The Church has "officially"
done some bad things

The Catholic Church has been abusive of people in church history. Defenders of the church typically try to minimize this, or to justify it, or to explain it away. In good conscience, I cannot.

The Catholic Church of today has corrected all of these problems (but there may be particular priests, bishops, or other Catholics whose conduct does not match the teachings of the church).

I should mention that none of the following examples concern doctrines of faith and morals and therefore do not "officially" contradict the Catholic doctrine of infallibility.However, the Catholic Church's claim of infallibility,which depends on various trivialities and legal technicalities, is not very satisfying — I can't imagine Jesus teaching anything like this.

See also Galileo


Anti-Semitism ...

Discrimination against Jews, Muslims, and other non-Catholics.

QuotesMy comments

Jews and Saracens [Muslims] are not to be allowed to have christian servants in their houses.

The evidence of Christians is to be accepted against Jews in every case, since Jews employ their own witnesses against Christians, and that those who prefer Jews to Christians in this matter are to lie under anathema, since Jews ought to be subject to Christians and to be supported by them on grounds of humanity alone.

1179 A.D., Third Lateran Council

This sounds like anti-Semitism to me. This is especially troubling because it appears in an "ecumenical" [all-church] council.

Jews shall be compelled to make satisfaction to churches for tithes and offerings due to the churches, which the churches were accustomed to receive from Christians for houses and other possessions, before they passed by whatever title to the Jews.

A difference of dress distinguishes Jews or Saracens [Muslims] from Christians in some provinces, but in others a certain confusion has developed so that they are indistinguishable. Whence it sometimes happens that by mistake Christians join with Jewish or Saracen women, and Jews or Saracens with christian women. In order that the offence of such a damnable mixing may not spread further, under the excuse of a mistake of this kind, we decree that such persons of either sex, in every christian province and at all times, are to be distinguished in public from other people by the character of their dress.

They [Jews and Saracens] shall not appear in public at all on the days of lamentation and on passion Sunday.

It would be too absurd for a blasphemer of Christ to exercise power over Christians. We therefore renew in this canon, on account of the boldness of the offenders, what the council of Toledo providently decreed in this matter: we forbid Jews to be appointed to public offices, since under cover of them they are very hostile to Christians.

1215 A.D., Fourth Lateran Council

This is advanced anti-Semitism. This is especially troubling because it appears in an "ecumenical" [all-church] council.

We command both diocesan bishops and secular powers to prohibit in every way Jews and other infidels from having Christians, male or female, in their households and service, or as nurses of their children; and Christians from joining with them in festivities, marriages, banquets or baths, or in much conversation, and from taking them as doctors or agents of marriages or officially appointed mediators of other contracts. They should not be given other public offices, or admitted to any academic degrees, or allowed to have on lease lands or other ecclesiastical rents. They are to be forbidden to buy ecclesiastical books, chalices, crosses and other ornaments of churches.

They are to be compelled, under severe penalties, to wear some garment whereby they can be clearly distinguished from Christians. In order to prevent too much intercourse, they should be made to dwell in areas, in the cities and towns, which are apart from the dwellings of Christians and as far distant as possible from churches. On Sundays and other solemn festivals they should not dare to have their shops open or to work in public.

1431-45 A.D., Council of Basel

Ghettos for Jews. This is especially troubling because it appears in an "ecumenical" [all-church] council.

Placing religious and economic restrictions on Jews in the Papal States.

The bull renewed anti-Jewish legislation and subjected Jews to various restrictions on their personal freedom and degradations like forcing Jewish males to wear a yellow hat, and females a yellow kerchief, compulsory Catholic sermons on the Jewish Shabbat, and Jews being forbidden to own real estate or practice medicine among Christians.

The bull also created the Roman Ghetto, where the Jews of Rome, who had lived freely since antiquity, were segregated in a walled quarter with three gates that were locked at night. Jews were also restricted to one synagogue per city. The following Pope Pius IV enforced the creation of other ghettos in most Italian towns, and his successor Pope Pius V recommended them to other bordering states.

