Inquisition Symposium Convenes at the Vatican

The Vatican has convened a three-day symposium on the Inquisition as part of its official policy of reflection on its past failings.

More than two dozen world experts and scholars on the Inquisition were taking part in the closed-door sessions that began Thursday.

Their purpose, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray told the meeting’s first session, is to expound “the results of their research, with the aim of allowing us to reach a greater knowledge and a better comprehension” of the brutal persecutions that many consider one of the darkest chapters of Roman Catholic history.

“The church is not afraid to submit its past to the judgment of history,” said Etchegaray, who heads the Vatican’s Commission for the Grand Jubilee, which oversees events planned for the millennium.

Some scholars will present the results of their investigations on the Inquistion made since Vatican archives were officially opened for research on the topic in January.

The Inquisition, which lasted from the 13th to the early 19th centuries, was a permanent tribunal of the church aimed at investigating, rooting out and combating heresy. Its methods were often brutal, encompassing the torture, interrogation and burning at the stake of many thousands of people.

“The church cannot cross the threshold of the new millennium without pressing its children to purify themselves in repentance for their errors, infidelity, incoherence and slowness,” Etchegaray said.

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