The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Outrage over Inquisition

Cricket Slattery | Wednesday, November 19, 2003

“The Irish Inquisition – Playful Persecution.” Does someone actually think this is cute? My first reaction to the new “Irish Inquisition” was that it was an action of extraordinarily poor and ignorant taste to fashion an evening of “fun” around a blatantly cartoonish understanding of an Inquisitorial Trial. This seemed especially true, considering Notre Dame is a Catholic school. To make light of such a dark, corrupt and hateful period in Church history is callous and bizarre. However, I didn’t say anything at the time because I – wrongly – assumed that someone well-placed within the powers-that-be would realize how crass the whole affair actually was and put a stop to it.But, after seeing the new “Inquisition” posters, which blatantly take a carefree stance in regard to the horrors of The Inquisition, I feel compelled to voice my concern. The Inquisition was a time of terror. While the main targets were Jewish and minority populations, anyone was susceptible to accusation. This was because any sort of Jewish ancestry, even in the most devout Christian, was used as evidence of heresy. And while I’m sure people will argue with me, saying that most of the torture was carried out by secular authorities – a much debated point – it does not change the fact that the crimes were spiritual and therefore the Trials were conducted by the Church. So whether Church authorities actually tortured and killed, or simply handed over the guilty to the secular organizations that they had created, seems an insignificant matter. It does not change the fact that, because of a Papal Bull issued to free Christendom from heretics, innocent men, women and children were tortured and killed. And this is the basis for an enjoyable evening at “The Irish Inquisition?”Anyone could accuse another of heresy. The accused was forced to testify against her/himself in court and allowed no legal counsel. The trials often occurred after a period of questioning and torture. Three people were required to be present for a confession to be considered valid, but those three were often the Grand Inquisitor and two torturers. The accused could be strapped down, their entire body shaved to aid in finding “Devil’s Marks” (i.e. freckles), and pricked all over the body with sharp needles, as spots the Devil had touched were said to feel no pain.The roster of the Inquisition’s torture tactics included the rack, the thumbscrew, “boots” that broke the bones in the legs, suffocation through funneled water torture, head crushing and disembowelment. For those of you who don’t know, disembowelment involves being chained to the ground while a small incision is made in your abdomen, through which the executioner would reach in and grab your intestines. A small portion of the entrails are then wrapped around a spit-like device placed over your body. This is wound, pulling your internal organs along with it.Of course, such torture was only reserved for Jews who did not repent of their heresy and convert. Those who did were merely imprisoned.Playful persecution, indeed.

Cricket Slatteryjunioroff-campusNov. 18