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Hans Maier

Violence in Christianity


From: Stimmen der Zeit, 10/2008, P.679-692
webmaster's own, not authorized translation


    The use of violence in order to spread Christianity was biblically substantiated with the "Compelle intrare" ("Urge them to enter", Lk 14, 16-24) from the parable of the banquet. HANS MAIER, who last held the Romano Guardini Chair of Christian weltanschauung at the University of Munich, deals with the interpretation of the parable in the history of the Church from St. Augustine up to the Second Vatican Council.


Only in complete freedom man is able to meet the moral obligation to seek the truth and to follow the recognized truth. That's why state or church coercion in matters of religion is out of the question. That insight was in the Christian theology already early widespread and is proved in many patristic texts. In them the liberation of Christian faith from the pressure of the classical state cults is reflected: The collective rituals were increasingly replaced by the personal confession of individuals.

According to Tertullian it is therefore a human right in matters of religion to act only in accordance with one's own conviction. Religion does not allow compulsion, least by religion itself - "nec religionis est cogere religionem" {1}. For it can only lead to hypocrisy and pretence, Lactanz says, when somebody under coercion worships something that he in earnest does not want to worship {2}. In the medieval centuries in ecclesiastical law corresponding legal principles develop. So Gratian sticks to it that "nobody is to be forced to faith" {3}, and Thomas Aquinas confirms that sentence with the words that faith was a matter of the (free) will {4}. {4}. The corresponding regulations of canon law reach up to the modern age, even to the present. Both, the old and the new ecclesiastical law until today strictly stand by the rejection of coercion in matters of faith. The Codex Juris Canonici of 1983 contains the sentence: "Nobody has the right to induce people against their conscience by coercion to adopt the Catholic faith." {5}

Nevertheless it cannot be ignored that time and again there was violence in matters of religion in the history of Christianity, violence also "in the name of religion" - that strikes every observer's eye who looks at the testimonies. About power and coercion in the church, about the Christians' deeds of violence, about the so-called "criminal history of Christianity" {6}, there is meanwhile an extensive, often polemical literature. But today the history of Christianity is not only critically looked at from outside by opponents and enemies. Among Christians too the examination of their own past is of great importance.

Especially the Catholic Church has recently taken a variety of initiatives more precisely to discover questionable events of its history - not in apologetic intention as usually in former times but absolutely with the will to explanation and remedy. So Pope John Paul II in his famous plea for forgiveness on 12 March 2000 applied the preceding general



and the special confession of guilt to the whole past of the Church. 2000 years of church practice in the proclamation of the Gospel are under discussion. The result, with the words of the Pope: "Christians have often denied the Gospel and given in to the logic of violence ... Forgive us!" {7}

What is the cause of such violence in Christianity, which obviously contradicts the early confirmed freedom of force in matters of faith? Three reasons may be mentioned: There is firstly the protection of the faith community against disbelief and heresy, which in its concrete form, especially in the action against heretics often led to intolerance and violence. Such a protection is necessary in every spiritual community - but where are its limits? There is, secondly, the defence of faith against - real or supposed - attacks by the infidels, a defence that repeatedly led to it that one went beyond mere defence and in the end fell into violence, into an endless spiral of outrages, pogroms, fights, wars. The Crusades are the historical textbook example; but also the relationship between Christians and Jews in the West is for long periods of history shaped by that dialectic. And thirdly, there is the spread of faith in the world, with which Christianity tried to fulfil the biblical mission command ("Go into the whole World"). In the course of the missionary - and later colonial - opening up of the world through Christian-moulded Europe the religious self-determination of subjugated peoples, the freedom of their consent to the Christian faith was often massively violated - up to the point that the refusal to accept the Christian faith appeared as an injustice against God and wars against the natives became religious wars {8}.

In all those events admittedly not only the church but also the state is involved. That you must always bear in mind while analysing the events, in order to avoid mono-causal recriminations and unchecked biases. It is true, the Christian theology has from the outset argued in the sense of the biblical parable of the tribute money: It has always distinguished between what belongs to the emperor and what to God - a distinction that in the "theo-political" religions of the classical antiquity was of course of no importance {9}. But in practice one has often less differentiated between church and secular responsibilities than it corresponded to the state of theory and theology {10}. In the historical course in the Occident retrogressions into the familiar repeatedly took place: unexpected intensifications of the old church-state unity - updates of the old-Roman Empire model in the Middle Ages or the "institutional pact" between church and state in modern times. Sometimes it was a regular Old-Maid Game: The state hid behind the church or the church behind the state.

Only late, after the modern revolutions, the church says farewell to the model of the "Christian state" and looks for and finds its own freedom.



