THE ATTITUDE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TOWARDS JEWISH RITUAL MURDER
THE Jew, Cecil Roth, in Ritual Murder
Libel and the Jew, 1935, p. 20, says: "The Catholic Church never gave
the slightest countenance to the calumny" (the blood accusation). This
seems to be very inaccurate, as we shall demonstrate.
The Jews say that the Popes Innocent IV, Gregory X, Martin V, Nicholas V, Paul III, Clement XII and Clement XIV have all expressed disbelief in the Ritual Murder practice of Jews.
Let us first take the case of Innocent IV, who has issued Bulls about the matter on 28th May and 5th July, 1247, and again on 25th September, 1253. Now the first of these simply demands that no action should be taken against Jews on a Ritual Murder charge unless they have been tried and found guilty; the Bull of 1253 defended the Jews against the charge of Ritual Murder because the Old Testament did not sanction that practice!
But the views of Innocent IV are dealt with in the Catholic Bulletin, Dublin, August, 1916, pp. 435-8, from which I shall quote. The late Lord Rothschild was greatly perturbed about a Ritual Murder trial which; was going on at Kiev in 1913, and which we describe fully in this book (see p. 32). He wrote a letter to Cardinal Merry del Val, asking him to state whether the Bull of Innocent IV dated 5th July, 1247, was authentic; Lord Rothschild said that this Bull declared that Ritual Murder was "an unfounded and perfidious invention." When the Cardinal replied that the letter was authentic, this was taken to mean that Innocent IV had denied the existence of ritual murder by Jews! But note that no such statement as Baron Rothschild imputed to Innocent IV was contained in the Bull!
Let the Catholic Bulletin deal with the matter in its own words:
"The document [the Bull] consists of two parts, one part sums up the case as presented by the Jews themselves. The Pope states that he has received a complaint that the Jews are being oppressed and pillaged by both ecclesiastical and secular princes, that they are being cast into prison, and even put to death, without trial or confession of guilt, that they are being falsely accused of ritual crime which they assert is manifestly opposed to their law, namely the Divine Scriptures. The second part, which alone expresses the Pope's mind, is as follows:
"not wishing, therefore, that the said Jews be unjustly harassed, whose conversion God expects in his mercy . . . we wish that you should show yourselves benign and favourable towards them. Restore to their proper state those of the mentioned matters that you find to have been rashly attempted by the said Nobles against the Jews, and do not permit that in the future they should be for those or similar pretexts unjustly molested by anyone."
"Jews must consider Christians to be very uncritical and gullible if they think they can he induced to accept this document as a papal declaration that ritual crime does not exist. It is obvious that the Sovereign Pontiff merely gives instructions according to general principles, ordering that the Jews should not be unjustly oppressed or molested. He makes no pronouncement whatever regarding the truth or falsehood of the specific charges. Naturally, he must leave the decision regarding this point to the judgment of the bishops to whom he writes. Least of all was he likely to be impressed by the sophistry that ritual crime could not exist among the Jews because it was forbidden in the sacred Scriptures. None could know better than he that it was not the teaching of the Scriptures, but the infamous teachings of the Talmud that caused people to look upon Jews as a grave danger to society. Only three years before the appearance of his letter, namely in 1244, he showed plainly what he thought of the Talmud by pressing Louis IX to collect from his subjects all the copies he could obtain and consign them to the flames."
Before leaving Innocent IV. I ask the reader to realise the typical Jewish cunning exhibited by Rothschild in exploiting the answer of Cardinal del Val regarding the authenticity of the letter as confirming an interpretation of that letter's contents by Rothschild! How Jewish!
Gregory X in a Bull of 7th October, 1272, is a little more explicit than Innocent IV; the same exhortation is made for legal trial of all cases, but he says that they should "not be arrested again on such groundless charge unless (which we think impossible) they are captured in flagrant crime." Gregory thus does not deny that the crime exists; he says he thinks it is impossible.
Pope Martin V, Nicholas V, Paul III and Clement XIII issued statements which show to my satisfaction, although not apparently to that of some anti-Jew writers, that they did not wish to support the opinion that the Ritual Murder charge was a true one against the Jews.
Then we come to Clement XIV. Before he became Pope, he was Cardinal Ganganelli. He was despatched by the Inquisition in 1759 to investigate Ritual Murder charges against the Jews in Poland, and he wrote a long report about it. This report is quoted in full in Roth's Ritual Murder Libel and the Jew and is, indeed, the only "evidence" brought forward by Roth in that book, published in 1935.
