pilgrimage for another purpose myself, it was not imposed as penance, but I do know for a fact that the same pilgrimage was used as penance by he Inquisition. But I am afraid, dear reader, that if you are not already a Catholic, you will think I am mad for using words like Culdee, Indulgence, Inquisition and for that matter rehabilitation in manners not familiar to you. So, I will link to this video, of which I have so far answered the first minutes, the first long third or short half, and then we shall see about my explanations. If you are a Protestant, the accusations made in the video may be more familiar to you than my explanations. Keep reading. But first hear the video:

The Forbidden Book - History of the English Bible (2 of 7, put on line by Anastasis 300)

In what follows, I will "print" the quotations from the video (skipping what I already wrote about) in bold or fat letters, and here is the first one:

"As the centuries passed, the Vulgate would be corrupted by unfaithful copy, and the interpretation of the canon was restricted to a few dozen scholars in each generation".

Tell me, unfaithful copy, does it corrupt systematically or at random?

At random, I think you will have to agree.

Now, if there were lots of copies made and distributed all over the Catholic world (mainly Roman Empire, soon also Germanic and Celtic parts outside the Empire, like Wessex or Iona), why would and how could any one bad copy error spread all over the copies of the Vulgate?

When Pope Innocent III argued against remarriage of divorced, he seems to have had a bad text for Matthew 19:9. He quoted as "etsi propter fornicationem" ("even if it be because of fornication"), but the Vulgate as we now have it has "nisi ob fornicationem" ("unless it be because of fornication"). The variant ob/propter is not important, and I quote Innocent III from memory, so maybe it was ob there too. But "nisi" and "etsi" mean very different things.

However, later Catholics, accepting the "nisi" reading, also argue against remarriage after mere divorce. We say it means "unless it be because the apparent marriage is a fonrication", like if one finds out too late that the husband and wife are really brother and sister and so were never married at all before God.

But the point is, even if Pope Innocent III had a bad text (not meaning his conclusion was wrong!), the good reading existed beside the bad one.

Saying that all copies of the Vulgate got tarnished by one and same error of copy is like presuming that bleeders' disease (the one that is inherited by X chromosome, but also cancelled by other X chromosome, so that a man gets it if his mother carries it in the ovum he comes from, but a woman gets it only if she has it both from mother and paternal grandmother) could become universal feature of all families of an entire big nation. It is impossible. Because the bleeder's disease or haemophilia arose as a random mutation, way after Adam, way after Noah and his three sons and their wives. Precisely so, errors from unfaithful copying arise, among good Christians dealing with the Bible, only at random.

The "few dozen scholars" in each generation is hardly any better. What this is based on - and the misunderstanding can be honest, if stupid - is that only a few dozen scholars in each generations have survived as commentators to our times. It is hardly likely even that is true, but it has at least some likelihood. But it is certainly not true that only a few dozen scholars in each generation had any chance of being busy with Biblical exegesis.

However, believing as they did, and as we do, that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth, they were not much into doing original research. They were usually content to copy what comments already existed - except of course when these were either silent or diverged on any one question that any one exegete thought important. But in such a case, there were in each generation thousands of monks and bishops and secular clergy and canons living with their bishop after the rule of St Augustine and so on and so forth, sometimes even nuns, for that matter, who would be able to contribute and from among whom the preserved contributions of those times do come.

"By 400 a.D. the Scriptures had been translated into over 500 languages"

Tough luck for this lie, I am somewhat of a linguist. I may be under some ostracism from other linguists for believing the tower of Babel and probable or at least possible non-unity of original Indo-European input into the language families concerned. But I do agree with linguists in general that 500 languages were very many more than what were available for writing in back then. Sumerian was dead, Akkadian was dead, Etruscan was dying or dead. Chinese was not dead, but far off from known Christian communities. Blackest Africa was avoided for centuries, after one of the Apostles failed there (meaning of course, well South or West of Civilised Aksoum and Ethiopia which became Christian). In France there was no Gaulish translation, because Gaulish was a boorish language, everyone spoke Latin and French is only later separated from Latin (by a.D. 800 the issue is clear, one could pronounce a Latin text as closely to popular pronunciation as you liked, but it was still not understandable: so a Council decided the priest after reading the Gospel text had to translate it in the Sermon into Lingua Romana Rustica, i e French around Paris or Provençal around Aix).

And since everyone spoke Latin in 400, there was very little need for other translations. French begins to be clearly different from Latin only 400 years later, and Spanish and Italian only 600 years later. Meaning of course, different from Latin as pronounced then and there, not as Caesar pronounced it.