And also the state relatively late stops wanting to form and mould the church after its image (the last attempt was the kulturkampf of the 19th century). Only on that basis of new (and now final!) distinctions then the ideal of mutual independence of church and state asserts itself. And only with it then also the full, no longer limited by reservations recognition of religious freedom becomes possible {11}.

The Corpus Delicti: "Compelle Intrare"

Among the theological justifications for violence in matters of religion the figure of the biblical "Compelle Intrare" (urge them to enter) has rightly won the greatest fame. It is an extremely handy figure; the references reach through the whole history of the church: from Augustine to the Reformers, from the Spanish scholasticism to theologians of the modern popular mission. The Compelle Intrare for long periods offered an inconspicuous, a - as it seemed - legitimate and decent approach to the difficult problem of "religion - mission - violence" {12}.

First, the relevant text may be cited. It is from the Gospel of Luke in Chapter 14, verses 16-24. There the talk is about the house-father who prepares a grand supper and invites many guests for it. But the invited begin to apologize: the one has acquired a farm (in Greek it says: a field) and must go to look at it, the other one has bought five yoke of oxen and must inspect them, the third one has taken a wife and that's why he cannot come:

"And the servant returning, told these things to his lord. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant: Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor, and the feeble, and the blind, and the lame. And the servant said: Lord, it is done as you have commanded, and yet there is room. And the Lord said to the servant: Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. But I say unto you, that none of those men that were invited, shall taste of my supper." {13}

"Et compelle intrare ut impleatur domus mea" the passage says in the Vulgate text. In Greek it reads: "kai anankeson eiselthein, hina gemisthe mou ho oikos". "Urge them to enter" - that is probably the appropriate, factually most accurate translation - "force them" would be too strong, "ask them" or "call upon them" would be too weak. Both, Luther {14} and Allioli {15} and most of the Catholic translations as well as the ecumenical translation of 1972 {16} use the term "urge" - it meets the Latin "compellere" (push, push together) well - and even better the Greek "anankazo" the semantic spectrum of which reaches from "force" to "convince".



With the Greek and Latin Fathers that parable for a long time was hardly of importance. Its theological use only began with Augustine - but then certainly with great force and intense long-term effect. Here too the original may be quoted - the late Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, writes in 408 to the Donatists' bishop Vincentius:

"You think you mustn't compel anyone to justice, although you read that the house-father has said to his servants: 'Compel all those who you find to enter', and although you read that Saul, later Paul, under the constraint of Christ's forcible influence was brought to the recognition and acceptance of truth... So you already understand, as I think, what matters is not whether somebody is forced at all but what he is forced to, it may be good or evil".

Many heretics, so St. Augustine argues, had found the way back to the church by force: "To those examples, which by my fellow-bishops were held up to me, I've given in." In that letter Augustine discreetly points to the fact that he had previously thought differently. He had been of the opinion that nobody should be forced to the unity in Christ. But the practical experience with the North African Donatist movement had put him right. Circumspect compulsion could possibly lead to the conversion of those who deviate from the common faith - and thus contribute to the public peace {17}.

With it a new paradigm had been created. The parable of the grand banquet was henceforth exclusively interpreted in the sense described. In the following time Augustine's interpretation often developed a broad, fatal effect, especially when dealing with faith deviations in the church and with treating heretics and heresies. On such occasions the limit was soon exceeded which Augustine had still observed and which he wanted to be kept - for also in his later years he categorically rejected the death penalty against heretics. But in the trials for heresy of the Middle Ages - the first execution of heretics in the West took place in 385 at the emperor's court in Trier - the early Christians' doing without corporal punishment of heretics fell step by step. The serenity of earlier times, which had oriented towards the biblical parable of the weeds in the wheat and had biblically advised patience ("Let both grow until the harvest comes", Mt 13, 30), fell more and more into oblivion. It was replaced by a judicial decisionism, which regarded the heretic's "sacrilege against God" and the spread of his teachings as a crime that had directly and at once to be atoned for.

So Joseph Höffner could already in 1947 in his book "Colonialism and Gospel" pass the sharp verdict on the new interpretation of Compelle Intrare by Augustine:

"Those sentences were handed down from century to century; they were included into the Gratian Decree; they served to justify the punishment of heretics, the Inquisition and the subjugation of the Indians in the 16th century." {18}



In his recent book "Tolerance and Violence" Arnold Angenendt called the practice of killing the heretics, which became usual in the Middle Ages in the church and was perfected in the early modern age, the "Christian fall from grace" absolute {19}.


Fending off Violence and new Violence: the Crusades

Have also the Crusades to do with the Compelle Intrare? Certainly not immediately. For they belonged to a different genus than the action against the heretics; they were - at least in the course and the result - real wars in which the Western Christendom turned against external enemies {20}. They were wars against pagans outside, not fights against heretics inside. The Christian knights did not want to convert the Muslims who had seized the Holy Places. Nevertheless, in several points a related trend becomes visible.

That the conquest of Palestine by Islam blocked Christian pilgrims the way to the holy shrines was felt by Christians in the West as a hardly bearable humiliation. The Crusades therefore began "with the double aim to redeem the Christians in the East from the rule of the Muslims and to liberate the Holy Grave in Jerusalem" {21}. In his Crusade sermon in Clermont-Ferrand (1095) - a highly effective appeal, if one thinks of the revolutionary consequences! - Pope Urban II stressed two things: The cry for help of the Byzantine Christians who were harried and attacked by the Muslims and the necessity of their liberation by an army of crusaders who by papal authorisation and spiritual reward were to become 'milites Christi'. They were granted a general absolution when they set off to the East. He who fell in true repentance was to get the forgiveness of his sins and the fruit of eternal life {22}.

The time of the Crusades has not only lastingly burdened the relationship between Christianity and Islam (and also the relationship between Christians and Jews because of the domestic pogroms in crusade times!). It also offered Islam the opportunity to declare its own attacks and conquests as "defensive wars" - and that up to this day. In the Muslim terminology Christians are until today pointedly called "crusaders" - and when today George W. Bush speaks of "crusades against terror" (as already Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke of the "Crusade in Europe"), then Muslims in that word do not for example hear a faint, secularized formula (as with "crusades" against hunger, cold, poverty, drug abuse), but they remember specific events which shape their view of history until today.

Conversely, when today's Europeans read Pope Urban's call to the crusade they will not miss the echo of current Djihad calls from Islamic countries of the present.



Especially the reference to the imminent reward in paradise reminds of statements from the circle of today's Islamic warriors who sacrifice themselves {23}. In passing be noted that those warriors, whom we in the West usually call "suicide bombers" are now almost throughout the Islamic world (even in countries with a secular constitution like Turkey) called "martyrs". That is worrying, for it shows that an originally common view on the understanding of martyrs which for a long time connected Judaism, Christianity and Islam - namely the conviction that you were not allowed looking for martyrdom yourself and that martyrdom and suicide exclude each other {24} - obviously comes to an end in our time.


Colonialism and Christianity

The Crusades were not only an outward extension of the European Christendom leading to sharper separations opposite the non-Christian world. They were at the same time connected with events inside Europe. The European world moulded by Christianity became consolidated from the 11 to the 13 century, developed specific common features and prepared the foundations for Europe's future world-wide position of strength. A dualism developed: Truce of God inwardly as preliminary stage of the later general peace and the developing state area of law and peace with its domestication and cultivation of violence {25} - war (or forcible conversion) outwardly, towards gentiles, the non-Christian world {26}.

In the era of colonial expansion the Christian ethics increasingly became inner-European ethics. It was no longer purely and simply and everywhere valid; "beyond the line" it had mostly lost its right. The violence "tamed" within Europe was in many and different ways turned outside, the direction of its drive changed. Beyond the equator the European often enough became - according to Guillaume de Raynal's proverbial formulation - the "tamed tiger returning into the forest".

Certainly, the Crusades break off in the later Middle Ages and eventually disappear completely. They are no longer suitable for the era, are a piece of the past, become objects of knightly nostalgia {27}. Nevertheless, not all continuities come to an end. The Christian "Go out into all the world," the concern for the conversion of the nations certainly still belongs to the impulses of the colonial expansion since the 14th century - now admittedly mixed with other elements: a general curiosity in exploring the world, the exploration of the sea routes to other continents, the search for the mythical Dorado, the gold country, for spices, slaves, adventures {28}. In the colonial era the soldier, the conqueror, the businessman, the administrator almost inevitably follows at the Christian missionary's heels.



The Christian mission is more and more inseparably connected with other secular purposes. It becomes centred on Europe and remains so for a long time. In the modern Vatican administration the "Congregatio de Propaganda Fide" is for a long time, up to the 20th century, almost entirely dominated by Europeans {29}.

The main focus of the theological debate at that time shifts to the public law, the jus gentium - in the question of dealing with the natives of the New World, their rights and obligations. Joseph Höffner has shown that the violence of the wars against the natives in the New World was also connected with the tightening of the doctrine on "just war", which was already in the offing in the time of the Crusades. So already Pope Innocent IV (1243 - 1254) taught the Pope could order the infidels to admit Christian missionaries in the countries of their rule - if they should refuse to obey they were to be forced with secular power. Possible reason for a just war was no longer only the pagans' wrong against Christians; it rather was their wrong (of disbelief) against God as such. With it "the relationship with the pagan peoples was theoretically marked as permanent state of war" {30}.

