ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

CATHOLIC ANTI-SEMITISM

A study of the early church in Rome reveals some interesting facts: It was in Rome that the seeds of Replacement Theology were planted when Emperor Claudius banished the Jews from Rome in AD 49 (Acts 18:2), leaving the Church entirely Gentile. The separation of the Jews from the Gentile population resulted in the Roman Church conflicting with the returning Jews when Nero rescinded the ban. It was in Rome, after Constantine’s “conversion” to Christianity, that the Church made compromises with paganism, allowing paganism to take root in Christianity and where man’s traditions became prominent within the Church. The once-Jewish origins of Christianity were erased by paganism, firmly driving a wedge between Christians and Jews and making Christianity repugnant to the Jews. James Carol in his book titled Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews, reveals that it was Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor who is the one largely responsible for the Biblical reinterpretations that would label the Jews as being responsible for the death of Jesus. It was also in Rome that Augustine (354-430) developed the doctrine of Amillennialism, which denies the Kingdom rule of Jesus in Israel, and in which Replacement Theology finds a home. Augustine, the pre-eminent Roman Catholic theologian, compared the Jewish people to Cain who murdered his brother and became the first criminal in biblical history. The Jews, St Augustine wrote, were “a wicked sect” and should be banished because of their evil. Is it merely a coincidence that the foundations for Christian anti-Semitism are all laid in Rome? It should be remembered that with the death of Attalus III his title of “Pontifex Maximus” was bequeathed to the Roman Emperor. The Roman Emperor was now the “bridge maker” between the gods and the people of the empire, the seat of Satan had moved from Pergamum (Revelation 2:13) to Rome. The theological foundations of anti-Semitism are also the foundations of the apostate church.

The following is an abbreviated list of official canon and decrees given by the Roman Catholic Church that has never been revoked. The decrees therefore still carry spiritual force and effect to varying degrees.

From the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 until the Council of Basel in 1434, the Roman Catholic Church gradually built a regime that removed the Jews from society and locked them behind ghetto walls. The following are merely highlights:

  • The Council of Nicaea I in AD 325 rejected the biblical date for celebrating the Resurrection Day, so as to sever any connection with the Jewish feast of Passover. This is one of the changes that Constantine introduced in an effort to prevent Gentiles and Jews from worshipping together.
  • The council of Antioch of AD 345 ruled that any Christian celebrating Passover with a Jew would be excommunicated.
  • The council of Laodicea in AD 360 ruled that Christians were forbidden from attending Jewish festivals (Canon 37) or receiving unleavened bread from them (Canon 38).
  • In AD 425 Jews were required by law to observe Christian holidays and fast days, and to attend sermons designed to persuade them to convert to Christianity.
  • The council of Agde, France, in AD 506, laid down strict rules for baptism when a person was converting to Catholicism. The reason given was that Jews would quickly turn their backs on what was ‘sacred’, “like dogs returning to their vomit” – referring to the scripture in 2 Peter 2:22 (Canon 34). Clerics were forbidden from attending or being involved in Jewish festivals (Canon 40).
  • The Synod of Clermont in AD 535 ruled that the Jews were prohibited from holding any public office.
  • The Synod of Orleans in AD 538 ruled that the Jews were barred from owning Christian slaves or employing Christian servants; it is the Jews who were seen as the serfs of Christians.
  • In AD 613, Jews were given the option of either leaving Spain or converting to Christianity. Jewish children over six years of age were taken from their parents and given a Christian education.
  • The Council of Toledo IV in AD 663 (a ruling that would be repeated over the centuries) prevented Jews from holding public office, and authorised ex-communication for those Gentile officials who did not comply.
  • The Quinisext Council in AD 692, Canon II, put further pressure on Christians to separate themselves from Jews under threat of ex-communication, by not being allowed to use Jewish doctors.  
  • In AD 694 during the Seventeenth Council of Toledo, Jews were defined as the serfs of the prince in Spain. This was based on the belief that God was punishing the Jews with continuous servitude as a judgement for their responsibility in the crucifixion of Jesus.
  • The Council of Nicaea II in AD 787 required that Jews who fellowshipped with or joined the Church must first reveal names of other Jews who still openly or secretly studied and followed the Torah alone, and who observed the Sabbath, or followed the Jewish festivals. Jews baptised into the Roman Catholic Church had to formally renounce and condemn all such forms of worship. These Jews would then be observed to ensure that they strictly followed these regulations and did not fall back to Hebrew practices (Canon 8).
  • The Council of Narbonne in AD 1054 ordered Jews to wear a round patch of identification; this was followed by the Fourth Lateran Council in AD 1215 where Jews were required to wear distinctive dress and a yellow badge. This identity badge was the forerunner of the yellow Star of David Jews were forced to wear during the Nazi pogrom.

“Whoever wears this sign is an enemy of the people”

  • The Synod of Gerona in AD 1078 ruled that Jews had to pay taxes for the support of the churches to the same degree as Christians.
  • The Third Lateran Council in AD 1179 stated that Jews were prohibited from suing or witnessing against Christians in courts.
  • The Council of Oxford AD 1222 forbade the construction of any new synagogues.
  • In AD 1231 Pope Gregory IX required that all Messianic Jews be investigated to ensure that none had returned to practicing Judaism.
  • The Medieval Inquisition began in AD 1233 with Pope Innocent IV authorising the use of torture by the Inquisitors in AD 1252. The inquisition’s primary function was to combat perceived heresy, dictated by Roman Catholic doctrine, but inevitably Jews were targeted for persecution by the inquisitors.

Pope Innocent IV

  • In AD 1235 the council of Arles required that Jews were to wear a yellow circular patch to distinguish them from the rest of the population.
  • During the Synod of Breslau in AD 1267 it was decided that Jews were to be separated from Christian society. These areas were to later become known as “ghettos”. The word Ghetto means “armoury” in Italian and comes from the practice in Venice where Jews were kept in an armoury factory in AD 1516.

Curious German children climb on a wall to look down into a Jewish Ghetto in the 1930s

  • The Synod of Ofen in AD 1279, instructed that Christians were prohibited from selling or renting homes, businesses or land to Jews.
  • At the Council of Basel in AD 1434, Jews were no longer allowed to attain academic degrees.
  • In AD 1492, Spain expelled all Jews who did not renounce Judaism and all Old Covenant practices. Those who did not comply, including many Messianic Jews, were burned at the stake. Converted Jews were forced to sign pledges that stated curses against unconverted Jews and then sign vows not to interact with them.
  • Congregation of the Holy Office in AD 1542, tortured and burnt at the stake Messianic Jews who followed Judaism and the books of the Law.
  • Pope Leo XII decreed in AD 1826 that the property of Jews was to be confiscated and that the Jews were to be put into ghettos.

Pope Leo XII

  • In 1904 Pope St Pius refused the request made by Theodor Herzl, the Jewish Zionist leader, to sanction a Jewish homeland, saying that “the Jews have not recognised our Lord, therefore we cannot recognise the Jewish people.” He then made the offer to the Jews that if they travelled to the Holy Land, they would find Catholics there willing to baptise them into the faith. The Pope’s idea of supporting a Jewish homeland was to convert the Jews to Catholicism!

On 8 July 1933, the Vatican signed a concordat with Hitler; under this agreement German Roman Catholic bishops were to swear an oath of allegiance to the Nazi State. This was never repudiated even when news of the atrocities and the genocide was common knowledge. Roman Catholic churches helped the Nazis to identify Jews by providing them access to church genealogical records. Hitler enforced policies against the Jews that had been approved by the Roman Church over the course of history and was still the official policy of the Roman Catholic Church at that time.  

The Roman Catholic Church’s passive submission to the Nazis continued, when on 16 October 1943 German SS units rounded up the Jews of Rome and sent them to Auschwitz. Of these 1 000 particular Jews only 15 survived the war. It is of interest to note that both Hitler and Mussolini were Roman Catholics yet neither was ever excommunicated by the Roman Church for their atrocities.

Hitler and Mussolini were Roman Catholics.

Through the centuries anti-Jewish pronouncements inexorably led to anti-Semitic violence. Organised violence such as the Crusades and the Inquisitions also inspired more sporadic violence in the form of countless local pogroms and Easter massacres.

The Crusades:

Although the main goal of the 1096 Crusade was to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims, Jews were also targeted, with Jewish communities on the Rhine and the Danube being totally destroyed. Jews were slaughtered in Europe and wherever the Crusaders found them on the way to Jerusalem. When the Crusaders entered Jerusalem, Jews were rounded up and locked in a synagogue and the building set alight while the Crusaders celebrated outside by singing hymns in praise of God. The fact that the wealth of the slaughtered Jews was taken to support the Crusade was an added bonus. The Crusades were the first acts of mob violence against the Jews and would set a trend in Europe for hundreds of years into the future.

The Inquisitions:

In 1252 Pope Innocent IV issued the document Ad Extirpanda which states that heretics are to be “crushed like vermin.” The document formally approved the use of torture. Although the Inquisition was instituted by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216), this Papal Bull was the driving force of the Inquisitions and continued by several Popes: Alexander IV (1254-1261), Clement (1265-1268), Nicholas IV (1288-1292) and Boniface VIII (1294-1303). At first, the persecutions were directed at those believed to be “Christian” heretics, which by definition would be those who did not follow the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrines, but the Inquisition condemned the Talmud, and by 1288 the first mass burning of Jews tied to stakes took place. The burning of ‘heretics’ was preceded by torture to encourage the accused to repent of their ‘heresy’. The methods of torture were numerous, and the inventions designed to inflict maximum pain on the victims were sadistically creative. If the victims admitted heresy they were mercifully strangled before being cremated. The teachings of Jesus to “love thy neighbour,” to forgive and to have tolerance of others were lost on the Roman Catholic Church, as “infallible” popes continued the extensive slaughter. The Inquisitions took place in Europe, with France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal being the main foci. The Inquisitions did not reach the shores of Britain or the Scandinavian countries.

1492 Expulsion from Spain:

Over time Jews had settled in Spain and a golden age of prosperity had arrived for them, producing some of its greatest scholars and writers. Spain, however, was not to be their New Jerusalem. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand expel every Jew from the country. This event is an extremely traumatic event for the Jews, resulting in large numbers of Jews having to relocate after generations of life in Spain. The exodus claimed the lives of many Jews. Following this, Spain plunges into a period of unrelenting political, military, economic and social decline, and finally loses her empire – a reminder of the promise made by God to Abraham in Genesis 12:3:

“I will bless those that bless you, and curse those that curse you.”

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella

With the weight of evidence of Roman Catholic anti-Semitism, it is clear why God continually supported Britain against her Roman Catholic adversaries over the centuries and prevented Roman Catholic nations from gaining control of Eretz Israel (the land promised to Israel). But the Roman Catholic Church still has its eyes on Jerusalem. It must not be forgotten that the Roman Catholic Church still holds to the belief that it is the New Israel (Replacement Theology). The Vatican’s claim of being the rightful heir of the Kingdom of God cannot be credible if Israel controls the Old City of Jerusalem.

In 1993 the Roman Catholic Church established diplomatic relations with the State of Israel, and immediately took steps to place pressure on Israel to give the Old City international status and for the Roman Catholic Church to be the overseer of the sanctity of the religious sites. Up till today, the Roman Catholic Church continues to persevere with diplomatic wrangling and will continue until it succeeds in its goal to control The Old City. If this is ever allowed, it will give the Roman Catholic Church power and authority in the Old City and put the Roman Church on the road to a complete takeover.

Treaty of Tordesillas and the temporal power of the Pope.

The tragic consequence of the continual persecution of the Jews by the Roman Catholic Church is that many Jews equate Christianity with Roman Catholicism and therefore associate all Christianity with persecution, not knowing that Roman Catholicism has, over the centuries, killed far more Christians than Jews. Satan, in his battle against the servants of God, has used the Roman Catholic Church in an attempt to eradicate God’s true Church. The Bible-believing Church that rejected the authority of the Roman Church was called ‘Cathars’. ‘Cathar’ comes from the Greek katharos, meaning ‘pure’ – these believers were unstained by the teaching of Catholicism. The two main groups of Cathars in Europe were the Waldensians and the Albigensians, considered to be the forerunners of the Protestant movement. Pope Innocent III killed 60 000 Albigensian Christians, when he had the entire town of Beziers in southern France wiped out. Pope Innocent III called this act of barbarism “the crowning achievement” of his papacy. From the 12th century onwards, thousands of believers were killed as a result of the inquisitions against the Waldensians (from Italy and the south of France). Pope Innocent VIII issued a bull for their extermination in 1487.

he worst single crusade against believers occurred in 1572 during the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of the French Protestant Huguenots. In a surprise coordinated attack, Roman Catholics across France turned on their Protestant neighbours and slaughtered them. Within a week, over 70 000 Protestants had been killed.

Painting of the Saint Bartholomew Day massacre entitled Catherine de’ Medici sees victims

Babylon Religion Exposed

This last series has exposed the Roman Catholic Church as the continuation of the Babylonian religion from the time of Nimrod, and also points to the Roman Church as being the fulfillment of the Whore of Babylon recorded by the apostle John in Revelation 17. The series has shown the depth of apostasy in the Roman Church by covering: The Rise to Power of the Roman Catholic Church, Paganism in the Roman Catholic Church, Mary Worship, Sun Worship in the Roman Catholic Church, The blasphemous claims of the Popes, and Anti-Semitism in the Roman Catholic Church.

The importance of this knowledge for the believer today cannot be stressed enough, for it is the discerning believer who will be required to make a stand against the rise of apostasy in the Church, witness to the truth, and stand in the gap in prayer.

Christian Support of Israel

There are many charitable Protestant Christian organisations in Israel such as Christian Friends of Israel (CFI), Bridges for Peace, and Joseph’s Storehouse that are changing the attitudes of Jews towards Protestant believers, through their display of unconditional love and support for the Jews in Israel. Organisations such as these do valuable work in obedience to God’s call for the Church to support Israel; they are heavily dependent on donations and volunteer workers to fulfil this role.

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