by Alfredo de Mello
Our intolerance of another's ways or beliefs, is
millennia old. Every single religion has displayed religious intolerance
against another. The Jews against the non-Jews, The Hindus against the
Buddhists, Buddhists against Hindus & Christians, the Muslims against the
Christians, Hindus & Jews, the Christians against the Jews, Muslims and
Hindus, and the Hindus against the Muslims & Christians.
When there was no "outsider" to fight against, we fought and
discriminated within the faith. The Caste System is but one example; others
being the Catholic vs Protestant battles and the Shia vs Sunni struggles.
Tertullian (Ad. Scapulam, c. ii) wrote ( according to the Catholic
LATIN [Humani iuris et naturalis potestatis, unicuique quod putaverit colere,
nec alii obest aut prodest alterius religio. Sed nec religionis est
religionem colere, quae sponte suscipi debeat, non vi.]
ENGLISH [ natural law authorized man to follow only the voice of individual
conscience in the practice of religion, since the acceptance of religion was
a matter of free will, not of compulsion]
St. Cyprian of Carthage, surrounded as he was by countless schismatics and
undutiful Christians, also put aside the material sanction of Old Testament (
Jewish Law ), which punished rebellion against priesthood and the Judges,
Lactantius was yet smarting under the scourge of bloody persecutions, when he
wrote this Divine Institutes in A.D. 308. Naturally, therefore, he stood for
the most absolute freedom of religion. He writes:
[Religion being a matter of the will, it cannot be forced on anyone; in this
matter it is better to employ words than blows.
Of what use is cruelty? What has the rack to do with piety?
Surely there is no connection between truth and violence, between justice and
cruelty . . . . It is true that nothing is so important as religion, and one
must defend it at any cost [summâ vi] . . .
It is true that it must be protected,
but by dying for it, not by killing others;
by long-suffering, not by violence;
by faith, not by crime.
If you attempt to defend religion with bloodshed and torture, what you do is
not defense, but desecration and insult.
For nothing is so intrinsically a matter of free will as religion]
The Christian teachers of the first three centuries insisted, as was natural
for them, on complete religious liberty; furthermore, they not only urged the
principle that religion could not be forced on others—a principle always
adhered to by the Church in her dealings with the unbaptized—but, when
comparing the Mosaic Law and the Christian religion, they taught that the
latter was content with a, spiritual punishment of heretics (i.e. with
excommunication), while Judaism necessarily proceeded against its dissidents
with torture and death.
years later came the Horrible Inquisition !
Whatever the antecedents to the institution of the Inquisition
Whatever the prevailing legal and common law customs of the time; customs
which burnt dissidents at the stake
Whatever the precedents in Jewish Law which tortured, burnt or stoned
Whatever the level of butchery and violence in India between Hindus &
Hindu Brahmin use of Rajputs to destroy the Buddhists
perpetual degradation imposed by the racist Hindu Caste
cases of Hindus requiring widows to jump into the burning pyres of their
recently deceased husband and be cremated with him (SATI)
hurt caused by the murder of Blessed Thérèse of St. Augustine and fifteen of
her Carmelite nun colleagues of Compiègne, guillotined on July 17, 1794
the killing in South India of St. Joao de Britto who was arrested, tortured,
and commanded to leave India in 1693, only to be behanded, befooted and
eventually beheaded for refusing to do so.
prevailing sentiment after the beheading of the 5 Jesuit priests in
Cuncolim(1583) also known as the Cuncolim martyrs
The Catholic Church
had NO justification whatsoever, for supporting, effecting or even condoning
and not vociferously opposing the Burning at the Stake of those who
were sentenced to die by the Inquisitory Courts.
The Inquisition ( as in Inquiry alone ) can be justified; Not the
torture and definitely NOT, the death sentence.
