Misconceptions Series:
Email Follies, Part 5

In addition to a new page dealing with the notion that Joan was trained in Scotland by remnants of the Knights Templar, we again have a page addressing the many tired arguments of one Kenneth Walsh, who has now been removed entirely from the IJAS discussion list for misbehavior. It is to be hoped that he'll finally move on with his life and stop bothering the Joan of Arc community; but either way, the rest of us are committed to ignoring him from now on.
Here then is an examination of some of his many unusual views before moving on to more important concerns:

I quoted DeVries [sic - DeVries' (possessive)] book which stated "almost the entirety of the northern and most of the eastern sides of the city were left vacant." - meaning a lot more than just the northeast sectors were free.
Here, Kenneth has resorted to trying to prove his point via a semantic quibble over the term "northeast" versus "northern and most of the eastern sides"; but if one bothers to look at a map of the English positions, it will be seen what was meant by the latter quote from DeVries: there was a gap to the northeast between the fortresses of St-Pouair and St-Loup, an area which bordered on territory controlled by the English and was therefore perhaps not a high priority. Since most sieges include gaps in the perimeter, it should be the most obvious point that such a gap does not justify Kenneth's claim that the city was "never under siege", and it's rather astounding that such a point would need to be made to him.
In his next comment, his claim migrates to the new allegation that only a "microscopic portion" of the city was ever surrounded, by only a "microscopic portion" of the English besieging army:
On pp [sic] 60 of DeVries' book: "Instead, he (Salisbury) manned only a few strongholds, boulevards and fortresses." "All of these (strongholds, boulevards and fortresses [my italics]) held very few troops".
Of the numerous strongholds surrounding Orleans, the English had secured only a small percentage of them and each had few troops apiece. It is obvious that only a microscopic portion of the large English army present in the vicinity of Orleans were used to actually surround a microscopic portion of the city. [...] The overwhelming majority of the English troops were merely waiting to meet the approaching French army to prevent their passing through Orleans and gaining access to English controlled territory in the area between Orleans and Rheims. The English Army was not present in the vicinity of Orleans to compel and garrison
[sic - presumably "compel the garrison of"] Orleans to surrender and made no attempt to gain possession of Orleans itself since according to DeVries "the English showed little interest in taking Orleans".
The above is false - and in some cases fictional - on every point: 1) first of all, the above quote about "only a few strongholds" being manned during Salisbury's command refers only to the period before Salisbury received his fatal wound a mere twelve days after arriving at Orleans, long before the English had had time to set up their positions; and yet Kenneth is trying to apply this quote to the situation during the entire siege. 2) Secondly, there were never "numerous" strongholds available for the English to occupy in the first place (as Kenneth erroneously claims) since, as is well-documented in period sources, the French had methodically demolished anything which could be used for that purpose during the early portion of the siege, with the result that most of the outlying buildings had been destroyed by the defenders. This is why most of the English positions were largely built from scratch or modified from ruins, meaning of course that it's naive to state that they failed to occupy "most of the strongholds" that Kenneth is imagining to have supposedly existed around the city. 3) Finally, the notion that only a small portion of the English army was used to block off the city is yet another invention which he made up out of whole cloth. The actual disposition and usage of English forces is well documented: the troops were fairly evenly spread out among their fortresses in order to blockade the city, with a somewhat larger percentage in Les Tourelles and its "boulevert" and the rest divided up among the other positions. DeVries himself says this, and merely noted that they were waiting out the siege (as is typical in most such affairs) rather than trying to take the city quickly by storm. Kenneth is deliberately taking DeVries' comments out of context and then trying to use them to contradict DeVries' own descriptions of the siege. Similar points can be made for the notion that only a "microscopic portion of the city" was surrounded - only a few sentences up, the claim had previously been "all but the north and east section". This is a case of inventing hyperbole which is contradicted even by previous admissions on the subject, as well as by the original manuscripts which show that English forces did in fact block the crucial portions of the city's perimeter, with only one less important portion left open.
