Heresy

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Heresy Powered By Docstoc
					Heresy
Barbara G Walker
Freethought Today; Jun/Jul 2009; 26, 5; Docstoc
pg. 6




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Description: Here's how it worked. 1) All procedures were kept secret 2) "Common report" and hearsay were accepted as proof of guilt. 3) The accused was never told of the nature of the charges nor allowed legal counsel. 4) Witnesses were kept concealed. 5) Perjurers, excommunicates, or children could give evidence. 6) No favorable evidence or character witnesses were permitted. In any case, anyone who spoke for an accused heretic was arrested as an accomplice. 7) Torture was used always, widiout limit of duration or severity. (Official sources said that torture could be used "only once," but weeks or mondis of daily torturing were simply described as "continuations.") Even if the accused confessed before torture, the torture was applied anyway, to "validate" the confession. If the accused thed under torture, the record stated that the devil broke his neck in prison. 8) The accused was forced to confirm under torture the names of "accomplices" suggested to him by the judges. 9) No accused person was found innocent33Heresy, or dissatisfaction widi the church's ways of thinking and doing, was actually spread instead of stifled by the violence of its punishments. Here and there a few honest clerics spoke up against the abuses of their superiors; some paid widi their lives for their boldness, like Brother Raymond Jean, executed for preaching: "The enemies of the faidi are among ourselves. The Church which governs us is symboled by the Great Whore of the Apocalypse, who persecutes the poor."43 Nicholas de Clamanges, rector of the University of Paris, said in an open letter that the popes were ravishers rather tiian pastors of their flocks: "The priestiiood has become a misery reduced to profaning its calling . . . Who do you tiiink can endure, among so many other abuses, your mercenary appointments, your multiple sales of benefices, your elevation of men widiout honesty or virtue to the most eminent positions?"44 Even the revered St. Bernard deplored the church's greed: "Whom can you
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