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Office of the Inquisition

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Definition:   The institution responsible for the abuse and killing of those alleged to disagree with the doctrines of the Church. Inquisitions were formally instituted in the 12th century to quash popular movements in Southern France and Northern Germany. Torture and murder were authorized to punish the “heretics,” to deter any from joining their movements, and to force conversions.  The Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834) sought Jews and Muslims who had been “converted” to determine if they held to the faith. Later, Protestants were pursued and murdered for crimes such as owning a Bible or denying transubstantiation. During the trial, the accused had no right to face or question their accusers. After conviction, a religious ritual known as the auto de fé (act of faith) was performed. This consisted of a Catholic mass, a procession of the guilty, and a reading of the formal charges. After the auto de fé, the sentence was executed. Burning at the stake was popular, as this would mercifully remind the heretic of their impending eternal fate.

Discussion: The persecution of Christians and Jews by the Church of Rome fulfill the prophecies made to the apostle John (Rev. 17-18). Jesus warned that some of his followers would be pursued and killed in the name of God (Jn. 15:2).

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