The four-part documentary on the UKTV History channel draws on research gleaned from Vatican files only opened to scrutiny in 1998.
It highlights periods of the persecution that began in the 13th century and ended only in the late 1800s.
The Inquisition was established by Pope Gregory in 1233 as a special court to help curb the influence of beliefs deemed to deviate from official Church doctrine.
Interviewed in the documentary, The Secret Files of the Inquisition, Fr Di Noia [Under-Secretary for the CDF) says: "It was a mistake to torture people.
"However, torture was regarded as a perfectly justified, legitimate way of producing evidence and it was therefore legally justified."
I fail to see how this is controversial, as various news accounts have made it out to be. There is nothing controversial about describing actions and attitudes of the past in context. He doesn’t say it was justifiable, or that Christians could never have done otherwise, made other choices. He says – in the place and position in which the Church dwelt, it was understandable. That’s what historians do. That’s how they look at history.