View My Stats

Thursday, November 29, 2007

5th December

RSS Feed Delicious Reddit Stumbled Upon Facebook

The EncyclicalIn 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued the papal bull “Desiring with supreme ardor” (Summis desiderantes affectibus) in response to the request of Dominican Inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger for explicit authority to prosecute witchcraft in Germany, after they were refused assistance by the local ecclesiastical authorities. Kramer and Sprenger set Summis desiderantes affectibus as the preface for their encyclical “The Hammer of Witches” (Malleus Maleficarum), which was printed two years later. The encyclical recognized the existence of witches and gave full papal approval for the Inquisition to move against witches and gave permission to do whatever necessary to get rid of them. The encyclical essentially repeated Kramer and Sprenger's finding of fact that an outbreak of witchcraft and heresy had occurred in the Rhine River valley, specifically in the bishoprics of Mainz, Cologne, Trier, Salzburg and Bremen, including accusations of certain acts.
The Encyclical - Malleus Maleficarum
Malleus Maleficarum
The encyclical is often viewed opening the door for the bloody witchhunts that ensued for centuries; however, its similarities to previous papal documents, emphasis on preaching, and lack of dogmatic pronouncement complicate this view. The Catholic Encyclopedia emphasises the importance attached to the encyclical in the context of the ensuing witch hunts as "altogether necessary." Some scholars view the bull as "unnecessarily political," motivated by jurisdictional disputes between the local German Catholic priests and those of the Inquisition who answered more directly to the pope.

No comments: