Persecution by the church of Rome wasn’t just a few incidental instances over a period of a couple of years by a few misguided zealots. It was a matter of established policy.
Let us look for example at the Holy Office of the Inquisition. An office by the way that still exists today albeit, unsurprisingly, under a different name. The current pope being the former head of that esteemed office.
The origins of this organism can be clearly traced to 1227-1233 A. D., during the pontificate of Gregory IX. In 1229 the church council of Tolouse condemned the Albigenses in France and gave orders to exterminate them. In 1231 Gregory IX in his bull, Excommunicamus, condemned all heretics and proclaimed specific laws on how to deal with them. Among the provisions were the following:
1. Delivery of heretics to the civil power.
2. Excommunication of all heretics as well as their defenders, followers, friends, and even those who failed to turn them in.
3. Life imprisonment for all impenitent heretics.
4. Heretics were denied the right to appeal their sentence.
5. Those suspected of heresy had no right to be defended by counsel.
6. Children of heretics were disqualified from holding a church office until the second generation.
7. Heretics who had died without being punished were to be exhumed and their bodies burned.
8. The homes of convicted heretics were to be demolished. (See, G. Barraclough, The Medieval Papacy, London, 1968, edited by Thames and Hudson, p. 128; and R. I Moore,
“The Origins of Medieval Heresy”, in History, vol. 55 (1970), pp. 21-36).
In The Decretals of Gregory IX we find the following:
“Temporal princes shall be reminded and exhorted, and if need be, compelled by spiritual censures, to discharge every one of their functions; and that, as they desire to be reckoned and held faithful, so, for the defense of the faith, let them publicly make oath that they will endeavor, bona fide with all their might, to extirpate from their territories all heretics marked by the church; so that when any one is about to assume any authority, whether spiritual or temporal, he shall be held bound to confirm his title by this oath. And if a temporal prince, being required and admonished by the church, shall neglect to purge his kingdom from this heretical pravity, the metropolitan and other provincial bishops shall bind him in fetters of excommunication; and if he obstinately refuse to make satisfaction this shall be notified within a year to the Supreme Pontiff, that then he may declare his subjects absolved from their allegiance, and leave their lands to be occupied by Catholics, who, the heretics being exterminated, may possess them unchallenged, and preserve them in the purity of the faith.”
(The Decretals of Gregory IX, book 5, title 7, chapter 13).
During the pontificate of Innocent IV (1241-1253), the mechanism of the Inquisition was further developed. In the papal bull Ad Extirpanda (1252), the following provisions were given the force of law:
1. Torture must be applied to heretics so as to secure confessions.
2. Those found guilty must be burned at the stake.
3. A police force must be established to serve the needs of the Inquisition.
4. A proclamation of a crusade against all heretics in Italy. Those participating in this
crusade were to be extended the same privileges and indulgences as those who went on crusades to the Holy Land.
5. The heirs of heretics were to have their goods confiscated as well.
The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:
“In the Bull ‘Ad exstirpanda’ (1252) Innocent IV says: ‘When those adjudged guilty of heresy have been given up to the civil power by the bishop or his representative, or the Inquisition, the podesta or chief magistrate of the city shall take them at once, and shall, within five days at the most, execute the laws made against them’. . . Nor could any doubt remain as to what civil regulations were meant, for the passages which ordered the burning of the impenitent heretics were inserted in the papal decretals from the imperial constitutions Commissis nobis’ and Inconsutibilem tunicam. The aforesaid Bull ‘Ad exstirpanda’ remained thenceforth a fundamental document of the Inquisition, renewed or re-enforced by several popes, Alexander IV (1254-61), Clement IV (1265-68), Nicholas
IV (1288-92), Boniface VIII (1294-1303), and others. The civil authorities, therefore, were enjoined by the popes, under pain of excommunication to execute the legal sentences that condemned impenitent heretics to the stake”. (Joseph Blotzer, article, ‘Inquisition’, vol. VIII, p. 34).
The savagery of Innocent the IV has led the Roman Catholic historian, Peter de Rosa, to state:
“In [Pope] Innocent’s view, it was more wicked for Albigenses to call him the antichrist than for him to prove it by burning them–men, women, and children by the thousands.”
(Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, p. 225).
Further, de Rosa makes this telling comment: “Of eighty popes in a line from the thirteenth century on, not one of them disapproved of the theology and apparatus of the Inquisition. On the contrary, one after another added his own cruel touches to the workings of this deadly machine.”
(Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, pp. 175-176).
