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July 15: Innocent Declares Jews Guilty

July 14, 2015

Innocent-IIIPope Innocent III, who in the year 1200 declared “the Jews, by their own guilt,” to be “consigned to perpetual servitude because they crucified the Lord” and doomed to be “wanderers... upon the earth until their faces are filled with shame and they seek the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” died on this date in 1216. Innocent III was the most powerful pope of the Middle Ages, with decisive influence in nearly all of the capitals of Europe. He organized the Fourth Crusade, meant to capture Jerusalem; it was diverted, however, to Constantinople, and the sacking of that city led to souring of relations between the Orthodox and Latin wings of the Church for centuries. He also imposed taxation upon the churches of Europe, refined and reformed many Church teachings, prosecuted heresies with unprecedented vigor, and declared the Magna Carta to be null and void. It would not be until 1965 that Innocent III’s teaching on Jews and deicide, which held all Jews through all ages to be guilty of killing Jesus Christ, would be abandoned by the Church (in “Nostra Aetate,” the reforming document of the Second Vatican Council).

“Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with church dogma must be burned without pity.” —Pope Innocent III