According to a recent survey, Parisians' three biggest complaints about their city are dog droppings, pollution, and something American. What?
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Thursday's Question (No. 393)—"Pro and Contrite":A newly released Vatican document outlines a sweeping apology the pope will deliver next week for the church's historical failings. Name one. (Question courtesy of Josh Pollack)
"Please delete 'celibate' and insert 'celebrate.' Sorry!"—Greg Lamorie (Shannon Deegan had an all-but-identical answer.)
"The Children's Crusade. 'In our own defense,' says the apologia, 'the church had no idea that Six Flags Over The Holy Land had been canceled.' "—Floyd Elliot
"Not properly recycling charred infidel byproducts."—Jennifer Weiner
"William F. Buckley Jr."—Michael Mannella
"They're really sorry about forbidding contraception. Any parents who wish to retroactively use contraception may bring their children in to be humanely euthanized."—Francis Heaney
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The Inquisition was the most popular response (excluding those from Bob Jones University—easily done, as there were none). Because News Quiz strives to be educational as well as irritating, here is a contemporary account of an inquisitorial session in the kingdom of Naples, written around 1304 by Angelo Clareno, a Franciscan monk, and translated by David Burr.
(A word is in order about the first torture described. The victim's hands were tied behind his back and he was raised by a rope tied to his wrists. He was then dropped a short distance. This was repeated again and again. [For example, imagine him being raised around twenty feet, then dropped a foot, then dropped another foot and so on.] Eventually the victim's arm sockets and tendons were permanently damaged.)
The torturer entered with his assistants and tied the prisoner's hands behind his back. Then he had him raised up by means of a pulley attached to the roof of the house, which was very high. After the prisoner had hung there for an hour the rope was released suddenly. The idea was that, broken by the intense pain, he would be defeated and confess that he had once been a heretic. After he had been raised and suddenly dropped many times they asked whether he would confess that he was or had been a heretic. He replied, "I'm a faithful and catholic Christian, always have been, and always will be. If I said anything else to you shouldn't believe me, because I would only have said it to escape the torture. Let this be my perpetual confession to you, because it's the truth. Anything else would be a lie extorted by torture."
Driven out of his mind by anger, the inquisitor ordered that, dressed in a short tunic, the prisoner be put first in a bath of hot water, then of cold. Then, with a stone tied to his feet, he was raised up again, kept there for a while, and dropped again, and his shins were poked with reeds as sharp as swords. Again and again he was hauled up until, on the thirteenth elevation, the rope broke and he fell from a great height with the stone still tied to his feet. As that destroyer of the faithful stood looking at him, he lay there only half alive, with his body shattered. The treacherous man's servant's took the body and disposed of it in a cesspool.
(From: "The Inquisition.")
Mea Culpa, Mea Nissan™* Maxima Culpa Answer:
Among the errors in the early draft of "Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Mistakes of the Past"—sectarian divisions, forced conversions, anti-Semitism, the use of violence, and the failure of contemporary Catholics to be sufficiently militant in their anti-abortion activities.
The apology leaves some papal wiggle room by cautioning against judging the past by contemporary standards and by pointing out that while individual Christians may err, the church itself is "holy and immaculate." See, now my head hurts. And so do the heads of my former slaves, although you cannot judge our headaches by the standards of contemporary Advil or Tylenol.
The document, which the pope will deliver March 12, notes that it's not apologizing for anything that might disadvantage the church and takes a moment to blame the press: "One must also evaluate the connection between spiritual benefits and the possible costs of such acts … taking into consideration the unwarranted accents that the media can put on certain aspects of ecclesiastical declarations, especially those bastards at People magazine." (Except for the part about People magazine.)
(*For a list of News Quiz product-placement fees, contact your media buyer.)
Phone Fun Ongoing Extra
Dial (800) 578-7453, the customer service number for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. They will give you something to listen to, then ask you for an improved version. Participants are invited to submit the first four lines of that improved version. Best responses to run Thursday.