HOW DIFFERENT POPES TREATED THE JEWS

List of Papal Bulls on Jewish Question

Following is a partial list of Papal Bulls and other relevant documents regarding the Jewish question, illustrating both the partial protection offered the Jews at different times and the institutionalization of Anti-Semitism.

Where protection was offered, it was often done in a condescending manner, asserting the Christian duty to have mercy on the Jews even though they were collectively guilty of killing Jesus (or in modern times, “forgiving” the Jews for killing Jesus) or was simply rescinding previous decrees. Catholic persecution of Jews – and protection – began in the Middle Ages, but the persecution continued and was intensified well after the Middle Ages, notably in the Inquisition and in the formation and regulation of ghettos, which began in the 1500s, well after the end of the Middle Ages. The Papal bulls and encyclicals that advanced and supported anti-Semitism included the following sorts of decrees:

  • Special badges or dress for Jews
  • Special taxes for Jews
  • Forcing Jews to remit debt of Christians
  • Banning, confiscating or burning Jewish law books and other writings.
  • Encouraging or forcing conversion of Jews
  • Expelling Jews from Papal territories or forcing Jews to live in ghettos.
  • Inquisition for backsliding converted Jews,

Many believed and hoped that Catholic persecution of Jews had ended in the period of Pope John XXIII. Recent Bulls and Encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI that reinstate anti-Semitic prayers and Catholic societies do not augur well.

Pius V was perhaps the worst of the anti-Semitic Popes. He was nonetheless canonized and the canonization was not rescinded.

In addition to the actual regulations depriving Jews of livelihood or home or forcing conversions, the Bulls often were prefaced with language of racist incitement that indicated the attitude of the Catholic Church to Jews.

The Bull Cum Nimis Absurdum (“How completely absurd”) of Paul IV, 1555, which created the ghetto of Rome, began with these words:

As it is completely absurd and improper in the utmost that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal servitude,

The Bull Hebraeorum gens (“The Jewish Race”) 1569, of Saint Pius V, which expelled Jews from some of the Papal states, began with these words:

 “The Jewish people fell from the heights because of their faithlessness and condemned their Redeemer to a shameful death. Their godlessness has assumed such forms that, for the salvation of our own people, it becomes necessary to prevent their disease. Besides usury, through which Jews everywhere have sucked dry the property of impoverished Christians, they are accomplices of thieves and robbers; and the most damaging aspect of the matter is that they allure the unsuspecting through magical incantations, superstition, and witchcraft to the Synagogue of Satan and boast of being able to predict the future. We have carefully investigated how this revolting sect abuses the name of Christ and how harmful they are to those whose life is threatened by their deceit. On account of these and other serious matters, and because of the gravity of their crimes which increase day to day more and more, We order that, within 90 days, all Jews in our entire earthly realm of justice — in all towns, districts, and places — must depart these regions.”

The above is quoted in modern anti-Semitic works, including Catholic publications and the Stormfront Website.

To the modern reader, the Papal bulls seem to present a conflicting picture. Sometimes privileges were revoked and sometimes extended. Often the same Pope would order protection of the Jews from bodily harm but enact discriminatory laws of various kinds. Thus, the church would encourage hatred of Jews, but then it would discourage violence against Jews. For Catholic theology there was no contradiction. The role of the Jews was to serve as an example of the wages of sin to Christians. Therefore, the Jews must be tortured and ridiculed, but never killed.

The documents listed below are Papal Bulls unless otherwise noted. The Bulls get their titles from the initial words, generally the first three words, of the text of the document, which are known as the incipit. Note that there may be several Bulls with the same title by different Popes, and on entirely different subjects.

Explanation of terms:

“Jus Gasaga” – a corruption of “Jus Chazaka” – the law of the right of tenancy of Jews, usually in ghetto homes.

Catechumen – a person being taught the Catechism, a new convert. The Bulls called for a special tax on Jews, to be used to support the catechumens. The house of Catechumens in Rome was used as an instrument for forced conversion, and its victims included the chief Rabbi of Rome.

