Franciscans of the Immaculate: we didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition


It was a great sketch. At RAF Halton in barrack block 14, we in Anson Flight gathered once a week in the television room to pay homage to Monty Python comedy. We did not understand all of it – who did? – but we gave our assent to most of it and acted it out next day on the parade square, confusing Corporal Heron with Monty Python references he knew nothing about.

The Spanish Inquisition sketch was a crude anhistorical nonsense played out for cheap laughs. In those days I was not even Anglican, let alone Christian. It would be nearly another twenty years before I became a Catholic.

Fade into the background the mad Python version of the Catholic Inquisition, and somewhere along the way, many years later, I became a Catholic. It is with some sense of deja vu that I now find myself looking on with horror at the awful situation in which a religious community, the Franciscans of the Immaculate is being persecuted by the inquisition of Rome. Having experienced the full horror and inhumanity of the Catholic Church in my own journey of vocation, nothing that is happening to the Franciscans of the Immaculate surprises me. I have seen everything they experience in my own journey.

In a real sense I often wonder how I ever kept my faith. Or did I? I like to think I still have my faith, but everything I read about the medieval inquisitor Fr Volpone who is pulling apart the Franciscans of the Immaculate simply pulls the last foundation stones away…

Keep demolishing the faith, you barbarians in Rome. You will be held to account before the Judgment Seat of Christ who will judge you kindly. What that leaves for the rest of us in this life is not your concern: you have blown it.



About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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