Vatican Report Says the Inquisition Wasn’t so Bad After All

Updated June 30, 2015 (first published July 2, 2004) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143,

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Professor Agostino Borromeo [pictured at left], historian of Catholicism at the Sapienza University in Rome, says the Inquisition wasn’t as bad as it has been made out to be. He is the editor of a 783-page report issued by the Vatican which claims, for example, that only 1% of the 125,000 people tried by church courts as suspected heretics in Spain were executed (“Historians say Inquisition wasn’t that bad,” The Guardian, London, June 16, 2004).

Catholic Cardinal Georges Cottier agrees with the report’s findings and says Rome shouldn’t “ask for pardon for deeds which aren’t there.”

In fact, it has been estimated by careful and reputable historians that 50 million people were slaughtered for the crime of “heresy” by Roman persecutors between the AD 606 and the middle of the 19th century. This is the number cited by historian John Dowling, who published the classic “History of Romanism” in 1847 (book VIII, chapter 1, footnote 1).

It is not sufficient to speak of those who died directly at the hands of Roman Catholic inquisitors (including languishing in prisons), even though this was a massive number, because that was only one aspect of Rome’s brutality toward those who refused to submit to its authority. Multitudes of non-Catholics were murdered in crusades instigated by the popes and by various other means. Here we are not speaking of Rome’s crusades in the Middle East but of her crusades against the Albigenses, Waldenses, and other Bible-believers in Europe.

Consider just one group of “heretics” that Rome treated with its Inquisition. From AD 1160-1560, the Waldensians that dwelt in the Italian Alps were visited with 36 different fierce persecutions that spared neither age nor sex (Thomas Armitage,
A History of the Baptists, “Post-Apostolic Times -- The Waldensians,” 1890). This does not include the persecutions against Waldenses who lived in southern Italy, France, Germany, England, and other parts of Europe.

The persecutions in northern Italy continued through much of the 17th century. Samuel Morland was sent by Oliver Cromwell as England’s ambassador to the Waldenses in the 1600s, and he did everything he could to assist these religiously brutalized people. Morland wrote of his experiences in The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont (1658). It was subtitled “containing a most exact geographical description of the place, and a faithful account of the doctrine, life, and persecutions of the ancient inhabitants, together with a most naked and punctual relation of the late bloody massacre, 1655, and a narrative of all the following transactions, to the year of our Lord, 1658.”

In 2003, I visited the Waldensian Museum in northern Italy and walked in some of the villages where this terrible persecution took place.

Morland’s well-researched account, largely drawn from eyewitnesses and primary documents, was republished in 1982 by Church History Research & Archives.

The Waldensians were almost completely destroyed as a people and most of their ancient literary record was erased from the face of the earth. Morland collected the extant documents that existed in his day, including a copy of their New Testament in the Romaunt language (also called Provencal or Occitan) which predated French. In 2006, I examined this New Testament at Trinity College Dublin. (For a discussion of this New Testament and my examination of it, see
In the Footsteps of Bible Translators, which is available in print and free eBook editions from

This terrible persecution was repeated for hundreds of years all over Europe and England and eventually in South America, Mexico, the Philippines, and wherever Rome ruled. We have documented this extensively in the book
Rome and the Bible.

The editors of the Vatican report claim that many of the Inquisition tortures and murders were not committed by the Catholic Church but by “non-church tribunals,” yet this is irrelevant in light of the fact that Rome directly influenced most tribunals. The “secular” authorities were under the duress of the “spiritual” authority, which was Rome!

One of the tricks that Rome used in those days was to condemn a “heretic” and then turn him or her over to the “secular” authorities to carry out the death sentence. Thus Rome herself did not actually kill them, and yet when the cruel smokescreen is removed it is evident that she most certainly killed them.

Hundreds of eyewitness reports were written and collected to document Rome’s brutal Inquisition, and this body of testimony cannot be swept under the rug by the children of the Inquisitors and by their spiritually-blind “evangelical” compatriots.

We live in a world filled with lies, but they will be washed away at the coming of Jesus Christ and the world will be filled with light rather than gross darkness. Before that, the old religious whore that sits on seven hills and is drunken with the blood of the saints will be destroyed (Rev. 17).

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