Neophyte – a new convert.

The sources generally do not distinguish between Bulls, encyclicals and other documents of more limited circulation.

Papal Bulls and other documents Relating to Jews

Pope Bull/Document Date Subject
Gregory I Sicut  judaeis non 598 A letter, supplemented by others, provided limited protection of Jews. “Just as no freedom may be granted to the Jews in their communities to exceed the limits legally set for them, so they should in no way suffer through a violation of their rights”

The letter contained the phrase “Sicut Judaeis” – and thus to the Jews. Gregory forbade Jews to have Christian slaves, and encouraged conversions. The measures of protection along with limitations and persecution, and even the wording of Sicut iudaeis were repeated in subsequent bulls and letters of various popes. It became the model for treatment of Jews.

Calixtus II Sicut Judaeis c. 1120 Probably the first formal version of Sicut Judaies. Reiterates protection of the Jews in the wake of the persecutions of the first Crusade.
Innocent III Post miserabile Aug. 1198 Addressed to prelates of Europe and dealt with the need for another Crusade. Suspended payment of interest and principal to Jewish lenders for crusaders. Since many did not return, the debt was effectively cancelled.
Innocent III Etsi non displiceat 1205 Addressed to King of France. Accuses Jews of usury, blasphemy, arrogance, employing Christian slaves and murder. Urges king to put an end to the “evils.”
Honorius III Sicut  judaeis non debet esse licentia Nov. 7, 1217 Forbids forced baptism of Jews or molestation.
Honorius III In general consilio 1218 To archbishop of Toledo, requires enforcement of 4th Lateran Council decisions that Jews must wear special clothing and pay tithes to the local churches.
Honorius III Ad nostram Noveritis audientiam April 29, 1221 Jews are obliged to carry a distinctive badge and forbidden to hold public office.
Gregory IX Sufficere debuerat perfidioe judoerum perfidia March 5, 1233 Jews forbidden to employ Christian servants.
Gregory IX Etsi Judeorum 1233 To prelates of France, urged prevention of physical violence against Jews.
Gregory IX Si vera sunt 1239 To kings and prelates of Spain and France – orders seizure of Talmud and other Jewish books and examination for blasphemy against Jesus. These books were regularly burned or censored.
Innocent IV Impia judoerum perfidia May 9, 1244 French King ordered to burn the Talmud. Jews forbidden to employ Christian nurses.
Innocent IV Lachrymabilem Judaeorum 1247 To German prelates; orders an end to persecution of Jews and declares that theblood libel accusation is false.
Clement IV Turbato corde July 26, 1267 Christians forbidden to embrace Judaism
Gregory X Turbato corde March 1, 1274 (Identical to previous.)
Nicolas III Vineam Sorec Aug. 4, 1278 Addressed to orders of friars – Preaching to the Jews is encouraged and friars are to be specially trained for this purpose. Also known as Vineam Soreth.
Nicolas IV Turbato corde Sept. 5, 1288 Christians who embrace Judaism
John XXII Ex Parte Vestra Aug. 12, 1317 Relapse of converts.
John XXII  Cum sit absurdum June 19, 1320 Converted Jews need not be despoiled.
Clement VI Quamvis Perfidiam September 26, 1348 Tries in vain to dispel the superstition that Jews are responsible for Black Death by poisoning the wells
Urban V Sicuti judaeis non debet June 7, 1365 Forbidden to molest Jews or to force them to baptism.
Benedict XIII
(Anti-Pope)
Etsi doctoribus gentium 1415 A collection of anti-Jewish church legislation that served as an inspiration to other Popes.
Martin V Sedes apostolica June 3, 1425 Jews obliged to wear distinctive badge.
Eugene IV Dudum ad nostram audientiam Aug. 4, 1442 Forbade Jews to live with Christians or fill public functions, etc.
Calixtus III Si ad reprimendos May 28, 1456 Confirmed the preceding Bull of Eugene IV forbidding Jews to live with Christians.
Sixtus IV Numquam dubitavimus 1482 To Ferdinand of Aragon, to appoint inquisitors to extirpate heresy and investigate backsliding of Jewish converts to Christianity. The Spanish Inquisition and expulsion of the Jews from Spain followed.
Paul III Cupientes judaeos March 21, 1542 Privileges in favor of neophytes.
Paul III Illius, qui pro dominici Feb. 19, 1543 Establishment of a monastery for catechumens and neophytes.
Jules III Pastoris aeternivices Aug. 31, 1554 Tax in favor of neophytes
Paul IV Cum Nimis Absurdum July 14, 1555 Jews forbidden to live in common with Christians, to practice any industry, etc.
Paul IV Dudum postquam March 23, 1556 Tax in favor of neophytes
Pius IV Cum inter ceteras Jan. 26, 1562 Bull relative to monastery of catechumens.
Pius IV Dudum e felicis recordationis Feb. 27, 1562 Bull confirming that of Paul IV.
Pius V Romanus Pontifex April 19, 1566 Bull confirming that of Paul IV
Pius V Sacrosanctae catholicae ecclesiae Nov. 29, 1566 Bull relating to convent of neophytes
Pius V Cum nos nuper Jan. 19, 1567 Jews are forbidden to own real estate
Pius V Hebraeorum gens Feb. 26, 1569 Accuses Jews of many evils including magic. Orders expulsion of Jews from Church States except Rome and Ancona.
Gregory XIII Vices ejus nos Sept. 1, 1577 Obligatory preaching of Christian sermons to Jews;. Creation of college of neophytes.
Gregory XIII Antiqua judaeorum improbitas July 1, 1581 Against blasphemers.
Gregory XIII Sancta Mater Ecclesiae Sept. 1, 1584 Obligatory preaching of Christian sermons to Jews;100 men and 50 women must be sent every Saturday to listen to conversion sermons delivered in a church near the ghetto.
Sixtus V Christiana pietas Oct. 22, 1586 Privileges granted to Jews by relief of former edicts. These were reversed. by Clemen VIII.
Clement VIII Cum saepe accidere Feb. 28, 1592 Jews of Avignon forbidden to sell new goods.
Clement VIII Caeca et obdurata Feb. 25, 1593 Confirmation of the Bull of Paul III. Jews forbidden to dwell outside of Rome, Ancona, and Avignon.
Clement VIII Cum Haebraeorum malitia Feb. 28, 1593 It is forbidden to read the Talmud.
Paul V Apostolicae servitutis July 31, 1610 Regulars (of monks) obliged to learn Hebrew.
Paul V Exponi nobis nuper fecistis Aug. 7, 1610 Bull concerning the dowries of Jewish women.
Urban VIII Sedes apostolica April 22, 1625 Concerning heretical Portuguese Jews.
Urban VIII Injuncti nobis Aug. 20, 1626 Privileges granted to the monastery of catechumens
Urban VIII Cum sicut acceptimus Oct. 18, 1635 Obligation to feed poor Jews imprisoned for debt.
Urban VIII Cum allias piae March 17, 1636 Synagogues of the Duchies of Ferarri and Urban, to pay a tax of 10 ecus.
Alexander VII Verbi aeterni Dec. 1, 1657 Bull relating to rights of neophytes regarding jus gasaga.(rights of tenancy in the ghetto)
Alexander VII Ad ea per quae Nov. 15, 1658 Jus Gasaga (rights of tenancy in the ghetto)
Alexander VII Ad apostolicae dignitatis May 23, 1662 Concordat between the college of neophytes and German college.
Alexander VII Illius, qui illuminat March 6, 1663 Privileges favoring the fraternities of neophytes.
Alexander VIII Animarum saluti March 30, 1690 Bull relating to the neophytes in Indies.
Innocent XII Ad radicitus submovendum Aug. 31, 1692 Abolition of special jurisdiction
Clement XI Propagandae per unicersum March 11, 1704 Confirmation and extension of Paul III regarding neophytes.
Clement XI Essendoci stato rappresentato Jan. 21, 1705 Powers of Vicar of Rome in jurisdiction of catechumens and neophytes
Clement XI Salvatoris nostri vices Jan. 2, 1712 Transfer to “Pii Operai” the work of the catechumens.
Innocent XIII Ex injuncto nobis Jan. 18, 1724 Prohibits sale of new objects.
Benedict XIII Nuper, pro parte dilectorum Jan. 8, 1726 Establishment of dowries for young girl neophytes.
Benedict XIII Emanavit nuper Feb. 14, 1727 Necessary conditions for imposing baptism on a Jew.
Benedict XIII Alias emanarunt March 21, 1729 Forbidding the sale of new goods.
Benedict XIV Postremomens Feb. 28, 1747 The baptism of Jews
Benedict XIV Apostolici Ministerii munus Sept. 16, 1747 Right of repudiation of neophytes.
Benedict XIV Singulari Nobis consoldtioni Feb. 9, 1749 Marriages between Jews and Christians.
Benedict XIV Elapso proxime Anno Feb. 20, 1751 Concerning Jewish heretics.
Benedict XIV Probe te meminisse Dec. 15, 1751 Baptism of Jewish children
Benedict XIV Beatus Andreas Feb. 22, 1755 Martyrdom of a child by Jews. A blood libel concerning the murder of the child Andreas Oxner or Anderl von Rinn (Andreas of Rinn )by Jews that supposedly took place in 1462 in Rinn near Innsbruck. Confirms the blood libel as factual.  The Bull reviews the cases of ritual murder by Jews, which it explicitly upholds as a fact, and establishes the beatifcation but not the canonization ofAndreas of Rinn and Simon of Trent

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HOW THE POPE TREATED THE JEWSPope 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 of Germany:

“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 the Jews.”


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List of Papal Bulls on Jewish Question

Following is a partial list of Papal Bulls and other relevant documents regarding the Jewish question, illustrating both the partial protection offered the Jews at different times and the institutionalization of Anti-Semitism.

Where protection was offered, it was often done in a condescending manner, asserting the Christian duty to have mercy on the Jews even though they were collectively guilty of killing Jesus (or in modern times, “forgiving” the Jews for killing Jesus) or was simply rescinding previous decrees. Catholic persecution of Jews – and protection – began in the Middle Ages, but the persecution continued and was intensified well after the Middle Ages, notably in the Inquisition and in the formation and regulation of ghettos, which began in the 1500s, well after the end of the Middle Ages. The Papal bulls and encyclicals that advanced and supported anti-Semitism included the following sorts of decrees:

  • Special badges or dress for Jews
  • Special taxes for Jews
  • Forcing Jews to remit debt of Christians
  • Banning, confiscating or burning Jewish law books and other writings.
  • Encouraging or forcing conversion of Jews
  • Expelling Jews from Papal territories or forcing Jews to live in ghettos.
  • Inquisition for backsliding converted Jews,

Many believed and hoped that Catholic persecution of Jews had ended in the period of Pope John XXIII. Recent Bulls and Encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI that reinstate anti-Semitic prayers and Catholic societies do not augur well.

Pius V was perhaps the worst of the anti-Semitic Popes. He was nonetheless canonized and the canonization was not rescinded.

In addition to the actual regulations depriving Jews of livelihood or home or forcing conversions, the Bulls often were prefaced with language of racist incitement that indicated the attitude of the Catholic Church to Jews.

The Bull Cum Nimis Absurdum (“How completely absurd”) of Paul IV, 1555, which created the ghetto of Rome, began with these words:

As it is completely absurd and improper in the utmost that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal servitude,

The Bull Hebraeorum gens (“The Jewish Race”) 1569, of Saint Pius V, which expelled Jews from some of the Papal states, began with these words:

 “The Jewish people fell from the heights because of their faithlessness and condemned their Redeemer to a shameful death. Their godlessness has assumed such forms that, for the salvation of our own people, it becomes necessary to prevent their disease. Besides usury, through which Jews everywhere have sucked dry the property of impoverished Christians, they are accomplices of thieves and robbers; and the most damaging aspect of the matter is that they allure the unsuspecting through magical incantations, superstition, and witchcraft to the Synagogue of Satan and boast of being able to predict the future. We have carefully investigated how this revolting sect abuses the name of Christ and how harmful they are to those whose life is threatened by their deceit. On account of these and other serious matters, and because of the gravity of their crimes which increase day to day more and more, We order that, within 90 days, all Jews in our entire earthly realm of justice — in all towns, districts, and places — must depart these regions.”

The above is quoted in modern anti-Semitic works, including Catholic publications and the Stormfront Website.

To the modern reader, the Papal bulls seem to present a conflicting picture. Sometimes privileges were revoked and sometimes extended. Often the same Pope would order protection of the Jews from bodily harm but enact discriminatory laws of various kinds. Thus, the church would encourage hatred of Jews, but then it would discourage violence against Jews. For Catholic theology there was no contradiction. The role of the Jews was to serve as an example of the wages of sin to Christians. Therefore, the Jews must be tortured and ridiculed, but never killed.

The documents listed below are Papal Bulls unless otherwise noted. The Bulls get their titles from the initial words, generally the first three words, of the text of the document, which are known as the incipit. Note that there may be several Bulls with the same title by different Popes, and on entirely different subjects.

Explanation of terms:

“Jus Gasaga” – a corruption of “Jus Chazaka” – the law of the right of tenancy of Jews, usually in ghetto homes.

Catechumen – a person being taught the Catechism, a new convert. The Bulls called for a special tax on Jews, to be used to support the catechumens. The house of Catechumens in Rome was used as an instrument for forced conversion, and its victims included the chief Rabbi of Rome.

Neophyte – a new convert.

The sources generally do not distinguish between Bulls, encyclicals and other documents of more limited circulation.

Papal Bulls and other documents Relating to Jews

Pope Bull/Document Date Subject
Gregory I Sicut  judaeis non 598 A letter, supplemented by others, provided limited protection of Jews. “Just as no freedom may be granted to the Jews in their communities to exceed the limits legally set for them, so they should in no way suffer through a violation of their rights”

The letter contained the phrase “Sicut Judaeis” – and thus to the Jews. Gregory forbade Jews to have Christian slaves, and encouraged conversions. The measures of protection along with limitations and persecution, and even the wording of Sicut iudaeis were repeated in subsequent bulls and letters of various popes. It became the model for treatment of Jews.

Calixtus II Sicut Judaeis c. 1120 Probably the first formal version of Sicut Judaies. Reiterates protection of the Jews in the wake of the persecutions of the first Crusade.
Innocent III Post miserabile Aug. 1198 Addressed to prelates of Europe and dealt with the need for another Crusade. Suspended payment of interest and principal to Jewish lenders for crusaders. Since many did not return, the debt was effectively cancelled.
Innocent III Etsi non displiceat 1205 Addressed to King of France. Accuses Jews of usury, blasphemy, arrogance, employing Christian slaves and murder. Urges king to put an end to the “evils.”
Honorius III Sicut  judaeis non debet esse licentia Nov. 7, 1217 Forbids forced baptism of Jews or molestation.
Honorius III In general consilio 1218 To archbishop of Toledo, requires enforcement of 4th Lateran Council decisions that Jews must wear special clothing and pay tithes to the local churches.
Honorius III Ad nostram Noveritis audientiam April 29, 1221 Jews are obliged to carry a distinctive badge and forbidden to hold public office.
Gregory IX Sufficere debuerat perfidioe judoerum perfidia March 5, 1233 Jews forbidden to employ Christian servants.
Gregory IX Etsi Judeorum 1233 To prelates of France, urged prevention of physical violence against Jews.
Gregory IX Si vera sunt 1239 To kings and prelates of Spain and France – orders seizure of Talmud and other Jewish books and examination for blasphemy against Jesus. These books were regularly burned or censored.
Innocent IV Impia judoerum perfidia May 9, 1244 French King ordered to burn the Talmud. Jews forbidden to employ Christian nurses.
Innocent IV Lachrymabilem Judaeorum 1247 To German prelates; orders an end to persecution of Jews and declares that theblood libel accusation is false.
Clement IV Turbato corde July 26, 1267 Christians forbidden to embrace Judaism
Gregory X Turbato corde March 1, 1274 (Identical to previous.)
Nicolas III Vineam Sorec Aug. 4, 1278 Addressed to orders of friars – Preaching to the Jews is encouraged and friars are to be specially trained for this purpose. Also known as Vineam Soreth.
Nicolas IV Turbato corde Sept. 5, 1288 Christians who embrace Judaism
John XXII Ex Parte Vestra Aug. 12, 1317 Relapse of converts.
John XXII  Cum sit absurdum June 19, 1320 Converted Jews need not be despoiled.
Clement VI Quamvis Perfidiam September 26, 1348 Tries in vain to dispel the superstition that Jews are responsible for Black Death by poisoning the wells
Urban V Sicuti judaeis non debet June 7, 1365 Forbidden to molest Jews or to force them to baptism.
Benedict XIII
(Anti-Pope)
Etsi doctoribus gentium 1415 A collection of anti-Jewish church legislation that served as an inspiration to other Popes.
Martin V Sedes apostolica June 3, 1425 Jews obliged to wear distinctive badge.
Eugene IV Dudum ad nostram audientiam Aug. 4, 1442 Forbade Jews to live with Christians or fill public functions, etc.
Calixtus III Si ad reprimendos May 28, 1456 Confirmed the preceding Bull of Eugene IV forbidding Jews to live with Christians.
Sixtus IV Numquam dubitavimus 1482 To Ferdinand of Aragon, to appoint inquisitors to extirpate heresy and investigate backsliding of Jewish converts to Christianity. The Spanish Inquisition and expulsion of the Jews from Spain followed.
Paul III Cupientes judaeos March 21, 1542 Privileges in favor of neophytes.
Paul III Illius, qui pro dominici Feb. 19, 1543 Establishment of a monastery for catechumens and neophytes.
Jules III Pastoris aeternivices Aug. 31, 1554 Tax in favor of neophytes
Paul IV Cum Nimis Absurdum July 14, 1555 Jews forbidden to live in common with Christians, to practice any industry, etc.
Paul IV Dudum postquam March 23, 1556 Tax in favor of neophytes
Pius IV Cum inter ceteras Jan. 26, 1562 Bull relative to monastery of catechumens.
Pius IV Dudum e felicis recordationis Feb. 27, 1562 Bull confirming that of Paul IV.
Pius V Romanus Pontifex April 19, 1566 Bull confirming that of Paul IV
