Crusades, Inquisitions and Witch Hunts

"Pope John Paul II asked for the descendants of the multitudes who were hurt, enslaved, subjugated, stolen from, and killed by Catholics to please forgive the Catholic Church, i.e., after two thousand years of stepping on peoples' toes had helped produce the biggest church the world has ever seen. A joke by comedian Emo Philips provides the most apt analogy to the Pope's "forgive us" speech. Emo said, "When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord, in his wisdom, didn't work that way. So I just stole one and asked him to forgive me."



Name: Catia
Title of Article: Christian Reconstructionism and Christian persecutions of others
Religious Belief: Deist
Age: 26-50

comments: Hello,

I am a writer currently working on a novel where the atrocities of the church and the growing threat of the reconstructionists will be the subject. I wish to make the horrors of the inquisition, the crusades and the witch trials more than a statistic. To that end I have been searching the net looking for a list of the names of the people murdered by the church, but without success. If you have any links that would be helpful it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your wonderful articles,I think I have read almost all of them.


From: Edward T. Babinski
To: Catia

Dear Catia,

I wish you success on the completion of your novel (have you read Sinclair Lewis's classic novel about the fascist take over of America, "It Can't Happen Here?") Per your inquiry, I do not have a list of the most famous people whom Catholics and/or Protestants persecuted or murdered throughout history, but rest assured most of them were fellow Christians of whose beliefs other Christians (those in power) did not approve.

I do have a LENGTHY list of quotations concerning major "embarrassing" events in Christian history that I continue to update as time allows, and that I can share with you, beginning with the Age of Costantine, to the Thirty Years War in Europe, right up to the Civil War which was America's "Holy War" as even evangelical historians like Mark Noll of Wheaton College in his most recent book, have recognized. If you wish me to send you that list of quotations as an attachment, please let me know.

Also, I like to view things in an even larger perspective and note that diseases and natural disasters continue to kill far more people than all human wars combined, whether religiously based or politically based (not to mention the effects of future climate changes when the oceans may rise and flood out hundreds of millions of people living along the world's coastlines). I would like people to view things in that perspective, and perhaps bring us all a bit closer together fighting diseases and trying to foresee and prepare in advance for natural disasters, including "big ones" from space. Of course a very big disaster from space like a nearby nova, or black hole, or star passing near our own, or flare from the sun, could be unpreventable and wipe out all life on earth since we're all still stuck on our cradle planet, sitting ducks in space.

Seeking names of victims of crusades, inquisitions, witch hunts?
Any list of names concerning the Catholic atrocities you mentioned, Crusades, Inquisition, witch hunts, would probably be in Latin, and probably be in the Vatican archives. John Paul II had assigned a commission I believe, near the end of his pontificate, to list all of the church's atrocities over the centuries. Too bad you don't have access to that information, though I believe that project was eventually scrapped as the pontiff's health declined:

The Catholic Church is the single largest Christian denomination in the world, equal to (or larger than) all Protestant denominations combined. Not surprising considering the Catholic Church's two millennia of political power brokering, heresy snuffing, book banning, Jew hating, witch burning, female subjugating, gay bashing, war mongering, divine-right-of-kings-defending, slave owning, serf commanding, wealth stealing vigor.

But the real topper came in March of the year 2000 when Pope John Paul II asked for the descendants of the multitudes who were hurt, enslaved, subjugated, stolen from, and killed by Catholics to please forgive the Catholic Church, i.e., after two thousand years of stepping on peoples' toes had helped produce the biggest church the world has ever seen. A joke by comedian Emo Philips provides the most apt analogy to the Pope's "forgive us" speech. Emo said, "When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord, in his wisdom, didn't work that way. So I just stole one and asked him to forgive me."
Yes, two thousand years later.


Over two years have passed since Pope John Paul II launched his great apology drive for the past "errors" of the Roman Catholic Church. One more reconfirmation of the new course took place in March 2000, when he celebrated public penitence in St. Peter's Basilica. Meeting with harsh criticism since the beginning, the papal apology has meantime developed somewhat more precise outlines. "We ask forgiveness for divisions between Christians," the Pope said, "for the use of violence in the name of truth, and for the diffidence and hostility against followers of other religions." According to a document by the Vatican's international theological commission, the historical sins are classified into seven categories, including divisions within Christianity, proselytizing by force, the inquisition, anti-Jewish prejudices, sins against minorities, women and human rights.

The Pope's Mea Culpa successfully avoids too close contact with the historical truth. Nothing was for example heard again of the conference, scheduled for October 1999, and proudly announced by the historical-theological commission of the Vatican, for which allegedly 50 renowned historians had been invited to scrutinize the bloody work of the Inquisition in Spain. But the Pope's project to square accounts with history before the new millennium dawns is not just superficial, it is pure hypocrisy. While crocodile tears are shed about the victims of the Holocaust, John Paul does not hesitate to beatify his predecessor Pius XII who collaborated with German, Italian and Croatian fascists during World War II and rescued them after their defeat.

But the Vatican's soft spot for mass murderers does not end there. The recent case of Father Athanase Seroma, shows how little the papal Mea Culpa is worth. Father Athanase Seroma played a leading role in the 1994 genocide that devastated Rwanda and is currently hiding under the name Don Anastasio Sumba Bura in northern Italy. According to many eyewitnesses, he organized the Nyange genocide. The African Human Rights group that produced a 22-page report about the events in Nyange in which Father Seroma, among other priests, had been involved, found that several of them are now living in Italy. The African Human Rights group asked the Pope more than half a year ago to launch an inquiry into the matter, but never received a reply. Maybe, decades later, a new pope may appear with a new apology!

Sanal Edamaruku, ed., Rationalist International, Bulletin #33, March 16, 2000


Another suggestion, if you can't track down the Vatican folks who were involved in the above project...

Go to and find some scholars who have books published by university presses like Oxford and Cambridge, Yale, and Harvard, or check the websites of each unviersity press, and search it for the above events you listed, Crusades, Inquisition, Witch Hunts, then plug in the name of the professor who wrote each book into google (put their name in quotation marks for an exact match of both first and last names in that order) followed by the word: university, and you should be able to find their university home pages with their email addresses. Then ask them about where to find a list of names.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I am curious. Why do people insist on holding grudges against the church for errors in the past, when countries get forgiven? I mean is the book on who specifically the church hurt part of a series including who the Nazis hurt, who got sterilised in California for having an intellectual disability, who the Vikings pillaged etc etc etc. What is special about the church that means one never forgives?

kraryal said...

Countries get punished. There are no Vikings left, almost all of the Nazis are dead, and Germany was nearly destroyed for it.

Secondly, countries both apologize and do not derive their authority from tradition. No government claims that the previous administration was infallible and doing the work of God.

The Church does, and continues to exist in exactly the same form for many centuries. Hence it is seen as the same entity and therefore liable for the previous atrocities.
(Please forgive me for the digression.)

Moving on to the actual post topic, is Foxe's Book of Martyrs reliable? That would provide a fair amount of source material for your correspondent.

CalvinDude said...

kraryal wrote:
The Church does, and continues to exist in exactly the same form for many centuries.

This is untrue, even if we suppose the Church is only the Catholic Church (which is what most people assume by that statement--and which I assume you do as well, since you speak of a church powered by "tradition" and infalliblity). Even most Catholics today recognize that the Church has changed a great deal through time (hence the contrversy over pre- and post-Vatican II Catholics).

The fact is that the Catholic Church has changed a great deal throughout the centuries. Today's Catholic Church is radically different from the Church of Trent (which anathamatized, among other things, my Calvinistic position--yet today they consider me "separated brethren"). The Church during Trent was radically different from the Catholic Church at the turn of the 1st Millenium; and that Church was radically different from the Church during Nicea, which was itself radically different from the Church during the Roman persecution. To say that the Church has remained the same for centuries is just historically wrong.

If you include the Protestant Churches in there, you have even more differences through time (although I would naturally argue that the conservative Protestant churches of today are closer to the original Church than the more liberal churches or Catholic/Orthodox churches, when it comes to doctrine).

Anonymous said...

If you read the comment, I was talking about forgiveness, not punishment, or extinction. You might want to check on the definition of infallibility too.

But my main point is that people spend a lot of time saying that church is judgemental and unforgiving, and then demonstrating that it takes one to know one.

Can't we all just get along?

Alexandra said...

The Crusades, back in the bad-old-days of the bad-old-church killed about nine million people. AIDS on the other hand has killed about twenty million people, and is currently affecting about forty million more.

The new-and-improved-church continues to maintain an official stance condeming condom use even in countries like Kenya where the infection rate is estimated to be above 20%. Church officials (like Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Nzeki) are on record asserting that condom use is to blame for the spread of AIDS. Official church spokesmen have, and continue to claim that condoms are permeable to HIV, this despite direct and repeated contradiction by the World Health Organization and, indeed, the overwhelming scientific consensus.

There have even been documented reports of priests telling parishioners that condoms are laced with HIV or AIDS.

No worries though, another apology from the throne of Peter a few decades from now about the depopulation of Africa and Asia and we can resume asking why people don't forgive the church.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how much time elapsed since the latest entry on this blog. But I wish to clear some misconceptions people have about Christianity. The reason people have these misconceptions about Christianity is because they don't study or do research for themselves. They listen to charismatic teachers/lecturers and believe everything they hear and are being taught. First of all, there is a difference between a Catholic and a Christian. The home page on this blog defines catholicism as the biggest christian organization in the world. That couldn't be further from the truth! Go to the library and find the Council of Trent notes. Check it out. The catholics themselves have put a very clear distinction between them and professing Christians. Since when did that change? CATHOLICS ARE NOT CHRISTIANS! They said so themselves! Keep this in mind - a Christian in known by his/her lifestyle. Anyone can make claims. But it's what a person DOES that means anything. It is ridiculous to debunk Christianity and Christ's church because of the evil that people who "claim" to be christians do. They seek to attach their own evil reputations to true christians by calling themselves such, while committing unspeakable atrocities. Before you set about debunking Christianity, please do your research and know what you are talking about BEFORE you open your mouth. True christians never perpetrated such acts of violence and lawlessness. It's a historical fact. If anything, it was true Christians who were subjected to violence and lawlessness. It doesn't surprise me that the people who did such things saw themselves as doing something holy. If you read the bible, you'll find where it's written that whoever kills the disciples of Jesus Christ will think that they are doing God's will. It's true. Many bible-believing christians were murdered in the name of the Lord. The Spanish Inquisitions of about six hundred years ago proves that. Read Foxe's Book of Martyrs. It contains a wealth of information about how much blood the catholic church and the catholic system has on her hands. There are irrefutable documents in existence that cite the role the catholic church played in the slave trade. I can go on and on. If you so badly want to debunk something, why not debunk all the false religions of this world? Those religions are leading millions of souls straight to hell. Christianity seeks to save souls and lives, not destroy it.