Friday, February 04, 2011

Dear Jewish Week: Mendel Beilis was not not NOT supported by the pope.

Journalistic free association: Sarah Plain's grievance against the handful of media organs not yet owned by Rupert Murdoch who allegedly perpetrated a blood libel against her has inspired the Jewish Week to write about an actual blood libel, i.e, the Beilis case.

The result is an interesting article containing the surprising news that Mendel Beilis' daughter is still alive. But, what caught my eye, and raised my ire, is the throwaway claim that Belilis was "supported by the Pope."

In short, this is false. For a longer explanation, see the rest of the post after the jump.

The 18th and early 19th century popes were not kindly grandfathers who saw the Jews as brothers in faith, but viscous anti-Semites who taught that Jews were a hostile nation, dedicated to using every means at their disposal to rob and persecute Catholics. From about 1850 until the1930s Catholics around the world were regularly treated to articles in the Catholic press accusing the Jews of blood ritual. Many of these articles appeared in official Vatican papers such as La Civiltà Cattolica which published an article during the Beilis trial which said Jewish children regarded Christian blood as a "drink like milk."  At the time, every edition of La Civiltà Cattolic was sent in advance to the Cardinal Secretary of State for review and approval.

When it became known that prosecutors in the Beilis case planned to call a Catholic priest to testify that murdering Christian children and consuming their blood was a Jewish religious duty, Pope Pius 10 was asked to publish a letter authenticating a 13th century teaching by Pope Innocent IV in which the ritual murder charge was refuted. According to David Kertzer in Popes Against the Jews, it was believed Pius 10 would outright refuse if he was asked to denounce ritual murder on his own, but that he couldn't possibly refuse to validate a teaching made by one of his predecessors. On October 17, 1913 Leopold Rothschild sent a letter to the Pope asking for a reply that could be used in the Russian court to contradict the priest's expected testimony.

Through his Secretary of State Cardinal Merry Del Val, Pious certified to Rothschild that Pope Innocent had, in fact, refuted the ritual murder charge. This is what Papists have in mind when they assert that good Pope Pius 10 stood up for a poor Jew. Unfortunately, the story does not end here.

When it received the letter of certification from Rothschild, the Russian court would not enter the Merry Del Val letter into evidence, saying the refutation could only be accepted if Merry Del Val himself sent it directly to the court. This the Cardinal Secretary of State quite refused to do. On November 4, 1913 Merry Del Val wrote to Rothchild: "I sincerely regret to have to say that it is quite impossible for me to take initiative of addressing any communication to Kieff [sic] If questioned by qualified person I am of course ready to confirm statements contained in my letter to you. With highest esteem. Card. Merry Del Val."

Meanwhile, the Pope allowed the Catholic press, including the official Vatican papers, to continue accusing the Jews of ritual murder. Along with the previously mentioned article in La Civiltà Cattolica there were items in which Innocent's refutation of the blood libel was expressly denied. When Jewish papers claimed otherwise, they were ridiculed in the Catholic press.

Kertzer brings extensive examples from Unita Catolica, L'Univers and others noting that these were papers that "enjoyed a reputation of being close to the Vatican" and as "communicating the Pope's true sentiments." In one horrifying cite, L'Univers recounts that the Beilies jury "was strongly impressed" by testimony that Jews "still practive ritual murder in the 20th century."  On the day it reported the non-guilty verdict  L'Univers  accused the Jews again of ritual murder, and condemned them for seeking to make the Pope a party to their lies. Mery Del Val was congratulated for "in his witty way" deflecting the attempt, and a reinterpretation of Innocent's teaching was provided to establish that the Pope's had never denied the ritual murder charge. A similar reinterpretation was provided in La Civiltà Cattolica, in which the Jews were again accused of ritual murder.

During all this, the Pope who supposedly "supported" Beilis remained perfectly silent, allowing his proxies to continue the war against us.

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