The procedure, on the other hand, was substantially the same as that already described. Here, too, a 'term of grace' of thirty to forty days was invariably granted, and was often prolonged. Imprisonment resulted only when unanimity had been arrived at, or the offence had been proved. Examination of the accused could take place only in the presence of two disinterested priests, whose obligation it was to restrain any arbitrary act in their presence the protocol had to be read out twice to the accused.
The defence lay always in the hands of a lawyer. The witnesses although unknown to the accused, were sworn, and very severe punishment, even death, awaited false witnesses, (cf. Brief of Leo X of 14 December, 1518). Torture was applied only too frequently and to cruelly, but certainly not more cruelly than under Charles V's system of judicial torture in Germany. (4) Historical Analysis The Spanish Inquisition deserves neither the exaggerated praise nor the equally exaggerated vilification often bestowed on it. The number of victims cannot be calculated with even approximate accuracy; the much maligned autos-da-f'e were in reality but a religious ceremony (act us fidei); the San Benito has its counterpart in similar garbs elsewhere; the cruelty of St. Peter Argues, to whom not a single sentence of death can be traced with certainty, belongs to the realms of fable.
However, the predominant ecclesiastical nature of the institution can hardly be doubted. The Holy See sanctioned the institution, accorded to the grand inquisitor canonical installation and therewith judicial authority concerning matters of faith, while from the grand inquisitor jurisdiction passed down to the subsidiary tribunals under his control. Joseph de Maistre introduced the thesis that the Spanish Inquisition was mostly a civil tribunal; formerly, however, theologians never questioned its ecclesiastical nature. Only thus, indeed, can one explain how the Popes always admitted appeals from it to the Holy See, called to themselves entire trials and that at any stage of the proceedings, exempted whole classes of believers from its jurisdiction, intervened in the legislation, deposed grand inquisitors, and so on. (See TOM " AS DE TORQUEMADA.) C. The Holy Office at Rome The great apostasy of the sixteenth century, the filtration of heresy into Catholic lands, and the progress of heterodox teachings everywhere, prompted Paul to establish the 'Sacra Congregation Romance et universal is Inquisition is seu sanchi officio' by the Constitution 'Lice t ab init io' of 21 July, 1542.
This inquisitional tribunal, composed of six cardinals, was to be at once the final court of appeal for trials concerning faith, and the court of first instance for cases reserved to the pope. The succeeding popes -- especially Pius IV (by the Constitutions 'Pastoral is Oficii ' of 14 October, 1562, 'Roman us Pontifex' of 7 April, 1563, 'Cum nos per' of 1564, 'Cum inter criminal' of 27 August, 1562) and Pius V (by a Decree of 1566, the Constitution 'Inter multiplies' of 21 December, 1566, and 'Cum felicia record. ' of 1566) -- made further provision for the procedure and competency of this court. By his Constitution 'Immensa ae terni' of 23 January, 1587, Sixtus V became the real organizer, or rather re organizer of this congregation. The Holy Office is first among the Roman congregations. Its personnel includes judges, officials, consult ers, and. The real judges are cardinals nominated by the pope, whose original number of six was raised by Pius IV to eight and by Sixtus V to thirteen.
Their actual number depends on the reigning pope (Benedict XIV, Const. 'Sollicita et Provida', 1733). This congregation differs from the others, inasmuch as it has no cardinal-prefect: the pope always presides in person when momentous decisions are to be announced (coram Sanctissimo). The solemn plenary session on Thursdays is always preceded by a session of the cardinals on Wednesdays, at the church of Santa Maria so pra Minerva, and a meeting of the consult ors on Mondays at the palace of the Holy Office.
The highest official is the commissaries sanchi, a Dominican of the Lombard province, to whom two coadjutors are given from the same order. He acts as the proper judge throughout the whole case until the plenary session exclusive, thus conducting it up to the verdict. The assessor sanchi officio, always one of the secular clergy, presides at the plenary sessions. The pro motor fiscal is is at once prosecutor and fiscal representative, while the advocates reo rum undertakes the defence of the accused. The duty of the consult ors is to afford the cardinals expert advice. They may come from the secular clergy or the religious orders, but the General of the Dominicans, the magi ster sacr i, and a third member of the same order are always ex-officio consult ors (consult ores nati).
The are appointed for life, but give their opinions only when called upon. The Holy Office has jurisdiction over all Christians and, according to Pius IV, even over cardinals. In practice, however, the latter are held exempt. For its authority, see the aforesaid Constitution of Sixtus V 'Immensa ae terni' (see ROMAN CONGREGATIONS).