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Vatican and Italy to catalog Inquisition documents for open study and research


VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican will open its archives to Italian state officials and academics for a computer-driven project that will catalogue all available documents on the Inquisition in Italy.

The Inquisition, begun by Pope Innocent III at the end of the 12th century in response to the alleged heresies of the Cathars, or Albigensians, and the Waldensians, spread throughout Europe.

Torture was permitted to secure proof of heresy, and if accused heretics did not repent, officials of the Inquisition could turn them over to civil authorities for execution by hanging or burning at the stake.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the computerized project would safeguard a unique cultural heritage and provide historical information in the fields of religious doctrine, science, popular culture, spontaneous holiness and censorship as well as "systems of social control" from the Medieval to the modern age.