Polemics Reclamation Project: Bull Cum Numis Absurdum


The Polemics Reclamation Project is a slow and steady attempt by Pulpit & Pen to reclaim various historic documents important to the theological field of polemics. Many times, these documents are only available on microfiche or in a foreign tongue and must be put into English or modern type. Other times, the documents are available in more obscure places of the Internet. We are trying to compile thousands of these documents before they are forgotten.

Reclaimed Document: Bull Cum Numis Absurdum

Author: Pope Paul IV

Date Written: July 14, 1555

Subject: Treatment of the Jews

Summary: An incredible public statement of anti-semitism, hatred of the Jewish people, and endorsement of bigotry and persecution.

Synopsis: This papal bull revoked all rights of the Jewish people and subjected them to bigotry, confiscation of their property, and diminishing of their humanity. The bull established the “Ghetto” concept, raising walls around the Jews in neighborhoods with only one entrance or exist, which became the example for anti-Jewish regimes throughout Europe. It limited to Jews to begging only and trade of used goods only, removing their right to work, trade in goods or make a living. The papal bull was to be followed everywhere the Romanist church had political power. It limited the number of synagogues in any given municipality to one (the others were burned or destroyed). The bull’s purpose, allegedly, was to create conditions so severe that Jews would rather convert to Christianity than to remain under such persecution. The bull uses the harshest of possible language regarding Jews, and was jaw-droppingly bigoted. It would go on to be the foundational premise of Hitler’s Final Solution.

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Bull Cum Nimis Absurdum

Laws and ordinances to be followed by Jews living in the Holy See decreed by the Bishop Paul, servant of the servants of God, for future recollection. As it is completely absurd and improper in the utmost that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal servitude, can under the pretext that pious Christians must accept them and sustain their habitation, are so ungrateful to Christians, as, instead of thanks for gracious treatment, they return contumely, and among themselves, instead of the slavery, which they deserve, they manage to claim superiority: we, who newly learned that these very Jews have insolently invaded our City Rome and a number of the Papal States, territories and domains their impudence increased so much that they dare not only to live amongst the Christian people, but also in the vicinity of the churches without any difference of dressing, and even that they rent houses in the main streets and squares, buy and hold immovable property, engage maids, nurses and other Christian servants, and commit other and numerous misdeeds with shame and contempt of the Christian name. Considering that the Church of Rome tolerates these very Jews evidence of the true Christian faith and to this end [we declare]: that they, won over by the piety and kindness of the See, should at long last recognize their erroneous ways, and should lose no time in seeing the true light of the catholic faith, and thus to agree that while they persist in their errors, realizing that they are slaves because of their deeds, whereas Christians have been freed through our Lord God Jesus Christ, and that it is iniquitous for it to appear that the sons of free women serve the sons of maids. §

1. Desiring firstly, as much as we can with God, to beneficially provide, by this. that will forever be in force, we ordain that for the rest of time, in the City as well as in other states, territories and domains of the Church of Rome itself, all Jews are to live in one and if there is not that capacity in two or three or however many quarters may be enough; they should reside entirely side by side in designated streets and be thoroughly separate from the residences of Christians, by our authority in the City and by that of our representatives in other states, lands and domains noted above, and that there must be only one entrance and exit from this quarter. §

2. Furthermore, in each and every state, territory and domain in which they are living, they will have only one synagogue, in its customary location, and they will construct no other new ones, nor can they own buildings. Furthermore, all of their synagogues, besides the one allowed, are to be destroyed and demolished. And the properties, which they currently own, they must sell to Christians within a period of time to be determined by the magistrates themselves. §

3. Moreover, so that Jews should be distinguishable everywhere: men must wear a hat, women, indeed, some other evident sign, yellow in color, that must not be concealed or covered by any means, and must be tightly affixed; and furthermore, they can not be absolved or excused from the obligation to wear the hat or other emblem of this type to any extent whatever and under any pretext whatsoever of their rank or prominence or of their ability to tolerate this adversity, either by a chamberlain of the Church, clerics of an Apostolic court, or their superiors, or by legates of the Holy See or their immediate subordinates. §

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