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Dominicans examine role in Inquisition

The Dominican Order has been locked in conclave to re-examine its role in the Inquisition, but believes the failings of its members who tried people for heresy centuries ago have been greatly exaggerated.

The Dominicans said on Sunday that a three-day symposium in Rome had been inspired by the Pope's request "for the Church to cleanse its historic memory". Above all, the meeting was aimed at separating fact from fiction.

Event organiser Fr Arturo Palacios said the order would admit its wrongs if necessary, but predicted that with careful study, the Inquisition's evils would probably emerge as being grossly exaggerated.

"We are tired of the propagation of errors which make us out to be the Inquisition's founders, the authors of massacres and the only ones responsible for persecution," he said.

17 years after St Dominic founded the order in 1216, Pope Gregory IX created the Inquisition to combat heresy, and entrusted its running to the Dominicans. They acquired a reputation for carrying out their brief with gusto, especially in the Spanish Inquisition.

The inhumane cruelty of this mission was personified by the Dominican Grand Inquisitor of Aragon and Castile, Tomas de Torquemada.

He is said to have sent 2000 Jews, and possibly another 7000, to the stake as "impenitent sinners". The figures are open to much debate.

Daily Telegraph