But didn't it take centuries for French and Spanish and Italian to become the languages they are or were when first written? Yes, in a sense it did, and of course they were very different from Classical Latin way before that. But that does not mean that Latin in the Church was already impossible to understand. It was as easy for them, if they were used to it, as it is for you to read King James Version or Shakespear. Of course, when we read Shakespear aloud, we no longer pronounce "one" as in second syllable of "atone" or "alone", but rather as "wun". And when Éamonn DeValera read classical Irish poetry, a word like the one written "cride" was rather pronounced as "cree" in his mouth than as "creether" which would have been the Old Irish way to say the word. And when a Greek reads the New Testament, he is not pronouncing "kai" as "kuy" but as Spanish "qué". He is in fact resounding the ancient words in their ancient spellings according to the newer pronunciation. And, so were of course, up to that point in 813, the Catholic Priesthood everywhere where they spoke Latin as the people did. They could read the letters "seruus" or "seruum" and pronounce it like "sers" or "serf". They could read the letters "uolo" or "uult" and pronounce them "wirl"/"well" or "wirlt" (with audible L, but without audible R, "ir" being like Standard British pronunciation of "girl"). They adapted the code for reading to what the words were pronounced like in their own time, and so in a way do the English to this very day whose spelling goes back to Chaucer in its basics.

Now, when I said that everyone spoke Latin, that is true for the Western part of the Roman Empire, basically. But in Britain there were not so Romanised and in Ireland totally un-romanised Celts who did not. And the Germanic peoples did not either. So, were they without the Bible?

Not quite. Not just the fact that their clergy knew Latin, but also the fact that translations were made, though not exactly used in Liturgy.

To pray all of the Hours, by the text, you needed to be able to read all of the 150 psalms - in Latin. Alfred the Great translated 50 of them into Ænglisc - what we now call Old English or Anglo-Saxon. It was meant as a beginners aid with the psalter. He also translated De Cura Pastorali by Pope St Gregory the Great into Ænglisc - as well as Boëthius, De Consolatione Philosophiae, which he translated himself with some insertions of his own. Meanwhile, as to Bible story, there was a vers Genesis (being of course the story of Genesis), a verse Exodus (story of the other books of Pentateuch, but not laden with the actual legislation), Judith (even the scholar here found it profitable for history), and Christ (story of the four Gospels). I mean, if the verses we know best nowadays of Anglo-Saxon poetry were Beowulf and The Wanderer (I think the older title is Widsith), the verses probably read most back then were of course the Biblical poems. As useful perhaps for getting the Biblical History across, as the Comic books I read the Old Testament in when I was a child (and a believer in the Catholic Church as former persecutor of the Bible, theoretically, though that was not what I saw or cared about when it came to Catholics I had any contact with).

Similarily there are translations and paraphrases for Old Irish. And for Old Welsh. I know very little of them.

In Old Saxon - the Saxon of German Saxony - something like the poem "Christ" existed, it was Heliand. It was the Gospel story retold after the Gospel harmony of Tatian. So, no, there was no dearth of Holy Writ. The people were not cut off from it. Very much later, with somewhat less direct access to the writ outside sermons (unless these poems based on the Bible were read precisely as sermons), one Piers Plowman gave an answer that showed he knew the Gospel alright:

The plouman answered then the preste
Sire, I beleue in Ihesu Christe
Who suffred deth and harrowed Hell
As I haue hered mine elders tell.

As far as we know, he was not a Lollard. As far as I know, at least (before checking).

I checked, it is just a few years too early to be after John Wycliffe's declaration, and its author's name is not John but William. Scholars think it was written by one William Langland, but they are not sure.

"The technique to sustain its power was simple. Control people's minds by controlling their education. And control their education by controlling their language."

The one thing that was ensured by making sure things were conducted in Latin, in the West, was ensuring people got an education at all.

The Latin was not controlled by BBC speakers in Latin, it was not controlled by Latin teachers from every country being sent to Rome in order to acquire the exact language which they were to use among their pupils. And above all, there was perhaps an agreed but not a centrally controlled vocabulary, except in important matters such as Christianity.

When French missionaries came to the Iroquois and gave their lives to make them Roman Catholic, they did translate a bit of literature into Iroquois. But they found Iroquois so wanting - for the Christmas story they had neither any word for shepherd nor for sheep but replaced it with beaver hunters offering beaver skins to "the Son of Gitchemanitoo" - that obviously any Iroquois wanting to be a priest absolutely had to learn another language and probably French before Latin.

