According to a study by Russian mathematician Nikolay Yemelyanov, Professor at St. Tichon’s Orthodox University, during the seven years of Leninist rule – from Russian Revolution in 1917 to Lenin’s death in 1924 –, almost 25,000 Orthodox priests were imprisoned and 16,000 were killed, for their Christian faith.
The same happened to Catholic priests. The secular English writer Martin Louis Amis has collected some significant sentences by dictator Vladimir Lenin: «any religious idea, any idea of God is an indescribable abjection of the most dangerous kind, a plague of the most abominable. There are a million sins, disgusting facts, acts of violence, and physical contagions which are much less dangerous than the subtle and spiritual idea of God» (quoted in M. Amis, Koba il terribile, Einaudi 2003).
After the Russian Revolution, Bolsheviks seized the power in the Sovietic Union (23-27 February 1917; Lenin took the power on October of the same year). The extermination of believers also continued after Lenin’s death: Todd M. Johnson, Professor of Global Christianity and Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, explained that the number of the Christian victims of atheist and Marxist regimes were 20 millions (15 millions from 1921 to 1950; 5 millions from 1950 to 1980). These numbers are confirmed by other studies, too. To them we should add the numbers of those who were tortured and imprisoned only for professing their faith in God and therefore being automatically considered enemies of the State.
Historian Fulvio De Giorgi, Professor at Modena and Reggio Emilia’s University, declared: «Communism was a secular religion, without God: a tragic atheist religion. It had a political and intra-human (reversed) “religion faith”, with a lay eschatology: a historical millenarianism. Unfortunately this faith in a possible earthly perfection was in fact inhumane, because it lacked the true, eschatological and transcendent hope: for this reason, it had to see as enemies and hate all those who did not conform with its para-theological patterns. So, what had to be the heaven on earth was, in reality, a horrible hell: a dictatorship made of gulags, deportations, mass slaughter, and regimentation». Giorgio La Pira, said De Giorgi, «used to tell the Soviets: cut the deadwood of Marxist atheism from the big tree of socialism. He was not listened to and seemed to naïve utopian. But then Soviet Communism collapsed, infamously. Instead, La Pira still is talked about with respect and positive interest».
Unfortunately, even Antonio Gramsci keeps being looked on with absolute respect; yet we know that «he was for a long time a fan of the Bolsheviks, of revolutionary violence, of labour camps and social cleansing. For him, Lenin was a Great Man, the Father of Nations and the Great Helmsman, who had forced the historical events with a lightning attack».
For this reason, we are suprised that Belgian writer Pieter Aspe compared Islamic terrorism to «what went on in the Middle ages, when it was the Christians who, with the Inquisition, killed women and infidels to impose their faith. Today Muslim extremists do it». Apart from the historical ignorance, as, firstly, the Inquisition was purely a phenomenon of the Renaissance and was promoted especially by the Protestant confession and not by the Catholic one – as explained by historian Marina Montesano and by historian Franco Cardini – Professor Anne J. Schutte, from the University of Virginia, explained that the inquisitorial system «offered the best possibile criminal justice in Europe in the Modern Age» (A.J. Schutte, Aspiring Saints, Johns Hopkins University Press 2001). This was confirmed by the study by Christopher Black, from Glasgow University, author of Storia dell’Inquisizione in Italia. Tribunali, eretici, censura [The Italian Inquisition] (Carocci 2013). With respect to the numbers of those condemned by the Inquisition, all scholars talk about few thousands of cases, including rapists, paedophiles, and killers.
Therefore the comparison between modern (and ancient) Islamic terrorism and the Inquisition is historically unsustainable and fool, although this does not mean that in the history of the Church there have not been tragic mistakes, which, albeit contextualised and resized for the sake of historical correctness, remain big human faults. But, as Benedict XVI explains, «it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature».
Michael R. Licona, theologian of the Houston Baptist University, wrote: «There is a major difference between showcasing Stalin as an example of an atheist and a Christian criminal. The latter acted contrary to the teachings of Jesus. On the other hand, one cannot say that Stalin acted contrary to the teachings of atheism, since atheism has no moral teachings intrinsic to its worldview. But neither can one claim that Stalin acted in a manner inconsistent with atheism», while a Christian criminal always acts contrary to the teachings of Jesus.
The atheist and anticlerical community always embarrassingly forgets the atheist Soviet inquisition, which caused many more deaths and much more suffering compared to those ascribed to the Inquisition. This seems to suggest that Prof. Licona has a point.
The Editorial Staff