I recently watched all the installments of a 2007 documentary series titled Secret Files of the Inquisition.
The final episode was on the Edgardo Mortara case, which for a brief period turned anti-church and Inquisition sentiments into a rage that the
Catholic Church would never entirely recover from.
In fact, the soon forgotten Mortara affair resulted in the Alliance Israelite Universelle in 1860.
The series on the Inquisition ends in Bologna, 1858.
A Jewish family had just gathered for their evening meal, when soldiers from the chief Inquisitor marched into their lodgings and kidnapped their
The stunned parents complain bitterly for days and weeks, until they are informed of the cause.
While the child was an infant they had a Catholic maid (or baby-sitter).
The infant was very ill, and as the maid believed he would die, she baptized the child, as was also supposedly witnessed by a neighbor.
That well intentioned act of baptism then made the child the property of the Catholic Church, rather than heathens.
At least that's how Pope Pius IX saw things according to church doctrine.
In fact, it seems that the Pope adopted the child and his education as his personal duty.
Some say he saw himself as the father of the child.
The child was sent to a special convent, and shifted about according to politics.
The biological father tried repeatedly to gain him back, but the church would not budge.
Eventually the now rarely mentioned case brought together various factions, and it caused the demise of the Inquisition and the standing of the
At 19 the child was legally free to rejoin his parents.
Instead he ignored his family and became a priest at 23.
He would however have later contact as a priest with the Jewish mother and sister.
The name of the child was Edgardo Mortara, and after a career in the church (apparently consisting of a rather unsuccessful ministry to convert the
Jews) he died unnoticed in Belgium at the age of 88 in 1940.
A preview to the episode:
The Pope often bemoaned his role as a "kidnapper", and appears to have realized the massive activism to release the child at the time, and the damage
this did to the church.
But according to his faith the child was baptized, and thus it was his duty to raise him in the church.
If it can be proven that a child is "saved" or "baptized" by a religion today, does that religion have rights to the child?
Thinking about the issue of kidnapped (or trafficked children since the open Inquisition) one could say kidnapping is illegal, but religious pretexts
still underline some human trafficking.
One thinks recently (2006) of the Zambian boys who were trafficked to Texas by an "evangelical Christian" group on the basis of forming a choir: www.renewamerica.com...
One also thinks of the documentary In Satmar Custody (2003) about a Jewish sect in the US who were essentially accused of luring Yemenite Jews
to the US, and then deporting the parents while the sect kept their kids.
Conversely the Satmar have accused Israel of kidnapping such kids to be raised by secularists. www.ruthfilms.com...
It gets more difficult in religiously mixed marriages, when one parent suddenly disappears with the kids to a country without extradition or custody
Several cases have been reported of a Muslim parent suddenly disappearing with the kids to a country with a dim view of Western society, and an
unwillingness to return such kids.
There have even been cases of back and forth kidnapping. www.nytimes.com...
In the 1970s a big fear of grandparents was that their grandchildren would end up in cults and foreign religious boarding schools, as the parents just
disappeared with the kids into a vast network of ashrams, and "gurukulas" (for example in ISKCON, where these were supposedly "Vedic schools" rife
with sexual and physical abuse).
More generally the "stolen generations" of native people in Australia and North America can often be historically regarded as "kidnapped", with
various missionary goals and involvement.
Many children were also stolen during the World Wars and raised in another religion, or atheistic socialist concentration camps.
Clearly some religious and Marxist militias are still kidnapping children in parts of the globe, but mostly today it seems to be a clash of cultures
between the parents.
The accusation of cutting-off all contact to non-converts (including family members) currently is what some would argue applies to groups defined as a
"cult", but it also happens between religions and versions of religion.
It's really heartbreaking, especially as the core of most religions is supposed to be about love.
edit on 7-10-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)
You also have the example of the Janissaries on the Muslem side of things.
The Janissaries were infantry units that formed the Ottoman sultan's household troops and bodyguards.
From 1380s to 1648, the Janissaries were gathered through the devşirme system. This was the recruiting of non-Turkish children, notably Balkan
Christians; Jews were never subject to devşirme, nor were children from Turkic families. In early days, all Christians were enrolled
indiscriminately; later, those from Albania, Greece, Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgaria were preferred.
According to military historian Michael Antonucci, every five years the Turkish administrators would scour their regions for the strongest sons of the
sultan's Christian subjects. These boys, usually between the ages of 10 and 12, were then taken from their parents and given to the Turkish families
in the provinces to learn Turkish language and customs, and the rules of Islam; these boys were then enrolled in Janissary training. The recruit was
immediately indoctrinated into the religion of Islam. He was supervised 24 hours a day and subjected to severe discipline: he was prohibited from
growing a beard, taking up a skill other than war, or marrying. The Janissaries were extremely well disciplined (a rarity in the Middle Ages).
The cruelest part of all this is they were taken from their Christian families to be raised as Muslim soldiers so when the people from their hometowns
fought against the Turks, it was their own sons they were forced to kill in battle.
edit on 10/10/12 by FortAnthem because: _________ extra DIV
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