Commemorative Plaque in Honor of the 198th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Portuguese Inquisition

March 28th, 2019 – In commemoration of the 198th anniversary of the abolition of the Portuguese Inquisition, the jewish community CASEI unveiled a commemorative plaque at the Academic Faculty of Netania.

The Portuguese Inquisition was established in 1536, with the approval of Pope Paul III, and it lasted until 1821. Its purpose was to suppress heresy and root out Judaism, which had been practiced by many Jews who had converted to Christianity to avoid persecution. The Inquisition was characterized by its cruel methods of torture and forced confessions, as well as its strict surveillance of the lives of those suspected of heresy.

Over the years, the Inquisition faced opposition from many quarters. The Enlightenment, which began in the 18th century, brought new ideas about individual rights and freedom of religion, which challenged the Inquisition’s authority. Many Enlightenment thinkers saw the Inquisition as an obstacle to progress and a violation of human rights. The French Revolution, which began in 1789, also had an impact on the Inquisition, as it spread revolutionary ideals throughout Europe.

Despite these challenges, it was not until the 19th century that the Inquisition was finally abolished in Portugal. The abolition was part of a broader movement of liberal reforms that swept across Europe in the wake of the French Revolution. In Portugal, the movement was led by a group of liberal intellectuals and politicians who were committed to the ideals of the Enlightenment.

In 1820, a revolution broke out in Portugal, which led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. The new government was committed to reforming the country and abolishing the Inquisition was one of its top priorities. In 1821, the Inquisition was officially abolished, and its assets were confiscated by the government.

The abolition of the Inquisition was a significant moment in the history of Portugal. It marked the end of centuries of religious persecution and signaled a new era of tolerance and freedom. It also had an impact on the Jewish community in Portugal, which had suffered greatly under the Inquisition. Although many Jews had left the country during the Inquisition, others had remained and continued to practice their religion in secret. The abolition of the Inquisition allowed Jews to practice their religion openly for the first time in centuries.

Today, the abolition of the Inquisition is celebrated as a moment of liberation and enlightenment in Portuguese history. It is seen as a symbol of the country’s commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights. It is also a reminder of the dark side of religious fanaticism and the importance of tolerance and diversity in society.

In conclusion, the abolition of the Portuguese Inquisition was a significant event in the history of Portugal and a testament to the power of enlightened ideals. It was the culmination of centuries of struggle against religious persecution and a victory for freedom and democracy. The legacy of the Inquisition still resonates today, as a reminder of the importance of tolerance and respect for human rights.

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