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Papal Law Regarding the Jews.


We have been for some time past in receipt of a monthly sheet, commenced in London last May, by a number of apostate Jews, intended, we presume, to give to the world some reasons for their apostacy. It contains such expositions of Scriptures as Christians generally advance to justify their belief. We have had ample opportunity of refuting some of the arguments it has put forth; but we are so loath to have any dealings with apostates that we could as yet never resolve to notice the arguments of this anti-Jewish organ. We can reason with a native Christian without heat or prejudice; we do honour the sincere followers of the Nazarene system; but we confess, that for the apostate Jews we have no respect, and we are determined to avoid any intercourse with them, if we can help it. It is not owing to bigotry that we thus feel and act; but simply because we suspect as a class the honesty of all Jewish converts, from the knowledge we have of the motives of many of them. We do not mean by this that they are all hypocrites; but that those we know, by reputation, (we are happy to say, that none of those we ever knew intimately are belonging to this unfortunate class,) have nothing in their history to lead us to believe that they abjured our religion from a conviction that its tenets were false, and Christianity more founded upon truth. Some, we are sure, became converts from interested motives, others from sheer ignorance; and we hence cannot do otherwise than look with suspicion upon the entire mass of the so-called converted Jews of whom we have any knowledge. Hence we have let the paper in question make its remarks upon articles contained in the Occident, without deeming it worth while to offer the least reply, not from any undue self-appreciation, but because we cannot descend to argue with apostates, whose probable motive for writing is to show to their new associates how sincere they are in their newly adopted faith.

Still even of the “enemies of Israel,” as our wise men style, not inaptly, the apostates, we may be permitted to acquire something, if it can tend to give information upon subjects of general interest; hence, though we cannot argue with the conversion organ, we may extract from it an article on the subject of the Papal Jews, whose melancholy fate we have alluded to several times in our first volume. We give the introduction also, that our readers may have a taste of the manner in which converted Jews speak of their former fellow-Israelites, and sure we are that they will condemn the canting tone employed as sincerely as we do.

We will merely state, in addition, that the paper bears the name of “The Voice of Israel,” and is as like, in form and appearance, (with the exception of having three columns to the page, whilst the other has two.) to “The Voice of Jacob,” as can well be imagined. We know not whether this similarity was adopted designedly or not, or for what particular object; but, to say the least, it bears a suspicious look, though no one can be deceived as soon as he casts his eye on this singular monthly. With these remarks, which we considered due to our position, we give the following from the “Voice of Israel,” of September and October.

“We present our readers with the following few clauses of the Papal law respecting the Jews, as a specimen of the whole Edict of 1775. We purpose giving the rest in subsequent numbers, literally translated from the Italian. It is the law which actually obtains in the Papal States. It has not been repealed, for no Papal law can be repealed; but neither has it been in any way neutralized or counteracted by subsequent legislations, which it might have been. It is the last utterance of the Papal mind on the subject of Israel. It is the armoury from whence they seek and burnish old weapons for new persecutions, such as were attempted at Ancona last year, till public opinion defeated the endeavour. It is, whatever may be said of its non-enforcement in some few particulars, the law of the land.