Protest against that narrow and aggravated understanding of the biblical "Urge them!" was repeatedly made also among Christian theologians and jurists. Especially the Spain of the colonial era is filled with it - think of the struggle of Bartolomé de las Casas against the conquistadors' attacks and the development of new colonial ethics by Francisco de Vitoria. But it took a long time until the Church began so free itself from a colonialism that meanwhile had increasingly become profane and was no longer religiously supported.

Basically only the late 19th and the 20th century reached that point. During that time the popes, beginning with Leo XIII, began to separate colonialism and mission, to free the mission as much as possible from worldly influences, and energetically to build up a local clergy {31}. In the following time the church consistently grew into world-wide no longer centred on Europe dimensions. The composition of the College of Cardinals - until 1961 still with an Italian majority - fundamentally changed, and also the episcopacies of the formerly so-called mission countries changed. In 1981 Hanno Helbling described the difference in this way:

"Thirty years ago when a mission bishop of European or American origin visited Rome he entered with a coloured entourage the Palazzo of the Congregation de Propaganda Fide in the Piazza di Spagna. Today the ,indigenous' ordinarius loci goes ahead of his white secretary and adviser." {32}

Helbling speaks of a "farewell to the old mission thought." It is a consequence of the fact that today in the Catholic Church the Third World has achieved the rank of the former "First World".



Accordingly, since 1988 the Mission Congregation is also no longer called "de Propaganda Fide" but "pro Gentium Evangelizatione." The paternalistic European accent on behalf of the mission headquarters belongs to the past.


Compelle Intrare - in the Reformation too?

Rather in the form of an excursus be at this point asked about the Reformation's contribution to our topic. How have the Reformers seen the relationship between truth and freedom, the problem of the protection and propagation of faith? Is there also a Protestant "Compelle Intrare"?

One must give a precise and subtle answer to that question {33}. Luther emphasized the freedom of the act of faith, but at the same time stood by the absolute claim of the Gospel. "Toleranz" - that Germanized word for the Latin word "tolerantia" comes from him - was for Luther a matter of love, of tolerating consent but not a matter of faith, which remained and was to remain "intolerant". With Calvin too "tolerantia" belongs to the area of practical coexistence, it is "mansuetudo animi," a middle way between an excessive severity and a clemency forgiving everything. Tolerance is not allowed towards idolatry, superstition and magic, also not towards the central doctrines of Christian faith as the dogma on the Trinity; in this sense Calvin justified the execution of the Spanish doctor Servet in 1553 in Geneva.

While the Old-Protestantism, with a few exceptions, is still entirely on the ground of the uniform, general faith and its obliging application to public life {34}, the state practice under the pressure of the circumstances soon moved away from that attitude. Among the insightful the awareness grew that the dispute between Catholics and Protestants was not the traditional dispute on matters of faith between a majority and a heretical minority with which theology was repeatedly confronted since Augustine (even since Paul). There are rather comparably strong religious Corpora facing each other - and both refer to the Christian heritage. It soon becomes apparent that Protestants and Catholics can neither displace, nor destroy nor convert each other, so that they necessarily have to keep peace with one another, religious peace - at least until a General Council has solved the problem of a "split religion" {35}.

The Religious Peace of Augsburg was a crucial step to a de facto tolerance of the Catholic and Lutheran denominations in the Reich. It wasn't yet the start to a general freedom of religion; its goal was, after the handy formula of Gerhard Anschütz, "not religious freedom but duality of faith". But despite a form of religious freedom which in the spirit of the time was conceived as based on estates (corporate), the Religious Peace of Augsburg contained regulations



which left some room to the personal decision, as e.g. the right to emigrate with wife and child after paying an after-tax ( 24) {36}.

Then, one century later, after the exhaustion of the denominational passions in the Thirty Years' War, the "Instrumentum Osnabrugense Pacis" (IPO) as part of the Peace of Westphalia (1648) draws the circle of free exercise of religion significantly wider. Article V, 31 and 32 IPO determines that the estates (belonging to different denominations) which in the "normal year" 1624 had the Exercitium Religionis according to the Catholic or Augsburg denomination should keep that also in future, those who do not have it or in future want to convert to the other religion are to be "patiently tolerated" (patienter tolerentur) by the sovereign and are allowed in freedom of conscience - here the concept "conscientia libera" emerges in the imperial law! - to preserve their domestic worship and to attend the public divine service in the neighbouring area {37}.