It was during this same period that one of the greatest dogmatic theologians in the history of the Roman Catholic Church added his support to the idea of exterminating heretics. Let’s allow St. Thomas Aquinas to speak for himself:
“With regard to heretics two elements are to be considered, one element on their side, and the other on the part of the church. On their side is the sin whereby they have deserved, not only to be separated from the church by excommunication, but also to be banished from the world by death. For it is a much heavier offense to corrupt the faith, whereby the life of the soul is sustained, than to tamper with the coinage, which is an aid to temporal life. Hence if coiners or other malefactors are at once handed over by the secular princes to a just death, much more may heretics, immediately they are convicted of heresy, be not only excommunicated, but also justly done to die. But on the part of the church is mercy in view of the conversion of them that err; and therefore she does not condemn at once, but ‘after the first and second admonition,’ as the apostle teaches. After that, however, if the man is still found pertinacious, the church, having no hope of his conversion, provides for the safety of others, cutting him off from the church by the sentence of excommunication; and further she leaves him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated from the world by death.”
(Joseph Rickaby, S. J. (R. C.), Aquinas Ethicus; or, The Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, Vol. I, pp. 332, 333. London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
The fourteenth century inquisitor, Bernard Gui explained the purpose of the Inquisition:
“the objective of the Inquisition is to destroy heresy; it is not possible to destroy heresy unless you eradicate the heretics; and it is impossible to eradicate the heretics unless you also eradicate those who hide them, sympathize with them and protect them.”
(Salim Japas, Herejia, Colon y la Inquisicion (Siloam Springs, Arkansas: Creation Enterprises, 1992), p. 20; ).
Moving on to the fifteenth century, we think of John Wycliffe. The Papacy would have been delighted to burn him at the stake during his life, but divine providence ruled otherwise. Forty years after his death, the Council of Constance (1413) ordered his body exhumed and burned. (see more on this in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, pp. 7-8 and The Great Controversy, pp. 95-96).
Notice the words of Pope Martin V (1417-31) to the King of Poland commanding him to exterminate the Hussites:
“Know that the interests of the Holy See, and those of your crown, make it a duty to exterminate the Hussites. Remember that these impious persons dare proclaim principles of equality; they maintain that all Christians are brethren, and that God has not given to privileged men the right of ruling the nations; they hold that Christ came on earth to abolish slavery, they call the people to liberty, that is to the annihilation of kings and priests. While there is still time, then, turn your forces against Bohemia; burn, massacre, make deserts everywhere, for nothing could be more agreeable to God, or more useful to the cause of kings, than the extermination of the Hussites.” (Quoted in, Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast, p. 247). These words were written by Martin V in 1429.
The story of John Hus is very well known. In 1415 he was burned at the stake even though King Sigismund had guaranteed him safe conduct to defend himself at the Council of Constance (1414-1418). The remarkable fact is that Sigismund was encouraged to break his word by the Roman Catholic religious leaders. For a vivid description of the martyrdom of John Hus, read, The Great Controversy, pp. 109-110 and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, pp. 19-30.
A year later, in 1416, Jerome was also burned at the stake. For the fascinating story of how Jerome recanted his faith and then recanted his recantation, see, The Great Controversy, pp. 112- 115 and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, pp. 31-38. In both of these cases, the trial was held in the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Constance. After the trial Hus and Jerome were delivered to the secular power to be exterminated.
Also in the fifteenth century, Pope Innocent VIII proclaimed a Bull against the Waldenses (1487). The original text of this Bull is found in the library of the University of Cambridge and a English translation can be found in John Dowling’s History of Romanism (1871 edition), book 6, chapter 5, section 62. Ellen White, in The Great Controversy, p. 77 quotes a portion of this bull in the following words: “Therefore the pope ordered ‘that malicious and abominable sect of
malignants,’ if they ‘refuse to abjure, to be crushed like venomous snakes.’”
let me quote a church publication to put things in perspective.
“You ask, if he [the Roman Catholic] were lord in the land, and you were in the minority, if not in numbers yet in power, what would he do to you? That, we say, would entirely depend upon the circumstances. If it would benefit the cause of Catholicism, he would tolerate you: if expedient, he would imprison you, banish you, fine you; possibly even hang you. But be assured of one thing: he would never tolerate you for the sake of the ‘glorious principles of civil and religious liberty’. . .
Catholicism is the most intolerant of creeds. It is intolerance itself, for it is truth itself. We might as rationally maintain that a sane man has a right to believe that two and two do not make four, as this theory of religious liberty. Its impiety is only equalled [sic] by its absurdity. . .
