Quote of the Day 10-31-15 — Halloween/Witchcraft Edition

Posted: October 30, 2015 in Catholicism, Christianity, Religion
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Andrew Dickson White

“On the 7th of December, 1484, Pope Innocent VIII sent forth his bull Summis Desiderantes.  Of all documents ever issued from Rome, imperial or papal, this has doubtless, first and last, cost the greatest shedding of innocent blood. Yet no document was ever more clearly dictated by conscience. Inspired by the scriptural command, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” [Ex. 22:18], Pope Innocent exhorted the clergy of Germany to leave no means untried to detect sorcerers, and especially those who by evil weather destroy vineyards, gardens, meadows, and growing crops. These precepts were based upon various texts of Scripture, especially upon the famous statement in the book of Job, and, to carry them out, witch-finding inquisitors were authorized by the Pope to scour Europe, especially Germany, and a manual was prepared for their use–The Witch Hammer, Malleus Maleficarum. . . . .

“With the application of torture to thousands of women, in accordance with the precepts laid down in the Malleus, it was not difficult to extract masses of proof for this sacred theory of meteorology. The poor creatures writhing on the rack, held in horror by those who had been nearest and dearest to them, anxious only for death to relieve their sufferings, confessed to anything and everything that would satisfy the inquisitors and judges. All that was needed was that the inquisitors should ask leading questions and suggest satisfactory answers. The prisoners, to shorten their sufferings, were sure sooner or later to give the answer required, even though they knew this would send them to the stake or scaffold. Under the doctrine of ‘excepted cases,’ there was no limit to torture for persons accused of heresy or witchcraft; even the safeguards which the old pagan world had imposed upon torture were thus thrown down, and the prisoner must confess.

“The theological literature of the Middle Ages was thus enriched with numberless statements regarding Satanic influence on the weather.”

–Andrew Dickson White, History of the Warfare Between Science and Theology

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