A Catholic Timeline of Events Relating to Jews, Anti-Judaism, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust From the 3rd Century to the Beginning of the Third Millennium

Prepared by Jerry Darring

c. 240
Origen of Alexandria writes that the Jews "have committed the most abominable of crimes" in conspiring against Christ, and for that reason "the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election"
248
St. Cyprian writes that the Jews have fallen under the heavy wrath of God, because they have departed from the Lord, and have followed idols
306
The Council of Elvira decrees that Christians and Jews cannot intermarry, have sexual intercourse, or eat together
325
Conversation and fellowship with Jews is forbidden to the clergy by the Council of Nicaea
4th century
Christian emperors of Rome decree that Christians converting to Judaism, and Jews obstructing the conversion of other Jews to Christianity, will incur the death penalty; Jews can not marry Christians, or hold public office, or own slaves
c. 380
St. Gregory of Nyssa refers to the Jews as "murderers of the Lord, assassins of the prophets, rebels and detesters of God,... companions of the devil, race of vipers, informers, calumniators, darkeners of the mind, pharisaic leaven, Sanhedrin of demons, accursed, detested,... enemies of all that is beautiful"
c. 380
St. Ambrose calls the synagogue "a place of unbelief, a home of impiety, a refuge of insanity, damned by God Himself"
388
A mob of Christians, at the instigation of their bishop, looted and burned the synagogue in Callinicum, a town on the Euphrates. The Emperor Theodosius wants those responsible punished and the synagogue rebuilt at the expense of the bishop, but St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, pressures him to relent and condone the action
400
St. Augustine writes: "the Church admits and avows the Jewish people to be cursed, because after killing Christ they continue to till the ground of an earthly circumcision, an earthly Sabbath, an earthly passover, while the hidden strength or virtue of making known Christ, which this tilling contains, is not yielded to the Jews while they continue in impiety and unbelief, for it is revealed in the New Testament. While they will not turn to God, the veil which is on their minds in reading the Old Testament is not taken away... the Jewish people, like Cain, continue tilling the ground, in the carnal observance of the law, which does not yield to them its strength, because they do not perceive in it the grace of Christ"
c. 400
Calling the synagogue "brothel and theater" and "a cave of pirates and the lair of wild beasts," St. John Chrysostom writes that "the Jews behave no better than hogs and goats in their lewd grossness and the excesses of their gluttony"
413
A group of monks sweep through Palestine, destroying synagogues and massacring Jews at the Western Wall
414
St. Cyril of Alexandria expels Jews from his city
425
Jews are required by law to observe Christian feasts and fasts and to listen to sermons designed to persuade them to convert
442
The synagogue in Constantinople is turned into a church
529-553
The Code of the emperor Justinian decrees that in Christian Byzantine society Jews cannot read their sacred books in Hebrew in their synagogues, and the Mishnah and other rabbinic interpretations are banned
538
The Third Synod of Orléans decrees that Jews cannot show themselves in the streets during Passover Week
591
Pope St. Gregory the Great decrees that Jews are not to be forced into baptism "lest they return to their former superstition and die the worse for having been born again"
600
Pope St. Gregory the Great decrees that Jews should not have excessive freedom, but also "in no way should they suffer a violation of their rights"
681
The Synod of Toledo orders the burning of the Talmud and other books
768
Pope Stephen IV decries ownership of hereditary estates by "the Jewish people, ever rebellious against God and derogatory of our rites"
c. 830
Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons, writes anti-Jewish pamphlets in which he refers to Jews as "sons of darkness"
c. 937
Pope Leo VII encourages his newly appointed archbishop of Mainz to expel all Jews who refuse to be baptized
c. 1010-1020
In Rouen, Orléans, Limoges, Mainz, and probably also in Rome, Jews are converted by force, massacred, or expelled
1050
The Synod of Narbonne decrees that Christians are not permitted to live in Jewish homes
c. 1070
Pope Alexander II warns the bishops of Spain to prevent violence against the Jews because, unlike the Saracens, they "are prepared to live in servitude"
1078
The Synod of Gerona decrees that Jews must pay the same taxes as Christians to support the church
1081
Pope Gregory VII writes to King Alphonso of Spain telling him that if he allows Jews to be lords over Christians, he is oppressing the Church and exalting "the Synagogue of Satan"
1084
Rüdiger, bishop of Speyer, grants the Jews a charter allowing them to keep Christian servants and serfs, own fields and vineyards, and carry arms
1096
