The antiwitch anticat mandate

In 1233, Pope Gregory IX issued a famous (and infamous) decree, Vox in Rama, directed toward suppressing heresy and witchcraft in Catholic Europe. This led to the persecution of those who were suspected of witchcraft and, alas, to the killing of countless black cats, since it was widely believed that Satan and his demons consorted in the form of black cats with human beings.

There’s no doubt that many of the so-called witches were innocent and there’s no doubt that some of them probably did believe they were worshipping Satan. But if there was any truly innocent party, it was certainly the many cats who were exterminated for no other reason than having black coats. (A curious footnote: Pope Gregory IX was a good friend of the gentle, animal-loving Francis of Assisi.)
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