“The Jew at Rome is hedged round from light. ‘Be it known unto you,’ said Paul to the Jews of Rome, ‘that the salvation of God is sent unto the gentiles, and that they will hear it.’ Sent to the gentiles, that is, sent from the Jews. ‘Your heart is gross,—your ears are deafened,—your eyes are blinded,—­therefore, as a punishment, the light shall be taken from you.’ It would have been no punishment for their hardness, that it should be sent to others, unless there were included a removal from themselves; and assuredly this is fulfilled in the four thousand Jews of the Roman Ghetto. The salvation of God is most effectually hid from them. A magical ring of superstition encloses them, and intervenes between them and truth. If they wished to examine Christianity, they could only find it in the garb of Popery,—that is, they could not find it all. But why should they seek to examine? Christianity is (to them) identified with cruelty: witness this edict,—witness the guard at the gate of the Ghetto, shutting them up there, even when each spring their houses are some feet deep in water;—witness the payment made each Carnival, in commutation for the obligation to find so many Jews to run a race in the Corso; witness the annual humiliation of the representatives of Israel before the so-called senator, at the so-called Capitol. No! never,—never shall we forget our indignation at witnessing that scene; on the Sabbath-day, a day when the Jew conscientiously objects to receive or pay money, the elders of the people are compelled, by a refinement of persecution, to pay their yearly tribute,—a promissory note, surrounded with a bouquet of flowers. Prostrate before the four commissioners of the Pope, they supplicate permission to reside during the subsequent year in Rome, which, in a haughty tone, is granted, followed by a contemptuous command to ‘begone.’ As the assembly dispersed, we heard Roman Catholics, as they descended the great staircase of the senator’s palace, asking one another whether they had heard that arrogant phrase ‘begone,’ repeating it in the original tone, and implying that they felt as a disgrace to themselves the insult to their fellow-citizens.

Extract From the Edict of 1775.

Among the pastoral anxieties which occupy the mind of the holiness of our Lord in the commencement of his pontificate, that has the first place, which tends to maintain a Catholic religion inviolate among the faithful, and on that account considering that to remove from them the peril of the injury which they may derive from too great familiarity with the Hebrews, the exact observance of the provisions taken by his glorious predecessors is absolutely necessary, and especially by Clement XII, of holy memory, by a special Edict, published in this Alma city of Rome, on the 2d February, 1733, and by Benedict XIV., of holy memory, with a similar Edict, also published in this Alma city, the 17th September, 1751; has, having heard on this subject their Eminences the Cardinal Inquisitors General, commanded the fresh publication of the same Edict, in order that it may be punctually followed out in every part of the Pontifical States.

In the first place, His Holiness, adhering to the second constitution of Innocent IV, which begins “Impia Judaeorum,” orders and commands:

