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Struggle of Faith and Reason: A History of Intolerance and Punitive Censorship

Part II: From Mediaeval Cathars to Giordano Bruno and Lucilio Vanini

Juhani Sarsila

Humanists look up to Hellas as the cradle of European culture. The book spans nearly five centuries of a later epoch of this worthy tradition. Starting with the awesome high-mediaeval Cathars, the exposition proceeds in chronological order. Eventually, we meet Giordano Bruno and Lucilio Vanini, both of them red-letter heretics. The work affords cognisance of a neglected branch of learning. History of morals in general, and that of the struggle of faith and reason in particular, provides in-depth insights into the allotted fate of dissentient man. A potentially fateful nexus appears to be interweaving between book and author. Organised religion is evermore based on the politically beneficial idea of anthropomorphism or metaphysical projection. For has Man not made God in his image?

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VI General Sermon and Auto-Da-Fé



In Mediaeval Europe, trials and infliction of punishment were designed by the church to take place as a grand liturgy in full view of people. These shows were branded as acts of faith – auto-da-fé – spectacles open to everyone. The act of burning of the heretic perforce covered a part of God and man’s religious needs. An inquisitor calculated the act becoming, imparting an honest statement: “We must remember that the main purpose of the trial and execution is not to save the soul of the accused but to achieve the public good and put fear into others” (Kamen 1985, 161). Armed with the noblest ideals of the Old and New Testaments, the church, aided by the state, over and over again set off the message that customer service was her numero secondo priority. As free from doubt as instant cash, the numero uno priority of the Holy Ecclesia persisted in her own well-being in line with her political ascendancy. As a contrast, inquisitorial trials, that for various reasons we need not enumerate here, were kept secret. Occasionally, the inquisitors passed sentence upon one, two, or three individuals in private or semi-private circumstances.

1The Auto-da-fé

Some authorities hold that the auto-da-fé should not take place inside any God’s edifice. An illustrious scholiast, Francis Pegna agrees with them, although he does not do so upon the score of the thinkable desecration of the sanctuary, which was their reason. Pegna grants his own...

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