'Da Vinci Code's' Devilish Gaffes
Interview With Father Manfred Hauke
LUGANO, Switzerland, JUNE 8, 2006 (Zenit) - Dan Brown's best seller "The Da Vinci Code" says the Church demonized the symbol of Venus and killed millions of women accused of witchcraft.
Not so, says Father Manfred Hauke, a professor of dogmatic theology and president of the German Mariological Society, who responds to those accusations in this interview.
Q: Is it true that the Church has demonized the pentacle, a five-pointed star inscribed in a circle, symbol of Venus?
Father Hauke: This is a typical example of the novel's lack of historical credibility. Suffice it to consult the appropriate dictionaries to verify that even the basic data in no way agrees with what he upholds on the pentacle.
It does not seem that the origin of the sign is known with exactitude, though historical evidence has existed in Egypt since 2000 B.C. An astronomic connection with the planet Venus does not seem evident.
The Pythagoreans used the pentacle as a salvific sign, which they related to health itself. Beginning with this tradition, since the 16th century the pentacle became a symbol of doctors and was related by Cornelii a Lapide to the five wounds of Christ.
In the Byzantine army, vanguard combatants carried small shields with the "pentalpha," a tricolored pentacle, as a sign of salvation. If the ancient Church of the first centuries had made the pentacle a demonic symbol, such use would not have been possible.
Moreover, the pentacle appears no less than as a magic and apotropaic [designed to avert evil] sign in ancient Gnosis and in the Jewish Kabala of the Middle Ages. Its relationship with modern occultism goes back to this context.
Therefore, the idea upheld by Brown that the Church altered, with calculated malice, the symbol of the goddess Venus into the sign of the devil has no foundation.
Q: More serious, however, seems the accusation against the Church of the witch hunt.
Father Hauke: Indeed, this is the only point that has some historical basis. Recalling the "Malleus Maleficarum," the character Langdon maintains: In 300 years of witch hunts, the Church burnt at the stake the astonishing figure of 5 million women. The guilt of the witch hunt is therefore entirely attributed to the Church -- the Catholic Church -- which thus sought to destroy "freethinking women."
There is a smidgen of truth in these affirmations, but peppered with enormous and incorrect fundamental exaggerations. To approach the phenomenon in an appropriate manner, one must begin from the dark reality of magic that tries to obtain superhuman effects through recourse to occult powers, linked with the intervention of demons.
This practice, sadly, again rather widespread at present, is the object of an explicit and severe condemnation already in the Old Testament, where capital punishment is provided for witchcraft....
This punishment, moreover, is one of those established by the Code of Hammurabi, toward 2000 B.C. in ancient Babylon. Whoever follows recent research on the phenomenon and knows the experiences of exorcists, cannot deny that witchcraft exists today with all its pernicious effects, which can be effectively combated by the spiritual means of the Church.
Of course, one must be careful not to confuse real interventions of the evil one with people's superstition and credulity, who see the devil's tail where in fact it doesn't exist.
The deplored "witch hunt" was not caused simply by belief in witchcraft, but by a collective hysteria unleashed at the beginning of the modern era, and by absolutely unacceptable methods used to detect men and women witches.
Torture in fact led to "confessions" of invented offenses, suggested by the accusers themselves. The direct responsibility for sending alleged evil ones to be burned at the stake is that of the state authority. The collective hysteria, which culminated in the years 1550-1650, spread above all through the Germanic and Slavic countries and much less so in the Mediterranean ambit.
Recent research has made it possible to revise the figures relative to the persons executed as witches. According to Danish scholar Gustav Henningsen, in the course of four centuries, when active persecution of witchcraft was practiced, some 50,000 people were killed -- and not 5 million as Brown maintains -- of whom close to 20% were men.
The figure in general was lower in Catholic countries, which were not undermined by the Protestant Reformation.
In Spain, Italy and Portugal of the mid-16th century to the end of the 18th century, there were 12,000 prosecutions against alleged female and male witches; only 36 people in these thousands of trials, were subjected to capital punishment.
In Rome, fewer than 100 people died for the offense of witchcraft. The first case of which we have knowledge was in 1426 and the last in 1572. The vast majority of the trials of the Roman Inquisition concluded for lack of evidence.
During the prosecutions against female witches, tremendous errors were committed, but this does not justify, on the historical plane, the spread of a black legend, as Brown has done, which sees "the Church" as the only one responsible.
Q: In what sense does Dan Brown follow the feminist currents?
Father Hauke: In radical feminism, we find different currents, often opposed. There is a view that minimizes the difference between man and woman, propounding an androgynous ideal: It is equalitarian feminism.
The other tendency exasperates the distinction between the sexes, declaring the woman superior. In the religious ambit, this gynocentric feminism is manifested in the veneration of a "goddess."
Also in this case, Brown presents a strange and untenable mixture between two currents. On one hand, he praises the androgynous model and, on the other, defends a preponderance of the "goddess," placing a matriarchy at the origin of human history.
Both feminisms are not in accord with a healthy anthropology: Equalitarian feminism does not respect the difference between man and woman, even though claiming their equal dignity, while gynocentric feminism denies precisely the equal value of the sexes, while still exalting their difference. The aspect that is deficient in both views is the concomitance between equal dignity and complementarity, typical of Christian anthropology.
Q: But don't you think that in the Church there have also been unjust discriminations of women?
Father Hauke: The relationship between man and woman is based on creation, which is a good thing, but it is continually threatened by the consequences of sin. For this reason, also in the Church there has been, and at times still are, unjust discrimination in respect to women.
John Paul II spoke of this in his "Letter to Women": "Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women's dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. ..."
Q: Do you not have the impression that the biblical image of God continues to be represented preferably with "masculine" symbols?
Father Hauke: I would say yes, though one also finds "feminine" features when, for example, God's action is compared to the tenderness of a mother. See Isaiah 49:15 -- "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you."
The "masculine" accent given to the image of God is based, for Christianity, on the revelation of Jesus who speaks of our "Father in heaven" -- and not of "our Mother on earth."
The Son of God was incarnated in the masculine sex, a fact destined to endure also in the transfigured corporeal nature. The Holy Spirit instead bears in himself some features that, from the symbolic point of view, could be approximated to feminine aspects, though these aspects cannot be exaggerated in a "feminine" representation, remote from the Holy Spirit.
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Da Vinci, Code, Hauke, Brown, Church, Witchcraft, Woman
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- The FBI may investigate Planned Parenthood
- Pope Francis calls for end of life care to acknowledge mortality
- Daily Readings for Saturday, November 18, 2017
- St. Rose Philippine Duchesne: Saint of the Day for Saturday, November ...
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, November 21st, 2017 HD Video
- Has Pope Francis violated the 8th Commandment, speaking out against ...
- Daily Reading for Monday, November 20th, 2017 HD Video
- The Catholic Miracle. Become part of our incredible mission HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, November 19th, 2017 HD
- Did Pope Francis blast 'perverse attitude' of climate change deniers? HD
- Scientists warn: The end of life as we know it is near HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way