By Gregory Paul | 20 December 2010
While working on a manuscript on the dark side of the Catholic patriarchy, which I hope will become a book, I realized that the modern anti-abortion campaign is the misogynist descendent of the Inquisitions that are supposed to have ended in the 1800s. To understand why, we need to take a look back at when the Holy See operated a system that enforced a state of terror upon the good peoples of Europe. The below consists largely of extracts from the manuscript.
Back when Europe was still under the sway of the Jesus cult a few hundred years ago, it was a sociological basket case. The Greco-Roman concepts of democracy were long forgotten as pagan deceits. The masses lived in feudal poverty. Crime was rampant, with murder rates similar to those seen in America’s inner cities today, despite draconian punishments. Wars great and small swept across the Christian lands.
To add to the misery, the Catholic elites thought it a good idea to enforce their cult’s doctrine by tightening up the theocratic police state that they had been running since the militaristic and murderous Constantine made Christianity the faith of the Roman empire. Until then the pagan cults had been a tolerant, polytheistic lot that generally exhibited a live and let live tolerance for one another. The one exception had been the Christians, who refused to acknowledge the primacy of Jupiter and were a convenient scapegoat for Roman leaders. As soon as the church of Jesus was put in charge, they did not rise to the occasion by promoting universal tolerance. They sank to a moral low by imposing a rare (for the time) single faith theocracy, which banned all other cults and destroyed their places of worship, either directly or by converting them to Christian establishments. Not only were the pagans dealt with, so were Gnostic Christians, who followed sets of gospels that did not make it into the official Bible that the Catholic cult assembled at Nicaea and then imposed upon the entire populace.
For almost a millennium there was not an official body to enforce Christian doctrines. But in the 1100s a big problem arose. The Cathars. The heresy of the Gnostics had suddenly reemerged in a new and popular form, becoming a widespread grass roots movement in parts of Europe. In part because the corrupt Catholics had been doing such a bad job running matters. But rather than institute internal reforms, the Catholic elites decided on a crackdown. An all out war, the notorious Albigensian Crusade, was waged against the Cathars. During one siege the crusader leader had the eyes, noses and lips of 100 prisoners removed before they were sent back, led by a prisoner with one eye left. When a crusader commander asked how to tell apart Catholics and Cathars he was told “Kill them all, the Lord will recognize His own.” In the end the crusader boasted to Pope Innocent 3, in terms that echoed the Biblical description of Israelite genocides, “Today, your Holiness, 20,000 heretics were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex.” The last siege was the fortress of Montsegur. When the redoubt was seized, 200 plus Cathar perfects were consumed alive in a great fire. The burning was part of a new policy cooked up by the Catholic syndicate. The Inquisitions had begun.
Although the war against the Cathars was effective in suppressing open Gnostic worship, the cult remained entrenched at the grass roots level. To ferret out the heresy, the Inquisition machine was established. It proved so effective that it was expanded across much of Catholic Europe to deal with any form of opposition the Holy See deemed worthy of the oppression, torture and agonizing death that it happens are allowed by scripture. The aim was at long last — it had been almost a 1000 years since the church had taken over the Roman empire, for heaven’s sake — to make Europe into a purely Catholic realm, without any pesky nonbelievers and dissidents to hinder any soul from being saved by the dictator of the universe, Jesus the Christ. 300,000 trials were held, leading to over a million denunciations and thousands of burnings of human beings. A handbook for inquisitors instructed that, “punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit.” The good folks that the Catholic cult targeted for intimidation, torture and death included Cathars, Waldensians, Hussits, Lollards, assorted Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, crypto-Hindus, Europagans, occultists, witches, bigamists, anyone accused of nonstandard sexual practices, those who translated the Latin Bible into vernacular languages, skeptics, Platonists, and philosopher-scientists such as Bruno and Galileo.
Tortures frequently threatened and, when necessary, used to extract confessions included the rack, and the water boarding that Catholic specialists apparently invented. Punishments ranged from penance, to fines, to imprisonment, to execution. The church would not itself kill people, so it used the Orwellian procedure of Relaxation to turn victims over to the secular authorities. States had draconian laws against heresy and related offenses, so it was under their authority that death sentences were meted out. This sleight of hand was calculated to keep the hands of the church clean, but the inquisitors knew the secular fate of those they judged. The stock means of murdering the victim was burning while alive. These were public spectacles. In some cases stands were constructed for the local nobility to watch the godly proceedings. The one way to avoid being roasted while screaming your lungs out in agony was to repent. In that case you were first strangled by a rope around the neck and then burned. They did that to Tyndale after he dared translate the Latin Bible into English.
As time wore on elements of the Catholic patriarchy decided to wage the First War Against Women. In 1484 the obviously misnamed Innocent 8 issued a Papal bull authorizing inquisitors to systemize the persecution of witches. This helped inspire one of those inquisitors to write the notorious Malleus Maleficarum (MM), or The Hammer of Witches. This execrable work denied the arguments of more sane Catholics that witches were not real, and attacked deniers, contended that witches were not merely engaging in false practices but were in league with the devil, asserted that most witches were women, and provided helpful instructions on how to find and persecute suspicious females. MM claimed, for instance, that “all witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable.” Crimes attributed to witches included killing infants, consuming fellow humans, casting evil spells and most diabolical of all to the male power structure, stealing penises.
MM was so over the top that much of the Catholic elite opposed the work; even some inquisitors balked. The women humiliated, tortured and killed by Catholic men probably exceeded the males and females victimized by the general inquisition. But it was the new Protestants that really took up the cause — partly in an effort to show that they were more dedicated opponents of Lucifer than the corrupt Catholics. The total number of women murdered was well into the tens of thousands. Although Catholics did not kill most of the “witches,” the tragedy was unlikely to have occurred if the men of Rome had not gotten the terrible ball rolling in the first place.
The Inquisitions worked, in that opposition to the Roman syndicate and its doctrines was initially suppressed even more than it had been before the terror. In the longer term it backfired. The promised Christian utopia did not arrive; many Europeans got fed up with the never-ending repression, and started revolting in some manner or another. The terror contributed to the Reformation, and to the French, Spanish and Italian revolutions. The Holy See had shot itself in its foot. As Enlightened secular and democratic values became the western norm, the church had to give up torture by the early 1800s, and the Inquisition by the middle 1800s. Thus the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition evolved into the less draconian Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which is still up and running, it was headed by Benedict 16 before be became the newest Pope.
What with all the crap men have given women over the millennia one would think that it would be a primary goal of the modern global society to give them a break and be as good and supportive as possible. Instead the men who run the Catholic cult have decided to wage a new inquisition, a new war on women based on another of their big lies. That God is so pro-life that induced abortion is murder, so it must be against the law for a woman to terminate her pregnancy, and the law must include severe punishment for the transgression. An adjunct to the assault upon women is the ban on contraceptives.
The hypothesis that the creator of the universe is obsessed with humans preborn making it to birth is of course ridiculous since most conceptions naturally fail. As I demonstrated in Theology and Philosophy (gregspaul.webs.com/Philosophy&Theology.pdf), the human reproductive system that Christians think God designed is so defective that it more deadly than life giving — perhaps a few hundred billion pregnancies have spontaneously aborted, leading to some 100 billion births to date (of which half have died as children due to the diseases that are part of the creator’s creation according to Christian doctrine). It is possible that three out of four intercourses between fertile couples do not result in pregnancy not because of a failure of conception, but because most conceptions don’t even implant. Nor does the Biblical God care enough to bother to bring the matter of abortion up. That’s why anti-choice literatures does not cite actual scriptural passages that condemn abortion, they have to resort to lines that demand not killing the innocent. Because the creator, in case one exists, has already overseen the slaughter of countless billions of youth, the Biblical censures of dispatching the blameless are hypocritical and void. All the more so because in the Good Book God-Jesus kills off enormous numbers of the preborn and recently born in floods, plagues, annihilation of cities and wars, and orders followers to do the same in sacrifices and mass genocides. If there is a creator god it is not a source of absolute morality, it is potentially evil. Nor is there real-world or Biblical evidence that a creator entity is pro-life, if anything it is the opposite.
Yet the men’s club of Rome has gone mad in its modern attempt to make women pay for having the audacity to defy their authority over all humanity. It was not always thus. In the Middle Ages there were no laws on abortion, and it was not until the 1580s that Pope Sixtus 5 decided that all abortions were a sin. Even then early term abortion was tolerated up to the mid 1800s. Then the church crackdown in reaction to the advent of modernity began at the same time that professional medical cliques joined the effort to crackdown on women controlling their reproduction. Contraceptives were also tightly controlled or banned. Why? Doctors make much more money from full pregnancies than early term abortions, which were then often performed by the midwives, whom doctors wanted to eliminate as competition. The recent relegalization of abortion in a number of western democracies has driven the men of the Vatican crazy. For it reflects their loss of control. Control of society in general, and control of women specifically.
America’s absence of laws banning abortion has compelled the Catholic syndicate to take its own steps to discipline its women. And it is women they are targeting. A Catholic man who makes his living as a priest can bugger all the boys he wants and he will not receive the worst retribution the cult can deliver, excommunication. Same for bishops who have engaged in racketeering by covering for the pedophile clerics. Until recently, Catholics who let the public know about church pedophile cases could be booted out. Rome never excommunicated a single Catholic Fascist (www.opednews.com/articles/Why-Making-Pope-Pious-XII-by-Gregory-Paul-100418-432.html). Not Hitler, a lifelong church member. Not the Butcher of the Balkans, Pavelic who murdered hundreds of thousands under the very nose of his Pope, who then protected Hitler’s ally from justice by hiding Pavelic in Rome before shipping him and thousands of Nazis to Spain and Argentina. None of the Catholic Mafia or their clerical collaborators who used to generate international headlines were excommunicated (www.opednews.com/articles/THE-UNDERTOLD-STORY-THE-V-by-Gregory-Paul-100629-645.html). Men of the Catholic persuasion can do terrible things and remain within the fold. But if you are a virtuous Catholic woman, getting exocommunicated is as easy as pie.
Meet Sister Margaret McBride, a law abiding Catholic woman who works at the Catholic St. Joseph’s Hospital in Arizona. In 2010 a patient with a heart condition too grave for her to be moved was informed that her early term pregnancy was going to be 100% fatal for her and the fetus. McBride exhibited sufficient decency and basic ethics to assist the woman in saving her life via an abortion. The caring nun who did her duty as a medical caretaker has been excommunicated by the main organization, for the intolerable crime of saving the life of a fellow human being. This was not even at the cost of the fetus, which was doomed regardless. The medical ethics director of the Diocese of Phoenix stated that McBride “consented in the murder of an unborn child. There are some situations where the mother may in fact die along with her child. But — and this is the Catholic perspective — you can’t do evil to do good. The end does not justify the means” (www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126985072). This from a believer in a God whose end supposedly justifies the means of the natural death of most of the unborn. Is he really so morally obtuse, or is he just cynical?
In the US, a current church directive supposedly allows abortion to save the life of the mother, but the action of the Arizona bishop indicates this is merely a transitory phase. To see what the Catholic Church really wants, we need only visit a land where they have gotten what they desire. Laws that charge women who have abortions with murder.
In El Salvador the cult successfully backed a total ban on abortion, with absolutely no exceptions. There, women are being prosecuted and jailed for performing abortions on themselves after they show up for emergency medical care following their desperate acts. The need for this hard-line policy is perversely logical in Catholic theology — the mother has been baptized and will arrive in heaven; because the fetus has not been so graced it must have priority. Catholic doctrine is so execrable that it demands that once a woman is pregnant she is along for the ride even it means her death. If she got that way by being raped, that’s just too bad. It is in no way an exaggeration to state that that is the barbaric, pitiless world these man brutes want to bring to us here and abroad.
To force a person to undergo death when a medical procedure that does not increase the probability of the death of another can cure the problem is outright murder. To prevent a woman who needs an abortion to save her life when failing to perform the abortion will not save the life of the unborn is premeditated homicide. Ergo, the men’s club of Rome is not consistently pro-life as it boasts, it is as anti-life as is possible under a particular circumstance. Specifically for sexually mature women. There is no situation that a modern man or child can get into that demands his death (the divine organization no longer being involved in exterminating atheists, heretics, witches, Jews and Muslims). The ongoing war on women is sheer evil.
Foolish is the idea that abortion should be rare if it exists at all. On the right, this is to be achieved by the sort of draconian Big Government the small government crowd favors when it serves their purposes. On the left, the motto is that abortion should be “legal but rare.” Abortion will never be rare. The research proves that abortion is always common whether it is banned and dangerous or safe and legal (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20085681), with a fifth to a forth of pregnancies deliberately terminated. Let me explain why this is so to those who do not understand. You see, women do suffer from a serious flaw, one that causes them to abort pregnancies in great numbers. They are human beings like the rest of us. So, one way or another, many find themselves unwillingly pregnant, and a major portion are bound and determined to not go through with it, and one way or another they don’t. Nor do Catholic women abstain from abortions dramatically more than women who do not belong to an anti-choice cult. There are significant variations in abortion rates between countries. The most Christian 1st world country, the US, has an abortion rate a third higher than in other prosperous democracies (www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP07398441_c.pdf). This is largely the result of the influence of the Catholic and right wing Protestant cults that have succeeded in promoting abstinence-only sex “education”, which repeatedly backfires. Being human, even conservatives are prone to engage in sex — surveys show the great majority engage in sex outside of marriage — and are likely to suffer adverse consequences if they are leery of using protection. The promotion of condom use in the rest of the advanced democracies has probably driven abortion levels to about as low as is practical. Prohibitions cannot further suppress abortion — it’s like outlawing alcohol or heretical thinking — so bans only serve to torment countless good and decent women while labeling them as murderers, and making the usually simple procedure dangerous. That is the definition of cruelty.