Massacres of Jews takes place in the First Crusade, destroying entire Jewish communities in Mainz, Speyer, Worms, Cologne and other cities. The Jewish chronicler reports: "The enemies stripped them naked and dragged them off, granting quarter to none, save those few who accepted baptism. The number of the slain was eight hundred in these two days." The chronicler Guibert de Nogent reports that the Rouen Crusaders said: "We desire to go and fight God's enemies in the East; but we have before our eyes certain Jews, a race more inimical to God than any other"
1182
Jews are expelled from France, all their property is confiscated, and Christians' debts to them are cancelled with the payment of one-fifth of their value to the treasury
1190
The Third Crusade, led by Richard the Lion-Heart, stirs anti-Jewish fervor and results in the mass suicide of the York Jews in Clifford's Tower on March 16
1198
Jews are allowed to return to France
1199
Pope Innocent III decrees that Jews are to be allowed to worship in their synagogues, they are not to be coerced into baptism, and that Jewish cemeteries are not to be mutilated
1215
The Fourth Lateran Council decrees that Jews are to wear distinctive clothing, and on the three days before Easter they are not to go out in public
1222
The Council of Oxford prohibits the construction of new synagogues
1227
The Council of Narbonne orders Jews to wear a round patch
1230
Jews in France are forbidden to lend money on interest
1234
The Council of Arles orders Jews to wear a round patch
1235
Thirty-four Jews are burned to death in Fulda on a blood-libel charge
1246
The Council of Béziers orders Jews to wear a round patch
1247
Pope Innocent IV defends the Jews: "they are wrongly accused of partaking of the heart of a murdered child at the Passover... Whenever a corpse is found somewhere, it is to the Jews that the murder is wickedly imputed. They are persecuted on the pretext of such fables... they are deprived of trial and of regular judgment; in mockery of all justice, they are stripped of their belongings, starved, imprisoned and tortured"
1254
The Council of Albi orders Jews to wear a round patch
1260
The Council of Arles orders Jews to wear a round patch, but not when traveling
1267
The Synod of Vienna decrees that Christians cannot attend Jewish ceremonies, and Jews cannot dispute with simple Christian people about the Catholic religion
1267
The Synod of Breslau decrees compulsory ghettos for Jews
1267
Pope Clement IV instructs the Franciscans and Dominicans to deal with the "new Christians" who had reverted to Judaism
c. 1270
St. Thomas Aquinas writes that the Jews sin more in their unbelief than do pagans because they have abandoned the way of justice "after knowing it in some way"
1272
Pope Gregory X defends the Jews: "It happens sometimes that Christians lose their children and that the enemies of the Jews accuse them of having kidnaped and killed these children in order to offer sacrifices with their heart and blood, and it also happens that the parents themselves, or other Christians who are enemies to the Jews, hide the children and attack the Jews, demanding of them, as ransom, a certain sum of money, on the entirely false pretext that these children had been kidnaped and killed by the Jews"
1275
Jews in England are forbidden to lend money on interest
1279
The Synod of Ofen decrees that Christians cannot sell or rent real estate to Jews
1283
Jews in France are forbidden to live in the countryside
1284
The Council of Nîmes orders Jews to wear a round patch
1289
The Council of Vienna orders Jews to wear a round patch
1290
Jews are expelled from England and southern Italy
1294
Jews in France are restricted to special quarters of the cities
1294
Jews are expelled from Bern
1298
The Jews of Röttingen, charged with profaning the Host, are massacred and burned down to the last one
1320
The "Shepherds' Crusade." A Christian chronicler records: "The shepherds laid siege to all the Jews who had come from all sides to take refuge... the Jews defended themselves heroically... but their resistance served no purpose, for the shepherds slaughtered a great number of the besieged Jews by smoke and by fire... The Jews, realizing that they would not escape alive, preferred to kill themselves... They chose one of their number (and) this man put some five hundred of them to death, with their consent. He then descended from the castle tower with the few Jewish children who still remained alive... They killed him by quartering. They spared the children, whom they made Catholics by baptism"
1326
The Council of Avignon orders Jews to wear a round patch, but not when traveling
1345
King John authorizes his subjects in Liegnitz and Breslau to destroy the Jewish cemeteries in order to use the tombstones to repair the city walls
1347-1350
During the Black Death, Jews are accused of poisoning wells in order to overthrow Christendom, and many thousands of Jews are killed. Pope Clement VI defends the Jews against these charges
1350
Jews are expelled from many parts of Germany
1367
Jews are expelled from Hungary
1368
The Council of Vabres orders Jews to wear a round patch
1381
Jews are expelled from Strasbourg
1394
The expulsion of Jews from France, begun in 1306, is completed with an edict promulgated on the Jewish Day of Atonement
1420
Jews are expelled from Mainz by the archbishop
1421
Jews are expelled from Austria
1424
Jews are expelled from Fribourg and Zurich
c. 1425