Now, the Vernaculars of Europe were not quite as wanting as Iroquois for the Christmas story - they had shepherds that spoke other languages than Latin after all - but they were hardly adequate for serious studies whether in theology or in law school. Irish being a remarcable exception due to oral culture of the Files.

"The Pope was elevated to God's sole agent to lead the Church. And resistance to his leadership was an act of heresy, punishable by excommunication, or by death."

Papacy was not the sole leadership, but shared leadership with bishops and abbots and kings and emperors in various configurations that were disputed. Excommunication means you cannot go to Communion - unless you find a priest who is willing to brave that excommunication. Emperors now and then found such priests despite being excommunicated, and so did the King who eventually killed St Thomas Becket - or had him killed, more properly.

Heresy and schism are two different crimes to Canon Law. Both are punishable by excommunication but different ones. Even heresy was not punishable by death until after year 1000. The first Manichean heretics, that is the first believer in Satanic Creation of bodies and biology and divine creation of souls only, who got burned on a stake for that heresy (there came many before him) was Basil the Physician, who was burned by the Romaic Emperor (some call that Byzantine) Alexius I Comnenus or Ἀλέξιος Α' Κομνηνός. That was in 1118. Way after a.D. 400. Way irrelevant to Ἀλέξιος that Basil the Physician "opposed the spiritual leadership of the Pope" (so did the Emperor who burned him). He opposed the doctrine revealed by God. That is what heresy is about. But in 1118 the Popes were not yet for burning heretics. Alexius lost his temper after a discussion with the heretic Basil.

Some would of course argue that Basil the Physician was not the first to be executed for heresy, but Priscillian was, and that was in Spain, before 400. However, Priscillian was executed for magic. By the Roman power.

When the Roman power persecuted the adherents of Priscillian, St Martin refused to partake in the persecution and even wanted to avoid sitting down next to one bishop who favoured it.

When St Augustine favoured - after seing the results - the persecution of Donatists, it was a persecution carried out by the secular power and after the Donatists had even been invited to a Council in order to defend, if they could, their position. They had been condemned as heretical. And remember, Donatists were as violent as the adherents of Muenzer or of Ziska, they were hardly peaceful Mennonites.

What was the punishment for Priscillianism? For Priscillian himself and a few more, who had appealed from the Council of Bourdeaux to the Emperor - at the time Maximus - it was death. Heresy was not among the charges, but things like magic (Priscillian, like John Todd, knew magic at least, so the charge is not absurd), praying naked, sedition (they had incited to stealing Catholic Churches) and a few more.

When Theodosius became Emperor, the crime of Priscillianism was exactly what is nowadays done by judges on council of psychiatrists for much lesser offenses, like alcoholism or drug abuse. Their property passed on to their heirs, unless these too had fallen into heresy. The slaves that denounced Priscillianist masters were freed. The slaves that followed Priscillianist masters in heresy fell to the fisc. And a Priscillianist could make no testament, sign no contract and so on and so forth. In other words, he was made a dependant. As the modern world does with far less bad people, with far more innocent ones.

And most surely, the Protestant who is so upset by "death penalty for heresy", and for that being inflicted by "papacy", is or was when alive (the video seems to be an older TV programme) not a quite Priscillianist heretic. At least not if he believed the Symbolum of St Athanasius, the Trinitarian form of which is closely repeated in the First Council of Toledo, in its Regula fidei contra omnes haereses, maxime contra priscillianistas.

"A world that had become free in Christ ..."

By a.D. 400, it was already fashionable to free ones slaves, if one was a Christian. But there were still slaves.

It was during the "Dark and Middle Ages" that Catholics, like Queen St Bathilde of France, abolished slavery.

The Council of Meaux or one of them (IXth C.) excommunicated slave hunters and slave traders, especially if selling to the Moslems or agressing Christians.

And of course, the slaves of Priscillianist masters were immediately freed on denouncing the heresy, as said. Another religious reason for a master to be forced to free a slave was if the Church saw him as having a real religious vocation. A master who refused to free a slave whom the Church considered worthy of priestly studies (we are talking about young people, presumably) was excommunicated.

"Indulgences were granted for crimes that ranged from adultery to murder, and rendered the state powerless to prosecute the criminal"

Well, no. Getting punished by the state and getting punished by God for eternity or in purgatory are two different things.

Indulgences are only about your situation before God.