Also primitively barbarous is the ban on artificial conception. It used to be that sexual intercourse for a wife could be a terribly ironic burden. She wanted to make love to her wonderful husband, but doing so on a frequent basis would lead to an endless series of exhaustive pregnancies and a house packed of children, overwhelming many wives and mothers. The celibates who run Rome want all fertile females to return to this arrangement to fulfill the glorious needs of God. Not the needs and desires of real women here on planet Earth, but those of their imaginary deity.
Those who oppose birth control after as well as before conception often claim to have the best interests of wayward women at heart, even as they work to impose draconian punishments upon them. This too is classic inquisitional practice. When the church in its wisdom accused, threatened, tortured and punished heretics, it was done with love and profound concern for the souls of the disobedient. As the convicted were led to be roasted alive, the crowds begged them to repent so their souls would not arrive in hell (repenters were strangled to death with a rope around the neck before burning — it is remarkable how many refused this less agonizing option).
The core reason that antiabortion Catholics as well as evangelicals wish to force women to bear their babies to the point they die is not morality, which their faiths don’t have all that much of. Nor is God truly central to the effort. It is about control. The control includes domination of woman by misogynist, authority-obsessed men. But also control of society by brute intimidation. That is why the anti-abortion cause is almost entirely religious in nature, atheists who are impractical enough to oppose the procedure being a rare species. The religious goal is a global culture where sex is limited to married heterosexuals who are not using contraceptives. It’s a crass power play dressed up in false morality. And if there is one thing the Roman Church is really about it is Earthly power.
For the anti-abortion movement is a de-facto revival of the Inquisition. Old habits die hard, and the cult has not kicked the habit of domination by fear and terror. Here’s how it works in an inquisition whether ancient or current. A common activity is made into a false crime. A crime of murder. A target group, in this case women of reproductive age, are made the subjects of harsh laws, leading to investigations of their most private activities and grave charges. Many women live in chronic fear of the church and state and the brutal people who carry out the laws. Even seeking medical aid can lead to traumatic interrogation and imprisonment. Those that aid the distressed women, or even fail to denounce them, are also targeted. Having pushed the laws into existence, the responsible religious cult (whether Catholic or conservative Protestant) tries to keep its dirty hands clean by turning the execution of the draconian punishment over to the secular government. The pernicious cynicism of the supporters of the modern inquisition can be seen when Catholics — who typically try to downplay the Inquisition — cite abortion as an even worse modern crime, complete with pictures of aborted fetuses (illustrations of victims of Catholic torture are not included in these sites). All who support the anti-choice inquisition are committing evil.
That Rome switched from the general inquisition to the more anti-female variant makes warped sense. Remember that the church did not bother all that much with mere women’s reproductive issues during the great Inquisitions. Why should they when they were having a fine time terrorizing the whole Catholic population of Europe and the southern Americas male and female? But as pernicious enlightened secularism cut into and finally shut down the old clerics’ power game they asked themselves, what can we do now to pick on someone new? What to do indeed? Something that would not be so obvious upfront. Aha! That abortion thing that had been simmering on the back burner. Why not move it to the front of the stove and turn up the heat? It was not coincidental that the Catholic man club started pushing the abortion issue at the same time the broad-spectrum inquisitions were tailing off. They shifted the main target to one that was more vulnerable. The Mother cult is always about picking on someone. They dress it up as high and godly morality, but in the end it comes down to picking on someone.
For bullying is what the bigotry of patriarchal misogyny is about. One of the worst defects of the Bible remains one of the most under-appreciated. The bias against women who are mere property in scripture is so pervasive that it is sometimes not immediately noticeable — we know the name of the son that Abraham was ready to sacrifice, but we never learn the name of the daughter that Jephthah does sacrifice to God. Aside from being just plain wrong, it is stupid. If there is one thing that is obvious by now is that having men run things on their own is a sure way to make a mess of things. This is not mere opinion. Those corporations run with more woman in the tope ranks tend to do better than those led by men. The more women help governing a nation the more likely it is to be doing well. If there is evidence that the Christian God if one exists is an idiot beyond that provided by the death of billions of children, then his putting men in charge of his church is it.
