Plot Against the Church: Part 4 - Maurice Pinay

Origin of the "Fifth Column"

In order to prove some of the facts that were mentioned in the preceding chapter, we fall back upon the evidence of that contemporary Jewish historian who is very authoritative in his material, the careful and painstakingly exact Cecil Roth. The latter is rightly recognised in Israelite circles as the most outstanding contemporary Jewish historical writer, above all on the subject of crypto-Jewry. In his celebrated work History of the Marranos, Cecil Roth provides some very interesting details about how the Jews, thanks to their apparent but false conversions, entered Christianity and publicly acted as Christians, but all the while secretly held to their Jewish religion. He also shows us how this secret belief was passed on by parents to children, cloaked with the appearance of an outward Christian militancy:

"Introduction: The Early Life of Crypto-Jewry. Crypto-Jewry is in its various forms just as old as the Jews themselves. At the time of Greek rule in Palestine, those weak of character attempted to conceal their origin, in order to avoid arousing derision at athletic exercises. Likewise under Roman discipline the evasions increased so as to avoid payment of the special Jewish tax, the 'Fiscus Judaicus', which was introduced after the fall of Jerusalem. The historian Suetonius gives a lively report of the indignities that were exercised upon a ninety year old man to establish whether he was a Jew or not.

"Official Jewish conduct, as this finds expression in the judgments by the Rabbis, could not be clearer. A man can and should save his life, if it is in danger, by every means, excepting murder, incest and idolatry. This maxim came into use in those cases in which a public abandonment of faith was required. The simple secrecy of Jewry, on the other hand, was something very different. The strict doctrinaires demanded that the typical priestly garments should not be renounced, if these were imposed as a measure of religious suppression. Such a rigid fidelity to principles could not be demanded of all people. The traditional Jewish law makes exceptions for cases where, as a result of legal compulsion, it is impossible to keep the commandments ('ones') when the whole of Jewry is living through hard times ('scheat-ha-schemad'). The problem became a reality at the close of the Talmudic period, in the 5th century, during the Zoroaster persecutions in Persia. However, it was solved more on grounds of an enforced neglect in the following of tradition than of a positive concordance with the ruling religion. Jewry became in a certain manner subterranean and only obtained years later its complete freedom.

"With the increase of Christian teachings, which were finally introduced in Europe in the fourth century, there began a very distinct phase of Jewish life. The new faith demanded for itself the exclusive possession of the truth and inevitably regarded proselytising as one of its greatest moral obligations. The Church admittedly disapproved of compulsory conversion. Baptisms, which were undertaken under such conditions, were regarded as invalid. Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) repeatedly condemned them, although he gladly received in a friendly and heartfelt way those who were attracted by other means. The majority of his successors followed his example.

"Nevertheless, heed was not always paid to the Papal ban. Naturally it was recognised that compulsory conversion was not canonic. In order to circumvent it, the Jews were threatened with expulsion or death, and they were given to understand that they would save themselves through baptism. At times it happened that the Jews submitted to a hard necessity. In such cases their acceptance of Christianity was regarded as spontaneous. In this manner a compulsory mass conversion took place in Mahon, Minorca (418) under the auspices of Bishop Severus. A similar episode took place in Clermont (Auvergne) on the morning of the day of the Ascension of Mary in the year 576; and, despite the disapproval of Gregory the Great, the example spread into different places in France. In the year 629, King Dagobert commanded all Jews of the land to accept baptism under threat of banishment. The measure was imitated a little later in Lombardy.

"Obviously, the conversions obtained by such measures could not be sincere. Insofar as it was possible, the victims continued to practise their Jewish beliefs in secret and used the first opportunity to return to the belief of their forefathers. One such notable case took place in Byzantium under Leo the Isaurian, in the year 723. The Church knew this and did what it could to prevent the Jews maintaining relations with their rebellious brothers, irrespective of the methods by which conversion had been obtained. The Rabbis called these reluctant rebels Anusim' (compelled) and treated them very differently from those who abandoned their belief out of their own free will. One of the first manifestations of Rabbinical wisdom in Europe was represented by the book of Gerschom, of Mainz, 'The Light of Exile' (written round about the year 1000), which forbade harsh treatment of the 'compelled' who came back to Judaism. His own son had been a victim of the persecutions. Although he died as a Christian, Gerschom was in mourning, as though he had died in the faith.

"In the Synagogue service there exists a prayer that implores divine protection for the entire house of Israel and also for the 'compelled' who find themselves in danger, be it on land or on water, without making the least distinction between the two. When the martyrdom of medieval Jewry began with the massacres of the Rhine during the first crusade (1096), countless persons accepted baptism to save their lives. Later, encouraged and protected by Salomon ben Isaac of Troyes, the great French-Jewish scholar, many returned to the Mosaic faith, even if the ecclesiastical authorities regarded with a baleful eye the loss of those precious souls that had been gained by them for the Church.

