HOW THE POPE TREATED THE JEWS
Pope Innocent III decreed as follows:
"As Cain was a wanderer and an outcast, not to be
killed by anyone but marked with the sign of fear on his forehead, so the
Jews . . . against whom the voice of the blood of Christ cries out . .
. although they are not to be killed they must always be dispersed as wanderers
upon the face of the earth."(1)
(1) Migne, Patrologia, CCXV, 1291.
"Although Christian piety tolerates the Jews . .
. whose own fault commits them to perpetual slavery . . . and allows them
to continue with us (even though the Moors will not tolerate them), they
must not be allowed to remain ungrateful to us in such a way as to repay
us with contumely for favors and contempt for our familiarity. They are
admitted to our familiarity only through our mercy; but they are to us
dangerous as the insect in the apple, as the serpent in the breast * *
* Since, therefore, they have already begun to gnaw like the rat, and to
stink like the serpent, it is to our shame that the fire in our breast
which is being eaten into by them, does not consume them * * * As they
are reprobate slaves of the Lord, in whose death they evilly conspired
(at least by the effect of the deed), let them acknowledge themselves as
slaves of those whom the death of Christ has made free."(2)
(2) Ibid., p.694.
Under this same pope, Innocent III, the Fourth Lateran
Council, in 1215, adopted canons Nos. 67-70, decreeing the Roman Catholic
attitude towards the Jews:(3)
(3) cf. Binius, Concilia Generalia, Vol. II, Tom. 3, p.695.
The first is financial, containing protective measures
for Christians against the rapacity of Jews as userers. Only Jews were
permitted to lend money at interest.
The second decrees that all Jews be distinguished for
all time from Christians by color of dress and distinctive badge.
The third forbids Jews to have Christians as nurses, tutors,
and domestic servants and forbids Christians to cohabit with Jews and Jewesses.
Legal marriage with them was impossible.
The fourth forbids the acceptance of legal testimony of
Jews against Christians and orders preference for the testimony of a Christian
against a Jew. An order is also added that all in authority in Church and
State must watch continually lest converted and baptized Jews continue
to practice the rites of their former faith.
A few years later Pope Innocent III reiterates and confirms
these edicts of the Lateran Council as follows:
"TO THE KING OF FRANCE THAT HE MUST CRUSH THE INSOLENCE
OF THE JEWS RESIDING IN HIS KINGDOM,
"Although it be not displeasing to the Lord, but
rather acceptable to Him, that the Jewish Dispersion should live and serve
under Christian princes * * * they greatly offend in the sight of God's
Divine Majesty who prefer the offspring of the Crucifiers before those
who are the heirs of Christ. * * * It has come to our knowledge that in
the kingdom of France Jews have so much liberty that, under a species of
usury—by which they not only extort interest, but interest from interest—they
obtain control of the goods of the churches and the possessions of the
Christians. * * * Furthermore, although it was decreed in the Lateran Council
that Jews be not permitted to have Christian servants in their homes, either
as tutors for their children or for domestic service, or for any reason
whatsoever, they still persist in having Christians as servants and nurses,
with whom they commit abominations of a kind which it rather becomes you
to punish than us to explain. And again, although the same Council laid
it down that the testimony of Christians against Jews is to be admitted,
even when the former use Jewish witnesses against Christians, and decreed
that in a case of this kind anyone who would prefer Jews before Christians
is to be condemned as anathema, yet up to the present time things are so
carried on in the kingdom of France, that the testimony of Christians against
Jews is not believed, whereas Jews are admitted as witnesses against Christians.
And at times, when they to whom Jews have loaned money with usury produce
Christian witnesses about the facts of payment, THE DEED WHICH THE CHRISTIAN
DEBTOR THROUGH NEGLIGENCE INDISCREETLY LEFT WITH THEM IS BELIEVED RATHER
THAN THE WITNESSES WHOM THEY BRING FORWARD. On Good Friday also, contrary
to the law of old, they walk through the streets and public squares, and
meeting Christians who everywhere according to custom go to adore the Crucifix,
they deride them and strive to prevent them from this duty of adoration.
We warn and exhort Your Serene Majesty in the Lord (adding the remission
of your sins) that you force the Jews from their presumption * * * and
see to it that due punishment be meted out to all such blasphemers, and
that an easy pardon be not given to delinquents!"(4)
(4) Migne, op.cit., CCXV, 501.
In 1567, Pope Pius V revoked the small concession, granted
to Jews by Pius IV, enabling them to possess immovable property up to the
value of 1,500 gold ducats. He ordered the Jews to sell all their properties
to Christians. Two years later he ordered all Jews expelled from the States
of the Church:
"By authority of these present Letters, We order
that each and every Jew of both sexes in Our Temporal Dominions, and in
all the cities, lands, places and baronies subject to them, shall depart
completely out of the confines thereof within the space of three months
after the present Letters shall have been made public. They shall be despoiled
of all their goods, and be prosecuted according to the due process of law.