A Catholic temporal government would be guided in its treatment of Protestants and other recusants solely by the rules of expediency, adopting precisely that line of conduct which would tend best to their conversion, and to prevent the dissemination of their errors.” Civil and Religious Liberty, The Rambler, 8 (September, 1851), pp. 174, 178.
The infamous syllabus of errors (infallible) echoes the above sentiments with regards religious liberty. These are relatively recent thoughts. So what happened to infallibility?
“He who publicly avows a heresy and tries to pervert others by word or example, speaking absolutely, can not only be excommunicated but even justly put to death, lest he ruin others by pestilential contagion; for a bad man is worse than a wild beast, and does more harm, as Aristotle says. Hence, as it is not wrong to kill a wild beast which does great harm, so it must be right to deprive of his harmful life a heretic who withdraws from divine truth and plots against the salvation of others.”
(Fr. Alexis M. Lepicier, De Stabilitate et Progressu Dogmatis, [printed at the official printing office in Rome in 1910], p. 194.
Or again even more recently perhaps from The Tablet, the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic diocese of Brooklyn, New York:
“Heresy is an awful crime against God, and those who start a heresy are more guilty than they who are traitors to the civil government. If the State has the right to punish treason with death, the principle is the same which concedes to the spiritual authority the power of capital punishment over the arch-traitor to truth and divine revelation. . . A perfect society has the right to its existence. . . and the power of capital punishment is acknowledged for a perfect society. Now. . . the Roman Catholic Church is a perfect society, and as such has the right and power to take means to safeguard its existence.”
(The Tablet, November 5, 1938).
The above reflects an ongoing policy that had endured for 1000 years. And although the recent apologies by the pope were welcome, albeit rather generalised, history and prophecy mitigate against any deep seated genuine change in Vatican thought. Steeped in over a thousand years of tradition and self assured righteousness, the curia I believe is far too entrenched in their own self deceptive dogmas to change in just one short generation from an attitude of total extermination of all opposition to one of brotherly love and tolerance to other faith practices. And prophecy testifies to the same.
“Therefore, also in the particular circumstances of our own time, Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy. In any case, they are obliged in conscience to arrange their Sunday rest in a way which allows them to take part in the Eucharist, refraining from work and activities which are incompatible with the sanctification of the Lord’s Day, with its characteristic joy and necessary rest for spirit and body.” (Dios Domini page 112)
And Benedict added to this….
The RCC “makes its contribution (in the ethical and moral sphere) according to the dispositions of international law, helps to define that law, and makes appeal to it”, that we live in a time when little groups of independent people threaten the unity of the world, (Sabbath keepers ??) and that the only way to combat this problem is by establishing law and then ordering all of society according to this law, thus promoting “peace and good will throughout the earth.” (Apostolic Journey to the United States of America and Visit to the United Nations Organization Headquarters, Meeting with the Members of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, Address of Pope Benedict XVI, New York, Friday, April 18, 2008.)
And if any here think that JP2 comment won’t affect them, consider the following.
on June 26, 2000 the United Religions Initiative was signed into what government leaders refer to as a global law. Truth is, this is actually one of many global laws popping up lately. At the signing of that document it became an all-inclusive international reality that any pope sitting in the Vatican after that date is now considered the universal moral authority over all churches with membership in the World Wide Council of churches, which essentially rules over your locally known National Council of Churches. This includes non-Christian churches that have joined as well.
Whether you believe the RCC has changed or not, whether you accept her apologies over past grievances, the fact remains that the RCC has fully met all the criteria to fulfilling the prophecies regarding the persecution of the saints. Untold thousands of Christians have been tortured, harried, chased, displaced and put to death by the Roman church. The Book of Revelation and Daniel both reveal clearly that this will continue right up to the second coming.
If one protests that the RCC does not do such a thing today, I can testify to being acquainted personally with a convert to another Christian denominmation from Catholicism who is in fear of her life should she return to India. Even here, in her adopted country, Catholic workmates and former friends have turned against her, ostracised her, and are doing all in their power to remove her from her position at her work where she is a nurse. Her brother incidentally converted to a pentacostal denomination in India and was physically cast from his house, his work, and village, his family have rejected him, and he is now in fear of his life. This scenario is not uncommon in countries where Catholicism has the power to implement and carry out and support such practices. The Philipines, and many South American countries and also even some south Pacific Islands come to mind. (Need I mention Ireland?)