MoDo Doesn't Expect The Spanish Inquisition
Maureen Dowd writes something very silly in her Times column today. Wishing to berate the Vatican for its slow response to the poorly-sourced airport novel The DaVinci Code, MoDo says, in her awesomely sarcastic way:
But when you think of the history of the Catholic Church, the Vatican is acting with lightning speed. It took the church more than 350 years to reverse its condemnation of Galileo. The Vatican only began an inquisition of the 16th-century Inquisition in 1998.
So, what MoDo is doing here is conflating the Catholic church's willingness to confront its past mistakes, which is poor, and leaves it moving very slowly, and its willingness to take on perceived threats to its authority. Which is fast and brutal. You could check with the non-Catholics of Spain in the 17th century, only there weren't any after the Inquisitors had been round. Pick a heretic, any heretic, watch him (usually him) burn. With alacrity. Jumping down Galileo's throat before he could say "Heliocentric".
These guys don't mess around. They can't afford to, when Catholicism's place in the religious marketplace depends on it being right. This isn't to say that the Roman catholic church is nice, or even right. Just that it couldn't see the point in taking on a book that makes the Day of the Jackal look like the Spiritual Exercises. Their bad, but it's not like Dan Brown has any new religion on offer, except for the "Buy books that make Robert Ludlum turn in his grave" cult.
Ask Monty Python. They knew the score: