2.32 What was the Spanish Inquisition?
The Spanish king established the Spanish Inquisition in the Middle Ages to safeguard the purity of the Catholic faith. In the beginning the Church supported this office of investigation (inquisition), but just two years later Pope Sixtus IV condemned the abusive practices and greed of those working for the Spanish Inquisition.
It is awful to see how terrible crimes were committed in the name of the Church. Hundreds and perhaps even thousands of people were murdered. Such crimes against humanity cannot be justified. This directly contradicts Jesus’ message of love, peace and justice! In 2000, Pope John Paul II asked for forgiveness for what went wrong during the period of the Spanish Inquisition.
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The institution of the Inquisition has been abolished. The children of the Church cannot but return with a spirit of repentance to the acquiescence given, especially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of the truth. This spirit of repentance, it is clear, entails a firm determination to seek in the future ways to bear witness to the truth that are in keeping with the Gospel. [John Paul II, Letter to Card. Etchegaray, 15 June 2004]