They shall become bondsmen of the Roman Church, and shall be subjected
to perpetual servitude. And the said Church shall claim the same right
over them as other dominions over their slaves and bondsmen."(5)
(5) Bull. Rom. Pont., VII, 741.
In 1244, Pope Innocent IV also ordered the burning of
Jewish books. He exhorted the King of France as follows:
"Our dear Son, the Chancellor of Paris, and the Doctors,
before the clergy and people, publicly burned by fire the aforesaid books
(The Talmud) with all their appendices. We beg and beseech your Celestial
Majesty in the Lord Jesus, that, having begun laudably and piously to prosecute
those who perpetuate these detestable excesses, that you continue with
due severity. And that you command throughout your whole kingdom that the
aforesaid books with all their glossaries, already condemned by the Doctors,
be committed to the flames. Firmly prohibiting Jews from having Christians
as servants and nurses. * * *(6)
(6) Bull. Rom. Pont., IV, 509.
Pope Gregory IX sent the following to the archbishops
"The Jews, who are admitted to our acquaintance only
through our mercy, should never forget their yoke of perpetual slavery,
which they bear through their own fault. In the Council of Toledo it was
decreed that Jews of both sexes, and for all time, should be distinguished
from others by their mode of dress. We therefore command that each and
every one of you to have all the excesses of the Jews completely repressed,
lest they should presume to raise their necks from the yoke of servitude
in contumely of the Redeemer; forbidding them to discuss in any way concerning
their faith or rites with Christians. In this matter calling to your aid
the help of the civil power, inflicting upon Christians, who offer opposition,
due ecclesiastical punishment ***"(7)
(7) Bull. Rom. Pont., III, 497.
Pope Eugenius IV, in 1442, issued the following decree:
"We decree and order that from now on, and for all
time, Christians shall not eat or drink with Jews; nor admit them to feasts,
nor cohabit with them, nor bathe with them. Christians shall not allow
Jews to hold civil honors over Christians, or to exercise public offices
in the State. Jews cannot be merchants, Tax Collectors, or agents in the
buying and selling of the produce and goods of Christians, nor their Procurators,
Computers or Lawyers in matrimonial matters, nor Obstetricians; nor can
they have association or partnership with Christians. No Christian can
leave or bequeath anything in his last Will and Testament to Jews or their
congregations. Jews are prohibited from erecting new synagogues. They are
obliged to pay annually a tenth part of their goods and holdings. Against
them Christians can testify, but the testimony of Jews against Christians
in no case is of any value. All and every single Jew, of whatever sex and
age, must everywhere wear the distinct dress and known marks by which they
can be evidently distinguished from Christians. They cannot live among
Christians, but in a certain street, separated and segregated from Christians,
and outside which they cannot under any pretext have houses * * *"(8)
(8) Bull. Rom. Pont., V, 67.
In 1555, Pope Paul IV reiterated these restrictions against
the Jews and added some new ones. He ordered Jews to pay an annual amount
for every synagogue, "even those that have been demolished,"
and said: "Jews can only engage themselves in the work of street sweepers
and rag pickers, and cannot be produce merchants or in things necessary
for human use."(9) For contravening
these regulations Jews are to be punished "as rebels and criminals
laesae majestatis rei (high treason), held as outlaws by all Christian
people, by the judgment of our Vicars, Deputies and Magistrates * * *"
(9) Bull. Rom. Pont., VI, 499.
The present attitude of the Roman Catholic Church toward
the Jew, as well as that of Mussolini, is of much interest for the latter
has revived the age old disabilities of the Church against the Jews. All
Jewish literature is forbidden and no book by a foreign Jew can be translated
into Italian. No play by a foreign Jew can be produced. No Jew is allowed
to broadcast over the radio. Jewish professors are barred from Italian
universities and textbooks of 114 Jewish writers have been withdrawn from
the schools. Jews have been expelled from all administrative posts. Marriage
is again illegal between Jews and Christians. A third anti-Semitic newspaper,
Giornalissimo, has joined forces with the already existing anti-Jewish
Regime Fascista and Il Tevere.
The Vatican's semiofficial organ, L'Osservatore Romano,
of August 13, 1938, in an article headed "The Jews and the Vatican
Council" (1870) speaks of the Catholic Church's PROTECTIVE measures
for Jews, and then goes on to say:
"But—in order to set things straight—by this it was
not intended that Jews should be allowed to abuse the hospitality of Christian
countries. Along with these protective ordinances, there existed restrictive
and precautionary decrees with regard to them. The civil power was in accord
with the Church in this, since, as Delassus says, 'they both had the same
interest in preventing the nations from being invaded by the Jewish element
and thereby losing control of society.' But if Christians were forbidden
to force Jews to embrace the Catholic religion, to disturb their synagogues,
their Sabbath and their festivals, the Jews, on the other hand, were forbidden
to hold public office, civil or military; and this prohibition extended
even to the children of converted Jews. The precautionary decrees concerned
the professions, education, and business positions."(10)
(10) cf. Il Messagero, Rome, August 17, 1938; La
Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, Bari, August 18, 1938; Corriere della
Sera and others. All have the same caption: "How the Popes Treated