  1. that the Jews cannot, in any manner, keep in their possession,—neither read, buy, write, copy, translate, sell, give, exchange, or in any other manner whatever alienate, under any pretext, title or colour, any book, or impious manuscripts, whether Talmudic, or heretofore condemned, superstitious, cabalistic, or containing errors against the Holy Scriptures, or Old Testament; or otherwise any injurious operation, impiety, or blasphemies against the holy mysteries of the Christian faith, especially of the most Holy Trinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Mary the eternal Virgin, or of the Saints; nor any other book of those prohibited by Julius III., of holy memory, in the twenty-fourth constitution, which begins “Cum sicut,” of the 29th May, 1554, and by Clement VIII., in his constitution, “Cum Hebraeorum,” brought out 28th February, 1593, or in other constitutions or Apostolic decrees; whether such book be written in the Hebrew or any other language, under pain of the loss of such books, the confiscation of goods, and other corporal punishments, according to discretion, in case of every such offence, according to the tenor of the decree of the sacred assembly of the Inquisition, published on the 12th September, 1553; and His Holiness further includes in these penalties, those Rabbis and agents of the Jews, who retain such works in their libraries, or in any other places, whether for public or private use.
  2. That no Jew or Jews shall venture to announce, explain, or teach the errors of such books, whether in private or public, within or without schools, to any person or persons, whether Christian, Jew, or any other religion whatsoever, under the same penalties as aforesaid.
  3. That no printer, bookseller, or Christian merchant, neither any other person of whatever condition, rank, or station, may assist, by deed or word, any Jew to obtain such books; neither to cause them to be written, printed, brought, or translated for them; nor to obtain for them the permission either to possess or to read them, not only under the equal punishment of the loss of the books, the confiscation of their goods, and other most severe corporal punishments, in conformity with the above-cited decree of the sacred assembly of the Holy Inquisition, published the 12th September, 1553; but also under pain of excommunication reserved to the Holy Pontiff, to be incurred immediately on the commission of the offence, without further notice.
  4. That the Jews may not buy or receive any book, whether in the Hebrew tongue, nor translated from the Hebrew into any other language, whether brought by Jews themselves, or by Christians, or sent by or through other means, unless first it have been examined in Rome by the Chief Examiner of the sacred Apostolical Palace, and in other places or cities of the State, by the bishops or local inquisitor, in order that they may recognise, whether in the spirit of the present ordinances, or the above­named Apostolic constitution, they may be permitted to receive or to retain them,—all which, under the penalty of one hundred scudi, and six years’ imprisonment, in every case of disobedience, and finding any book containing any thing contrary to the above-mentioned Apostolic rules and decrees, and in particular to the above-mentioned bull of Clement VIII., such book shall not be returned to the Jews, but transmitted to the tribunal of the holy Inquisition, as shall also be done in all cases of any book whatsoever prohibited to the Jews.
  5. That the Jews may neither take out nor introduce into the Dogana, any books without the license of the Chief Examiner of the Holy Palace for the city of Rome, or of the bishops or local inquisitors in other places or cities of the Pontifical State, under penalty of the seizure of such books, one hundred scudi, and six years’ imprisonment; to which penalties shall also be exposed all Christian custom-house officers, who permit such books to be introduced or withdrawn, and all others whomsoever who assist in word or deed.
  6. It should be incumbent on the Chief Examiner of the Holy Palace, and all such bishops and inquisitors aforesaid, to use every attention and diligence to prevent any book expected by a Jew to be so introduced or extracted, especially if in the Hebrew language, without their express license, and to visit all custom-house or conveyances, by which books may be brought into the ports.
  7. It is prohibited to any Christian, and particularly to custom-house officers, couriers, postmasters, vetturini, or conductors of any sort, whether by sea or land, to consign any book to a Jew, without the above-named license of the Chief Examiner of the Holy Palace of the city of Rome, or out of Rome, of the respective bishops or local inquisitors, who are empowered to grant it, when they have received notice and information concerning such book, under pain of excommunication, reserved, as before­mentioned, and incurred ipse facto, and under other pecuniary and corporal penalties, at discretion, to which it is understood they also expose themselves for whom books were directed.
  8. In the spirit of the above-named bull of Clement VIII, it is forbidden and prohibited to any person whatsoever, of whatever rank, state, or condition, as referred to in the said bull, and expressly intended in the present, to grant any indulgence, license, or facility, contrary to the tenor of the said bull; and in case that such should have been already granted, all such are declared void, and of no value, so fully that the Jews are liable to all penalties, as if no such facility had ever been granted or obtained.
  9. That the Jews neither make, nor concoct, nor teach witchcraft, incantations, omens, sorcery, or other acts, denoting superstitions, by which they may become aware of hidden affairs or of futurity, whether referring to Christians or Jews, under pain of paying one hundred scudi, of scourging, and of the galleys for life, according to the circumstances of the offence, in a conformity to the ordinance in the 70th Constitution of Gregory XIII., of holy memory, beginning “Antiqua Judaeorum;”—and Christians will incur the same penalties who shall learn from the Jews the above-named superstitious acts, or who shall foolishly seek to know from them hidden or future events.
  10. It is forbidden any Christian silversmith to make for the use of the Jews any amulets or charms that the Jews are used to put on their children to preserve them from the injury of witchcraft or other sorcery, especially such as bear the figure of an almond or nut-tree, or on which is engraved on the one side Solomon’s knot and on the other the seven-branched candlestick, or other similar vain hieroglyphics, because such bearing a superstitious meaning with the Jews, it is not fitting that Christian workmen should in any way be parties to the same, and any such workman shall incur the penalty of twenty-five scudi.
  11. That the Jews also, agreeable to the decrees of the 8th and 23d of October, 1625, may not place, or cause to be placed, on their sepulchres any stone or inscription whatever; and therefore it is prohibited to any one for the future, to grant any license to erect any such stones or inscriptions, under pain of the demolition of the sepulchre, the penalty of one hundred scudi, imprisonment of the parties offending, and other greater punishments, at will.
  12. That the Jews are not to use any rite, ceremony, or pomp, in their funerals, and especially that they abstain from singing psalms; carrying torches or lights through the streets, under penalty of one hundred scudi, seizure of the torches, and other corporal punishments, at will; to all which the parties concerned, and all the nearest relatives of the dead shall be liable but it shall be permitted to them to use rites and funeral ceremonies, and light lamps in their synagogue and in their cemetery, provided always that there be not present in either place any Christian of whatever sex, age, or condition, in which case they will again become liable to the above-named penalties, whether engaged in the ceremony themselves, or as other Jews permitting the presence of Christians; as also the Christians themselves who are so present.
  13. That according to the tenor of what is already prescribed in the civil law—Leg. fin. God. de Judaeis; also in the canon law, chap. Judaei 3, consuluit 7 de Judaeis, and Saracenis; and in the constitutions of Paul IV., of holy memory,—cum nimis; three of Pius V.—Romanus Pontifex; six of Clement VIII.—Caesa et obdurata; nine besides those that are frequently held by the Jews with the necessary permission; the synagogues may not be increased within the Ghettos, nor are the Jews permitted to embellish or to enlarge them in any way, much less to hold any out of the actual Ghettos, under a penalty of one hundred scudi, imprisonment, and other most severe laws.
  14. It is not permitted to any Jew of whichever sex, or whatever state or condition, to go or to approach within the space of thirty canne (sixty yards) the houses of the Catechumen, or the monastery of the most Holy Annunciation in Rome, neither in person nor by any third person, under a penalty of three hundred scudi, the galleys, and other corporal punishments, at discretion.
  15. It is not permitted to any Jew, under whatsoever pretext, to keep in his own house, habitation or shop, any Neophyte or Catechumen, of whichever sex, although related to them by the closest ties of relationship; much less are they permitted to eat, drink, or sleep with any of them, neither within or without the Ghettos, or in any other place, nor to work with any of them, nor remain with them as workmen; neither to resort there nor to converse there on any occasion whatsoever, under penalty of fifty scudi, and three lashes with the cord in public.
  16. In case of the Jews, by word, promises, or by any other manner, whether directly or indirectly, by themselves, or through others persuading or even tempting the Neophytes, or Catechumens, or any other person whatsoever, to Judaize, they shall immediately incur the penalty of imprisonment; confiscation of their goods, and other penalties, according to the Apostolic Constitution of Clement IV., the fourteenth; of Gregory X, the third; of Nicholas IV., the fourth, all of which begin, Turbato corde; and of Gregory XI , Admodum, the second.
  17. If any Jew, of whatever sex, shall dare to dissuade or to impede in any manner whatever, the conversion of any Jew or Catechumen to the Holy Faith, or even to make him defer it for the shortest possible time, they immediately incur the penalty of the galleys, the confiscation of their goods, and other discretionary punishments, accordion to what is prescribed in the above­mentioned constitutions of Clement IV., Gregory X., and Nicholas IV., which all begin Turbato corde; with the express declaration that all who help, aid, or abet, or counsel, become equally liable to the same penalties. The Jew women, instead of the galleys, shall undergo the penalty of the lash and of exile, and other heavier punishment at discretion, according to the circumstances of the crime.
