THE SPANISH INQUISITION, PART 2
My Dear Mr. Solomon: If you were only blest, as I prayerfully hope you will be, with some of the wisdom of the great personage whose name you bear, you would endeavor at least to know the Church of my adoption as she is, instead of imagining her to be what anti-Catholic historians have pictured her to be.
Such knowledge would remove the Spanish Inquisition obstacle from your mind, and thus enable you to see, as by God's grace I saw years ago, the creditable difference between the Catholic Church and Jewish Churches---Orthodox, Conservative, Reform---as well as Protestant churches. You would find her, by special Divine favor, to be doctrinally and ecclesiastically a unified, organic, spiritual society, based upon profound religious and moral principles that are as unchangeable as is the Messiah, Jesus, Who delegated her to teach and protect their integrity. It is this Divine power, the Holy Spirit indwelling (St. John 14:16,17), that safeguards the Catholic Church from error in defining matters of faith and morals, which is a guarantee of certitude in determining what is and what is not heresy. It is this Divine power that has enabled the Church to proclaim and maintain the integrity of her basic, unchangeable principles throughout the Christian ages, despite the changing conditions to which these principles had to be applied.
Before dealing directly with the Spanish Inquisition, it were well for you to know that Judaism has never been classified by the Church as a heresy. Hence believing Jews were never considered by the Church to be heretics, even though they believed some things that are heretical. Therefore, persons of Jewish parentage, who were Jews in the religious sense of the term, were not subjected to the Inquisition, which will be proved in this column next week, with evidence I hardly believe you will question. In order that the veil may be lifted that darkens your understanding of the historic issue that you assume ought to have kept me from becoming a Catholic, it is necessary to glance at the conditions that obtained in the Iberian Peninsula during the centuries before the Inquisition was instituted; conditions that finally led to the deportation of the Jews.
Spain was invaded in the year 711 A.D. by the Mohammedans, bearers of the Crescent against the Cross. This invasion was made with the aid of the Jews, who invited the Mohammedans to cross the nine-mile strip of water from Morocco to Gibraltar, in order to take possession of the Spanish Kingdom. The Moroccans, or Moors as they were called, joined in the invasion. You will find this recorded in the Jewish Encyclopedia thus: "It remains a fact that the Jews, either directly or through their coreligionists in Africa, encouraged the Mohammedans to conquer Spain and that they greeted them as deliverers. After the battle of Jarex (711), in which African Jews fought bravely under Kaula al-Yahudi, and in which the last Gothic King Rodigo and his nobles were slain, the conquerors Musa and Tarik were everywhere victorious. The conquered cities of Cordova, Malaga, Granada, Seville, ad Toledo were placed in charge of the Jewish inhabitants, who had been armed by the Arabs" (Vol. 11, p. 485).
This was the beginning of an 800 year conflict of the Spaniards for the maintenance of nationhood, in which the Catholic Church was vitally interested, as defeat meant the inroad of Mohammedanism throughout Christendom.
While the Jews furthered the battering of Spain from without, they bored from within, infiltrating Spanish Government offices, operating in the interest of a foreign power, as do the Communists today in so-called "capitalist" countries. To that end, thousands of Jews submitted themselves to Baptism; thus also to open the way to appointment to ecclesiastical offices. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Knowledge records the fact that they "took advantage of social opportunities conversions offered" (p.31) ... "Many of them held high positions at court and had intermarried into the nobility" (p. 224).
These pseudo-converts to Christianity, estimated to number 100,000 of the 500,000 Jews in Spain (1490), were called Marranos (a Spanish term that signified swine), "took Christianity on their lips but kept Judaism in their hearts," to quote the B'nai B'rith Magazine, official monthly of America's foremost Jewish fraternal society.
I'll wager a hundred to one, simoleons or peanuts, Mr. Solomon, that you will try to justify the action of the Marranos, as do others in Jewry, on the ground that they were given the choice of Baptism or death, which you will find dealt with next week in the Public Library copy of The Pilot. Suffice it to say for the present, that Israel Zangwill, the foremost novelist and essayist in the English-speaking world of his time (1864-1926), was an exception. Having the Christian heroes in mind, who preferred being thrown to the lions rather than deny their faith even with their lips, he said:---"The phenomenon of Marranism---of sailing under false colors---is a disquieting feature of Jewish history ... The blood of such martyrs is not the seed of the church."
These Marranos, who "took Christianity on their lips, but kept Judaism in their hearts," were absolved in advance for their conduct through the "Kol Nidre" (all vows). Of this you are no doubt aware if you are an observing Jew, at least to the extent of attending synagogue services on the foremost holiday in the Jewish calendar---Yom Kippur. Here is a Jewish translation of Kol Nidre, which is plaintively recited annually in the synagogues during the present century, as it was during the centuries of the Spanish Inquisition;" All vows, bonds, devotion, promises, obligations, penalties and oaths wherewith we have vowed, sworn, devoted and bound ourselves from this Day of Atonement unto the next Day of Atonement, may it come unto us for good: Lo all these we repeat us in them. They shall be absolved, released, annulled, made void, and of no effect. They shall not be binding nor shall they have any power. Our vows shall not be vows: Our bonds shall not be bonds: And our oaths shall not be oaths."
Hope to contact you again next week, My Dear Mr. Solomon, through the Public Library copy of The Pilot.