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Inquisition The Inquisition was a permanent institution in the Catholic Church charged with the eradication of heresies Unlike many other religions eg Buddhism Judaism the Catholic Church has a hierarchical structure with a central bureaucracy In the early years of the church there were several competing sects that called themselves Christian But after the Emperor Constantine I 280-337 CE made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire and the local administrative structures were pulled together into one hierarchy centered in Rome doctrinal arguments were settled by Church Councils beginning with the Council of Nicea in 325 which formulated the Nicean Creed Those whose beliefs or practices deviated sufficiently from the orthodoxy of the councils now became the objects of efforts to bring them into the fold Resistance often led to persecution Heresies from L haeresis sect school of belief were a problem for the Church from the beginning In the early centuries there were the Arians and Manicheans in the Middle Ages there were the Cathari and Waldenses and in the Renaissance there were the Hussites Lutherans Calvinists and Rosicrucians Efforts to suppress heresies were initially ad hoc But in the Middle Ages a permanent structure came into being to deal with the problem Beginning in the 12th century Church Councils required secular rulers to prosecute heretics In 1231 Pope Gregory IX published a decree which called for life imprisonment with salutary penance for the heretic who had confessed and repented and capital punishment for those who persisted The secular authorities were to carry out the execution Pope Gregory relieved the bishops and archbishops of this obligation and made it the duty of the Dominican Order though many inquisitors were members of other orders or of the secular clergy By the end of the decade the Inquisition had become a general institution in all lands under the purview of the Pope By the end of the 13th centuries the Inquisition in each region
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