Cornelia da Nomatalcino
written by Alan W. Cecil
edited by David Dryden
458 years ago on this date, a monk named Cornelia da Normatalcino was burned at the stake. Who was this Cornelia da Nomatalcino? There is very little about him on the internet. This is hardly surprising, since the church was no doubt eager to erase the memory of a man who denied the teachings of Christianity.
The torture and execution of “dissidents,” such as Protestants and Jews, was carried out in much of Catholic Europe. The Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the Index of Prohibited Books, made its first appearance in 1559 under Pope Paul IV. This list banned all “heretical” books such as the Talmud; it was last upgraded in 1948, and was not abolished until 1966. In the 1578 handbook for inquisitors, it stated that the purpose for the inquisition was “for punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit.”
From the thirteenth century until the nineteenth century (when the last victim, Cayetano Ripoll, a Deist schoolteacher, was executed in 1826), the inquisition was the tool the Catholic Church used to enforce obedience. The question is: could we be faced with another Inquisition?
This idea is not as far-fetched as you might think. One only has to remember that, just two generations ago, the Christians of Europe engaged in a frenzy of Jew-killing that would have made Giovanni Pietro Carafa proud.
As we saw in the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing on September 11, 2001, there are many people in top government positions who would suspend the rights of people in the name of “security.” There would no doubt be a wave of “patriotism” that would cause problems for anyone who spoke out against the government; remember the inquisition led by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Communist “witch hunts” of the late 40s and early 50s, only this time it would be much worse. Just a few years ago, the United States, as well as other countries, suspended habeas corpus. Habeas corpus means that when someone is seized or arrested by government officials, like the police, that person is to be presented to a court to determine whether the custody is justified or legal. So in essence this means that various countries of the world have made it that a police man or similar government employee can arrest you and keep you in custody indefinitely without any chance of having your day in court. The UK introduced terrorism laws that meant that the police could do similar things to you. Also just a few years ago, the United States used torture against political prisoners at Guantanamo. In fact, torture has been used by many governments and their covert operations and justified as being for the public good.
Gentiles, especially those who know of the Seven Universal Commandments, need to understand that our “patriotism” has limits; Rabbi S. R. Hirsch believed that a hollow, secular nationalism was the worst kind of idolatry. To support those in the political arena who say that we need to clamp down on dissidents is a violation of Torah, and that the United States, as well as other countries, might only be one “terroristic” attack away from a suspension of many more of our liberties. If our law of Dinim speaks against injustice, then we cannot support such injustices. Remember that the Egyptians were, at first, friendly towards Joseph and his brethren, but there eventually arose a pharaoh in Mitzrayim who did not know Joseph. That could easily happen in any country in the Western world, whether it be America, UK, or wherever.
This is why we should remember Cornelia da Nomatalcino.