From beginning to end of Ganganelli's report, there is nothing that a scientific investigator would regard as evidence that Ritual Murder was not practised by Jews. The Polish cases he admits were juridically decided; and he brings forward examples of definitely false charges of Ritual Murder such as everyone knows have arisen, but which do not in the least affect the question as to whether Ritual Murder happens or not. He merely opposes his opinion to those of the men in authority on the spot.
But there is more. Definitely, and far from being able to refute the charge of Ritual Murder against Jews, Ganganelli admits the Ritual Murders of St. Simon of Trent and of St. Andreas of Rinn in these words:
"I admit then, as true, the fact of the Blessed Simon, a boy three years old, killed by the Jews in Trent in the year 1475 in hatred of the faith of Jesus Christ"; and "I also admit the truth of another fact, which happened in the year 1462 in the village of Rinn, in the Diocese of Brixen, in the person of the Blessed Andreas, a boy barbarously murdered by the Jews in hatred of the faith of Jesus Christ."
One thing concerning Ganganelli's report seems to have escaped the notice of other anti-Jewish workers, and to my mind it damns the report from the beginning; in undertaking an investigation such as that with which Ganganelli was confronted, one should surely start with an unbiased outlook? Read Ganganelli's admission about his own outlook when he went to Poland to investigate:
"With my weak faculties, I endeavoured to demonstrate the non-existence of the crime which was imputed to the Jewish Nation in Poland."
The Cardinal set forth, not to find out whether Ritual Murder existed in Poland or not, but "to demonstrate the non-existence of the crime"! And yet, he had to admit the crimes of Trent and of Rinn!
Thus, the book Ritual Murder Libel and the Jew, by the Jew Roth, which relies entirely upon Ganganelli for its material, is valueless except to the anti-Jewish worker to whom it is a God-send! Yet, what a good "press" this book had when it was published in 1935! The Morning Post greeted it (16th January, 1935) with headlines "Ritual Murder: Jewish people absolved: striking denunciation," and called the book "a final and incontrovertible refutation of the hideous Ritual Murder accusation." It is clear that the critic had either never taken the trouble to read the book or was deliberately misleading the public as to its contents; it is no "incontrovertible refutation"; it is an unscientific conglomeration of irrelevant matter, with a confession of bias and of the truth of the Ritual Murder accusation itself. The Catholic Times (15th February, 1935) says: "The learned Cardinal completely refutes the persecutors of the Jews and conclusively shows the flimsiness of the charges against them and their inherent absurdity." Ganganelli "completely refutes" nothing, and all that he "conclusively shows" is that Ritual Murders were a Jewish practice.
The Birmingham Mail, 22nd September, 1936, is typical of the attitude of the "British" critics of the book: "It is symptomatic of the unhealthy state of the Continental mind that credence can be given in certain parts of Europe to the atrocious libel in which it is alleged that Christian blood is a necessary concomitant of the Jewish Passover celebrations."
Although the book was widely advertised when it came out, the Jews seem to have realised that it merely gives evidence in favour of Ritual Murder, for I found it difficult to get a copy in 1936, having ultimately to resort to a friend in the second-hand book trade to get one for me.
Thus Clement XIV, far from being a witness for the defence of the Jews, is an unwilling witness of the truth of the anti-Jewish accusation.
And what of the Popes who have supported the Ritual Murder accusation by their acts? There are many.
Sixtus IV approved in his Bull XII Kal. July, 1478, of the conduct of the Bishop who dealt with the Jews in the St. Simon case at Trent. The Jews endeavoured to enlist Sixtus IV on their side by pointing out that he had suspended the cult of St. Simon of Trent; this was done by Sixtus IV solely as a disciplinary measure, for Simon had not yet been beatified by papal authority, but was being made the centre of a local cult.
Gregory XIII recognised Simon as a martyr and himself visited the shrine.
Sixtus V ratified the cult of St. Simon in 1588, allowing the celebration of mass in his name. This is confirmed as a fact by Benedict XIV.
Benedict XIV himself in a Bull Beatus Andreas (1778, Venice, IV, p. 101 seq.), beatified both Simon and Andreas, two boys murdered by the Jews "in hatred of the faith of Jesus Christ"; "the Jews," he said, "used every means to escape the just punishment that they had merited and to escape the just anger of the Christians."
How significant of the methods of the advocates for the Jew, to note that in Strack's book, no mention whatever is made of Benedict XIV's Bull, although the actions of Sixtus IV are wilfully misinterpreted!
