The phrase auto de fe refers to the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place when the Spanish Inquisition or the Portuguese Inquisition had decided their punishment (that is, after the trial). Auto de fe in medieval Spanish means "act of faith". The phrase also commonly occurs in English in its Portuguese form auto da fe (or auto da fé) (Wikipedia)
I was reminded of this ritual once imposed by the Spanish Inquisition etc., by the contemptible groveling of Democratic presidential candidates to the anti-war left. I used to think Hillary had some starch in her, not to mention common sense, and would not give in to the netroots in the Dem party to repudiate her vote in favor of the Iraq war. She appeared to have used her better judgment to reject calls of her fellow Dems to pull out, set a timetable, etc--in other words, to insure defeat. For us.
I was wrong. She is hastening to perform public penance with the best of them, in her anxiety to position herself to the left of Obama. I expect to see her washing John Murtha's feet any day now on the steps of the capitol.