Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/567

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547
RELAPSE IN SUSPICION.

rare, but there were many poor souls who could not abandon conscientiously the errors which they had cherished, and who vainly hoped, after escaping once, to be able to hide their guilt more effectually.[1] All this gave a fresh importance to the question of what legally constituted relapse, and led to endless definitions and subtleties. It became necessary to determine with some precision, when the offender was refused a hearing, the exact amount of criminality in both the first and second offences, which would justify condemnation for impenitent heresy. Where guilt was ofttimes so shadowy and impalpable, this was evidently no easy matter.

There were cases in which a first trial had only developed suspicion without proof, and it seemed hard to condemn a man to death for an assumed second offence when he had not been proved guilty of the first. Hesitating to do so, the inquisitors applied to Alexander IV. to resolve their doubts, and he answered in the most positive manner. When the suspicion had been "violent" he said, it was "by a sort of legal fiction" to be held as legal proof of guilt, and the accused was to be condemned. When it was "light" he was to be punished more heavily than for a first offence, but not with the full penalty of relapse. Moreover, the evidence required to prove the second offence was of the slightest; any communication with or kindness shown to heretics sufficed. This decision was repeated by Alexander and his successors with a frequency which shows how doubtful and puzzling were the points which came up for discussion, but the rule of condemnation was finally carried into the canon law and became the unalterable policy of the Church. The authorities, except Zanghino, agree that in such cases there was no room for mercy.[2]

Besides these enigmas there were others respecting forms of guilt which might reasonably be regarded as less deserving of the last resort. Thus relapse into fautorship gave rise to considerable

  1. Lib. Sententt. Inq. Tolosan. rp. 2-4, 22, 48, 63, 76, 81-90, 122, 143, 149, 150, 198-99, 230, 282, 287-88.
  2. Alex. PP. J. Bull, Quol super nonnullis, 9 Dec. 1257, 15 Dec. 1258, 10 Jan. 1260-Urban, PP. JV. Bull. Quod suer nonnullis, 21 Aug. 1262.-Cun. 8 Sexto v. 2.-Bern.Guidon. Practica P. Iv. (Doat, XXX.).-Eymeric. Direct. Inq. p. 331.- Bernardi Comens. Lucerna Inquis s.v. Relupsus. Zanchini Tract. de Heret. c. xvi