Papal bull issued by Pope Paul IV dated July 14, 1555, Cum nimis absurdum

Popes practiced anti-Semitism.



Banning Books ...

QuotesMy comments

Some printers have the boldness to print and sell to the public, in different parts of the world, books . . . containing errors opposed to the faith as well as pernicious views contrary to the christian religion and to the reputation of prominent persons of rank. The readers are not edified. Indeed, they lapse into very great errors not only in the realm of faith but also in that of life and morals.

We therefore establish and ordain that henceforth, for all future time, no one may dare to print or have printed any book or other writing of whatever kind in Rome or in any other cities and dioceses, without the book or writings having first been closely examined, at Rome by our vicar and the master of the sacred palace, in other cities and dioceses by the bishop or some other person who knows about the printing of books and writings of this kind and who has been delegated to this office by the bishop in question, and also by the inquisitor of heresy for the city or diocese where the said printing is to take place, and unless the books or writings have been approved by a warrant signed in their own hand.

1512-17 A.D., Fifth Lateran Council

I am sympathetic to the idea that false and immoral writings should not be allowed. But as history has shown (see Galileo) even a well-meaning church can get it wrong.



Slavery and Imperialism ...

QuotesMy comments

You have purposed with the favor of divine clemency to bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and to bring them to the Catholic faith.

Papal Bull, Alexander VI, 1493, Inter Caetera

Why do they think they have the right to conquer these areas?

Extended to the Catholic nations of Europe dominion over discovered lands during the Age of Discovery. Along with sanctifying the seizure of non-Christian lands, it encouraged the enslavement of native, non-Christian peoples in Africa and the New World.

"To invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens [Muslims] and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery."

Papal bull, Pope Nicholas V, 1455, Romanus Pontifex

Slavery decreed by the church.

Authorised Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any "Saracens (Muslims) and pagans and any other unbelievers" to perpetual slavery. This facilitated the Portuguese slave trade from West Africa.

Papal bull, Pope Nicholas V, 1452, Dum Diversas

Perpetual slavery.



The Church's Powers ...

QuotesMy comments

Giving the English King Henry II lordship over Ireland. Henry invaded Ireland in 1171, using the papal bull to claim sovereignty over the island.

Papal bull, Pope Adrian IV, 1155, Laudabiliter

Why should popes decide who is to have the right to a country?

15 [It is an error to say that] Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.

23. [It is an error to say that] Roman pontiffs and ecumenical councils have wandered outside the limits of their powers, have usurped the rights of princes, and have even erred in defining matters of faith and morals.

24. [It is an error to say that] The Church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect.

38. [It is an error to say that] The Roman pontiffs have, by their too arbitrary conduct, contributed to the division of the Church into Eastern and Western.

55. [It is an error to say that] The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.

77. [It is an error to say that] In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship.

78. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship.

Pope Pius IX, 1864, Syllabus of Errors

This papal bull denies people the freedom to choose their own religion, declares the church infallible, allows the church to use force in enforcing its will, insists that the popes had no role in the great schism, declares that the church should rule the state, and states that Catholicism should be the state religion.



Witchcraft ...

QuotesMy comments

It condemned an alleged outbreak of witchcraft and heresy in the region of the Rhine River valley, and deputized Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, authors of the Malleus maleficarum, as inquisitors to root out alleged witchcraft in Germany.

This papal bull led to one of the severest witchhunts in European history.

Papal bull, Pope Innocent VIII, 1484, Summis desiderantes affectibus

Witchhunt.



Torture ...

QuotesMy comments

Confirmed by Pope Alexander IV on November 30, 1259, and by Pope Clement IV on November 3, 1265. It explicitly authorized the use of torture for eliciting confessions from heretics during the Inquisition and explicitly condoned the practice of executing relapsed heretics by burning them alive.

Papal bull, Pope Innocent IV, 1252, Ad exstirpanda

Burning alive and torture.

Condemning the Errors of Martin Luther.

33. [It is an error to say] That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.

Papal bull, Pope Leo X, 1520, Exsurge Domine

Burning alive.