The Catholic Ogre
April 25, 2002

by Joe Sobran

     Nearly every day for nearly 2,000 years, Catholics 
have celebrated Mass, the sacrificial reenactment of the 
Last Supper. They have built thousands of churches, 
monasteries, convents, hospitals, schools, and other 
religious and charitable institutions. They have prayed, 
fasted, said rosaries, made novenas, and performed 
innumerable good deeds. They have developed great 
theologies and created towering works of religious art, 
literature, and music.

     I mention these facts because some of my readers 
seem to be under the impression that the main activity of 
the Church throughout history has been fiendish torture 
-- of Protestants for reading the Bible, and of 
scientists for contradicting the Bible. If the charges 
are true, it seems that the Church has a rather muddled 
attitude toward the Bible.

     At any rate, these readers should do a little more 
reading. If they can bear to read something about 
Catholicism that isn't anti-Catholic, I can particularly 
recommend the new book TRIUMPH: THE POWER AND THE GLORY 
by Forum), by H.W. Crocker III, himself a Catholic 

     Instead of arguing with Catholic doctrine, these 
readers, whether Protestant or atheist, repeat the same 
weary myths, which no honest historian would endorse. The 
point of their myths is not to inform, but to insinuate 
what they don't dare say: that there is some intrinsic 
connection between Catholicism and cruelty. If you 
believe in the Nicene Creed, it somehow follows that you 
will eventually put people on the rack.

     Put this way, it's obvious nonsense. Which is why 
the enemies of the Church never quite put it this way. 
They prefer oblique nonsense.

     Reading these people, you would get the impression, 
by insinuation, that because Catholics sometimes tortured 
and killed heretics and hypocrites, the Catholic Church 
invented torture. Not killing, of course, because the 
modern state still finds it necessary to kill people; 
but, by insinuation, killing is not quite as bad as 

     To take the favorite example, if you can call it 
that, there was "the Inquisition." Which Inquisition? 
These readers seldom know the difference between the 
Church's Inquisition and the notorious Spanish 
Inquisition, which was a government operation.

     Let us not whitewash the Spanish Inquisition. It 
killed thousands of people -- perhaps as many as 5,000. 
But over three centuries, that comes out to an average of 
fewer than 20 per year, and each of them received a 
personal trial. Contrast that with the modern state, 
which may kill many thousands in a week or a day, whether 
by bombing cities or by herding "class" or "race" enemies 
into frigid concentration camps, without all the bother 
of individual trials and findings of personal guilt.

     We are no longer horrified by the modern habit of 
bombing cities from airplanes. The practice has become 
rather dully conventional. Modern man takes it for 
granted and bears no grudges against the patriotic pilots 
who do it in obedience to their rulers; but the Catholic 
savages of the Middle Ages would have found it 
incomprehensibly cruel. Of course this may only show how 
primitive they were. How could they possibly understand 
the necessities of the modern world? We are taught to 
despise them both for their cruelty and for their humane 

     Yes, the early Protestants also dealt harshly with 
those they deemed heretics. They shared the ancient 
assumption (hardly challenged until modern times) that 
criminals deserved torture and death, and they agreed in 
principle that heresy was a terrible crime that must be 
snuffed out at its first appearance, even if they defined 
heresy differently from Catholics. But, after all, they 
were not Catholics, so they can be forgiven for having 
agreed with the Catholics in that respect; whereas the 
Catholics remain unforgivable for having agreed with the 

     The anti-Catholic mentality defies logic. Today it 
blames the Church for the homosexual predators who have 
seduced boys in direct violation of the most basic 
Catholic teachings; the orthodox Catholic press, notably 
THE WANDERER, has been complaining about these appalling 
betrayals long before the secular press picked up the 
story, distorting it with the insinuation that the Church 
somehow approves of the very perversions she has always 
condemned. (It's usually the secular press itself that 
approves of them!)

     What else is new? Christ promised to stay with his 
Church until the end of the world; but he also predicted 
that she would be hated, slandered, and persecuted. 
History continues to bear him out.


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