Thursday, 24 February 2011

St Joan of Arc's Heresy Trial and Death: The Details

Jeanne d'Arc malade est interrogée 
dans sa prison par le cardinal de Winchester  
by Hippolyte Delaroche, 1824

Here's the details of the trial and death of Joan of Arc in easy bullet points:
  1. Joan claimed that Saint Margaret, Saint Catherine, and Saint Michael spoke to her.
  2. Joan's trial for heresy was politically motivated in the midst of the Hundred Years war between England and France (think Shakespeare's Henry V in order to get a picture of the political climate).
  3. England resented Joan's support of the French crown. Joan's reputation as a French prophetess and saint needed to be destroyed if England were to have a "divine claim" on northern France. The person and success of Joan of Arc symbolized that God was on the side of the French.
  4. Under ecclesiastical law, Bishop Cauchon lacked jurisdiction over the case against Joan of Arc.
  5. Clerical notary Nicolas Bailly, commissioned to collect testimony against Joan, could find no adverse evidence. Without evidence the court lacked grounds to initiate a trial. They opened a trial anyway.
  6. Contrary to canon law, Joan was denied a legal adviser.
  7. Joan asked for French churchean to be present at her trial. Her request was denied.
  8. Asked if she knew she was in God's grace, she answered: 'If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.'" Notary Boisguillaume later testified that at the moment the court heard this reply, "Those who were interrogating her were stupefied."
  9. Several court functionaries later testified that the official transcript was altered in her disfavor. Many clerics served under compulsion, including the inquisitor, Jean LeMaitre, and a few even received death threats from the English.
  10. According to church law, a woman under trial should have been placed in an ecclesiastical prison under the supervision of nuns. Instead, the English kept Joan in a secular prison guarded by male soldiers. Joan complained "a great English lord had entered her prison and tried to take her by force."
  11. Bishop Cauchon denied Joan's appeals to the Council of Basel and the pope, which should have stopped his proceeding.
  12. The twelve articles of accusation that summarize the court's finding contradict the already doctored court record.
  13. Joan, being illiterate, signed an abjuration that she could not read. The court later substituted a different abjuration for the official record.
  14. Joan claimed that she wore male clothing and armor so that she would not be molested or raped by males on the battle field and in camp. Joan was intent on preserving her virginity.
  15. She was condemned and sentenced to burning at the stake on 30 May 1431.
  16. She begged two priests, Father Martin Ladvenu and Father Isambart de la Pierre, to hold a crucifix before her as she burned so that she could see Jesus Christ.
  17. The English burned her body twice to reduce her remains thoroughly to ashes. They cast all her ashes into the Seine River in order to prevent any collection of relics. Their action reveals that there was already a strong belief among the populace that Joan was a saint.
  18. Her executioner, Geoffroy Therage, later stated that he "greatly feared to be damned" on account of his part in the death of Joan of Arc.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

One-legged Afghan Red Cross worker set to be hanged after converting to Christianity

 Christians pray during a mass at a church in Kabul.

Execution: Christians pray during a mass at a church in Kabul (file picture). Said Musa is facing execution unless he converts back to Islam

 An Afghan physiotherapist will be executed within three days for converting to Christianity. Said Musa, 45, has been held for eight months in a Kabul prison where he claims he has been tortured and sexually abused by inmates and guards. Mr Musa, who lost his left leg in a landmine explosion in the 1990s, has worked for the Red Cross for 15 years and helps to treat fellow amputees.

He was arrested in May last year as he attempted to seek asylum at the German embassy following a crackdown on Christians within Afghanistan. He claims he was visited by a judge who told him he would be hanged within days unless he converted back to Islam. But he said he would be willing to die for his faith. He told the Sunday Times: 'My body is theirs to do what they want with. 'Only God can decide if my spirit goes to hell.' Defence lawyers have refused to represent him, while others have dropped the case after receiving death threats. Mr Musa was arrested after a TV station showed western men baptising Afghans during secret ceremonies.

Friday, 4 February 2011

"Democratic" Egypt will send Apostates to their death

The Egyptians in revolt are asking for more freedom, but they also want the death penalty for those who convert from Islam to another religion. A major survey on the most populous Muslim country of northern Africa and the Middle East

by Sandro Magister

ROME, February 3, 2011 – Much of the Egyptian population that in recent days has rebelled against the thirty-year regime of Hosni Mubarak says that it prefers democracy to any other form of government.

At the same time, however, and in an overwhelming majority, they want those who commit adultery to be stoned, thieves to have their hands cut off, and those who abandon the Muslim religion to be put to death.

This is the result of a survey conducted in Egypt and in six other majority Muslim countries by the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the world leader for research in this field:

The other six countries surveyed are Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nigeria.

The case of Egypt is getting special attention these days. But comparisons with the other countries are also of great interest.

For example, democracy is held to be the best form of government by 59 percent of Egyptians, while in Turkey and Lebanon it gets even more support, 76 and 81 percent respectively.

In Egypt, however, 22 percent of the population maintains that in some circumstances a nondemocratic government is preferable.

On the relationship between politics and religion, almost half of Egyptians think that Islam already has a strong influence on politics. And among those who think this way, 95 percent believe it is a good thing.

In general, 85 out of 100 Egyptians believe that Islam has a positive influence on politics, against only 2 percent who see it as a negative. But in Lebanon and Turkey, the unfavorable views exceed 30 percent.

In a runoff between modernizers and fundamentalists, 59 percent of Egyptians say that they side with the fundamentalists, against 27 percent who root for the former. In Lebanon and Turkey, the sides are flipped: 84 and 74 percent respectively are with the modernizers, while 15 and 11 percent align themselves with the fundamentalists.

More than half of the Egyptians, 54 percent to be exact, among both men and women, are in favor of the separation of the sexes in the workplace. While in Lebanon and Turkey, those against it are between 80 and 90 percent.

When asked to give their views on Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda, in Egypt 49 percent say they are in favor of Hamas, 30 percent of Hezbollah, and 20 percent of al-Qaeda.

These views are partly influenced by whether one is Sunni or Shiite. The Egyptians are Sunni, as is Hamas, while Hezbollah is Shiite.

In any case, support for Hezbollah in Egypt has been falling for several years. It stood at 56 percent in 2007, 54 percent in 2008, 43 percent in 2009, and 30 percent in 2010.

And although it is in the minority, support for suicide terrorists is growing. In Egypt, 20 percent justify this, while in 2009 15 percent did.

Returning to the death penalty for those who abandon Islam, called for by 84 percent of Egyptians, it must be pointed out that those who want it are men and women, old and young, educated and uneducated, without distinction.

In Jordan, the level of support for sentencing apostates to death rises all the way to 86 percent. It is only in Lebanon and Turkey that support is low, at 6 and 5 percent respectively.