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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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XI The Latest Roman Period of the Inquisition

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XITHE LATEST ROMAN PERIOD OF THE INQUISITION

The latest Roman period in the ghastly history of the well-fuelled Holy Office machinery started as late as in 1542. In seeking to stamp out Protestant influences on Italian soil, Pope Paul III was only just less tolerant than St. Paul had been fifteen centuries before. Schismatic and ireful Protestants were threatening the just grandee seated on the throne of St. Peter, who, on the River Tiber, had his residence as well as his last resting place. We are not expected to contemplate here the question whether the Roman Holy See has the right to count itself as the only true continuator of the soteriology of Jesus Christ or the tenets propagated by Christ’s apostles. We just say in brief that the Ecclesia Romana does not necessarily possess the right to represent the first teachings of Christ and his immediate backers.

Most popes of the Roman Catholic orison-house are not likely to be extolled to high heaven for their sense of morality that has scarcely exceeded the low status of their times. Paul IV did preconise but a short time in advance of his departure from this universe that he had learned the machinery of the papal inquisition to be the only effective method in the struggle with the off-the-wall Protestants. By its use alone, this Paul submitted, he had been capable of rescuing the Catholic religion and the Apostolic See from a total ravage (MacDonald 1926, 180). The...

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