Concerning a similar issue:
If, according to Allen "… the amount of food being successfully smuggled into the city had been reduced to a mere pittance before Joan's army arrived.." were true, then why wasn't the city of Orleans not on the verge of falling because of starvation? And, according to Allen, if "the people of Orleans had become demoralized" then apparently DeVries disagrees since the spirits of the citizens were not failing
Two issues need to be dealt with here: 1) It should be an obvious point that a city's food supplies can be dwindling without actual starvation having set in quite yet, which is all that Mr. DeVries was referring to. In any event, the surviving records are clear, and detail the exact amount of food that was brought in, down to such minutiae as the precise number of horseloads of cheese, etc. These records show that the incoming supplies had dropped considerably between February and late April, meaning that if the trend had continued the city would have faced a dire situation before long. This is also attested in the various other accounts. 2) As for the comments about Mr. DeVries' quote concerning the citizens' morale: I think all that needs to be said here is that Kenneth is again taking a single statement out of context and then "spinning" it in a way which contradicts the accounts from those who were there, then using this misinterpretation to dismiss the accounts themselves.
His next point deals with a different issue:
Bulk canonization was largely over by the fifteenth century when the Church instituted a more formal and structured process of canonization, so the rate of canonization fell sharply.
Two brief points: 1) The above is false, since there were a great many "bulk canonizations" (e.g., sets of martyrs, for example) long after the 15th century, and 2) as Kenneth knows, the "bulk canonization" issue concerned his attempt to find the "average" delay for formal individual canonizations by dishonestly including those which were part of a "bulk" or informal process. His above claim, needless to say, would therefore have nothing to do with the central issue even if it were an accurate claim.
Concerning his next point on the same topic:
Pope John Paul 2 has canonized, as of date, 473 saints; so from 1500 to 1978, 500 saints or so were canonized by other Popes since the 15th century. Now the rate of saint canonization has gone from one saint canonized every 4 months to one saint canonized every year.
There are many obvious problems with his new calculation above: aside from the fact that he's still including "bulk canonizations" in his numbers - which he chooses to ignore by erroneously claiming that there weren't any during that period - we also have the fact that he's taking the average rate over a period of time and trying to use this as a means of estimating the average delay between the death of a typical saint and their canonization, which is an obvious non-sequitur and in fact is contradicted even by his own "21 examples" cited farther below, for which the average is 126 years rather than the "one year" he cites above. More will be said about this farther below, following the next brief point:
Since most of the 15th -20th century saints died in the time period 1500-1978, it still would be statistically improbable that the average canonization delay was anything near 500 years.
Of course, no one has ever claimed that the "average is 500 years": the point has always been simply that there were a great many other saints who were canonized after a delay which was roughly comparable to, or even longer than Joan's, not that this is the "average". It is Kenneth who has been trying to present an alleged average, first of "four months" then "one year", then - as we will see in the next point - 126 years.
Below is his list of 21 samples - note how his argument has migrated from originally alleging that most saints were canonized almost immediately, to now triumphantly crowing that since the delay in Joan's canonization was longer than his new "average" of 126 years, therefore this allegedly confirms the original argument that the Church viewed her as suspect:
I have obtained randomly a list of 21 saints canonized from the early 13th century to the present. Most of the saints listed are post-14th century saints, and none were bulk canonized. I have excluded saints canonized by present [sic - "the present"] pope since including them might have skewed the statistics.
Saint Year of death Year of canonization Canonization delay (years)
St. Teresa of Avila 1582 1622 40
St. Catherine of Siena 1380 1461 81
St. Thomas Aquinas 1274 1323 49
St. Bridget of Sweden 1373 1391 18
St. Bernadette Soubirous 1879 1925 46
Saint Therese of Lisieux 1897 1925 28
St. Michael de Sanctis 1591 1625 34
St. Robert Lawrence 1535 1970 435
St. Richard Gwyn 1584 1970 386
St. Francis Jerome 1716 1839 123
St. Francis Caracciolo 1608 1807 199
St. Francis Xavier Bianchi 1815 1951 136
St. Francis of Paola 1474 1519 45
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini 1917 1946 29
St. Alexander Sauli 1592 1904 312
St. Anthony Mary Gianelli 1846 1951 105
St. Anthony Mary Pucci 1892 1962 70
St. Benedict Joseph Labré 1783 1883 100
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton 1821 1975 154
St. Francis Jerome 1716 1839 123
St. Pius V, Pope 1572 1712 140
Average delay = 126 years
In other words Joan of Arc's canonization exceeded the average in the sample by a whopping 362 years!
And St. Hildegard still has only been officially beatified after a delay of nearly 830 years - but that doesn't mean that the Church views her as "suspect". Even if we were to accept his mere 21 examples as a statistically large enough sample from which to calculate an accurate average (which is obviously not the case), and even if we were to accept an "average" which keeps changing, literally from one paragraph to the next within the same email note; there is still the following obvious problem with his reasoning: if Kenneth is truly going to claim that the delay interval indicates the degree of opposition from the Church then he would have to show that there is indeed such a systematic pattern in the delay, whereas there obviously is no such pattern - e.g., since it took 140 years to canonize Pope Pius V (as he himself notes above) and some 500 years to consider Pope Silverius a saint (etc), does this mean that the Church had doubts about these Popes? Did the Church have greater doubts about St. Hermann Joseph (717 years) than for St. Teresa of Avila (only 40 years)? On the contrary, St. Teresa of Avila had been excommunicated during her lifetime, so if anything the Church's views had been the reverse. As pointed out before, the delay interval is pretty random, and does not reflect any degree of "suspicion" or "resistance" by the clergy: Kenneth has simply assumed that the delay would have such a significance, and then tried to find various schemes by which an "average" could be found which fits his argument.
This ties in with the next point:
Why the Church considered her suspect and why her canonization took so long, can be deduced from an article that appeared in the April 11, 1903 edition of Harper's Weekly
He then cited the same highly selective quote from this article which he had already used in a previous argument (see Misconceptions article #2) while still ignoring what the article itself says about the reasons for the opposition of this single committee - in stark contrast to the many other Church committees which approved her beatification and canonization only a few years distant from the above committee's decision. Since this issue has already been covered in depth in the aforementioned article #2, readers can refer to that if they wish.
On a related issue:
There are other possible reasons why the Church delayed her canonization: 1. Joan of Arc is the only saint to be put to death by the Catholic Church. 2. She is the most famous victim of the Inquisition. 3. She holds the world's record for the longest act of defiance against the Catholic Church (almost 4 ½ months). [...] Since Joan of Arc was an unusually popular figure for many centuries, the reason for her inordinate delay can only be explained by the resistance of the Church hierarchy to her being declared a catholic martyr and such can be inferred from the above.
Many points need to be made here: 1) First of all, his original argument on this point had been based around the opposite claim that she had been entirely "ignored" by both clergy and laity during the period in question, but this has now changed to the contradictory allegation that her "great popularity" among the laity would only prove his original point by indicating opposition from the hierarchy, although he's already been given many examples of support from the highest levels of the clergy during the "delay" period in question: e.g., the religious play given in Joan's honor at Orleans had been declared something akin to a pilgrimage site by the Papacy itself a couple decades after her death; Pope Pius II wrote a supportive piece about her in the 15th century; she was used as a symbol by the Catholic League in the 16th century, and so forth - meaning that she was popular not only with the laity (as he now concedes) but also many of the clergy. 2) There were in fact many other saints who had been investigated by the Inquisition: St. Theresa of Avila was already mentioned, and serves as a good example (among many other such examples) since her four years of opposition (1576-1580) was far longer than the "4 1/2 months" which Kenneth grandly cites as the "world's record". 3) Finally, Joan's "opposition" was limited to only those pro-English clergy who were delegated to convict her, and it was obviously not an act of heresy to oppose a corrupt, secular-dominated court which was condemned not only by many of the clergy and laity at the time but also officially condemned by the Inquisition itself after the English were driven out of Rouen, as has been explained many times before by many scholars.