A Church which supports the Right to Life cannot and must not support the
Death Penalty. On the contrary, it must oppose the Death Penalty.
believes that the Inquisition ( like ALL Inquisitions, ancient & modern
day) was an instrument used in the abuse of power. Those who stand in
judgment (as we all saw in the modern day Inquisition of US President Bill
Clinton) are not necessarily in possession of any higher moral values
than the ones they have pompously and Oh So Piously congregated to
Inquisition in Goa was a political tool which was used by the politically
powerful to get rid of people who the powerful corrupt did not like or
want around. Religion was used as a cover for Ignorance, Intolerance
and in the interest of Political and Financial Expediency.
The Church, at
the very least, stood by and watched and that too, for several centuries.
For the above reasons, the Catholic Church must apologize to ALL those who suffered
at the stake and make reparations for that suffering.
It is quite
possible that the Rt. Wing Hindu elements will use the Catholic Church's
apology ( or even the Alfredo de Mello article which follows) to beat
up on the Church and further persecute good and honest Catholics in
It is possible
that Jews will point out that the Inquisition, including in Goa, was mainly
directed towards them. They might conveniently fail to realize that the
Inquisition would find procedural precedent in their own Judaic (Mosaic)
traditions and in their own treatment of non Jews.
Church has recently made the right moves towards reconciliation with Jews and
with Muslims. Now, it is time to reconcile with Goa and Goans. The
Catholic Church must do what is right, and early.
June 21, 2001
on 23 January
1999, Graham Stuart Staines, a Baptist Missionary who operated a
charitable hospice to care for victims of leprosy in North East India, was
burnt alive in a jeep along with his sons, Philip and Timothy. They
were asleep in their off-the-road vehicle outside the church when a
frenzied mob of Christian-haters set their vehicle on fire.
"I am terribly
upset but not angry. My husband loved Jesus Christ, who has taught us
to forgive our enemies." -Gladys Staines, widow of murdered missionary.
Rt. Wing Hindu
elements and even some 'brain washed' Goan Catholics repeatedly spout
accusations at St. Francis Xavier. They blame SFX for the horrors of
the Inquisition in Goa. They are advised to read this article on St. Francis Xavier. SFX surely asked for the
Inquisition as in INQUIRY to be instituted. He died several years before it
When SFX came
to Goa, he was distraught at the absolutely vulgar lifestyle of the
Portuguese and other elite in Old Goa. To him, it was a totally unChristian
way of life in a land which was supposed to be under a Christian
administration. It must be noted that SFX was very unpopular with the corrupt
Portuguese civil service and other members of 16th Century Old
No wonder they
organized trips to Cochin, Malacca and far away places for SFX. It is on
during one of these trips across turbulent seas that SFX met his untimely
work....all of it not done" or so SFX ( the co-founder of the Jesuits
Jesuit presence in the world (including and especially India) is
Alfredo recently wrote the following re the Inquisition as far as Goa is
[I fully agree that St. Francis Xavier did not
wish, nor envisage, the type of Inquisition that took place in Goa, eight
years after his death.
From my chapter on the Inquisition in Goa, you will realize that what went on
in Goa - as written by Dr. Dellon, - that
1) great injustice was meted out to innocents, almost certainly all of them.
2) the Inquisitors enriched themselves with the patrimony, and wealth of the
3) this caused the exodus of many Goans, for fear of being unjustly accused
and condemned by such a fiendish organization.
St. Francis Xavier, by the sheer example of his own life, living in
abject poverty, attending lepers, and the poor, would have never approved of
what went on for 252 years, under the all-powerful Inquisition.
Mind you, even the King of Portugal, and the Viceroys in Goa, lived in fear
of the Inquisition !!
Also, I fully agree with the rest of comments re: what went on in India, in
those times, and denounce the present day persecution of Christians in India,
which seems to be the policy of the ultra-orthodox Hindus.
Quite different from the TOLERANCE of the tenets of Hinduism, which embraces
so many gods.]
Inquisition in Goa by Alfredo de