16 May 2012

Witches Punished as Apostates

The Malleus Maleficarum by Kramer and Sprenger, 1489, Excerpts

The crimes of witches exceed the sins of all others; and we now declare what punishment they deserve, whether as Heretics or as Apostates. Now Heretics are punished in various ways, as by excommunication, deposition, confiscation of their goods, and death.

Heretics, together with their patrons, protectors and defenders, and with their children to the second generation on the father's side, and to the first degree on the mother's side, are admitted to no benefit or office of the Church. And if a Heretic have Catholic children, for the heinousness of his crime they are deprived of their paternal inheritance. And if a man be convicted, and refuse to be converted and abjure his heresy, he must at once be burned, if he is a layman. For if they who counterfeit money are summarily put to death, how much more must they who counterfeit the Faith?

But to punish witches in these ways does not seem sufficient, since they are not simple Heretics, but Apostates. They must not be punished like other Heretics with lifelong imprisonment, but must be made to suffer the extreme penalty.

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