  18. The agents of the Jews shall be warned to hold the above orders more particularly in mind, and to be especially watchful that no Hebrew Catechumen, of either sex, may be carried off, hidden, or perverted, who has shown, shows, or may be about to show, willingness or inclination to become a Christian; as also no Jew should be carried off or hid who is about to remove himself to the house of the Catechumens, according to the tenor of the Pontifical decrees, especially that of Benedict XIII., of holy memory, of the 16th of August, 1724, not even under the pretext that the consent of the parents or relatives is not given; and in case of any of the events above-mentioned, the agents are bound to bring or lead them back, otherwise they will themselves be considered guilty until the restoration of the party so hid, carried off, or turned aside, and shall further incur pecuniary penalties, imprisonment, or others most severe, according to discretion.
  19. When any Jew is offered to the Church for baptism, the Jews must not molest or injure in any manner either the offerer or the offered, particularly whilst they remain in the Ghetto, under the heaviest pecuniary penalties, or corporal, at discretion; and it must be the business of Monsignor, the Governor of Rome, and out of it that of the bishops or local inquisitors, as soon as they shall receive intelligence of the same, or even of some probable conjecture of such impediment, to arrange with the greatest celerity that both offerer and offered remain no longer near the Jews.
  20. That in the execution of the Bull of Paul IV., beginning Cum nimis. renewed by Pius V. in the Constitution—Romanus Pontifex, given in Rome, 20th May, 1566, the Jews of both sexes should bear the mark of a yellow colour, by which they may be distinguished from others; and it must be worn at all times and in all places, as well within as without the Ghettos, and as much within Rome as without the walls; that is, the men must wear it strongly sewed upon the hat both above and beneath the brim, without any covering or veil, unless it happen to be of the same colour; and the women must wear it openly upon the head, without putting any handkerchief over it, or any thing else by which it may be hid, under the penalty, from both men and women, of fifty scudi for each offence, and other punishments at will; and for the same reason the Jews are commanded under like penalties, to carry no hat but their own with the yellow badge, excepting hats for sale, which they must carry open in their bands and not on their heads. Nevertheless, the Jews are permitted, both men and women, to go without the appointed badge, when actually on a journey, provided always that they never remain beyond a day in any place, as staying beyond such appointed time they must understand that they are obliged to wear it under the penalties above-mentioned.
  21. And be it known by the special command of our Lord, that for the future no regard shall be had to any excuse from any tribunal or person of any dignity, rank, office, or pre-eminence whatsoever, whether President, even of Avignon, Bishop, Majordomo of the holy Apostolical Palace, Cardinal Legate, Chamberlain of the Holy Church, by which a conformity to the will of the above-named bull of Paul IV., has been given up or shall be conceded to the Hebrews, under penalty of the nullity of such license; and moreover the Hebrews shall be subjected to all the penalties, as if it had never been obtained; and if any inferior minister presumes to grant such permissions not to wear the badge, even by word of mouth, he shall be punished at discretion, and stand immediately deprived of his office for employment; with a prohibition to the executive officer to attend to such permissions, under the penalty imposed upon culprits.
  22. Hebrews may not distribute, give, deliver, or sell meat of any sort to Christians, whether killed or caused to be killed by them, under a penalty of one hundred scudi, or imprisonment at will; and on the other hand, Christians may neither buy nor receive such meat, under a penalty of twenty scudi, or imprisonment equally at will.
  23. In the same manner, Hebrews may not deliver, give, or sell to Christians bread without leaven, commonly called the unleavened bread, under a penalty of fifty scudi; and on the other hand the Christians may not receive such, under a like penalty.
  24. It having become known that the Jews do not content themselves with buying from Christians sufficient milk for their own use or service, but buy it in much greater quantities than needed, in order to select and make a traffic and merchandise of it with Christians, it is therefore prohibited to the Hebrews, under the same penalties, to buy more milk than that which is necessary for their individual use, and to give, sell, or alienate it in any manner whatever to Christians, whether it be turned into curd, or in any other sort of milk food, as also it is forbidden, under like penalties, for the Christians to receive such.
  25. It is not permitted to the Hebrews in any manner to receive, buy, sell, or contract for, under any colour or pretext whatever, whether by themselves or by the instrumentality of others, Agnus Dei, relics of saints (whether with or without ornament), as also crosses, chalices, pictures, figures or images of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the most blessed Virgin, or of the saints, nor offices, breviaries, missiles, altar covers or furniture, or any other thing pertaining to the divine worship; and also books, although profane, in which there may be sacred figures, although the said things may be torn or broken, or they may wish to use them only to burn; or to take away any gold or silver, under a penalty of two hundred scudi and the galleys; and the Christians who shall have sold any of the above named articles to the Hebrews, shall incur the penalty of two hundred scudi only.