Witchcraft and the Inquisition of the Catholic Church
Witchcraft. The word in itself evokes a certain kind of eeriness. In past centuries, people who were accused of being witches were thought of to be the worst kinds of people there are. There were several kinds of witches and several ways in which they operated. Whatever the reason, the Catholic Church saw witches, or those accused of being witches, as sinful. Partly to stop this kind of sin and other forms, the Inquisition of the Catholic Church was implemented. It is important to know what the factors leading up to the Inquisition included to fully understand its implementation. Once the history is reviewed it is easy to see how the Faith of the Church and the reason behind its thinking were hand-in-hand at the time, and also the way in which they seemingly conflict today.
There are many factors leading up to the establishment of the Inquisition by the Catholic Church. One of the main factors is the beginning of the Middle Ages in Europe. A symbol of these emerging ages is Pope Gerbert of the year 1000. Although he was a Pope, he was learned in algebra, and because of his knowledge he was considered somewhat of a wizard. He once wrote to a friend in Italy asking for secular books written in Latin. He instructs the friend to make sure the books are "procured quietly." (Nickerson 12) . Nickerson feels that this makes Gerbert a symbol of his times because it is out of similar knowledge that the Medieval times arise. Around the same time, the Normans were conquering England, the Church begins to have a common purpose, and the First Crusade begins.
Although the Church was secure in its universality, two groups, the Albigensians and Waldensians emerged, each with very different beliefs than that of the Roman Catholic Church. The Albigensians, or Cathars, sought another explanation for the existence of evil in the world. They believed that there is a god of evil and a god of good, and the god of evil reigns over the earth, including the people in it. They believe that the god of evil was the god of the Old Testament, so they repudiated it. They followed the New Testament rigidly, believing that the soul was created by the good god but was entrapped by the evil, material body. They also believed that Christ was not god, but an angel without a physical body, because that body would be evil. They also believed that Mary would have been incapable of bearing Christ because her evil, physical body could not have borne an angel, what they thought Christ to be. This is obviously against the Catholic teachings. The other group, the Waldensians, believed in living in poverty in order to remain in context with the Gospel. Its founder, Peter Valdes, sold all of his possessions and went out into the streets to preach to the common man. He was criticized for not being educated properly to teach and he was excommunicated. He and his followers split into areas in southern France and northern Italy and...