PBS on the Inquisition

Bill Donohue is upset at PBS for airing “The Secret Files of the Inquisition.”

Donohue doesn’t comment on the fact that this docudrama is based on case files released by the Vatican starting in 1998. It dramatizes select stories based on those detailed records.

I won’t be able to watch it tonight, but would be interested in hearing from those who do.

Note: In the comments box I only want to hear from those who watched this TV program, not have a general discussion about the Inquisition.

5 thoughts on “PBS on the Inquisition

  1. Hi Bill!

    I watched it on and off and also taped it – reading about this is one thing but watching this movie was just mind boggling and terribly upsetting. The inquisitors felt motivated by God to destroy anyone that did not become a baptized Christian – namely Catholic. Many were told to be baptized or die – burned alive at the stake – torture was sanctioned – many beheaded – exiled: total Ethnic cleansing -I guess I did not realize the part that Isabella and Ferdinand played in this –

    It is so inconceivable how cruel people can be in the name of religion.

  2. I found the program simultaneously lurid and trite if such is possible. A good half of the episode dwelt on the many affairs of the priest of Montaillou. Were there three or was it four scenes of the village priest disrobing a maiden below a crucifix? The subtext–the crime of a Church that will not yield to the needs of the people, nudge, nudge, much like the institution of today–was played heavy-handedly. The program was worthy of a Discovery Channel broadcast.

  3. I left my above comment last night. This morning I’m still fuming over the program’s attempt to modernize the situation at Montaillou. If it weren’t for the fact that I had to watch the program, I would’ve turned this heap of trash off after ten minutes. (To make myself clear, “heap of trash” is in reference to the program; the Inquisition represents a serious phase in Catholic history that merits an honest, sober, unflinching screen depiction.)

    A moment where my husband and I both wound up shouting at our TV set was when talking head expert Charmaine Craig (a novelist, mind you) described noblewoman Beatrice De Planisoles as “in many ways … a modern woman.” Reason #1 given by Craig: Beatrice had many lovers. That a gullible slut (she believed her priest seductor that a bag of herbs “lying between her breasts” would keep her from conceiving) is complemented as “a modern woman” gives you an idea of where this program was headed.

  4. If I may violate your rule for comments –

    I was not able to watch it, but I thought that (for once – one time only, I swear!) Donohue had a valid point. Everything in the program is probably true, but context is important. The Catholic Church admits that there was great violence done in the past, by people who lived in a violent time. If the Inquisition is presented outside of the larger context, people will only focus on the violence. The larger questions, about using the power of the state to advance a particular religious point of view (whether for or against religious belief), gets lost. Instead, many people may view this as affirming their existing view that religion leads to violence (see Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins).

    That being said, it’s good to see that you’re still posting. Although, I see that my decision to list you as simply “Bill Cork’s Blog” was the right one. 😉

  5. Jesus lived in a violent time. And he said, “Turn the other cheek.” “Put away the sword.” “Love your enemies.”

    That’s the sole context in which must judge the actions of any Christian.

    As to your final point … well, what can I say? I finally decided to go back to my original title mainly to tie it in with the theme of my webpage–which hasn’t changed since I first put it up ten years ago. 🙂

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