I have been studying the Catholic religion lately and a great question came to mind which is explained below.

We know that despite all the differences in branches of Christianity, most denominations share in common the same basic beliefs. We almost all believe Christ died to save us from our imperfect selfs.

Therefore, I did some research on previous persecutions here and in the associated links. According to the Bible Jesus himself and all of his followers are commanded to "keep the Sabbath holy". The Bible also explicitly states that the Sabbath that God has commanded is on the Seventh Day of the week or Saturday.

The Links also describe how the Catholic Church and Spain used evidence that the families of potential Jews were celebrating the Sabbath on the correct day to persecute the Jews. The Inquisitions in general were supported by the pope and the church despite the fact that in Matthew 23:23 Jesus specifically demands mercy. All known versions of the Bible and in every one the meaning remains the same.

Furthermore Luke 6:36, James 2:13, 1 John 1:9, Psalm 103:1-22, Titus 3:5, Psalm 23:6, John 3:16, Hosea 6:6 and the extremely point-on verses in Matthew 9:13 and Mathew 12:7 all demand mercy or say something about it. I could go on and on but I would lose interest after the umpteenth verse.

I mean no offense to Catholics despite what my recent questions might suggest and there are many Catholics who are just as righteous and faithful as any other believer, but my question is the following.

How does the modern Catholic Church justify this defiance to what Jesus said about mercy being BEFORE justice? After all, the Catholic Church believes in Papal Infallibility so does the church not recognize that this was wrong according to the very religious scripture that our Lord commanded them to follow whole-heartedly?

(As a side note, the two questions I have asked are directly related and in my opinion would not be complete without each other. They are related because the church prosecuted Jews as well as changed their religious observance of the sabbath to separate themselves from the Jews to avoid as much as possible being seen as Jewish trouble-makers by Rome)

Again, I am just trying to learn about the Catholic Church because my brother recently converted to Catholicism. I do not mean to even imply that the Catholic Church is anything bad or wrong which is what three of my Catholic relatives thought when I asked them.

  • I don't believe that the Bible specifically states that the Sabbath is on Saturday; it does state that the Sabbath is on the seventh day of the week, but different denominations have different understandings of what the first day of the week is. Jan 7, 2015 at 15:27
  • I would have added more of my research links, but I don't have enough rep for more than 2 links :)
    – Jax
    Jan 7, 2015 at 15:31
  • Without a default value set specifically to us by God, we should in theory follow the Judaic calendar since they have been traditionally honoring the Sabbath for thousands and thousands of years. To clarify on the question I also would like to know why the church as a whole has shown hatred towards God's people(which the bible specifically calls Israel)? I am speaking historically because it is hard to find a single accurate statement as to what the Policy of Catholicism is on such a specific matter as this.
    – Jax
    Jan 7, 2015 at 15:34
  • So the biggest complaint that you have regarding the ethical support for the inquisition is the matter of the treatment of the Sabbath? Really? Am I missing something? Jan 7, 2015 at 15:40
  • 2
    It's not easy for me to pull both those questions from what you've posted. Both questions should be in fact in the question body itself, not in the comments. Jan 7, 2015 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


With respect to the Inquisition: the Catholic Church has long recognized this as an evil done by the Church of past years, and has repented and asked God for forgiveness:

The institution of the Inquisition has been abolished. ... The children of the Church cannot but return with a spirit of repentance to "the acquiescence given, especially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of the truth" ("Address to the International Symposium on the Inquisition Organized by the Central Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000", 31 October 1998, n. 4; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, [ORE], 11 November 1998, p. 3).

This spirit of repentance, it is clear, entails a firm determination to seek in the future ways to bear witness to the truth that are in keeping with the Gospel.

On 12 March 2000, on the occasion of the liturgical celebration that marked the Day of Pardon, forgiveness was asked for errors committed in the service of the truth by recourse to methods not in keeping with the Gospel. The Church must carry out this service in imitation of her Lord, meek and humble of heart. The prayer I addressed to God on that occasion contains the reasons for a request for forgiveness that can also be applied to the tragedies associated with the Inquisition, as well as to the injuries to memory that result from it.

"Lord, God of all men and women,
in certain periods of history
Christians have at times given in to [forms of] intolerance
and have not been faithful to the great commandment of love,
sullying in this way the face of the Church, your Spouse.

Have mercy on your sinful children
and accept our resolve
to seek and promote truth in
the gentleness of charity,
in the firm knowledge that truth
can prevail only in virtue of truth itself.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord."

(Letter of John Paul II to Cardinal Roger Etchegaray on the occasion of the presentation of the volume "L'Inquisizione", 15 June 2004)

The Church rejects what it has done, in the understanding that the Holy Spirit has led it to a new interpretation of how to bring others to the knowledge of God.

Similarly, the Church recognizes that some of its actions and attitudes with respect to Jews were not in keeping with the commandment to "love your neighbor". This attitude, too, has been rejected:

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.

(Nostra Aetate, "Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions", October 28, 1965)

Finally, with respect to your comments on the Sabbath: The Church teaches that the Sunday observance is in fact distinct from the Sabbath, and replaces the Jewish Sabbath observance:

Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord’s Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death. [St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistula ad Magnesios (Letter to the Magnesians)]

The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of his universal beneficence to all." Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.

(Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 2175–6; emphasis added)

  • Can you also address the refusal of Christians (Catholics) to follow the example of the Messiah that is implicit in the question. He observed the Sabbath. Sunset to sunset. Surely Christians should as well. I find it very difficult to deal with the attitude of the Catholic answer. Surely it gives Jesus Christ a big 'up yours'. Jan 7, 2015 at 17:39
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    @gideonmarx Jesus was a Jew, and thus observed the Jewish Sabbath - as the Old Covenant required. Catholics believe that Christians are bound by a New Covenant, not by the Old - as indicated by the Catechism's quote from St. Ignatius - and thus that his death indicates a new reason for worship, a new requirement for worship, and a new time for worship. Jan 7, 2015 at 17:42
  • @MattGutting Jesus said that he came to expand upon the law not abolish it.
    – Jax
    Jan 8, 2015 at 15:55
  • @MattGutting Your answer does provide the material for my future study of the topic though.
    – Jax
    Jan 8, 2015 at 15:57
  • @DustinJackson The theology of an answer is something that we can discuss in chat (which is something you can access once you get 20 reputation points). Comments are for discussing improvements to the post. Jan 8, 2015 at 16:19

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