Plot Against the Church: Part 4 - Maurice Pinay

Catholic Victory

The conquest by the East Roman Empire of great territories controlled by the Arian barbarians, as well as the conversion to Catholicism of all Teutonic princes who previously belonged to the sects of the Jew Arius, once again altered the situation in Europe. With the triumph gained by Catholicism over this heresy there naturally arose a new situation for the Jews, which brought with it the loss of their privileged position and prevented them from further harassing the Christians.

It must be remarked, that Arian control over the immigrant Teutonic tribes was weak, since it fundamentally depended upon the conversion and loyalty of their leaders to the heresy. When the latter were now gained for Catholicism through the restless evangelising labour of Holy Church, Arianism received its death blow. It is hardly surprising that, following all the abuses and excesses committed by the Jews while they were protected by the heresy, its collapse led to a truly anti-Jewish reaction in the lands newly conquered for the Church of Rome.

Even Jose Amador de los Rios, who was so favourable to the Jews—after mentioning the fact that the Jews in the Arian epoch scaled the government posts and were able to obtain an unusual influence allowing them, contrary to the decision of the Illiberian Council which had been made a dead letter by the Arians, to keep Christian slave girls and concubines—says the following:

"Such esteemed prerogatives, denied to the Spanish-Latin people by the Visigoths, in flat contradiction to the decisions of the Illiberian Council, may have flattered the pride of the descendants of Judah for a while, demonstrating their superiority, but they nevertheless gravely endangered their future when Catholic doctrine arose victorious over the errors of Arius."

On the other hand, the Jews attempted in every manner to prevent the triumph of the Catholic armies. Thus, in the case of the Ostrogoth Empire established in Italy, where the Jews had already begun to have conflicts with Theodoric, we see how, at the threat of an invasion by the Catholic Emperor Justinian, they resolutely stood by their Arian friend, King Theodatus, Theodoric's successor, with tenacity and fanaticism. Later, when the armies of Justinian attacked Naples, the inhabitants of the city divided into two parties, of which one wished for capitulation and the other war. In this case the party resolved upon war was not willing to sacrifice itself for the Ostrogoths, who according to Graetz were hated throughout Italy. And on this point the Jewish historian stresses:

"Only the Jews and two legal scholars, Pastor and Asclepiodotus, who had risen high thanks to the influence of the Ostrogoth kings, opposed the surrender of the city to the Byzantine general. The Jews that were rich and patriotic, offered their lives and their property for the defence of the city. And to dispel any concern about the shortage of provisions, they promised to supply Naples during the siege with every necessity."

Given the extensive nature of this work, it is not possible for us to quote further examples of this kind; but there is no doubt that the Jews everywhere desperately attempted to prevent the triumph of Catholicism over Arianism.

In relation to what occurred after the decisive victory of Holy Church, events in the Visigoth kingdom speak for themselves. It had been the most mighty monarchy that the Arian barbarians had managed to found, it had been regarded as the principal bastion of Arianism, and it had been there, as we have seen, that the Hebrews had succeeded in rising to government posts and gaining such privileged influence.

The Jewish historian Cecil Roth notes that, after the Visigoths had gone over to Catholicism, "they began to show the traditional zeal of neophytes. The Jews immediately suffered the unpleasant consequences of such zeal. When, in the year 589, Reccared came to the throne, ecclesiastical legislation began to be applied to them down to the smallest details. His successors were not so strict, but when Sisebutus ascended the throne (612-620), a narrow-minded fanaticism predominated. Perhaps goaded by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, he passed an edict in the year 616, in which he commanded all Jews of the kingdom to take baptism under threat of banishment and the loss of all their goods. According to the Catholic chroniclers, ninety thousand embraced the Christian faith."

In the Byzantine Empire, measures were also approved which aimed at converting the Jews to Christianity. The Jewish-Castilian Encyclopaedia says that Justinian ". . . ordered the reading of the 'Torah' (Bible) in Greek, hoping for the conversion of the Jews by this method, and in 532 he declared null and void every testimony made by a Jew against a Christian. This measure was later raised to a law almost everywhere in Christendom, having as its logical foundation the fact that the Jews, feeling themselves justified in lying to Christians and Gentiles, provided such widespread false witness that it would have been puerile to give credit to them. For this reason, any testimony made by a Jew against a Christian was denied judicial validity, as it had been proved in the course of centuries that lies and deception are one of the Jews' most utilized and effective weapons.

All these measures, which the Christian states introduced, in order to achieve the conversion of the Jews, ranging from peaceful persuasion to force, originated from the apostolic fervour of Holy Church, eager to guide unbelievers to the true religion. Simultaneously both Holy Church as well as the Catholic states recognised the vital necessity of putting an end to the "Synagogue of Satan", which was in fact a group of foreigners infiltrated into the Christian states, ever conspiring against both Church and state; it was a permanent danger both for the stability of its institutions as also for the defence of those peoples against their external foes. And this especially as the Jews have always shown themselves quick to betray any country kind enough to offer them hospitality, providing support to foreign invaders and undermining the very heart of the unfortunate nation that offered them shelter, should it suit their selfish interests.