That against that background the Compelle Intrare in the Protestant area had to gradually fade may here be proved by a late testimony from the first half of the 18th century: Under the presidency of the theologian and Chancellor Christopher Matthew Pfaff Wolfgang Louis Liesching, a Thübingen Stiftler coming from Göppingen, defended on 21 March 1732 in a Disputatio at the University of Thübingen theses "De tolerandis vel non tolerandis in religion Dissentientibus" {38}. The starting point was again the "Great Banquet" of Luke's Gospel and the central instruction: "Anankason eiselthein" - "Compelle ad intrandum."

The text {39} is interpreted quite in the sense of the tradition: The Paterfamilias is God himself, the servant who calls the invited is Christ with the Apostles, the house is the church, the great banquet the grace, the invitation the preaching of the Gospel. The firstly invited who spurn the invitation are the Jews, the following are the Christians from all nations who follow the call of the farm-hand. All that can, as the commentator says, easily be recognized and compared with other parallels in the New Testament {40}.

The central thesis of the paper is developed right at the beginning: the words "anankazein" and "compellere," so the author, had to be interpreted strictly in the sense of an "emphatic and urgent invitation", of an "invitatio emphatice instantissime facienda" - on no account coercion and violence were meant. And the equating of the "farm-hand" with the worldly power was a misinterpretation of the parable; Christ and the apostles were meant; but they had never connected external violence or even weapons with their preaching. It is clear that from that starting-point the entire history of Compelle Intrare is critically seen and branded as an aberration which was long since proved wrong by better experiences with tolerance rules {41}. That also in the early days of the Reformation violence was practiced against heretics is declared to be a particular case with which the Protestant community as a whole could not be reproached {42}.



The Struggle for Religious Freedom during the Second Vatican Council

In the Catholic world the Compelle Intrare lasted longer than in Protestantism. It is true since the 19th century the use of force in order to protect religion was only possible in Catholic countries - and here too by no means everywhere and unlimitedly. When in 1864 Pius IX in his "Syllabus" among other "errors of the time" [Zeitirrtümern] also condemned freedom of religion {43}, the French Bishop Felix Dupanloup tried to tone down the contents of that writing by a "broad-minded" interpretation. He distinguished the thesis from the hypothesis: as a general principle (thesis) freedom of religion was not acceptable, whereas as a hypothesis, under specific historical conditions, for example in a religiously divided country, it could certainly be legitimate. The line of defence drafted with it - by the way it found the applause of the pope! - was admittedly problematic and did not contribute much. It opened the door to opportunism and ambiguity. The Paris joke quickly seized the situation; it was said, alluding to the pretty mundane life of the Nuncio Chigi: "The thesis is, when the nuncio declares the Jews were to be burned to death; the hypothesis, when he has lunch with Lord Rothschild." {44}

Recently, for the final and crucial time, in the Catholic world one theologically argued about the use of force in order to spread or to protect faith during the Second Vatican Council with the Declaration on Religious Freedom. The debate in the 80th General Congregation in September 1964 became an acid test; about no other text, not even about the equally contested Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (GS), was more bitterly reasoned at length and argued in the council hall {45}.

A majority of the Council Fathers admittedly from the outset supported the Declaration. But the opposing minority was strong, for it could lean itself on undeniably conflicting statements of the papal teaching authority, diametrically contradicting the drafted text - and that in an uninterrupted sequence of testimonies from the time of the French Revolution until the pontificate of Leo XIII. One criticized that in the Declaration the rights of the mistaken conscience where equated with those of the "right conscience". But the mistake had no right compared with the objective claim of truth, "The scheme sins in excess because it maintains that those are worthy of respect who follow their conscience, even when they are mistaken" - so Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani. And Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre condemned the text as a whole, "because it was not based on the rights of Christ and the Church" {46}.

But also the opposite side had its say. It brought up that the practice of the Holy See regarding the concordats had long since come closer to the principles of freedom of religion. Cardinal John Caramel Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, pointed to the conditions in England,



and drew the picture of a State church - the Anglican - which notwithstanding its official position granted tolerance to people of different faiths. His words became famous, because they precisely described the situation of a pluralistic society:

"Today Britain can by no means be regarded as Catholic. The Church of England is the official state church; its head is the queen. Many of our fellow citizens, however, do actually not practice any religion. The majority of Englishmen nevertheless call themselves Christians. In England children are usually baptized, people usually want a church wedding ceremony, and almost all get a Christian funeral. Of course besides there are also people who profess no religion. So we have a pluralistic society in which in spite of everything religion is privately and publicly honoured. Although the Church of England is a state church complete freedom of religion is guaranteed to the citizens of other confessions. That's why the state, for example, grants the Catholic schools an essential aid and fully pays the salaries of their professors, even if they are priests or members of religious communities. But - and that is important - the Catholic schools enjoy the same rights and obligations as the schools of the Church of England." {47}

