Question: I’ve picked up on the internet accusations of factual errors in your book, A Woman Rides the Beast. Here are two of them: “Dave Hunt says (p. 117) that ‘Pope Eugenius IV condemned Joan of Arc (1412-31) to be burned as a witch and heretic, but she was beatified by Pius X (1903-14) in 1909....’ In fact, the pope never faced her. [Hunt also wrote,] ‘In his History of the Inquisition, Canon Llorente, who was secretary to the Inquisition in Madrid from 1790-92 and had access to the archives of all the tribunals, estimated that in Spain alone the number of condemned exceeded 3 million, with about 300,000 burned at the stake....’ The truth is, Llorente put the death count at 30,000....” How do you respond to these charges?
Response: Yes, Pope Eugenius IV never faced Joan of Arc personally. However, this case was too important for the Pope not to have been advised and consulted. Joan was a prize of such value that the Duke of Burgundy was paid a huge bribe to hand her over to the British. Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, was promised the archbishopric of Rouen for negotiating the deal. Joan’s trial in Rouen lasted nearly four months (Feb. 4-May 30, 1431) and was conducted by high church officials. Though under British guard, Joan was a prisoner of the Inquisition and the charge was heresy.
Cauchon presided, one of his canons served as prosecutor, a Dominican monk represented the Inquisition, and some forty men learned in theology and law were added to the panel....[When] faggots were piled high in the market place of Rouen...platforms were placed nearby— one for Cardinal Winchester of England and his prelates, another for Cauchon and the judges; and 800 British troops stood on guard. (Will Durant, The History of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, 1950, VI:85-86)
The importance of the case for the Church (both politically and theologically) and the length of the trial make it certain that the Pope knew and gave his approval. Furthermore, the popes were in charge of the Inquisition wherever it was held. Those involved on site were agents of the papacy. It was a pope who initiated the Inquisition (Gregory IX in 1231). Writes Will Durant, “the Inquisition was now officially established under the control of the popes” (IV:779). It is a coverup to argue that because the Pope didn’t personally confront Joan of Arc he therefore did not condemn her to death. He did so through his agents the inquisitors and knew what was happening. All historians agree that the popes were responsible for the Inquisition. Roman Catholic historian Peter de Rosa writes,
What history shows is that, for more than six centuries without a break, the papacy was the sworn enemy of elementary justice. Of eighty popes in a line from the thirteenth century on, not one of them disapproved of the theology and apparatus of Inquisition. On the contrary, one after another added his own cruel touches to the workings of this deadly machine. (Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1988, 175-76).
But rather than to admit the horror of the Inquisitions (there were several over the centuries: medieval, Spanish, Roman, etc. extending throughout Europe, Africa and the Americas) and the fact that the popes and church hierarchy were entirely responsible for them, the defenders of Romanism try to avoid the issue by quibbling over details.
J.H. Ignaz von Dollinger, Roman Catho- lic professor of Church History at Munich, in his book, The Pope and the Council, published in the late 1860s, declared,
Both the initiation and the carrying out of this new principle [the Inquisition] must be ascribed to the popes alone....It was the popes who compelled bishops and priests to condemn the heterodox to torture, confiscation of their goods, imprisonment, and death, and to enforce the execution of this sentence on the civil authorities, under pain of excommunication. From 1200 to 1500 the long series of Papal ordinances on the Inquisition, ever increasing in severity and cruelty...runs on without a break...every Pope improves upon the devices of his predecessor....It was only the absolute dictation of the Popes, and the notion of their infallibility...that made the Christian world, silently and without reclamation, admit the code of the Inquisition, which contradicted the simplest principles of Christian justice...and would have been rejected with universal horror in the ancient Church. (191-92)
I relied upon a secondary source that said Llorente cited 300,000 deaths in the Spanish Inquisition. Other sources say 30,000. The apparent discrepancy could be explained by Llorente on one occasion giving figures for Spain and on another for Europe—or including those who, though not burned at the stake, were martyred in other ways. Concerning those martyred in Spain, Fox’s Book of Martyrs asserts,
But the crowds who perished in dungeons of torture, of confinement, and of broken hearts, the millions of dependent lives made utterly helpless, or hurried to the grave by the death of the victims, are beyond all register....(86-87)
Instead of trying to discredit my figures, these critics ought rather to admit that the Spanish Inquisition swallowed up far more than 300,000, whether Llorente said it or not. The so-called Spanish Inquisition was not confined to Spain. Referring to the Spanish Inquisition in Holland, one history book reports that
The number of Netherlanders who were burned, strangled, beheaded, or buried alive...for the offense of reading the Scriptures, or looking askance at a graven image, or of ridiculing the actual presence of the body and blood of Christ in a wafer, has been placed as high as 100,000 by distinguished authorities, and has never been put at a lower mark than 50,000.” (A Short History of the Inquisition, The Truth Seekers Co., 1907, 188-89)
Of just one of the Pope’s enforcers of the Inquisition, A Short History states,
On his departure from the Netherlands, [the Duke of] Alva boasted that he had ordered 18,600 executions for religious offenses. He said nothing of the tens of thousands massacred in other ways. The Netherlands fought 80 years for independence [from Spain and Rome] at the cost of millions of lives. In the end, the Inquisition was rooted out, and the country lost to the Catholic powers. (221)
The motive of the Catholic apologists is revealed in this statement from the same internet article: “Hunt paints the Catholic Church as the whore of Babylon at war with the Church of saints—drunk on their blood.” They are trying to disprove that accusation, but history affirms it and I will stand by it. The truth is that there is no other institution, government, organization or entity in history that even comes close to the Roman Catholic Church’s slaughter of the saints! Let me quote again from A Short History concerning the Spanish Inquisition only as it operated in the small country of Holland:
From Rome and Madrid came the orders to rack and to kill, the dungeons were filled by the spies and man-catchers as fast as they were emptied by the scaffold. Men and women were broken on the wheel, racked, dragged at horses’ tails; their sight was extinguished, their tongues torn out by the roots, their hands and feet burned and twisted off between red hot irons; they were starved, drowned, hanged, burned, killed in every slow and agonizing way that the malicious inventiveness of priests could devise...hooked by the middle of the body...and then made to swing to and fro over a slow fire until entirely roasted...all was done under the authority of the holy father, the Pope. (202, 296)
The horror of the Inquisition is beyond recital. Why, then, don’t the Roman Catholic apologists acknowledge that horror, confess their shame and call upon their Church to repent of its centuries of unspeakable crimes against humanity!
In addition to the above was the slaughter by the hundreds of thousands of evangelical Christians in France known as Albigenses and Huguenots. The former (once the majority of the population in Southern France, the most prosperous part of Europe) were practically exterminated by the popes over the period of a century. As for the Huguenots, 70,000 were slaughtered in the infamous St. Bartholomew’s massacre; another 200,000 killed and 500,000 fled France. When my wife, Ruth, and I were in South Africa we met descendants of Huguenots who had fled as far as that country. There were the Waldenses, the Cathari, Bogomils, Hussites and others who were slaughtered by the Roman Catholic Church by the hundreds of thousands.
Yes, we can attribute millions of deaths of true Christians to Roman Catholicism and the popes down through the centuries. No other entity in history comes close to being drunk with the blood of the saints, and that description absolutely fits the Roman Catholic Church!