To fully understand how sick and bigoted a bid for power is the Catholic men’s War Against Women, we must consider how these guys are pushing against women’s rights every day, every night, 24/365, in all possible venues, while putting far less emphasis on the real horrors they should be focusing on. When the Holy See really cares about something, they are relentless. Abortion is an endless theme on their cable channel, where they have whole shows dedicated to stripping women of their reproductive rights. That is because for a message to be effective it must be endlessly repeated. Just watch EWTN, aka the anti-abortion channel. The anti-choice movement would not exist as a popular issue if not for the unceasing propaganda of the male power cliques to turn a private reproductive practice into murder. What the men of the Vatican do not care nearly as much about (as telling the other sex what to do) is trying to tackle the real — and male — criminals who are creating actual murder and mayhem. Consider how Catholic Mexico is being torn apart by a near civil war by berserker drug cartels. When was the last time you heard the church demand a stop to the criminal carnage? I am not saying that they have not condemned the criminal terrorists, but do they pay the actual horror anywhere near the attention they do to the faux problem of women utilizing post conception birth control and life saving abortions? You can go for days or weeks on EWTN without the global growth of organized crime being mentioned. After years of being the Pope, Benedict got around to denouncing the Sicilian Mafia in 2010. The brave persons battling the mob ended up angry at the Pontiff. Why? Because his comments were mere platitudes, mere warnings to youth to stay away from the Mafia life. He did not use the word Mafia, did not name any specific good fellows, and excommunicated none of them.
Why doesn’t the Vatican do more about true villains? Because the men’s club has calculated that putting a lot of effort into trying to control the powerful and dangerous men who are actual criminals is not worth the exertion because they are a very small percentage of the population in the first place, and a churchly attempt to control them will not work anyway, further exposing the church’s ineffectiveness to the world. Women are a much bigger yet “weaker” prize, weak and vulnerable enough in the eyes of the naively ignorant men of the Vatican to be guilt tripped and cowed into submissive compliance. Bully enough of them into obeying church dictates, and that would be a sociodemographic pearl of great price. It is another pathetic miscalculation by the women-free boys of Rome, who do not know women as real people and partners in their lives. Hey you guys, the grownup and savvy girls are not that vulnerable — or that stupid.
There is another way the church of men abuses women. If a Catholic woman has the gall to try to assume the position of a priest, she is excommunicated. Male fascists, Mafiosi, pedophiles and so on are not denied the comfort of the church, but a fine woman who wants to be a cleric is booted out for her sinful rejection of the power structure. Of course, the boys don’t want to play with the girls. It would dilute their power. And if women become part of the clergy, many of them will push to dramatically alter other aspects of the cult’s power doctrine. That wouldn’t be good. And the church rulers have a more subtle fear. When churches liberalize their doctrine and practices it usually does not do them any demographic good, perhaps the reverse. In the US it has been liberal and mainstream denominations that have taken the biggest hits during the secularization of recent decades, although the theoconservatives are losing ground as well. Also, as the church loses ground in the west it is making some membership gains in the 2nd and 3rd worlds, where the clergy and laity are if anything more reactionary than the guys in Rome. Staying a boy’s club does not guarantee the survival of the Catholic cult, but it may be slowing down the slide.
Here’s the take home message. The defenders of woman’s rights are not fighting back as hard as they can and need to. The right wing’s ruthless labeling of abortion as murder, and unremitting smearing of those who have and provide abortions as murderers, is an aggressive campaign, which is effective enough to cause support for American women’s reproductive rights to slide according to surveys. The reply by progressives has been to emphasize practical concerns, including the risk to women’s health if they have to return to illegal abortions. Although such defensive effort is necessary and important, it is insufficient because it appears to concede the moral high ground to the anti-abortionists. Those who favor the rights of woman would do better if they take the offensive by labeling the anti-abortion movement for what it is, a new and dreadful inquisition. A misogynist inquisition. A modern form of evil. And put the pressure back on the Catholic Club of Men. Demand that they cease waging a war on average law abiding women and put their moral focus where it should be, on the miscreants Catholic and otherwise who commit real crimes.
Gregory Paul is an independent researcher interested in informing the public about little known yet important aspects of the complex interactions between religion, secularism, culture, economics, politics and societal conditions. His scholarly work has appeared in Evolutionary Psychology, Journal of Religion and Society, The Journal of Medical Ethics, Philosophy and Theology. Popular essays are at Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post/On Faith, Edge and one of the most widely read Washington Post op-eds (5/29&30/11). Coverage of Paul’s research has appeared in Newsweek, USA Today, The Guardian, London Times, LA Times, MSNBC, FoxNews.
“Whose Choice?” A Pro-Abortion Film
Chile: where all abortion is illegal
Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook