Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Melinda D. Schlager
Early in the twelfth century, the Fourth Lateran Council led by Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) took a step that drastically altered church law and criminal procedure in continental Europe, particularly in France. By the council's action, a new inquisitorial system of justice was developed and implemented to replace such earlier forms of justice as vengeance, the oath, and the ordeal. Inquisitorial justice is a system of criminal justice in which the judge is also the prosecutor, proceedings are typically secret, and the accused must answer questioning. The Catholic Church adopted it in the belief that it was the best means to combat its biggest fear—heresy, or the rejection of mainstream Catholic doctrine. The Church used inquisitorial justice both to destroy individual heretical beliefs and to keep individuals from spreading such beliefs to others. It believed that its pursuit of truth would be better served by inquisition than by the adversarial ...