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Inquisition, Persecution of Early Catholic Church and Teachings of Jesus Christ

By Abuchi Obiora

Walking along a street in the north eastern Italian city of Venice in the sixteenth century were three friends, notably Antonio, Salarino and Salano. One of them, Antonio, spoke as they chatted away their time: “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad: it wearies me; you say it wearies you; but how I caught it, found it, or came by it, what stuff, ‘its made of, whereof it is born, I am to learn; And such a want-wit sadness makes of me, That I have much ado to know myself”.

In the above quoted verse curled from Act I, Scene I of the epic play, titled “Merchant of Venice” written by the sixteenth century foremost playwright, William Shakespeare between 1596/1599, and published in 1600, Antonio, the merchant of Venice whose failed business project and the vicissitudes that visited him as a result of that failure is the major topic of discussion in the book, was registering his premonition and apprehension of his not-too-long in coming travails to his two friends. He complained about his cargo aboard a vessel sailing on a voyage that he feared could be endangered by the raging storm in the sea.

The same unusual feeling of lethargy, uneasy calm and deep apprehension overpowered me when recently. I read an old story being re-circulated in the internet on how the national union member of the Israeli Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), Michael Ben-Ari tore the New Testament of the Bible in full glare of press camera in a deliberately hyped and staged occasion to malign the Christian religion.

This drama happened when a publishing company placed copies of the New Testament in the mailboxes of the members of Knesset (MK), the Israeli Parliament. This incidence was published in the newspaper, The Times of Israel on July 18th, 2012.

The then Speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin condemned the act, saying: “Democracy includes the freedom of expression, but not the freedom of offending believers of other faiths”. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on Michael Ben-Ari to apologize to the Israeli Christians. The ADL issued a statement through its national director, Abraham H. Foxman that “As Jews, we expect others to treat our Holy Books with respect and understanding”, Concluding that “We should likewise show respect for the Holy Books of other faiths”.

In condemning the act, the government spokesman at the time, Mark Regev told the AP (Associated Press) that, “We totally deplore this behavior and condemn it outright. This action stands in complete contrast to our values and our traditions. Israel is a tolerant society, but we have zero tolerance for this despicable and hateful act”.

By the way, Michael Ben-Ari who tore the New Testament had gone down the history lane to remember the mass murder of Jews and Muslims by successive generations of Catholic Pontiffs who initiated and carried out what is now known in European history as the Inquisition.  The Inquisition was carried out under the unfolding euphoria and ecstasy of the support of the Imperial Government of Rome to the Church at the height of Pax Romana when the Pope and the Church welded immense political, religious and cultural influence over territories ruled by the Imperial Rome.

What is the Inquisition? The Inquisition was a powerful machinery set up within the Roman Catholic Church to haunt for, punish and rout out what the Church regarded as heresy against the Church throughout Europe and the Americas. The infamous Inquisition which began in the 12th century and lasted several hundred years, was notorious for the grievous persecutions, torture and death of thousands of Jews and Muslims in Europe and the America when the Church, by the auspices of the Imperialist Rome which was the only superpower in the world, was assisted in her expansionism.

Though it began during the 12th century, the Inquisition became a world-wide persecution in Spain in the 15th century when it was ordered by Pope Sixtus IV at the petition of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Aragon and Castille in a Papal Bull of November 1, 1478. Mischievously regarded as “Holy Inquisition” in those dark days of human history, the Inquisition first began as a judicial process and procedure for the indictment of those deemed to be anti-Christian, but later metamorphosed to an institution of the Church established by the Papacy and sometimes by secular governments under the strict influence of the Roman Catholic Church to combat what the Church regarded as heresy in those countries ruled and dominated by the Roman Catholic Faithfuls.

Prior to the first Church council in Nicea, near Constantinople which was held under the joint auspices of the Church and Emperor Constantine the Great (280-337 C.E) in 325 C.E, there were earlier competing sects with different doctrines that called themselves Christians. The Nicean Church Council became the first accord to standardize and bring under one doctrinal umbrella, the belief systems of the Christian religion. With that first Church council of 325 C.E in Nicea came the transformation of Christian religion as a State religion by a decree of the Emperor, and the Catholic Church which was already established with a stable hierarchical structure and a central bureaucracy under the Pope was put in charge of all the Christian Churches around the world.

With this vast power and influence, the first Church Council at Nicea in 325 C.E and subsequent Church Councils knocked in the views of the Catholic Church and the Roman State, harmonizing all the doctrinal arguments into fixed doctrines and beliefs with bias to the interpretation of the Bible by the Catholic Church, and excluding the interpretations of other extant Christian organizations like the Calvinists, the Rosicrucian’s, etc. The supervision authority, as has been said, was placed under the active administrative structure and command of the Roman Catholic Church domiciled in Rome, whose head, the Pontiff will soon become the administrative Head of State of a mini country, the Vatican, inside Rome.

