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Mar-16-2009 17:57printcomments

The Art of Relaxation - Part 2

He who refuses to recognize and learn from the lessons of history is doomed to relive them.
In a decree, 12 April, 1916, Benedict XV, . . . solemnly and decisively declares that the Sanctuary of Loreto IS the House itself - translated from Palestine by the ministry of Angels - in which was born the blessed Virgin Mary, and in which the Word was made flesh. In the face of this pronouncement it is hard to see how any Catholic can regard the Translation of the Holy House as a mere fairy tale to be classed with Jack and the Beanstalk or hop 'o my thumb.

(PASO ROBLES, Calif.) - Here is the first part in this series: The Art of Relaxation Part-1

When Constantine moved to Constantinople for its defense, Visigoths took over Rome and converted to Christianity as had Constantine, for its presumed magic.

The Church was the beneficiary and the avenue of continuity for the victors, and its role was enhanced and continued with little, if any, interruption. The "witch" concept was put on the back burner until the Church found a need for it. Then, almost apologetically, Rev. Summers continues:

“Ecclesiastical law was tolerant since for the most part it contented itself with a sentence of excommunication. Beyond the exercise of its spiritual weapons, what else was there left for the Church to do? After a person had been condemned to death by the civil courts [for spiritual outlawry], it would have been somewhat superfluous to have repeated the same sentence," writes the Rev. Summers. Excommunication amounted to a death sentence if the Church relaxed the deviant to its secular arm, as has been seen.

What else was there left for the Church to do? In 829 the Council of Paris appealed to the secular courts to carry out sentences that the Bishops pronounced. Prior to the Inquisition, Bishops were both judge and jury within their jurisdictions. Relaxation was the prerogative of the Church, and the penalty for witchcraft, or excommunication [if you prefer] was death:

“At the trial of Gille de Rais in October, 1440, Rais was declared guilty of Satanism [professing thoughts not consistent with the dogma of the Church], sorcery [expressing those thoughts to others], and apostasy. He was then and there handed over to the secular arm to receive the punishment due such offenses. The Bishop alone declared the prisoner convicted of sodomy, sacrilege, and violation of ecclesiastical rights [the right to deny that once baptized - by force or as an unsuspecting babe - one is Catholic for life]. Then in an act of Christian love the ban of excommunication was lifted since the accused had made a clean breast of his crimes and desired to be reconciled, but he was handed over to the secular court that sentenced him to death.”

Clearly, individual rationality was inimical to the Church that had a thing against detractors from within, the consequence of which was elimination as an example to others who might be tempted to defect. Rev. Summers continues:

“The wild fanatics who fostered the most subversive and abominable ideas aimed to put these in actual practice . . . with the view of obtaining and enforcing their own ends and their own interests. It was no laughing matter. Their object may be summed as the abolition of [the Church’s] order, and the total abolition of all religion [Christianity]. It was against this that the Inquisition had to fight, and who can be surprised if, when faced with so vast a conspiracy [of disenchanted defectors], the methods employed by the Holy Office may not seem, if the terrible conditions are conveniently forgotten, a little drastic, a little severe?” [Shades of the Republican CPAC of 2009]. What Rev. Summers first tells us is fantasy, he now says is fact:

“There can be no doubt - and this is a fact - that the witch organization and witchcraft in its myriad ramifications, is a huge conspiracy against civilization” [e.g., the Church].” Re: the Papal Bull of Innocent VIII, Rev. Summers adds:

“The Summis desiderantes affectibus is either a dogmatic exposition by Christ's Vicar upon the earth or it is altogether abominable [read it, then decide for yourself]:

“Even if we do not insist that the Bull of Innocent VIII is an infallible utterance it must at least be a document of supreme and absolute authority, of dogmatic force . . . for which infallibility is claimed on the ground of the constant practice of the Holy See, the consentient teaching of the theologians, as well as the clearest deductions of the principles of faith.”

This last sentence can be broken down as follows:

1. Religion [politics] is a cultural phenomenon.

2. Christianity is based on deductive reasoning, faith based on human imaginings.

3. The utterances of the Pope are not necessarily infallible.

4. Even so, their utterances are true because the Church says so.

In defense of his own irrationality, an echo of the dogma he is bound to preserve, Rev. Summers attacks a Brother in Christ, Rev. Herbert Thurston, S.J., whose rational writings refute a dogmatic version of Church history:

“The most disquieting of all Fr. Thurston's writings is upon the Holy House of Loreto, which is to be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIII, pp. 454-56,

- Santa Casa de Loreto -. It is obvious that Fr. Thurston does not accept the fact of the Translation of the Holy House. Ignoring an unbroken tradition, the pronouncements of more than fifty Popes, the devotion of numerous saints - [Rev. Summers is becoming emotional] - the piety of countless writers [all Catholic], he - Rev. Herbert Thurston - gratuitously piles argument upon argument and emphasizes objection after objection to reduce the Translation of the House of Nazareth from Palestine to Italy to the vague story of a picture of the Madonna brought from Tersato in Illyria to Loreto.”

In a decree, 12 April, 1916, Benedict XV, . . . solemnly and decisively declares that the Sanctuary of Loreto IS the House itself - translated from Palestine by the ministry of Angels - in which was born the blessed Virgin Mary, and in which the Word was made flesh. In the face of this pronouncement it is hard to see how any Catholic can regard the Translation of the Holy House as a mere fairy tale to be classed with Jack and the Beanstalk or hop 'o my thumb. Fr. Thurston's bias evidently makes it impossible for him to deal impartially with any historical fact.”

After reading Rev. Summer's rejoinder to Fr. Thurston, it ought to be clear that what Rev. Summers is presenting as historical fact is another attempt to lead Catholics astray with the object to deceive. Ridicule will not alter the fact, or the reality, of whom truly is the dreamer.

The Bull of Innocent VIII precedes the text of the Malleus Maleficarum. A few excerpts will suffice to give the reader an idea of the purpose for what became the legal authority for prosecuting witches. It was probably written by members of the Holy See to be signed and promulgated by a reluctant Pope. Words beginning with Capitals denote the Immortal Authority of the Church:

“It has lately come to Our ears [that] many persons of both sexes, unmindful of their own salvation and straying from the Catholic Faith, have abandoned themselves to devils. They blasphemously renounce that Faith which is theirs by the Sacrament of Baptism. They commit and perpetuate the foulest abominations and filthiest excesses to the deadly peril of their souls.

“Wherefore We, as is Our duty, being wholly desirous .. . . of applying potent remedies to prevent the disease of heresy and other turpitude diffusing their poison . . . to innocent souls . . . We decree and enjoin that . .. . Inquisitors be empowered to proceed to the just correction, imprisonment, and punishment of any persons, without let or hindrance (etc.).

“By Letters Apostolic We require . . . the Bishop of Strasburg (to) threaten all who endeavor to harass the Inquisitors . . . with excommunication, suspension, interdict, and yet more terrible penalties, censures and punishment, as may seem good to him, without the right of appeal. And he may by Our authority . . . Call in, if it so please him, the secular arm [evidence that the Church was the dominant authority in affairs of State].

“Fr. Henry Kramer and Fr. James Sprenger . . . began to make Inquisition for witches [anti-Christ] and for those gravely suspect of sorcery, all of whom they prosecuted with the extremest rigour [sic] of the law.”

Rev. Summers adds insult to injury when referring to the "misogynic trend” [a hatred of women, as a sexually defined group] of certain passages in the Malleus: “and these not of the briefest nor least pointed," by offering his personal opinion that . . . “the [remedies] will prove a wholesome and needed antidote in this feministic age when the sexes seem confounded, and it appears to be the chief object of many females to ape the man.”

Finally, he urges readers of the Malleus Maleficarum to "Consider witches and their trials in reference and in proportion to the legal code of the age," [hoping, I suspect, we will forget the Church was responsible for setting legal precedent]. He continues as follows:

“Witches were the bane of all social order; they injured not only persons but property. Any other than the most thorough measures must have been unavailing; worse; they must have but fanned the flame.”

Nazi Germany is a prime example of the "faults, awkwardness, roughness, and severities" that equaled that of the Church. And, just as it would be wrong to forget the horror of the holocaust, so too would it be less than prudent to accept the advice and arguments of Rev. Montague Summers who would have us discount all that is significant about the conduct of the Church. For he who refuses to recognize and learn from the lessons of history is doomed to relive them.

Geo. W. Bush seemed determined to repeat the past by re-living it, but his vision was out of step with the reality of his “subjects” [the Religious Right excepted] The similarity of the words Relaxation [used by the Church] and Renditions [used by the CIA], and other similarities, makes it difficult to ignore what seems obvious; that President Bush echoed the policies and tactics of Church history [that fans the flames of discord] rather than deal with world-problems logically, and “compassionately.” And in his wake is a Party of Evangelistic-types who have taken a page from Church History for the purpose of using it for their own advantage.

Kenneth G. Ramey was a 79-year old "writer without a Website" who is generating excellent, provocative articles on the subject of religion and world affairs. We are pleased that Ken's "lone wolf" presence as a writer in the world has been replaced by a spot on our team of writers at Raised in Minnesota and California during the dark years of the Great American Depression, Ken is well suited to talk about the powerful forces in the world that give all of us hope and tragedy and everything in between. You can write to Ken at:

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