"No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" The brilliant Monty Python sketch was able to use an historical reference because the very mention of the Inquisition conjured up images of dark dungeons; cruel monks wielding instruments of torture and consigning thousands of alleged heretics to the flames. The Inquisition has had a bad press. But in fact there were several Inquisitions, some more cruel than others. And it is still active. Nowadays it goes under the name of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in the 1990s it was run by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. So what does it do? How does its present structure relate to its medieval origins? Does it deserve its sinister reputation?
Joining Ernie to discuss the Inquisition are Dr Gemma Simmons, Lecturer in Pastoral and Social Studies at Heythrop College London and a member of the Congregation of Jesus; Dr Christopher Black, Honorary Professor of Italian History at the School of Humanities, at the University of Glasgow; and Cullen Murphy, Editor at Large of Vanity Fair and author of God's Jury, The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World.