Monday, September 28, 2009

96. Curium


Holy Mother Church

CURIUM: Noun, singular of the collective plural Curia. The Roman Curia is the ensemble of departments and ministries which assist the sovereign pontiff in her government of the Universal Church. The most famous Curium is the "Sacra Congregatio Romanae et universalis Inquisitionis seu sancti officii," popularly known as the Inquisition, which was founded in 1227 by Pope Joan VI.

The Office of the Inquisition was in sad repute when the Reverend Mother Maria Sklodowska took control of it at the beginning of the twentieth century—split by schismatic in-fighting and rife with doctrinal error. Worse, accounts of suspects being tortured, while certainly exaggerated, were not entirely untrue.

All this Mother Maria changed. She put the Inquisition on a firm scientific footing. Heresy was no longer prosecuted but rather investigated. That which was not understood was laid open to examination. All questioning was persistent but gentle. It was her position that an admission of error made under fear of punishment was worthless.

Critics objected that many suspected heretics lived long and fulfilling lives and ultimately died of old age while their cases were under consideration. Her supporters, however, say that the results speak for themselves. Many consider her example to be one of the wellsprings responsible for the flowering and growth of the Catholic Church in the last century and thus, ultimately, for the entente between Christianity and its traditional rivals, Judaism and Islam.

Among the Holy Mother's most famous sayings are these three:

A theologian in her laboratory is not a mere technician: she is also a child confronting heresies that impress her as though they were fairy tales.


Nothing in heresy is to be feared. It is only to be understood.


One never notices the sinner; only the woman within, praying for salvation.

But she herself would rather that whatever honor we bestow upon her be addressed elsewhere. As she herself put it, "What little my sisters and I have achieved, was all done for the greater honor and glory of our Lady and Savior, Jessica Christ."

© 2002 by Michael Swanwick and SCIFI.COM.

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