By N.S. Rajaram
All doubts about the direction which the Catholic Church might take following John Paul-II'sdeath have been dispelled by the election of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger of Munich as Pope Benedict XVI. He is even more conservative not to say reactionary than his predecessor. This is how he was described by two leading Vatican observers nearly 15 years ago:
?Ratzinger is perhaps the closest to the Pope [John Paul II] of all the Curia [Vatican administration] Cardinals. …A deeply pessimistic man, he feels that the Church is collapsing, and only the suppression of all dissent can ensure its survival as a united faith. He regards those who do not share his pessimism as ?blind and deluded?.?
This man of doom and gloom is now the guiding spirit of this ?spiritual institution?, which is facing virtual meltdown in Europe!
And who is this prophet of doom who believes that suppression of dissent is the only road to salvation. He was, until his election as Pope Benedict XVI, the head of an office known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This serene sounding office located in a building with an even more serene name, Casa Santa (Saintly House), hides a history that resonates with terror.
The chief executive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is called its Secretary, though in earlier times, he was known as the Grand Inquisitor.
Prior to 1965, the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith was known as the Holy Office, and before that, until 1542, as the Holy Inquisition- a name that still sends shivers down the spine of Europeans. The chief executive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is called its Secretary, though in earlier times, he was known as the Grand Inquisitor. The new pope, Benedict XVI, aka Josef Ratzinger, was until recently the Grand Inquisitor.
What did (and does in its modern form) the Grand Inquisitor do? He presided over trials by Inquisition. Among the notable achievements of the Holy Inquisition – everything the Church does is Holy – were the persecution of Galileo for his scientific discoveries and the less known (at least in India), of burning at the stake of his contemporary Giordano Bruno for the same reason.
Trials by Inquisition were so designed that defence was impossible. Its ?legal? procedure was described by its trial manual known as Libro Negro (The Black Book), better known as ?The Book of Death? as follows:
?Either the person confesses and he is proved guilty by his own confession, or he does not confess and is equally guilty on the evidence of witnesses. If a person confesses to the whole of what he is accused of, he is unquestionably guilty of the whole; but if he confesses to only a part, he ought still to be regarded as guilty of the whole, since what he has confessed proves him to be capable of guilt as to the other points of the accusation… Bodily torture has ever been found the most salutary and efficient means of leading to spiritual repentence. Therefore, the choice of the most benefiting mode of torture is left to the Judge of the Inquisition.?
Stalin had nothing over the Grand Inquisitor. It is the charge that counts- evidence is immaterial. The grandmaster of the judges of the Inquisition is now the pope who will bring spiritual salvation to the world, especially the people of Europe. India of course did not escape the Holy Inquisition. The Goa Inquisition instigated by ?Saint? Xavier is well known though it is no longer secularly correct to mention it. But those who may not know about the Goa Inquisition can still get an idea of the trial by Inquisition from the trial of the Shankaracharya of Kanchi.