With this development, other sects or extant Christian Churches and groups whose beliefs or practices deviated sufficiently from the orthodoxy of the recommendations of the Church Councils became the objects of attacks and efforts to bring them into the fold of the Catholic Church. Not discussing what the Catholic Church of Rome understood to be heresies (which included not worshipping God through Mary, the mother of Jesus; so-called Roman Catholic Christian Church Saints; the use of Rosary during prayers, e.t.c) during the early centuries which marked the  beginning of the organized Christian Church, in the middle ages and the Renaissance period, it must be noted that in 1231, A.D, Pope Gregory IX published a decree which recommended life imprisonment with salutary penance  for the heretic (a suspect of heresy), who had confessed and repented of his sins (heresy) and recommended capital punishment for those heretics who persisted in their heresies. The Dominican order, a secular authority within the Church, was mandated to carry out the obligation of executing the punishment to heretics, once pronounced.

Though the Inquisition gave Christianity the opportunity to streamline the order of its belief system and spread the Christian religion within and beyond the Roman Empire (which included all the Europe, Africa, Middle East, parts of Asia, etc) it brought about a marked deviation from the core teachings of Jesus Christ on everything Jesus Christ taught people about. It must be noted that apart from the worship of God through Mary (the mother of Jesus), the worship of God through the Saints, and some other doctrines which Christian Pentecostalism has rejected, much of the doctrines of present Christian Pentecostalism still derive from the flawed foundation of the early Christian Church organized by the Catholic Church and the Roman Empire. I have captured this subject matter in my book written with the pseudonym Rabbi Abram A. ben-Uriel.

The Inquisition is the most inglorious period in the history of Christianity. It established a veritable conduit pipe for the seizure and acquisition of the material assets of the convicts of the offence by the Church of Rome through the dubious acquisition of landed properties, gold and monetary assets of the so-called heretics or heretical institutions by the Church. Much of the gold assets, landed property and investments of the Church of Rome today were dubiously acquired during this period.

Coming back to the public drama of tearing out the New Testament of the Bible by Michael Ben-Ari, the Israeli member of the Knesset, because he accused the 13th century Roman Catholic Church Inquisitors of killing Jews during that sad period of human history, it is on record that Jesus Christ never taught people to kill for any reason whatsoever.

In a way this work serves as a disclaimer of the 13th century activities of the Roman Catholic Church Inquisitors by concerned and true Christians including me, who practice the virtues and life principles which Jesus Christ, the greatest spiritual master that has ever lived on earth, taught.

It is on record that Jesus Christ was the first person on earth to campaign against capital punishment of death more than two thousand years ago. The world is just coming to terms with the wisdom of this sage. While the norm in those dark days in human history when the ambitious of men were made of ‘sterner stuff’ was survival of the fittest, being also the rule in the game of power, Jesus Christ had taught compassion, love, forgiveness and mercy.

He has instructed his followers to turn over the next cheek when slapped on the one cheek. Warning the people that throng to hear his humble formula to attracting the presence of God in their lives, he taught that the wages of sin is death, cautioning them with the words “they that live by the sword, die by the sword.” Condemning capital punishment against a harlot, Jesus Christ saw through the infirmities of everyone and challenged who, amongst the traduces of the harlot, would throw the first stone; who had never indulged in sinfulness before. By that action, Jesus Christ taught his audience and the world that mercy should be dispensed with the understanding of our own weaknesses and failures as the reason why the person desiring our mercy may have failed, having therefore the right to deserve our mercy.

Having said all these things, I must observe that it is very unfortunate that Michael Ben-Ari enacted the drama of tearing the New Testament of the Bible because no sentence in that Holy Book he tore justified the actions and conducts which politicians like him who paraded themselves as Catholic Priests in cassocks in the 13th century did to gain membership and amass wealth for both themselves and the Roman Church. I have a list of some of the traditional Roman Catholic families descended from these wicked men of the 13th century and one thing they have in common is landed assets scattered around European countries foundations of which were laid with tears and blood. Members of these families are also privileged few Priests from amongst whom the Papal seat must be filled whenever it becomes vacant.

By his actions, Michael Ben-Ari showed himself to be another opportunistic politician, a religious fanatic and campaigner worse than the people who organized and executed the Inquisition, because he made a very clear statement that he was acting for the Judaist community whose ancestors were victims of the Roman Catholic Church Inquisitors.

Though the political machinery of Christendom survived the Imperialism of Rome at a most critical time of its history and flourished as a result of the period of the Inquisition, it is wrong to use the sins of the organized Church, including those of the present Christian assembly of Pentecostalism, to cast aspersion or condemn the works of Jesus Christ on earth, more so where in all his teachings, Jesus Christ taught against the type of activities of the early Catholic Christian brethren most of whom happened to be at the helms of affairs of Christendom during the Inquisition period.

As a Christian that is focused only on the teachings of Jesus Christ and not on the politics of the organized Church, I felt a deep apprehension, as Antonio, the merchant of Venice mentioned in the opening paragraph, at the actions of the member of the Israeli Knesset because of the reverberating consequences of such an action on the religion built and anchored on the teachings of Jesus Christ.