The scales violently swayed between supporters and opponents of the Declaration on Religious Freedom. The scheme was repeatedly reworked. Many individual issues were discussed anew. Concepts such as tolerance, coercion, conscience, limits of freedom of religion were specified. In October 1964 the third version of the text had been fixed. The vote was to take place in November. But the opponents of the document achieved a postponement. With the majority that provoked great anger, to which was given vent in the numerous petitions to Pope Paul VI. But the forced break stood the text in good stead. More than one year later, on 7 December 1965, the final text - it was the sixth - was, after further alterations and a substantial abridgment, simplification and concentration finally passed by the Council - and now with a large majority: 2308 placet, 70 non placet {48}.

From then on freedom of religion, after it had become the official title of a document of the Church's teaching authority, was no longer controversial in the Catholic Church, it was finally recognized. It was, as a council adviser - Joseph Ratzinger - in 1965 formulated, "the end of the Middle Ages, yes, the end of the Constantinian era" {49}.

It was without doubt positive that the Second Vatican Council took up the topic and finished it despite significant opposition; it was positive that the old ambiguity and two-pronged strategy - all rights for the truth, for the error at most tolerance - was overcome; positive was above all the commitment to freedom and man's dignity and the sober assessment of the state, which in the new view of the Council Fathers lost the burden to take care of salvation, but was at the same time directed to its actual destination to care for the public good and to maintain law and peace.



But the historian will certainly voice one regret: Through the turbulences of the discussions and ballots {50} - and probably also from fundamental concerns - the Quaestio historica, which was initially planned as introductory part of the Declaration, did not come into being {51}. Its task would have been to describe and explain the chequered history of the Compelle Intrare, of the state patronage of the church, of the subordination of "freedom" under "truth", of the tolerance half-heartedly approved of and often taken back again; though admittedly that would have been possible only if one in the text had admitted a break, a turning away from previous habits, an open paradigm shift. But for it the time was apparently not yet ripe. The Council Fathers admittedly did not try to deny or to veil contradictions to earlier church statements and viewpoints - but they did not openly put them up for discussion. Everything was designed to give the impression of continuity, consistency. A historic confession of guilt, as Pope John Paul II made it 35 years later on the first Sunday of Lent of 2000, in 1965 was still completely beyond the general horizon.

Anyhow, that the Church can err and also says that is now no longer a taboo. And so we can hope that the outstanding Quaestio historica on the part of the church will still be delivered some day!



{1} Tertullian, Ad Scapulam (ed. Bas. 1591) 498.

{2} Lactantius, Epitome, c. 54.

{3} Decretum Gratiani, pars II, c. 23, q. 5, c. 33.

{4} Thomas von Aquin, Summa theologiae II-II, 10, 8.

{5} CIC can. 748 5 2; see about it W. Aymans, Kanonisches Recht, Lehrbuch aufgrund des Codex Iuris Canonici (Aymans-Mörsdorf III, Paderborn 2007) 8f.

{6} So the three-volume work of the same name by K. Deschner (Reinbek 1986-1990); for criticism see H. R. Seeliger, Kriminalisierung des Christentums? Karlheinz Deschners Kirchengeschichte auf dem Prüfstand (Freiburg ²1993).

{7} Press releases of the German Bishops' Conference: Vergebungsbitte von Papst Johannes Paul II. Allgemeines Gebet, Schuldbekenntnis u. Vergebungsbitte beim Pontifikalgottesdienst am 12.3.2000 in St. Peter in Rom (quotation 5).

{8} J. Höffner, Kolonialismus u. Evangelium (Trier ²1969) 42 ff., 62 ff.

{9} A. A. T. Ehrhardt, Politische Metaphysik von Solon bis Augustin (Tübingen 1959-1969); H. Rahner, Kirche u. Staat im frühen Christentum (München 1961).

{10} In principle about the alternative of "conflict" and "loyality" in the history of early Christianity: P. Mikat, Konflikt u. Loyalität. Bedingungen für die Begegnung von früher Kirche u. römischem Imperium (Paderborn 2007). About the history of tolerance: K. Schreiner u. G. Besier, Toleranz. Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe 6 (Stuttgart 1990) 445-605; R. Forst, Toleranz im Konflikt. Geschichte, Gehalt u. Gegenwart eines umstrittenen Begriffs (Frankfurt 2003).

{11} J. C. Murray, We hold these Truths. Catholic Reflections an the American Proposition (London 1960); Die Konzilserklärung über die Religionsfreiheit, Latin and German text with comentaries by P. Pavan and others, edited by J. Hamer and Y. Congar (Paderborn 1967).