"A list of tarriffs for various indulgences was established by Pope John XXII and first published by Pope Leo X"

If a Pope establishes a thing, he publishes it. Popes are no mafia bosses who establish things in secret that only later are published by other Popes.

G K Chesterton wrote: "A priest might say anything about the Faith; because a Protestant might say anything about the priest. These novels were padded with pronouncements like this one, for instance, which I happen to remember: "Disobeying a priest is the one sin for which there is no absolution. We term it a reserved case." Now obviously a man writing like that is simply imagining what might exist; it has never occurred to him to go and ask if it does exist. He has heard the phrase "a reserved case" and considers, in a poetic reverie, what he shall make it mean."

Similarily, 12 USD for all crimes would seem to be a poetic reverie for what "plenary indulgence" means. Did there exist "tarriff lists" for indulgences? Depends a bit on what you mean by a "tarriff".

"Lay out thy bread, and thy wine upon the burial of a just man, and do not eat and drink thereof with the wicked."

Tobias 4:18 - an Indulgence practised already in the Primitive Church, when said for the repose of the buried. Also a premonition of the Masses said on anniversaries of martyrdoms on martyrs' graves. And of course for the Indulgence won for a dead when a Mass is said for him.

Other indulgences involve pilgrimages or recital of prayers. I have seen prayer books from before Vatican II cited, with real indulgence "tariffs."

Such a prayer is 300 days indulgence. If said every day, it is a plenary indulgence once a month. Such another prayer is 400 days indulgence. And if said daily, a plenary indulgence once a month.

Such a prayer in Church if said within a week from confession and communion is plenary indulgence - as a Rosary in Church each of the 8 days from November 1 to November 8.

Such a pilgrimage if ended by confession, comunion, prayer in Church was plenary indulgence. St James, for instance.

Those are real indulgence "tarriffs." I have seen two explanations theologically for phrases like 300 days indulgence - one being a 300 days shorter time in Purgatory, one being a shortening of Purgatory corresponding to what 300 days of doing penance would have gained. Either way, plenary indulgence means immediately releasing a soul from Purgatory, and if the one you do it for is already in Heaven, it goes to another soul, especially if you pray God to so accept it.

But 1.25 USD for breaking celibacy, 2 USD for murder, 12 USD for indulgence in advance of all crimes one is about to commit, those are not real. For one thing, the list cannot be real since USD did not exist back then. For another thing the list cannot be real because there was no one currency back then. What would the prices have been like? Maravedies? Solidi? Mark? Guilders? Pennies? Shillings? What about currencies having neither pennies nor shillings? Scudi? You see the difficulty.

And for another thing, it would have meant not just a Total Corruption of Man, but an even more total corruption of Christian conscience than of Pagan consciences, and that would have meant an impossibility for Pagans to convert other than by brute force during those times. That is very much not so.

You see that this list with indulgenc tarriffs is pure phantasy. It is the staple of Anti-Catholic biassed disinformation of the Chick Tracts Type.

But what is true is that once a gift to the building of St Peter's basilica was included in the indulgenced pious practises. Tetzel was carrying one collection purse for it. That was abolished in 1563, by the Council of Trent.

Among the Orthodox, not all link Indulgence practises (like the one from Tobias 4:18) to Purgatory. Mark of Ephesus was the one bishop who opposed the decisions of the Council of Florence. He denied, among other things, especially Purgatory. He said that "saved, but as through a fire, and they shall suffer loss" means damnation, where "saved" bears no relation to eternal salvation from sin, only to non-annihilation. But he was not against prayers for the dead. On the contrary, he said these profit them very much. So, some Orthodox say that the forty days after death involve fighting with demons in airy toll-houses, but a much more common explanation, it would seem, is that the prayers for the dead, known from all eternity by God, are heard in ways that profit the salvation and merits - they do think the blessed in Heaven have different fulness of bliss according to merits acquired in the state of grace - of the persons before they die. Theoretically Purgatory would be another option in that spectrum, but since Mark of Ephesus - whom they consider and I once considered as a Saint - specifically opposed it, it has fallen out of it.

Earlier one of their complaints against Rome was that the Pope was seen as the only one able to add to the list of good works meriting indulgence, whereas in reality the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Antioch and Alexandria and Jerusalem at least also enjoy this privilege. Nowadays, when I brought this up while among Orthodox, I have had reactions like "yes, but Constantinople was destroyed for some sin, and we do not claim infallibility for each patriarchate singly, only for all the Patriarchates together" (which is also an argument used when it is brought up how Papist Photius of Constantinople was). Maybe they did not think "Indulgences" meant specified good works but rather sold pardons - they were US Americans and therefore living in a culture where that sad calumny against Rome is flourishing in connexion with the word Indulgences.

And an Orthodox lady I used to know told me she saw no theological problem with the indulgence letter she got, not indeed for money, but for a pilgrimage to Rome, or something like that.

But some will among them believe a priest about the Catholics who in his turn believes the Protestants about them, because he thinks the Catholic Church cannot be other than the first and worst Protestant sect, excusing the others.

Much as I find free-will baptists excused because they were not rebelling directly against Rome after a Catholic childhood, the founders, but they were Arminians who took after Mennonites. And even Arminians and Mennonites do not come straight from a rebellion against Rome, but Arminians, agreeing with the Jesuit Molina on free will, got out of Calvinism, which had rebelled directly against Rome (Calvin, Knox, Beza and Bucer all had, like the two men Bucer sought to unite posthumously despite them, Luther and Zwingli); and Mennonites were reformed adherents of Muenzer, distancing themselves from the latter's use of revolutionary violence.

Crusading has also been on the list of good works meriting indulgence - in so far as it is a question of crusades to the Holy Land or in Spain, it was technically indulgenced as "a pilgrimage carried out with arms". To the Holy Sepulchre or to St James. If one was killed in battle by the Infidels, and if one was in the state of grace - indulgences help only against Purgatory, not against Hell, which is where one goes if one has not God in the heart when dying - such an indulgence applied to oneself. If one returned safely, one could apply it for the soul of a deceased person.

I do not know exactly when the Crusades were taken from the list of indulgenced practises. I do know that the indulgence was not gained by the killing of non-Catholics as such, still less if these were not armed, but on relation to putting oneself into danger to protect weaker Christians, like civilians, clergy, monks, nuns, and of course Holy Places and things. And that implies non-Catholics were only a target if agressors of these or of the crusaders.

"Pope Julius granted an indulgence to the future pope Leo X who was married with two children."

The so-called Pope Julius shows a portrait of Innocent III:

Here is the real Pope Julius II:


And Pope Saint Julius I:

And the guy who had two children was Pope Alexander VI, he had them before becoming Pope. We will see his portrait later ...

But possibly John Bale mixed them up a bit. If the info comes from John Bale that is. It may have come from one of some other people like him too. Who was this John Bale, anyway? Let us take a look at wikipedian information about especially his work of 1547 "The Image of Both Churches":

The Image of Both Churches was published by John Bale in 1547, and is a thorough commentary on the book of Revelation, the last book in the Christian Bible. Bale proceeded by taking short passages and following with a detailed paraphrase to explain the meaning and significance of such things as the opening of the seven seals, the first beast, the second beast with two horns, the blowing of the trumpets, and the going forth of the horsemen. Of central concern was the correct identification of Antichrist.

Bale’s understanding of Revelation differs markedly from the current popular view. For example, he knows nothing of a future Antichrist, a charming wonder working man who will rise up at the very end of the age. This concept was taught by the Roman Catholic Church, but was refuted by Reformers such as William Tyndale, and also Martin Luther as he matured in his understanding. However, it is again accepted in the popular teachings of dispensationalism. Bale says, however, Antichrist is with us now, in the image of a Church. The opening of the seals describes what happens when God's word is brought forth into the light. He believed that he was living in the time of the opening of the sixth seal, the Reformation, a time of great upheaval when the Scriptures were being freed from the grip of the Church of Rome. He understood the time of the seventh seal to be when God's word would go forth more freely and peacefully: the final season of God's word while the present world stands.

Bale wrote during a time when many men had great passion for the Christian scriptures. His central thesis is that the book of Revelation is a prophecy of how God’s word and those who love it (the “saints”) would fare at the hands of men and a false Church during the last age, meaning the time between the ascension of Jesus and the end of the world. Bale identified two types of churches. First there was, and would be until the end of the age, a false church, or Church of Antichrist, which persecutes those who do not bow to its dictates. He did not entirely limit his criticism to militant Roman Catholics but commented, if circumspectly, upon others that followed the same example, both in England - which might be a reference to the early Church of England - and in “other regions”, perhaps a reference to tyrannical theocratic reigns of such Protestant leaders as Huldrych Zwingli on the continent. He also speaks critically of the Church of Mohammed (“Mahomet”): its tyranny over the people (the “Turks”) and persecution of the saints. Bale’s view is that persecutions reflect the image of Antichrist’s Church. By contrast, the true Church loves and teaches God's word truly

The Image of Both Churches is clearly influenced by the tenor and terror of the time. Writers then often used extremes of expression - either very flattering or very insulting - and Bale was no exception. But the times then were nothing like we know now. As documented by historian John Foxe, the times were fierce: men and women were publicly burned alive, dying in agony in flames, or were imprisoned, or had their goods confiscated and livelihoods taken away, for the crime of “heresy” – that is, disagreement with the reigning Church as to the meaning or import of God's word. Some fierceness of expression is perhaps understandable; however is also unfortunate in one who professes to follow the Lamb of God, for lambs are not fierce.

Now, first of all, the writer of these lines calls John Foxe an historian. In a sense he is. But his Book of Martyrs is very distorted history. In the same era, a Catholic called it the Protestant Legenda Aurea. I find that unfair to Legenda Aurea, actually.

Here is an assessment of Foxe's Book of Martyrs as to its accuracy:

Foxe based his accounts of martyrs before the early modern period on previous writers, including Eusebius, Bede, Matthew Paris, and many others. Foxe's own contribution was his compilation of the English martyrs from the period of the Lollards through the persecution of Mary I. Here Foxe had primary sources of all kinds to draw on: episcopal registers, reports of trials, and the testimony of eyewitnesses, a remarkable range of sources for English historical writing of the period.[47]

Foxe's material is more accurate when he deals with his own period, although it is selectively presented, and the book is not an impartial account. Sometimes Foxe copied documents verbatim; sometimes he adapted them to his own use. Although both he and his contemporary readers were more credulous than most moderns, Foxe presented "lifelike and vivid pictures of the manners and feelings of the day, full of details that could never have been invented by a forger."[48] Foxe's method of using his sources "proclaims the honest man, the sincere seeker after truth."[49]

It would have been fairer to say, that his account is more accurate when dealing with the English part of contemporary persecution of heretics. The earliest part is of course an accurate account of Catholics martyred by Romans before they converted, through Eusebius and Bede. But there is a middle part to it too, when he starts painting all the victims of the Inquisitions, not just the English one, as innocent Christians. For 13th C. he choses Matthew Paris - a monk, but an enemy of Papacy and of Mendicant orders. An upholder of the tyrant Frederick II the Stauffer. And as such as likely as not an enemy of Inquisition, since it was at the time exclusively papal and mendicant: endorsed by the Pope Innocent III and executed by Dominicans and Franciscans.

It may be that the English Inquisition took its non-Papal and non-Mendicant turn precisely due to the criticism of Matthew Paris. It was directed against Lollards and took Bishops for judges. They had no Papal reglement to follow. A French bishop under English rule under Hundred Years War did as they, he was named Cauchon and was bishop of Beauvais. He judged after much torture - more than the Papal reglement allowed - St Joan of Arc to the flames. As she was burned, her executors said "we are lost, we have burnt a saint".

That was however after the time of Matthew Paris.

If Foxe had been fair minded, he might not have given as much credence as he did to horror stories about the Inquisition on the continent. It was after all the English Inquisition that he knew. But then his wife had been from early on an admiring fan of the Coventry martyrs, Lollards burned in the early 1500's by the bishop of Coventry's decision.

So, Foxe was prejudiced against the continental Inquisition because he had seen the English one (which continued under Protestantism as the Star Chamber, basically, and persecuted Catholics while Foxe and Bale were writing), and Bale trusted the untruths about Rome abroad that he found in Foxe ... and he did not go to Italy, so he was not exactly in a position to know at first hand what Popes had and what Popes had not two children.

Let us take the question of Leo X being married and having two children by Indulgence of "Pope Julius" (whom the speaker does not precise whether its is Pope St Julius I, a martyr and 35th bishop of Rome, Pope Julius II - who at least lived in the Renaissance or Pope Innocent III, whose portrait was shown in the video) first ... Alexander VI, who was a Borgia, not a Medici, and who was far earlier than Leo X, did have two children. They were called Lucrezia and Césare. She was famous for poisoning and he for politics without scruples. Neither of them was involved in Papacy as such and one can imagine their dad Pope Alexander VI was a bit ashamed of them, since they were proof he had sinned against his duty of celibacy. However, a Protestant controversialist like Foxe or Bale was hardly likely to be content with attacking Alexander VI for that. I mean, he was not involved in condemning Protestant heresies, so condemning him was far more useful in connexion with English or French Colonialism in the Americas, because he had divided the Colonial Empire into only two spheres, the Portuguese with West Africa and Brazil and the Spanish with the rest of the Americas (in theory, though France and England would change that, and even Holland) and the Philippines ... but if you wanted to defend specifically Protestantism rather than Catholicism independent of the Papacy (such as that of Frederick II or Matthew Paris or the kings of France or Henry VIII), you had to defend Luther, and so you had to attack not the Borgia Pope, but one of the Medici Popes, Leo X.

On the video it was not stated who the two children of Leo X were. Obviously not Lucrezia and Césare though. However, on a google for "Leo X Holy Wars" I found a Satanist site which has "canonised" Leo X as a saint of evil (Catholicism has not canonised him as a saint, but that does not mean he was extremely bad), on accounts of among other things nepotistically making cardinals his two sons, the future Medici Popes Clement VII and Pius IV. Now, on wikipedia I found a genealogy of the Medicis which as father for Clement VII stated not a John Medici (=Leo X), but a Julius Medici. When looking up Clement VII I found he was ... first cousin of Leo X. As to Pius IV, he was from a burgher family not closely related to the Medici nobility but bearing the same name. Could John Bale have been jumping to conclusions?

You see, Pope Leo X was the Pope who had first condemned 41 out of Luther's 97+95 (much overlapping) theses in Exsurge Domine, then sent him Cardinal Caietano for a debate and at last excommunicated him so as to have him count as a "publican and a heathen". Admitting Pope Leo X was something like decent was hardly in the interest of one seeing Luther as the opening of the sixth seal of the Apocalypse.

The Satanist "Saint Leo X" page except having info about who Leo X is supposed to have been father to also included the infamous apocryphic quote attributed to Leo X by one John Bale. Here is a page with real research about that quote:


So, do you believe Satanists and English second rate Reformers - or do you believe Protestant Apolegetics writers of the present?

"Augustine's proclamation about prostitution as a necessary evil resulted in over 100.000 prostitutes being employed by the Church."

Reminds me of Chesterton's "in Protestant fiction the priest can say anything, because the writer can say anything about the priest". Now, it is quite true that St Augustine regarded prostitution as a necessary evil, and said so. That was hardly a proclamation. And it was certainly not the Church that employed Prostitutes.

One real consequence of these words by St Augustine was that St Louis IX of France legalised Prostitution. It was already going on illegally. One condition for legally being a Prostitute was not to hook close to the Church. One or two blocks away at least. And a few more things that while giving some the impression of making Paris less decent actually made it more so. I am not sure whether medical exams for venereal diseases come from St Louis IX or very much later.

The building of beautiful buildings was "a practise that threatened to bankrupt the Church"

Not quite, since Churches were built with interruptions rather than by loans. See thereone my essay:

Medieval Matters for Richard Dawkins (scroll down to "Cathedrals")

"unless new ways to raise money could be employed. One such way was to raise enormous sums of money from parishes by granting pardon from penance in purgatory".

At least one thing right: purgatory is penance rather than hellfire. I say "rather than" because penance is inexact. Penance is done on earth to avoid both Hell and Purgatory if done well enough.

Enormous sums is like speaking of the enormous sums Billy Graham got together. Enormous when added up, yes. When given by each man, no.

"Popes Julius and Leo declared the Holy Wars to justify the mass slaughter of Jews, to steal their money and possessions in order to finance the building of the Vatican."

Wars, Holy or not, are usually documented. They are not directed against Jews, at the time, since these had no independent statehood.

Documentation is available for the real acts of Pope Julius II:

Cherubini Vol 1 ff 477 - 534, Bullarium Suae Sanctitatis Iulii II

And for Pope Leo X:

Cherubini vol1 ff 534-628 Bullarium SS Leo X

Cherubini vol 4 ff 296-298: Constitutiones SS Leo X

Find such declarations of war on the Jews in the Bullarium or shut up the lies you came with!

Same goes for other allegations against other Popes, here is the index to bulls and encyclicals of Popes:

"Pope Leo X revealed the truth of his convictions when he said: 'how profitable the fable of Christ has been to us!'"

At least if you believe John Bale's satyric play called A Pageant of Popes.

John Bale, first a Catholic friar, a Carmelite, actually only wrote the satyric play in Latin. It was translated into English later, by people on whom the jokes were lost.

"This was the age of two Popes, one in France, one in Rome. They were making a mockery of Christianity."

Actually the age of two popes lasted for a few decades after seventy years of Papal exile, and was way past when Leo X ruled. 1378 to 1417 was the age of two rival papacies. And that period of the Papacy stranded in France had lasted 1309 to 1376.