Pope Martin V denounces anti-Jewish preaching and forbids the forced baptism of Jewish children under the age of twelve
1426
Jews are expelled from Cologne
1432
Jews are expelled from Saxony
1434
The Council of Basel decrees that Jews cannot obtain academic degrees
1435
King Alfonso orders the Jews of Sicily to attach a round patch to their clothing and over their shops
1438
Jews are expelled from Mainz by the town councilors
1439
Jews are expelled from Augsburg
1453
Jews are expelled from Wurzburg
1454
Jews are expelled from Breslau
1456
Pope Callistus III bans all social communication between Christians and Jews
1462
Jews are expelled from Mainz following a conflict between two candidates for the archepiscopal seat
1467
Jews are expelled from Tlemcen
1471
Jews are expelled from Mainz by the archbishop
1475
The entire Jewish community in Trent, northern Italy, is put to death on the allegation that it had murdered a boy for religious purposes
1485
Jews are expelled from Warsaw and Cracow
1492
After forcing many Jews to be baptized and then referring to them as Marranos (swine), and after an Inquisition in which some 700 Marranos were burnt at the stake for showing signs of "Jewish" taint, Spain expels all Jews from the country
1497
Jews are expelled from Portugal
1519
Jews are expelled from Regensburg
1553
Cardinal Carafa instigates a public burning of copies of the Talmud and other Jewish religious works in a square in Rome
1555-1559
Pope Paul IV restricts Jews to ghettos and decrees that they are to wear distinctive headgear
1566-1572
Pope St. Pius V expels Jews from the Papal States, allowing some to remain in Rome's ghettos and in Ancona for commercial reasons
1592-1605
Pope Clement VIII includes a ban on all Jewish books in the expanded Index of Forbidden Books
1826
Pope Leo XII decrees that Jews are to be confined to ghettos and their property is to be confiscated
1858
Edgardo Mortara, 6-year old son of a Jewish family in Bologna, is abducted by the papal police and brought to Rome. He had been secretly baptized five years earlier by a domestic servant who thought he was about to die. The parents try to get the boy back, and there is a universal outcry, but Pope Pius IX rejects all petitions submitted to him
1904
In an interview with Zionist leader Theodor Hertzl, Pope St. Pius X says: "I know, it is disagreeable to see the Turks in possession of our Holy Places. We simply have to put up with it. But to sanction the Jewish wish to occupy these sites, that we cannot do... The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people... If you go to Palestine and your people settle there, you will find us clergy and churches ready to baptize you all"
1919
Newly independent Poland passes a law making Sunday a compulsory day of rest in Poland. The law is intended to force Jews to observe the Christian sabbath in addition to their own
1921
Speaking for Pope Benedict XV, a Vatican spokesman informed representatives of the Zionist Movement htat they did not wish to assist "the Jewish race, which is permeated with a revolutionary and rebellious spirit" to gain control over the Holy Land
1925
At a conference of Catholic academicians in Innsbruck, Austria, Bishop Sigismund Waitz calls the Jews an "alien people" who had corrupted England, France, Italy, and especially America
1933
In a series of Advent sermons, Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich defends the Old Testament against Nazi attacks but emphasizes that it is not his intention to defend contemporary Jewry, saying that a distinction has to be drawn between Jews living before and after the crucifixion of Jesus
1933
In a pastoral letter on January 23, Bishop Johannes Maria Gföllner of Linz, Austria, declares that while the radical anti-Semitism preached by Nazism is completely incompatible with Christianity, it is the right and duty of Christians to fight and break the harmful influences of Jewry in all areas of modern cultural life. The Austrian episcopate condemns the letter in December for causing racial hatred and conflict
1933-1939
The general consensus among the Catholic papers in Poland is that Jewish influence should be reduced in all areas of life, that the Polish and Jewish communities should be separated as much as possible, and that the most desirable option is mass emigration of the Jews from Poland. St. Maximilian Kolbe is an active promoter of antisemitic literature
1935-1936
The Polish Catholic Church gives full support to a government policy encouraging Jewish emigration from Poland
1936
Cardinal August Hlond, the primate of Poland, issues a pastoral letter, stating: "I warn you against that ethical attitude that is fundamentally and uncompromisingly anti-Jewish. It is contradictory to Catholic ethics. It is permissible to love your nation more than others, but it is not permissible to hate anyone. Not even the Jews... You should close yourselves to the harmful influence of Jewry... But you may not attack Jews, beat them, hurt them, slander them. In a Jew you should also respect and love a human being and your neighbor"
1937
Austrian bishop Alois Hudal publishes a book defending Nazi racial ideology, supporting laws preventing a flood of Jewish immigrants, and criticizing the "Jewish" press for playing off Austrians against Germans. His book receives the support of Archbishop (later Cardinal) Theodor Innitzer of Vienna