Below is his attempt to again claim that the former Burgundians called to testify at the Rehabilitation would allegedly not be sufficient as representatives of the Anglo-Burgundian faction, this time using a new argument:
In actuality, the Burgundian [sic - should be plural] abandoned the English at the Treaty of Arras in 1435 and formed a military alliance with the Armanacs [sic - Armagnacs] against the English, 20 years before the third phase of the Nullification trial began. By 1455, there were virtually no more pro-English Burgundians left, partly because the English were entirely kicked out of France, Charles 7 was the sole and supreme French monarch and England had degraded into a denighted [sic - possibly "benighted"] nation and rife with [sic] a civil war [...] In the Nullification Trial, the English were constantly blamed for everything and testimonies from ex-Burgundian [sic - should be plural] did not constitute adequate representation from the old English-Burgundian faction - by 1455, the exclusive new English faction.
There are many obvious gaffes in the above: 1) First of all, a number of fundamental errors of fact need to be cleared up: a) rather than exclusively blaming the English, the Rehabilitation judges placed a good deal of the blame on the Burgundians who composed the tribunal - the very same guys who were called to testify; b) contrary to Kenneth's assumption, the alliance in 1435 was not embraced by many Burgundian supporters, quite a number of whom continued to work for the English - including a number of those who had taken part in Joan's trial such as Erard, Beaupere, d'Estivet, etc; c) perhaps more importantly, by 1455 there was no meaningful "English faction" either, since - as Kenneth himself ironically notes - the English were no longer actively fighting in France, meaning of course that the political situation had changed not only for the Burgundians but also for the English themselves. This leads us to the main points: 2) If he's going to try to dismiss the representation of those Burgundians whose own conduct was directly at issue simply because the situation had changed - for all factions - by the postwar era, it would stand to reason that he would inevitably trot out the very same argument to dismiss the inclusion of English witnesses even if they had in fact been represented. He's not fooling anyone with this: the Burgundians in question were just as valid as representatives of the wartime Anglo-Burgundian faction as anyone else would be by that point. 3) Finally, the bottom line is simply this: since the issue here is the relative fairness of the two trials, the first of which did not call even a single member - either current or former - from the opposing faction, we are again dealing with a classic case of Kenneth dodging the issue by shifting the focus.
On a related issue:
The so-called balance at the Nullification Trial amounted choosing [sic - "to choosing"] witnesses favorable to Joan of Arc, excluding damning testimonies by her former judges
Anyone who bothers to actually read the Rehabilitation testimony will see that they did not exclude anti-Joan testimony, and in fact Kenneth has previously cited the very type of testimony which he's now claiming was never included. He's apparently forgotten that his previous version of the above argument used to be based on the notion that anti-Joan testimony was allegedly "limited" (not excluded entirely) to just the few brief excerpts that he has personally seen on this very site, until it had been explained to him numerous times that these are merely brief excerpts rather than the entire testimony from anti-Joan witnesses. Now the claim has strangely migrated to a "total exclusion" of the very testimony which he himself used to cite. It is this type of dishonest tactic which has led so many people to refuse to deal with him.
Concerning his allegations about what he characterizes as the "evil Catholic faith":
Since Pope Innocent III in 1252, speaking ex cathedra on an article of faith and morals, declared the use of torture to enforce the Church's authority during Inquisition proceedings to be legal and moral, then torture is, in principle, morally justifiable under official catholic morality. [...] The above facts alone proves [sic - prove] the medieval Roman church was a sadistic and cruel institution that destroyed the lives of millions; not just through Inquisition trials, but through the mass extermination of Cathars, Albigeneses, [sic - "Albigenses", an alternate name for Cathars] Hussites and many other heretical groups, and the Roman authorized military campaigns of the Crusades. [...] Historian Will Durant stated, "Compared with the persecution of heresy in Europe from 1227 to 1492, the persecution of Christians by Romans in the first 3 centuries after Christ was a mild and humane procedure. [...] we must rank the Inquisition, along with the wars and persecutions of our time, as among the darkest blots on the record of mankind, revealing a ferocity unknown in any beast."
Many points could be made here, including the following:
1) Aside from the greatly inflated statistics - which he had previously conceded were wrong, an issue already covered in previous articles - the "exterminations" he cites are also wildly exaggerated: firstly, he has cited two names for the Cathars as "separate" examples while glossing over the fact that atrocities were committed by both sides during the conflicts in question; secondly, he invents an act of "genocide" against the Hussites which never occurred to any extent at all: the Hussites were a military faction in Czechoslovakia who were never "exterminated", but in fact in 1434 the Church cooperated with the moderate wing of the group to defeat a splinter faction, with a final compromise being signed in 1436. The worst atrocities in that war were probably committed by the Hussites themselves, such as their destruction of hundreds of towns over large swathes of the Holy Roman Empire in 1428-1430, during which entire regions were devastated. Do such atrocities committed by proto-Protestants mean that Protestants are "sadistic", or is such stereotyping only applied to Catholics?
2) Farther down, he has tried to back up his points by citing quotes from sources, such as Will Durant and an encyclopedia article, which were written by people who were unaware of the comprehensive studies on Inquisitorial transcripts which have now been completed, and who therefore use the same fictional statistics and sensational hyperbole (e.g., "a ferocity unknown in any beast") which Kenneth himself frequently engages in. Kenneth is basing his views of the subject on books which, as many scholars have pointed out, were based on sources which were ultimately founded on exaggerations, forgeries, and outright fiction invented by people such as Etienne Leon de Lamothe-Langon, whose claims about Inquisitorial trials became the standard source for much of the later books on the subject even though Lamothe-Langon himself was merely a hack writer of gothic horror novels rather than a historian. Scholars such as Norman Cohn and Richard Kieckhefer finally investigated Lamothe-Langon's claims and others like them, and found these to be devoid of any evidence; and comprehensive studies of the many thousands of authentic Inquisitorial transcripts have found that the conduct of most of these trials bore little resemblance to the popular myths that had been created by so many authors. Additionally, as many historians have patiently pointed out, the oft-cited "Inquisitorial manual" known as the "Malleus Maleficarum", which has been used as the chief basis for most authors' conception of the "official" rules and procedures, was actually used only by secular courts since this book was rejected by the Church and its author censured and removed from his post shortly after the book came out. Pop authors have assumed that this book was a typical Inquisitorial manual simply because it happens to be readily available in translation and is therefore the only such "manual" that they have been able to read. For actual specimens of typical Inquisitorial manuals, one would need to look at documents such as the "Directorium Inquisitorum" and "Practica Officii Inquisitionis Heretice Pravitatis".
As so often happens, the popular versions of this subject are thoroughly at odds with the scholarly consensus and historical evidence: while executions and torture certainly took place in a percentage of these trials, most of them never involved even the threat of torture and most resulted either in acquittal or in a penance such as almsgiving or fasting. This is agreed upon even by Neo-Pagan historians such as Jenny Gibbons (a member of the Wicca religion), who points out that Inquisitorial courts were far more lenient than their secular counterparts, and medieval courts were more lenient than those of the 16th and 17th centuries, when the great majority of witch trials took place and executions were far more common. Joan's trial was a political charade, and is therefore by definition not an example of a "typical" trial and did not resemble the more usual procedures or outcome.
3) Kenneth's arguments throughout are reminiscent of the people who will cite the (genuinely) millions of civilian deaths wrought by the American military during its wars and then use this as an excuse to paint all Americans as "evil", or the similar arguments made against Muslims because of their history, etc. Since all societies and large religious groups have killed their share of people, and given that all medieval societies used torture - which, as scholarly studies have found, was actually applied more sparingly in Inquisitorial trials than in secular trials of the same era - it should be apparent that Kenneth is engaging in stereotyping.