Pius VII, 24th November, 1805, confirmed a decree of the Congregation of Rites of 31st August according to the Church at Saragossa the right to honour Dominiculus, killed by the Jews in hatred of the faith of Jesus Christ (see p. 17). He also authorised for the church at Toledo the same privilege in respect to St. Christopher, the boy crucified by the Jews near that place in 1490 (see p. 20).
In 1867, the Congregation of Rites authorised the cult of Lorenzino, at Vicenza, Padua, ritually murdered by Jews.
Gregory XVI, also, gave his support to the anti-Jewish accusers when he honoured Gougenot des Mousseaux by making him a Chevalier of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, in reward for writing his book, Le Juif, le Judaisme et la Judaisation des Peuples Chretiens, in which Gougenot des Mousseaux devoted a chapter charging the Jews with Ritual Murder of Christians for the sake of their blood.
Pius IX refused to see the Jew Montefiore when the latter was returning from his visits to Egypt and to Constantinople, where he had bribed the Khedive and the Sultan so that the Jews at Damascus could escape the consequences of their guilt of the Ritual Murder of Father Thomas and his servant; this, in spite of a shameless Jewish persistence which has been fully described in Sir Moses Montefiore's biography. That showed what Pius IX thought about it, and he himself was of Jewish blood.
Pope Leo XIII bestowed distinctions on Edouard Drumont, author of La France luive, who accused the Jews of Ritual Murder therein. Authority: Jewish Encyclopedia (1905), Vol. X, p, 127.
To sum up: The Popes who have appeared to disbelieve the existence of the Ritual Murder crime have, with the exception of Clement XIII, been those who lived in the least enlightened times; many later Popes have given very clear evidence that they hold the opposite opinion. The reader has the facts before him and can judge for himself.
Remember that although other martyred boys, victims of Jewish Ritual Murder, have been regarded in many places as saints without papal authority, there is no record of papal disapproval of these cults except in the case of Sixtus IV, already mentioned, whose action was purely disciplinary and who himself specifically approved of the conduct of the Ritual Murder Case to which the matter referred. Such locally beatified "saints" or martyrs were St. William of Norwich (1144), St. Richard of Pontoise (1179), St. Hugh of Lincoln (1255), St. Werner of Oberwesel (1286) and St. Rudolph of Berne (1287). In every such case it is quite obvious that the cult had the full approval at least of the episcopal authorities over the places mentioned.
Those who condemn the Blood Accusation as a wicked invention for the purpose of persecuting Jews and robbing them, must at the same time condemn wholesale some of the highest dignitaries of the Catholic Church, men against whom nothing is known beyond that they had excellent characters, like William Turbe, Bishop of Norwich to give an English example.
When the reader peruses the details of the cases that I have cited in this book, he will realise that Episcopal Courts have dealt with many of them; in other words, the Jews were condemned by the existing religious authority of the day.
Many of the earliest records we have of these Ritual Murders come from the pens of Catholic historians, such as the Bollandists, a body of Belgian Jesuits; a list of the principal works on the subject will be found at the end of the book.
Father Creagh, Redemptorist, publicly accused Jews of the practice of Ritual Murder, on 11th January, 1904, in a speech in Limerick. Authority: Jewish Encyclopedia (1904), Vol. VIII. p. 89.
Perhaps I may best wind up this chapter
by giving the names of the twelve members of juries who investigated,
considered and condemned the Jews in the Ritual Murder case of La Guardia in
Toledo, together with their qualifications:
(1) Maestre Fray Juan de Santispiritus,
Professor of Hebrew, Salamanca University;
(2) Masetre Fray Diego de Bretonia, Professor of Scripture;
(3) Fray Antonio de la Pena, Prior;
(4) Dr. Anton Rodriguez Carnejo, Professor of Canon Law;
(5) Dt. Diego de Burgos, Professor of Civil Law;
(6) Dr. Juan de Covillas, Professor of Canon Law;
(7) Fray Sebastian de Hueta;
(8) Licentiate Alvaro de Sant Estevan, Queen Isabel's corregidor for Avila;
(9) Ruy Garcia Manso, Bishop Talavera's provisor;
(10) Fray Rodrigo Vela, head of the Franciscan Monastery, Avila;
(11) Dr. Tristan, Canon of Avila;
(12) Juna de Saint Estevan.
On the findings of such men of standing we surely have every right to rely.