"Pope Urban VI and Clement VII were each claiming to be Pope"

Real Portraits of Clement VII, whereas the one shown as his portrait in the film is ... Alexander VI:

"How was the word of God preserved during these centuries?"

The actor ties the "Bible college of Iona" (in real history a monastery) to a "secret society" called the "Culdees".

Sorry, but secret societies are not God's way!

Who loveth the light ... et c.

Moses did not form a secret society. Aaron did not form one, though the college of Aaronite priests held secrets from the people such as the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation. The Kabbalah has been a way to distort that secret teaching away from Christianity. At least in books like Zohar. But the Kohanim were no secret society. Their sacrifices went on with very few interruptions - they did go underground during the reign of Athaliah, though, but that was one lifetime and it was catacombs rather than secrecy oaths and such stuff - from Aaron up to that sacrifice which Kaiaphas should not do, because he had sullied himself with the murder of God.

Nor did the Christians exactly survive as a secret society even under persecution for 280 years. Preaching was open, and some openness there was as to the type of rites performed and the fact it was on a Sunday, before morning (Sunday service being not just Holy Mass, but starting with Laudes back then).

"He who is ashamed before me before men ..."

If the Culdees, so called, were against Romanism, and did not say so, they partook of its sins.

And that is obviously rot. In reality they were monks:


Sometimes they were against people more faithful to Rome, i e Anglo-Saxon and Norman monks. But they were not against Catholicism as in what a Protestant objects to in it.

When the actor states that the Culdees had a Bible College in Iona, that is actually not too bad as history goes. Monks do read the psalter every day - Copts take all 150 psalms each day, and so spend much time reciting psalms, Benedictines and Canons of St Augustine and other Western monks and nuns of the Latin rite take 150 psalms per week. So does the Byzantine Church, except it says them in the order they are in the psalter, starting with the first eight psalms, I seem to recall, with Great Vespers, Saturday Evening, the canonic beginning of Sunday. How long Culdees took to recite the psalter, one day or one week, I do not know. But that is not all, there was a time between the first two prayers in the morning when each monk was supposed to study, usually the Bible. Matins could be at midnight or at two or three o' clock in the morning - at least for equinoctial hours, adaptations were made according to the seasons - and Lauds at Sunrise. Between Matins and Lauds a Monk was supposed to read, often enough the Bible, often enough book after book, and each part of each book as slowly as possible; reading silently so as not to disturb the others, but at the same time trying to savour the words as if they were reading them aloud. We talk about breathing and articulating without using the voice, for each sentence, then going silent completely and savouring it. And of course copying books by hand - often Bibles, but also Psalters and Missals - gave such monks as were employed therein another daily chance to read the Holy Texts.

Did you read all that much Scripture in your Bible college? I know that I as a layman in the Catholic Church do not.

Now, what were the words of Wycleff? He said the two Popes were false priests.

But how many years did the situation last for? 1378 to 1417. Just 39 years. Some people denying that John Paul II was the true Pope arranged Papal elections with what they considered enough canonicity. Pulvermacher when elected per e-mails (took the name Pius XIII) stated "we broke the record, that was 39 years without a pope, this time it was forty" ...

Explanations due and forthcoming:

- Why "39 years without a Pope"? Because "dubius papa nullus papa" according to the moralists. Or the ones he cited. When there were two popes, both were doubtful, so neither was a pope whom it was clearly compulsory to follow.

- Why "this time it was forty"? Because he considered himself the first pope since 1958, when Pius XII died. He considered the previous election of Michael I (32 years after 1958, 1990) as invalid, due to only lay electors and a layman elected. Now, lately, Michael I, or David Bawden, has been provided with Apostolic Succession as a bishop.

So, 39 years of double papacy, is that "making a mockery of Christ"?

Wiki even says Wycliffe was suspet of heresy before the schism:

"The demand of the Minorites that the Church should live in poverty as it did in the days of the apostles was not pleasing in such a crisis. It was under these conditions that Pope Gregory XI, who in January, 1377, had gone from Avignon to Rome, sent on 22 May five copies of his bull against Wycliffe, dispatching one to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the others to the Bishop of London, King Edward III, the Chancellor, and the university; among the enclosures were 18 theses of his, which were denounced as erroneous and dangerous to Church and State."


No, this sketch of history between 400 and Wycliffe will not do as history. Sorry, but the TV-Trope applies "You fail history forever". (It has been renamed: Artistic Licence: History).

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Paris, Bpi, Georges Pompidou
St John Chrysostom