{12} K. H. Chelius, Compelle intrare, in: Augustinus-Lexikon 1 (Basel 1986-1994) 1084f.

{13} German text after J. Fr. von Allioli, Das Neue Testament, deutsch nach der Vulgata (new editon Colmar 1942) 219.

{14} Die Bibel. Nach der Übersetzung Martin Luthers (Stuttgart 1968) Das Neue Testament, 100.

{15} See note 13.

{16} Einheitsübersetzung der Heiligen Schrift. Das Neue Testament (Stuttgart 61975) 151.

{17} Ep 93: Ad Vincentinum (CSEL 34). Translation into German: A. Hoffmann, Des heiligen Kirchenvaters Aurelius Augustinus Ausgewählte Briefe (BKV IX, Kempten 1917) 333-384, 338 and 349f.

{18} Höffner (note 8) 45.

{19} A. Angenendt, Toleranz u. Gewalt. Das Christentum zwischen Bibel u. Schwert (Münster ²2007) 245.

{20} General literature: St. Runciman, Geschichte der Kreuzzüge (München ³2001); H. E. Mayer, Geschichte der Kreuzzüge (Stuttgart 102005). On concepts: E. D. Hehl, Was ist eigentlich ein Kreuzzug?, in: Historische Zeitschrift 259 (1994) 297-336; K. Elm, Die Kreuzzüge, Kriege im Namen Gottes? (Köln 1996).

{21} V. Conzemius, Die Kreuzzüge, in: IKaZ 31 (2002) 133-142,134.

{22} The speech has been handed dow by several chroniclers of whom some work with embellishments and freely invented passages. The text which is recorded by the Chartre priest and historian Fulcher, the Chaplain of the later King Balduin of Jerusalem probably an eyewitness at the synod in Clermont is regarded as authentic text: Historia Hierosolymitana, ed. H. Hagenmeyer (Heidelberg 1913).

{23} M. Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God. The Global Rise of Religious Violence (London 2000) 165 ff., 218ff.; J. Croitoru, Der Märtyrer als Waffe. Die historischen Wurzeln des Selbstmordattentats (München 2003) 71 ff., 121 ff., 188ff.; Making Sense of Suicide Missions, edited by D. Gambetta (Oxford 2005) 131 ff., 233 ff., 259 ff.

{24} About it H. Maier, Politische Martyrer? Erweiterungen des Martyrerbegriffs in der Gegenwart, in this journal 222 (2004) 291-305.

{25} W. Reinhard, Geschichte der Staatsgewalt (München ³2002).

{26} E. Schmitt, Dokumente zur Geschichte der europäischen Expansion I-VI (V u. VI together with Thomas Beck), (München 1986-2008); Barrieren u. Zugänge. Die Geschichte der europäischen Expansion (FS Eberhard Schmitt, Wiesbaden 2004).

{27} Still the most subtle portrayal of the political and military importance of the Knight thought towards the end of the Middle Ages and the changes of ideal of the crusades: J. Huizinga, Herbst des Mittelalters (Stuttgart 1969) 126-146.

{28} E. Schmitt, Die Anfänge der europäischen Expansion (Idstein 1991); Die Kenntnis beider "Indien" im frühneuzeitlichen Europa, edited by U. Bitterli and E. Schmitt (München 1991); Kolumbus' Erben. Europäische Expansion u. überseeische Ethnien im ersten Kolonialzeitalter 1415-1815, edited by Th. Beck, A. Menninger U. Th. Schleich (Darmstadt 1992); H. Gründer, Welteroberung u. Christentum. Ein Handbuch zur Geschichte der Neuzeit (Gütersloh 1992); E. Schmitt, Atlantische Expansion u. maritime Indienfahrt im 16. Jahrhundert (Bamberg 1992); the same U. Fr. K. von Hutten, Das Gold der Neuen Welt. Die Papiere des Welser-Konquistadors u. Generalkapitäns von Venezuela Philipp von Hutten 1534-1541 (Hildburghausen 1996); "Christen u. Gewürze". Konfrontation u. Interaktion kolonialer u. indigener Christentumsvarianten, edited by K. Koschorke (Göttingen 1998); J. Osterhammel, Sklaverei u. die Zivilisation des Westens (München 2000); Vom Welthandel des 18. Jahrhunderts zur Globalisierung des 21. Jahrhunderts, edited by M. A. Denzel (Stuttgart 2007).

{29} Die Congregatio de Propaganda Fide was created in 1622 by Gregor XV as centre for the Catholic mission work and covered in the year 1962 577 dioceses, 6 abbeys nullius, 114 Apostolic Vicariates, 93 Apostolic Prefectures and 3 missions sui iuris; see N. Kowalsky, Propaganda-Kongregation, in: LThK², volume 8.

{30} Höffner (note 8) 69.



{31} Those intentions were already in the programme drafted by Francesco Ingoli, the first secretary of the Propaganda-Congregation (1622-1649) but could systematically only be realized after the end of the Papal States in 1871 had freed the church from immediately showing consideration towards the traditional European protective powers.

{32} H. Helbling, Politik der Päpste. Der Vatikan im Weltgeschehen 1958-1978 (Frankfurt 1981) 63.

{33} About the following: Schreiner and Besier (note 10) especially the sections VIIIX "Toleranz u. Intoleranz im Zeitalter des Humanismus, der Reformation u. Gegenreformation", "'Toleranz' als Handlungsbegriff im 16. Jahrhundert" and "Politische Theorie, Reichs- u. Kirchenrecht um 1600" (472-494) and XI ",Toleranz' als religionspolitischer Begriff im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert" (495-510).

{34} E. W. Zeeden, Die Entstehung der Konfessionen (München 1965) 11, rightly says about the beginnings of the formation of denominations: "Every denomination was according to its intention universal: each of them understood itself as Confessio Catholica and called itself so in its authentic announcements."

{35} D. Willoweit, Religionsrecht im Heiligen Römischen Reich zwischen Mittelalter u. Aufklärung, in: Als Frieden möglich war. 450 Jahre Augsburger Religionsfrieden, edited by C. A. Hoffmann and others (Regensburg 2005) 35-50; M. Heckel, Vom Religionskonflikt zur Ausgleichsordnung. Der Sonderweg des deutschen Staatskirchenrechts vom Augsburger Religionsfrieden 1555 bis zur Gegenwart (München 2007).

{36} See A. Gotthard. Der Augsburger Religionsfrieden (Münster 2004) 118ff., who emphasizes that the Ius emigrandi of 1555 was not in dispute between the denominations.

{37} Willoweit (note 35) 47ff.; Heckel (note 35) 25 ff.

{38} In the following quoted after UB München Sig.4 Theol. 2896. I thank Klaus Schreiner for the tip about that text.

{39} Commentariolus Theologicus ad Verba Christi Compelle ad intrandum sive De tolerandis vel noch tolerandis in Religione Dissentientibus Tubingae 1732.

{40} Commentariolus 5 1; inter alia the parallel Mt 22,1ff is mentioned.

{41} Commentariolus 4,5. Towards obvious atheists, Spinozists, Deists also in the opinion of the author the "limits of tolerance are to be drawm" (limites tolerantiae ponere), so 6, note (u) without telling in detail what has to be done with them.

{42} Corollarium I; here the heretics Servet, Valentinus Gentilis and Johannes Sylvanus, who had been executed by fire and sword, are mentioned with the apologetic addition: "facta haec particularia sunt, quae Protestantium toti Ecclesiae nequeunt objici".

{43} Text: ASS 3 (1867). 168-176; see H. Maier, Die Freiheitsidee der Aufklärung u. die katholische Tradition, in: Aufklärung heute. Castelgandolfo-Gespräche 1996, edited by K. Michalski (Stuttgart 1996) 75-106; H. Wolf, Der Syllabus, in: Kirche im 19. Jahrhundert, edited by M. Weitlauff (Regensburg 1998) 115-139.

{44} F.-A. Ph. Dupanloup, La convention du 15 septembre et Pencyclique du 8 decembre (Paris 1865); R. Aubert, Le Pontificat de Pie IX (Paris 1952) 252.

{45} Konzilserklärung über die Religionsfreiheit (note 11), see there especially the commentaries of P. Pavan, J. Willebrands, E. J. De Smedt, J. Hamer, J. C. Murray, Y. Congar u. P. Benoit; R. A. Siebenrock, Theologischer Kommentar zur Erklärung über die religiöse Freiheit (Dignitatis humanae), in: HthK Vat.II, volume 4, 125-218.

{46} Konzilserklärung über die Religionsfreiheit (note 11) 86f.

{47} At the same place 87.

{48} At the same place 115.

{49} J. Ratzinger, Ergebnisse u. Probleme der dritten Konzilsperiode (Köln 1965) 31; quoted after K. Hilpert, Die Anerkennung der Religionsfreiheit, in this journal 130 (2005) 809-819, 817.

{50} The in all 32 ballots on the scheme about the freedom of religion are documented with the Council's Declaration on Freedom of Religion (note 11) 118-120.

{51} It was eliminated in the fourth text version of the Council; at the same place 102.


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