The Catholic Ogre
April 25, 2002
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
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 isnt anti-Catholic, I can particularly recommend the new book
Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church A
2,000-Year History (published by Forum), by H.W. Crocker III,
himself a Catholic convert.
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 dont 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, its 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 torture.
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
Churchs 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
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 Protestants.
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.
(Its 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