Papal Household Theologian at Presentation on Inquisition Symposium

«No Accident That the Commission Was Called Historical-Theological»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 15, 2004 ( Here is the address Cardinal Georges Cottier delivered today when presenting to the press the «Minutes of the International Symposium ‘The Inquisition.'» The symposium was held in 1998.

* * *

When preparing for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Historical-Theological Commission of the Jubilee Committee understood the importance of numbers 33 and 36 of the apostolic letter «Tertio Millennio Adveniente» (1994).

The letter reads: «Hence it is appropriate that, as the Second Millennium of Christianity draws to a close, the Church should become more fully conscious of the sinfulness of her children, recalling all those times in history when they departed from the spirit of Christ and his Gospel and, instead of offering to the world the witness of a life inspired by the values of faith, indulged in ways of thinking and acting which were truly forms of counter-witness and scandal.

«Although she is holy because of her incorporation into Christ, the Church does not tire of doing penance: before God and man she always acknowledges as her own her sinful sons and daughters. As ‘Lumen Gentium’ affirms: ‘The Church, embracing sinners to her bosom, is at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, and incessantly pursues the path of penance and renewal.'»

This message caused so much surprise because of its novelty and boldness that many were disconcerted. It calls for theological reflection.

What is the meaning of the paradox: Holy Church embraces sinners to her bosom? What is the meaning of the evangelical testimony as a dimension of Christian life and of the antithetical behavior of counter-witness and scandal?

To answer these questions, it is opportune to find out what constitutes a real scandal and where it is found. The researchers were given an ample field of study, being part of the context that the Holy Father called «purification of the memory,» as the historical memory or image we have of the past, is not lacking in distortions and prejudices.

Obviously, a request for forgiveness can only affect real and objectively recognized events. Forgiveness is not asked for images spread by public opinion, which are part of a myth and do not correspond to reality.

It is no accident that the commission was called Historical-Theological. The contribution of historians was, indeed, indispensable.

A first symposium addressed the issue of the «Roots of Anti-Judaism in the Christian Environment» (1997). Based on a serious historical foundation, it constituted an examination of conscience and a reflection by theologians on a theology of Israel. The minutes were published in the year 2000.

The volume we now present contains the minutes of the second international symposium, held in the Vatican from October 29-31, 1998, on the Inquisition.

It was essentially a colloquium among historians, chosen in virtue of their scientific competence, and ensuring the international character of the participants.

A scientific committee, composed of Professors Father Guy Bedouella, O.P., Agostino Borromeo and Jean-Pierre Dedieu, helped with the selection of guests.

Professor Borromeo, for whose work I am grateful, was responsible for the publication of the minutes. We regret the delay in the publication of this volume. There is a rumor going around that the publication was halted because of the objection of an individual. I wish to denied this categorically. The delay was due to a series of health problems.

I am especially grateful to the Vatican Apostolic Library, represented by His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, His Holiness’ librarian, and by Don Farina, prefect, for having published these minutes in the prestigious collection «Studi e Testi» (Studies and Texts).

Moreover, I am also grateful to all the participants in the symposium, and to those who contributed to its success, in particular to Mrs. Pierrette Rombis, who was a decisive collaborator in the presentation of the symposium and its ordered development.

Lastly, the fact that the Holy Father sent the message read at the opening of this session, is one more proof of the interest he has in this initiative and the importance he attaches to it. The symposium, in fact, was in the framework of the preparation of the important event of the liturgical celebration of the petition for forgiveness, of March 12, 2000.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation