Underlying all these sentences was another on which they, and, indeed, the whole power of the Inquisition, were based in last resort — the sentence of excommunication. Theoretically the censures of the Inquisition might be the same as those of any other ecclesiastics authorized to cut men off from salvation, but the latter had so habitually abused their functions that the anathema, in the mouth of priests who were neither feared nor respected, lost, at times at least, its awe-inspiring authority. The censures of the Inquisition were in the hands of a smaller body of men, selected for their implacable vigor, and no one ever disregarded them with impunity. The secular authorities, moreover, were bound to put to the ban and confiscate the property of any one whom the inquisitor might excommunicate for heresy or fautorship. In fact, as the inquisitors were fond of boasting, their curse was stronger in four ways than that of the secular clergy. They could coerce the temporal government to outlaw the excommunicate; they could force it to confiscate his property ; they could condemn any one remaining under excommunication for a year ; and they could inflict the major excommunication upon any one communicating with their excommunicates. Thus they enforced obedience to their citations and submission to their penances. Thus they made the secular power execute their sentences ; thus they swept aside the statutes that interfered with their proceedings; thus they proved that the kingdom of God which they represented was superior to the kingdoms of earth. Of all excommunications that of the inquisitor worked the speediest vengeance and inspired the sharpest terror, and the boldest shrank from provoking it.
- Ripoll, I. 208, 394. — Tractatus de Inquisitione (Boat, XXXVI.). — Bern. Guidon. Practica P. iv. (Doat, XXX.).— Ey merle. Direct. Inquis. 360-1.
XXXII. 156).— Regist. Curise Francise de Carcassonne (Boat, XXXII. 241).— Bernardi Comens, Lucerna Inquisit. s. v. Inquisitores, No. 19. — Lib. Sententt. Inq. Tolosan. Index.— Wadding. Regest. Nich. PP. III. No. 10.