Traditionally, the Church has always taught that she, like the State, is a perfect society. Consequently, she has the right to all the means appropriate to attain her end, the sanctification and salvation of her members. Since the faithful are not only spiritual, but physical as well, the Church makes use of two types of penances in correcting erring members: spiritual and temporal. The spiritual censures are Excommunication, Interdict, and Suspension. The temporal penances in the period with which we are dealing were mainly almsgiving, pious works, visiting churches, pilgrimages to various shrines, mandatory presence at church functions wearing signs of penitence and subject to ritual flagellation, wearing crosses of different colors in public, fines, confiscations, destruction of buildings, imprisonment, and various legal disqualifications consequent upon a declaration of infamy. Penalties are also classified according to whether their purpose  is medicinal, that is, the hope that the person will thereby come to see the error of his ways and reform – promoting the principle of atonement rather than punishment; or vindictive, if the intent is to render satisfaction or expiation for the crime.

Albert Shannon, The Medieval Inquisition (1991)


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