Council of Vienne

Immolation of the Templars. Anonymous chronicle "From the creation of the World until 1384". MS 677, folio 75 recto, Bibliotheque Municipale, Besancon, France

The Crusades began in 1095 with the call, by the Church of Rome, to the use of force in aid of the eastern Christians against the Turks and to recapture those lands and Churches of the eastern Empire under Muslim control. By 1231, use of deadly force against heretics within Christendom was monitored and allowed by the Holy See. By 1307, when King Philip IV of France seized the Knights Templar of his realm and commanded they be rigorously examined by the Inquisitors, use of force (torture) to obtain information was considered legitimate and expedient in Renaissance Europe. Under pressure of King Philip, Pope Clement V approved a general inquisitorial investigation of the Order of Templars. In the French realm, a large group of Templars, who recanted their forced confessions, were burned alive. The issue of the Knights Templar was the primary concern of the Council of Vienne (A.D. 1311-12). After much deliberation among the bishops but with no final decision, a papal bull suppressing the Order of Templars was, at length, delivered to the Council for approval. The bull was approved and the immense wealth of the Order redistributed. At a sentencing following the Council, the Grand Master of the Order, Jacques de Molay, and one of his associates abjured their coerced confessions. They were thus ordered by King Philip to be burned at the stake. It is said that Jacques de Molay, in the midst of the flames, summoned both Philip and Clement to appear, in the course of the year, before the Tribunal of GOD. Philip and Clement both died soon thereafter. Image above links to Tanner translation of the Council decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2. See also Appendix I, Memory and Reconciliation, for a reflection upon historic grave violations of charity by representatives of the Catholic community.