One way of solving such a tremendous problem seemed to be that of eliminating the unwholesome sect of Jewry by converting them to the Christian faith. As a result of their ceasing to be Jews and joining the people in whose lands they lived by incorporation into the Catholic religion, not only would that strange "Fifth Column" disappear, which represents a danger for every nation, but the salvation of their souls would also be attained by faith in our Divine Redeemer. These were the grounds that moved the very Catholic Visigoth king Sisebutus to order the Jews in his kingdom to receive baptism under pain of banishment and confiscation of their goods. These were the same motives that inspired the no less Christian Byzantine Emperor, Basil I, the Macedonian (867-885), when he compelled the Jews to accept the waters of baptism, offering those who agreed to this demand all kinds of honours and tax exemptions.

Unfortunately all these measures failed, since the Jews, as the Israelite historian Cecil Roth assures us, only feigned the conversions, in order in secret to continue to adhere to the Jewish religion. Because of this, the contingent of the "Fifth Column" within the bosom of Holy Church was vastly augmented.

The Jewish Encyclopaedia says that with the conversion carried out in the times of the Emperor Basil:

"More than a thousand communities saw themselves compelled to accept baptism; however, after the death of the Emperor, they returned to their primitive religion."

The conversion of the Jews in the Visigoth kingdom, which was carried out at the time of Sisebutus to a massive extent, provided no better results. The Jew Cecil Roth says:

"The notorious infidelity of the newly converted as well as their descendants continued to form, up to the Arab attack in the year 711, one of the greatest problems of Visigoth policy."

All measures were also in vain, which were introduced against the unfaithfulness of those converted from Judaism and their descendants. Naturally, these false Christians were subjected to a strict attention on the part of the government offices, which, as the same Jewish historian assures us, went so far as "to separate those suspect from their sons, so as to bring the latter up in an unpoisoned Christian atmosphere. As soon as the watchfulness of the government was relaxed, the recently converted seized the opportunity to return to their original belief."

Roth ends these observations by concluding that all these occurrences initiated the Marrano tradition on the Iberian peninsula, in other words, the tradition of clandestine Jewry in Christian dress.

The Popes and many Christian kings were alarmed by these insincere converts who were on the point of overwhelming Holy Church, and therefore introduced various measures in order to prevent and prohibit Jews from being forcefully converted. Among others, we can quote those which the Jewish-Castilian Encyclopaedia refers to, which says the following in this connection:

"Leo VI the Philosopher (Byzantine Emperor), son of Basil, re-established religious freedom for the purpose of preventing the appearance of false Christians."^

Pope Saint Gregory recognised this problem in all its magnitude as well as the extraordinary danger that false converts represented for Holy Church. He therefore passed a definite prohibition of the persecution of the Jews or of compelling them to become converted in any kind of form. The bishops followed these instructions and opposed everything that might signify a compulsory conversion of the Jews, albeit reducing the latter to powerlessness, so that they could not infiltrate and poison Christian society. The Jewish historian Graetz makes an interesting commentary in connection with these measures:

"But the tolerance even of the most liberal bishops had no great significance. They merely abstained from any proselytism that involved threats of banishment or death, because they were convinced that by these means the Church would be populated with false Christians who would curse it in their innermost heart. But they did not hesitate to chain and harass the Jews, nor to place them on the same level as slaves on the social ladder. This kind of behaviour appeared completely justified and pious to almost all representatives of Christianity during the centuries of barbarism."

Here the Jewish historian summarises one of the aspects of the new policy that several Popes of Holy Church were to pursue during the Middle Ages. Convinced of the fact that it was dangerous to compel the Jews to conversion by means of persecution or threats, they strove to prevent such enforced conversions. They even declared it as anti-canonical. At the same time they undertook energetic measures against the false converts and their descendants: the false judaizing Christians.

Some Popes and kings permitted the Jews to practise their religion openly, treating them tolerantly and even granting them protection against unjust attacks; but this kind of new policy also failed against the malice and perfidy of Jewry, which, far from thanking the goodness of such Popes, did not hesitate to exploit this leniency, in order to plan and prepare every kind of conspiracy against the Church and the State. This stiff-neckedness soon forced the Popes to alter their policy and to try to prevent the unleashed Jewish beast from devastating everything. Thus they attempted to enchain the latter anew, so that the Jews could cause no further harm. This is the true explanation of that which might seem to be a contradictory policy with respect to the Jews, which the various Popes have carried out.

It is therefore understandable that, when it was revealed that the measures of tolerance towards the foe revealed catastrophic results, they recognised the urgent necessity of seizing upon energetic measures to save Christianity from the cunning of the "Synagogue of Satan." Unfortunately, this fluctuation in the policy of the Christian hierarchies was in the long run harmful to Holy Church Christianity.

If they had followed without interruption the energetic action directed against Judaism by the Fathers of the Church as well as by many Popes and Councils, then perhaps in time the threat of Jewish imperialism, which at present threatens to overwhelm everything, would have been banished.