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VCU Menorah Review Summer/Fall 2012
Number 77
For the Enrichment of Jewish Thought

Zachor: Sicut Judaeis ("And Thus to the Jews")

Pope Callixtus II (1119-1124) was the author of a papal bull known as Sicut Judaeis (“And Thus to the Jews”). This bull was the official position of the papacy regarding the Jews throughout the Middle Ages and later. This bull was reaffirmed by twenty subsequent popes over the next four hundred years, a sign of the bull’s ultimate ineffecacy (i.e. the bull wasn’t in the end effective!). The original version--written by Pope Callixtus--is no longer extant, so we rely on Pope Alexander III’s bull, which is the oldest existing version. He lived 1105-1181 and served as Pope 1159-1181. Here are translated excerpts from this oldest existing version:

“[The Jews] ought to suffer no prejudice. We, out of the meekness of Christian piety, and in keeping in the footprints or Our predecessors of happy memory, the Roman Pontiffs Calixtus, Eugene, Alexander, Clement, admit their petition, and We grant them the shield of Our protection. For We make the law that no Christian compel them, unwilling or refusing, by violence to come to baptism. But, if any one of them should spontaneously, and for the sake of the faith, fly to the Christians, once his choice has become evident, let him be made a Christian without any calumny. Indeed, he is not considered to possess the true faith of Christianity who is not recognized to have come to Christian baptism, not spontaneously, but unwillingly. Too, no Christian ought to injure their persons, or with violence to take their property, or to change the good customs which they have had until now in whatever region they inhabit. Besides, in the celebration of their own festivities, no one ought disturb them in any way, with clubs or stones, nor ought any one try to require from them or to extort from them services they do not owe, except for those they have been accustomed from times past to perform. ...We decree... that no one ought to dare mutilate or diminish a Jewish cemetery, nor, in order to get money, to exhume bodies once they have been buried. If anyone, however, shall attempt, the tenor of this degree once known, to go against it...let him be punished by the vengeance of excommunication, unless he correct his presumption by making equivalent satisfaction.”

(slightly revised from: Synan, Edward. The Popes and the Jews in the Middle Ages, 231-232.)

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