It becomes necessary for me to enlighten people who may have come across this news since 2012 when it happened especially as it is being presently re-circulated around the world by religious mischief makers, the true nature of a misdirected action by the MK, Michael Ben-Ari.

It is unfortunate that present Christians should share from the inglorious conducts of those ambitious politician Christian Clergymen who did not choose to be Christians themselves because of the virtues in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but became Christians by the accident of fate through being born in traditional Roman Catholic Christian families where they naturally became inheritors of leadership positions in the Church of Rome, including the coveted position of the Pontiff.

Let it be known that unlike his contemporaries and many other Avatars before and after him who fought, killed and made deliberate efforts to found religious organizations in their lifetimes, and forced those religions on people, Jesus Christ, whose Judaist identity was Yeshua ben-Yosef, who was known within the vast Empire of Rome and still known and identified by Christians and many people in the world today as Jesus Christ of Nazareth, never preached violence especially in spreading his teachings.  

Contrary to the expectation of the Judaist Jews who needed a Messiah to liberate and free them from the Imperial domination of Rome, Jesus Christ came, not to be a political liberator of his tribesmen, but to show them and the then existing world that all the teachings of the religions including the religion of his birth – Judaism – are achievable with holiness, righteousness and purity.

This teaching, he summarized under two captions, notably “Love God, and love thy neighbor, as thyself”, respectively. Though the Jews including the MK, Michael ben-Ari, were and are still disappointed that Jesus Christ who was not a political leader did not liberate them from the Imperial bondage of Rome, the teachings and the life of their brother, Rabbi Yeshua ben-Yosef has acquired a universal spiritual appeal amongst generations of men that they somewhat have become the beacons that point to all that is right in the practice of all religions. This is why no religious, social or political institution on earth has been able to upturn the teachings of the great master since they were delivered by the great master.

Apart from the endless debates on the semantic issue and argument of the ‘sonship’ of God by Jesus Christ, no religion on earth has got any reason to query the teachings of Jesus Christ. In regard to this argument, one thing is certain: Jesus Christ highlighted and summarized the teachings of all the religions that existed before his time and brought down those teachings from the level of being the ascribed abstracted characteristics of God to practicable virtues by human beings. Infused with the character of God, Jesus lived out his teachings as he dwelled on earth as a human being.

Solving the age-long spiritual equation of the hitherto abstract phenomena called God and making the concept of God an empirical phenomenon in both his life and teachings, Jesus Christ lived out a life worthy of God. In testimony to this, John the beloved, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ who witnessed Jesus Christ first hand as a young man and followed Jesus Christ throughout his ministry, witnessing his death by crucifixion on the Cross, said “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life.” (1st John 1:1).

It is my believe that upon this lofty testimony of an eye witness (of so many of such eye witnesses including secular accounts of pagans who did not even believe in Jesus Christ), must the faith of any would-be, yet doubting Christian must be founded. Upon this testimony have I anchored the foundation of my belief as a Christian.  

But for the epical life of Jesus Christ who lived out the virtues ascribed to God on earth, some people like me would have been ardent atheists, not believing in the, sometimes, discordant, misplaced and illogical jingoism of the religious preachers.

To end this work, I take permission from readers to digress and say that I understand the history of Christianity with its ups and downs as much as I understand the history of the two other religions descended from Patriarch Abraham notably, Judaism and Islam.

I also understand the influence of politics and brutal killings which shaped up these other religions. I attribute these brutalities to politicians who pose as religious leaders to advance their political purposes. There is a certain wicked similarity in the establishment of the three religions of the Middle East for example, the early Mosaic days of Judaism and those of the religion of Islam were not spared of massive bloodshed. Needless to say that the battles to establish Islam which started 610 A.D. by the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH: born on 12 Rabiu Lawal, the third month of the Muslim calendar – August 29th 570 A.D of Gregorian calendar and died on 13Rabi’ 111AH the Umm-Al-Qura Calendar – 8th June 630A.D) .

The point I make about the religions is that there have been so much confusions in the religions that the camp of atheists is being increased daily with new entrants to non-belief in God because of the lack of knowledge. But for the knowledge of the truth I hereby write, people like me would have been atheists. Fortunately for the faithful adherents of the religions, in spite of the mutilations and misinterpretation of their Holy Books by people who have found businesses in the religions, much of the teachings of the three masters notably Moses, Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Unto Them), are still accessible to any true seeker.

Thank God for free world, some of the original teachings of Jesus Christ such as those earlier before adopted by such Christian extant groups as the Calvinists, etc, which were outlawed by the Vatican Councils and muzzled by the Dominicans during the Inquisition are quietly finding their ways in Christian teachings to reveal the true nature of the personality of Jesus Christ.

This development is bound to usher in a new era in Christian evangelism with the evident restoration of the pristine power, glory and lost legacies of the Church of Jesus Christ on earth.  



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