1938
In a speech before Belgian pilgrims, Pope Pius XI denounces antisemitism and says: "Spiritually we are all Semites." His comments are reported in various newspapers but not in the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano
1939
Josef Tiso, a Catholic priest with a doctorate in theology, became president of independent Slovakia. An extremist hater of Jews, he allied Slovakia with Nazi Germany and, with strong objections from the Vatican, deported most Slovakian Jews to their deaths in the camps. He declared: "It is a Christian action to expel the Jews, because it is for the good of the people, which is thus getting rid of its pests." Monsignor Tiso was executed after the war as a war criminal
1941-1945
The "Final Solution" takes place in Nazi-occupied Europe. This Holocaust, the killing of some six million Jews, "happened in the 'heartland' of Western Christian Europe... It happened with the passive acquiescence or active collaboration of most European Christians, and no decisive protest from church leadership, Catholic or protestant" (Rosemary Radford Ruether)
1941
In Croatia, Bishop Ivan Saric of Sarajevo appropriates Jewish property for his own use. His diocesan newspaper declares that "Jewish greed increases. The Jews have led Europe and the world towards disaster, moral and economic disaster. Their appetite grows till only domination of the whole world will satisfy it." Bishop Aksamovic of Djakovic teaches that "today it is the sacred duty of every citizen to prove his Aryan origins." Meanwhile, Archbishop Aloys Stepinac of Zagreb preaches in a sermon that "it is forbidden to exterminate Gypsies and Jews because they are said to belong to an inferior race"
1941
Provost Bernard Lichtenberg of Berlin's St. Hedwig Cathedral publicly declares that he will include Jews in his daily prayers. On October 23 he is arrested and sent to Dauchau, but dies on the way
1941
The German Bishops' Conference issues a pastoral letter secretly distributed and read from all pulpits. It outlines in detail the Nazi assault on the Catholic Church, but makes no mention of the Jews
1941
In Operational Situation Report USSR No. 54, the German Einsatzgruppen A reports from Kaunas, Lithuania: "The attitude of the Church regarding the Jewish question is, in general, clear. In addition, Bishop Brisgys has forbidden all clergymen to help Jews in any form whatsoever. He rejected several Jewish delegations who approached him personally and asked for his intervention with the German authorities. In the future he will not meet with any Jews at all"
1942
The French Assembly of Cardinals and Archbishops sends a letter to Marshal Pétain, head of the Vichy government, protesting against the mass arrests and cruel treatment of the French Jews
1942
Protest against the persecution of Dutch Jews is read from the pulpit of all churches in Holland
1942
In August and September, messages to be read out in their churches protesting the deportation of Jews from France are written by Archbishop Saliège of Toulouse, Bishop Théas of Montauban, Bishop Delay of Marseilles, Cardinal Gerlier of Lyon, Bishop Vanstenbergher of Bayonne, and Archbishop Moussaron of Albi
1942
Great Britain, the Polish Government-in-exile, Brazil, the United States, and Uruguay press Pope Pius XII to condemn the Nazi treatment of Jews. The Pope responds to this international appeal with his Christmas radio address, but does not specifically mention the Jews
1942-1945
Cardinal Adolf Bertram, Archbishop of Breslau and head of the German Bishops' Conference, opposes all public protest against the deportation and massacre of the Jews. He maintains a cordial relationship with Hitler, and in May 1945 he orders requiem masses for Hitler be offered in all his parishes
1943
At their annual meeting in Fulda, the German Catholic bishops debate whether to speak out about the Holocaust and confront Hitler with a direct accusation. They decide not to do so
1943
Slovakia's Catholic Bishops protest the deportation of Jews in a pastoral letter read in Latin from the pulpits. Many priests refuse to read it or insert their own negative comments
1945
Addressing the College of Cardinals after the end of the European war, Pope Pius XII speaks of the hundreds of priests and religious who died in Nazi concentration camps, but makes no mention of the Jews
1965
The Second Vatican Council issues its Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions: "True, authorities of the Jews and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be blamed upon all the Jews then living, without distinction, nor upon the Jews of today... The Jews should not be presented as repudiated or cursed by God... The Church decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone"
1967
The Catholic bishops in the United States establish an Office on Catholic-Jewish Relations, and promptly issues Guidelines for Catholic-Jewish Relations
1967
In an interview with a Los Angeles rabbi, Cardinal Frings of Cologne, Germany, states that the Jews had been economically too powerful in the 1920s, and he doubts if six million Jews had actually been killed under Hitler
1974
The Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews issues its Guidelines for Catholic-Jewish Relations: "The spiritual ties and historical relations between the Church and Judaism are enough to condemn, as contrary to the spirit of Christianity, all forms of anti-Semitism and discrimination"
1979
Pope John Paul II visits Auschwitz and refers to the Holocaust as "the Golgotha of our century"
1980
The German Bishops Conference declares: "A serious dialogue of reciprocal love and understanding must replace the 'anti-Semitism' which, to some extent, still lives on in Christians. The spiritual bonds and historical statements that bind the Church and Judaism condemn any form of anti-Semitism as contradictory to the spirit of Christianity"
1984
The National Conference of Brazilian Bishops declares: "All forms of anti-Semitism must be condemned. Every unfavorable word and expression must be erased from Christian speech. All campaigns of physical or moral violence must cease. The Jew must not be considered a deicide people"
1985
The Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews issues the document Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church: "Our two traditions are so related that they cannot ignore each other. Mutual knowledge must be encouraged at every level. There is evident in particular a painful ignorance of the history and traditions of Judaism, of which only negative aspects and often caricature seem to form part of the stock ideas of many Christians"
1987
Pope John Paul II holds a controversial Vatican meeting with Kurt Waldheim, President of Austria. The meeting causes an international uproar because of Waldheim's reputation as a willing bureaucratic accomplice under the Nazis
1988
The Pontifical Commission "Justice and Peace" issues a document on racism: "Amongst the manifestations of systematic racial distrust, specific mention must once again be made of anti-Semitism. If anti-Semitism has been the most tragic form that racist ideology has assumed in our century, with the horrors of the Jewish 'Holocaust,' it has unfortunately not yet entirely disappeared"
1989
Reacting to Jewish efforts to remove a Carmelite convent established at Auschwitz, Cardinal Glemp, the Primate of Poland, says in an August homily: "Dear Jews, do not talk with us from the position of a nation raised beyond all others and do not dictate terms that are impossible to fulfill. Don't you see, esteemed Jews, that openly opposing the Carmelite nuns hurts the feelings of all Poles and violates our hard-won sovereignty. Your power is in the mass media, at your immediate disposal in many countries. Do not use it to spread anti-Polonism." The convent was eventually removed.
1993
The Holy See establishes diplomatic relations with the State of Israel
1994
Pope John Paul II hosts a concert at the Vatican to commemorate the Holocaust. It is the first time that the Chief Rabbi of Rome is invited to co-officiate at a public function in the Vatican; the first time a Jewish cantor sings at the Vatican; the first time the Vatican choir sings a Hebrew text in performance
1994-1995
Bishops in Hungary, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, and the United States issue documents condemning antisemitism on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Holocaust
1997
The French Catholic Bishops issue a Declaration of Repentance: "The end result is that the attempt to exterminate the Jewish people, instead of being perceived as a central question in human and spiritual terms, remained a secondary consideration. In the face of so great and utter a tragedy, too many of the Church's pastors committed an offense, by their silence, against the Church itself and its mission. Today we confess that such a silence was a sin. In so doing, we recognize that the Church of France failed in her mission as teacher of consciences"
1997
The Swiss Catholic Bishops' Conference issue a document on the role of Switzerland during the Second World War: "For centuries, Christians and ecclesiastical teachings were guilty of persecuting and marginalizing Jews, thus giving rise to antisemitic sentiments... It is in reference to these past acts of churches for which we proclaim ourselves culpable and ask pardon of the descendants of the victims"
1998
The Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews issues the document We Remember: A Reflection on the 'Shoah': "We wish to turn awareness of past sins into a firm resolve to build a new future in which there will be no more anti-Judaism among Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews, but rather a shared mutual respect as befits those who adore the one Creator and Lord and have a common father in faith, Abraham"
1998
The Italian Bishops address a letter to the Jewish community of Italy, expressing the "hope that the maleficent plant of antisemitism will be extinguished forever from history, beginning with our cultural and linguistic habits"
2000
Pope John Paul II visits Israel. He pays tribute to the victims of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority), and he leaves the following prayer between the ancient stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem:
God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your Name to the Nations: we are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant


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