On another issue: below is his attempt to "refute" the well-known fact that Cauchon received his episcopal positions as favors from the Anglo-Burgundians:
According to an Internet medieval website : "In 1419 Pierre Cauchon was réferendaire of Pope Martin V, whom he helped elect, then conservator of the privileges of the University of Paris. Elected Bishop of Beauvais on August 21, 1420, on the recommendation of the University of Paris.." It was also noted that Martin 5 was one of the partisans of England along with Cauchon. [...] Thus Bishop Cauchon was in communion with Popes Eugenius 4 and Martin 5 so his execution of Joan of Arc was an official act of the Roman Catholic Church whose Pope was a partisan of England.
A few points will be made: 1) As Kenneth notes in the quote he cites (which was taken from an online version of Barrett's 1932 translation of the Condemnation transcript), it was the University of Paris which had arranged Cauchon's elevation as Bishop of Beauvais, and this University is well known to have been little more than a mouthpiece for the English occupation government, having been thus ever since it was filled with English supporters after Paris came under occupation - as the book by Barrett itself notes in the material included at the end. And yet, Kenneth is ironically citing this pro-English university's involvement to "disprove" English influence. Additionally, Cauchon's episcopal appointment came immediately following, and as a reward for, his help in negotiating the Treaty of Troyes on behalf of the English and Burgundians in 1420. 2) Since this was an era in which there were multiple claimants to the Papacy - as the aforesaid book itself also mentions at many points; and since Kenneth's main argument itself focuses on the pro-English bias of the papal claimant which Cauchon helped elect after overthrowing Pope Benedict XIII, it's truly remarkable that he seems to be denying the pro-English influence of clergy who, as he himself admits, were placed in their positions through the influence of the English and their partisans themselves. More importantly, he's ultimately trying to paint Joan's execution as a valid policy of the Church while making admissions of secular partisanship which themselves undermine the validity of the process.
Concerning a related point:
On a final note, since Martin 5 was a partisan of the English, he would have burnt her at the stake in Rome had Cauchon agreed to have her transferred there to stand trial. If Joan believed that the Pope would have given her a fairer trial, than [sic - then] her perception was wrong; in fact, [...] I proved than Joan wold [sic] not have submitted to the Pope during her trial.
A few points: 1) he's referring to his various prior attempts to argue that Joan's demand to be taken to the Pope was allegedly just a dishonest ploy on her part to delay the trial, which he has achieved by selectively picking out a few of her statements and twisting them out of context, then attributing ulterior motives to her, then using this bit of "spin" to reject the explicit evidence to the contrary. The actual context was as follows: first of all, it needs to be remembered that according to the regulations outlined in manuals such as the "Directorium Inquisitorum", any appeal to the Pope would normally halt the trial - regardless of the distance to the Papal See and regardless of the delay involved - by placing the matter in the hands of a higher judge - a principle which Cauchon failed to abide by. Cauchon's game throughout the trial was to respond to her submissions to the Papacy by first denying her right to be brought to the Pope on the dishonest pretext that the Pope was "too far away", then insisting that she should submit to the tribunal - illegally composed of her secular enemies - instead. This was a corruption of canon law and theology, and this is why Joan demanded the right - guaranteed under Inquisitorial regulations - to be brought directly to the Papacy or General Council rather than face a kangaroo court run by the English. Kenneth has tried to defend Cauchon by casting Joan as the "dishonest" one of the group - simply because she asked that the Church's standard principles be upheld. 2) Finally, concerning the Pope's political biases: a) since Martin V died almost immediately after the trial's initial proceedings began and was therefore not the Pope during the hearings in question, Martin's pro-English leanings can hardly be cited in connection with the specific issue at hand; and b) regardless of any Papal debt to English partisans (among many other groups that the Papacy was indebted to), the Papacy obviously was at least not as staunchly committed to the English cause as Cauchon and his tribunal were, and the General Council had no overall partisan leanings one way or the other. The Papacy, under either Martin V or Eugenius IV, would have - at the least - provided a less biased hearing and a more neutral venue than the entirely slanted one she was given in English-occupied Rouen, and the non-partisan General Council would have almost certainly acquitted her. Kenneth has tried to dodge this point by first taking the few snippets he has read concerning the pro-English leanings of Martin V, then interpreting these brief excerpts in a way that suits his purposes, then inflating the issue and using it as an excuse to further dismiss Joan's appeal to the Pope - although the issue of Papal politics (which Joan herself had no knowledge of) obviously would have no bearing on Joan's own motives with regard to her answers on the subject. The actual context for her statements was covered in point 1 above.