Pius V Sacrosanctae catholicae ecclesiae Nov. 29, 1566 Bull relating to convent of neophytes
Pius V Cum nos nuper Jan. 19, 1567 Jews are forbidden to own real estate
Pius V Hebraeorum gens Feb. 26, 1569 Accuses Jews of many evils including magic. Orders expulsion of Jews from Church States except Rome and Ancona.
Gregory XIII Vices ejus nos Sept. 1, 1577 Obligatory preaching of Christian sermons to Jews;. Creation of college of neophytes.
Gregory XIII Antiqua judaeorum improbitas July 1, 1581 Against blasphemers.
Gregory XIII Sancta Mater Ecclesiae Sept. 1, 1584 Obligatory preaching of Christian sermons to Jews;100 men and 50 women must be sent every Saturday to listen to conversion sermons delivered in a church near the ghetto.
Sixtus V Christiana pietas Oct. 22, 1586 Privileges granted to Jews by relief of former edicts. These were reversed. by Clemen VIII.
Clement VIII Cum saepe accidere Feb. 28, 1592 Jews of Avignon forbidden to sell new goods.
Clement VIII Caeca et obdurata Feb. 25, 1593 Confirmation of the Bull of Paul III. Jews forbidden to dwell outside of Rome, Ancona, and Avignon.
Clement VIII Cum Haebraeorum malitia Feb. 28, 1593 It is forbidden to read the Talmud.
Paul V Apostolicae servitutis July 31, 1610 Regulars (of monks) obliged to learn Hebrew.
Paul V Exponi nobis nuper fecistis Aug. 7, 1610 Bull concerning the dowries of Jewish women.
Urban VIII Sedes apostolica April 22, 1625 Concerning heretical Portuguese Jews.
Urban VIII Injuncti nobis Aug. 20, 1626 Privileges granted to the monastery of catechumens
Urban VIII Cum sicut acceptimus Oct. 18, 1635 Obligation to feed poor Jews imprisoned for debt.
Urban VIII Cum allias piae March 17, 1636 Synagogues of the Duchies of Ferarri and Urban, to pay a tax of 10 ecus.
Alexander VII Verbi aeterni Dec. 1, 1657 Bull relating to rights of neophytes regarding jus gasaga.(rights of tenancy in the ghetto)
Alexander VII Ad ea per quae Nov. 15, 1658 Jus Gasaga (rights of tenancy in the ghetto)
Alexander VII Ad apostolicae dignitatis May 23, 1662 Concordat between the college of neophytes and German college.
Alexander VII Illius, qui illuminat March 6, 1663 Privileges favoring the fraternities of neophytes.
Alexander VIII Animarum saluti March 30, 1690 Bull relating to the neophytes in Indies.
Innocent XII Ad radicitus submovendum Aug. 31, 1692 Abolition of special jurisdiction
Clement XI Propagandae per unicersum March 11, 1704 Confirmation and extension of Paul III regarding neophytes.
Clement XI Essendoci stato rappresentato Jan. 21, 1705 Powers of Vicar of Rome in jurisdiction of catechumens and neophytes
Clement XI Salvatoris nostri vices Jan. 2, 1712 Transfer to “Pii Operai” the work of the catechumens.
Innocent XIII Ex injuncto nobis Jan. 18, 1724 Prohibits sale of new objects.
Benedict XIII Nuper, pro parte dilectorum Jan. 8, 1726 Establishment of dowries for young girl neophytes.
Benedict XIII Emanavit nuper Feb. 14, 1727 Necessary conditions for imposing baptism on a Jew.
Benedict XIII Alias emanarunt March 21, 1729 Forbidding the sale of new goods.
Benedict XIV Postremomens Feb. 28, 1747 The baptism of Jews
Benedict XIV Apostolici Ministerii munus Sept. 16, 1747 Right of repudiation of neophytes.
Benedict XIV Singulari Nobis consoldtioni Feb. 9, 1749 Marriages between Jews and Christians.
Benedict XIV Elapso proxime Anno Feb. 20, 1751 Concerning Jewish heretics.
Benedict XIV Probe te meminisse Dec. 15, 1751 Baptism of Jewish children
Benedict XIV Beatus Andreas Feb. 22, 1755 Martyrdom of a child by Jews. A blood libel concerning the murder of the child Andreas Oxner or Anderl von Rinn (Andreas of Rinn )by Jews that supposedly took place in 1462 in Rinn near Innsbruck. Confirms the blood libel as factual.  The Bull reviews the cases of ritual murder by Jews, which it explicitly upholds as a fact, and establishes the beatifcation but not the canonization ofAndreas of Rinn and Simon of Trent

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