On another point, dealing with his ongoing attempt to prove that the Church allegedly never approved Aquinas' "Summa Theologica" because it "merely" contains the term "Nihil Obstat":
I noted that the Roman Catholic censor when reviewing a book or movie uses the Latin words Nihil Obstat, meaning, "there is nothing to be objected to" - in principle. They are used in lieu of the word "approved". "Approved" is understood to imply much more of an endorsement of whatever is being referred to.
Aside from the fact that the "Summa Theologica" was used as the chief defining pronouncement of official doctrine (and therefore not only "approved" but also viewed as official), every reader can additionally spot the absurdity in the specific line of reasoning he employs in the above quote: since the Church never uses any term equating to "approved" when passing any book for publication ("Nihil Obstat" is the closest they ever come), he can hardly cite the lack of the term "approved" as an excuse to declare that the Church allegedly never approved the "Summa Theologica" - using similar logic, he would also have to claim that none of the Papal decrees were ever approved, since they don't contain that word, either. "Nihil Obstat" is the term that the Church uses when approving the publication of a book, and it's therefore obviously absurd to dismiss this term as if it were a negative rather than positive statement.
On a closely related issue:
The Catholic Church never officially approved anything resembling obeying one's conscience and to suffer excommunication Allen himself first mentioned Aquinas' statement "it is better to die excommunicated than to go against one's conscience" to me. Since I proved that the Church never embraced this part of Aquinas' theology, he now claims that the term "conscience' is defined by what the Church's concept of the word means and enjoins the laity from obeying their own "whims". He is saying, in effect, a accused heretic had to abide to [sic - by] what the Church says in regards to obeying one [sic - one's] conscience - and that is something Joan of Arc refused to do during her trial. That's why she was burned at the stake for she disobeyed the evil catholic system making her a truly Christian or early Protestant martyr.
The above is hopelessly muddled, and will have to be patiently disentangled piece by piece: Firstly, the reference to a quote from Aquinas given by
refers to something Kenneth saw in an article on the Joan of Arc Archive site, and anyone who wishes to can look at the article in question and see that: a) it never uses the word "conscience" at all (Kenneth added that himself) nor does it define the theological issues as Kenneth has claimed above, nor have these Misconceptions articles defined the issue as such - which brings us to the main point: b) What all of these articles do say - as everyone else can confirm for themselves - is that Aquinas was simply stating the standard doctrine that people need to obey the Divine Law - neither one's "conscience" nor any individual clergyman or group of clergy. Kenneth has deliberately misquoted and distorted this principle time and again, then tried to claim that both Joan and Aquinas were embracing "heretical" views. Additionally, it should hardly need to be noted that, far from being considered "suspect" as Kenneth claims, St. Thomas Aquinas was hailed by the 15th century Church as "the Holy Teacher" precisely because the Church embraced his doctrines as part of the bedrock foundation of its official dogma - meaning that Kenneth is trying to argue that the Church supposedly never accepted the very writings which it taught as required reading for its clergy. Finally, since Joan was only defying a small group of clergy who themselves were acting contrary to the Church's accepted doctrines (as covered before in previous articles), her actions can hardly be declared "heretical" regardless of how the issue is perceived, and it's particularly ridiculous to claim that she was a "heretic" for obeying the "Summa Theologica" itself. All of this has been explained ad nauseam to Kenneth numerous times before, but it never penetrates.
Again, this is a good illustration of why so many others - such as Robert Wirth of the IJAS, Dr. Ansgar Kelly, and so forth - have refused to try to reason with him any further; and the chief reason why this series will now move on to debunking other, more important - and in some cases more rational - misconceptions.