"However, the phenomenon of Marranism went beyond forced conversion and the consequent practice of Judaism in secret. Its essential characteristic is that it was a clandestine faith passed down from father to son. One of the reasons put forward to justify the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 was that they seduced newly-made converts and made them return to the 'vomit of Judaism'. Jewish chroniclers add that many children were seized and sent to the north of the land, where they continued for a long time to practise their former religion. It is owing to this fact, reports one of them, that the English accepted the Reformation so easily; it also explains their preference for Biblical names and certain dietetic peculiarities which are preserved in Scotland. This version is not so improbable as would seem at first sight, and constitutes an interesting example of how the phenomenon of crypto-Jewry can appear in places which seem obviously so little suited to it. In the same way, some malicious genealogists discovered that, after the Jews had been driven out of the south of France, some proud ancestral families, as a result of rumours, carried on Judaism in their homes as the remnant of the bloodline of those Jews who preferred to remain as public and confessing Catholics.

"There are similar examples from much earlier times. The most remarkable is that of the 'neofiti' (neophytes or new converts) of Apulia, recently brought to light after many centuries of oblivion. Towards the end of the 13th century, the Angevins, who ruled in Naples, induced a general conversion of Jews in their lands, located in the neighbourhood of the city of Trani. Under the name of 'neofiti', the proselytes continued to live for three centuries as crypto-Jews. Their secret loyalty to Judaism was one of the reasons why the Inquisition became active in Naples in the 16th century. Many of them met their death at the stake in Rome in February 1572; among others, Teofilo Panarelli, a scholar of reliable repute. Some were successful in escaping to the Balkans, where they joined the existing Jewish communities. Their descendants in south Italy still preserve some vague memories of Judaism up to the present day.

"This phenomenon in no way remained restricted to the Christian world. In various parts of the Mohammedan world, ancient communities of crypto-Jews are found. The 'Daggatun' of the Sahara continued to practise Jewish rules for a long time after their formal conversion to Islam, and their present sons have still not completely forgotten it. The 'Donmeh' of Salonica originate from the adherents of the pseudo-Messiah Sabbetai Zevi, whom they followed in his rebellion. Even if they were in public complete Moslems, they practised at home a messianic Judaism. Further to the east there are still other examples. The religious persecutions in Persia, which began in the 17th century, however, left countless families in the land, especially in Meshed, who in private observed Judaism with punctilious scrupulosity while outwardly they appeared devout disciples of the dominant belief system.

"But the classic land of crypto-Jewry is Spain. The tradition there has been so durable and universal that one can only suspect that a Marranian predisposition is present in the atmosphere of the land itself. Even at the time of the Romans the Jews were numerous and influential. Many of them asserted that they were descended from the aristocracy of Jerusalem, who had been deported by Titus or by earlier conquerors into banishment. In the 5th century, after the attacks of the barbarians, their situation improved very much: for the West Goths (Visigoths) had taken on the Arian form of Christianity and favoured the Jews, both because they believed in one God, as also because they represented an influential minority, to secure whose support was worth the effort. However, after they were converted to the Catholic faith, they began to reveal the traditional zeal of neophytes. The Jews immediately suffered the unpleasant consequences of such zeal.

In the year 589, when Reccared came to the throne, the Church legislation was at once applied to them down to the smallest detail. His successors were not so strict; but when Sisebutus ascended the throne (612-620), a very stiff-necked fanaticism prevailed. Perhaps he was incited by the Byzantine emperor when in 616 he published an edict which ordered baptism for all Jews of his kingdom under threat of expulsion and of loss of their entire property. According to the Catholic chroniclers, ninety thousand accepted the Christian faith. This was the first of the great misfortunes that distinguished the history of the Jews in Spain.

"Until the time of the rule of Roderick, the 'last of the Visigoths', the tradition of persecution was faithfully continued apart from a few short interruptions. During a great part of this period the practice of Judaism was completely forbidden. However, as the watchfulness of the government relaxed, the newly-converted used the opportunity to return to their original belief. Successive Councils of Toledo, from the fourth to the eighteenth, devoted their powers to the discovery of new methods that would prevent a return to the synagogue. The children of suspects were removed from their parents and educated in an unspoilt Christian atmosphere. New-converts were compelled to sign a declaration, as a result of which they obligated themselves in the future to respect no Jewish rites with exception of the ban on eating of pork, for which they, so they said, felt a natural aversion. But, in spite of such measures, the notorious unfaithfulness of the newly converted and their descendants continued to be one of the great problems of Visigoth policy until the invasion of the Arabs in the year 711. The number of Jews who were discovered by the latter in the land proves the complete failure of the repeated attempts to convert them. The Marrano tradition had already begun on the peninsula.

"With the arrival of the Arabs, the golden era began for the Jews of Spain, at first in the Caliphate of Cordoba, and after its fall (1012) in the small kingdoms that arose on its ruins. Jewry became considerably stronger on the peninsula. Its communities exceeded in number, culture and wealth over those of Jews of the other lands of the West. However, the long tradition of tolerance was interrupted by the invasion of the Almoravids at the beginning of the 12th century. When the puritanical Almoravids, a North African sect, were summoned to the peninsula in the year 1148, in order to hold up the advance of the Christian armies, there arose a violent reaction. The new rulers introduced intolerance into Spain, which they had already shown in Africa. The practice of Judaism as well as of Christianity was forbidden in the provinces which continued to remain under Musulman rule. Upon this the greater part of the Jews fled into the Christian kingdoms of the North. In that time began the hegemony of the communities of Christian Spain. The minority, who could not flee and saved themselves from decapitation or sale as slaves, followed the example that their brothers in North Africa had given in earlier years, and took on the religion of Islam. In their deepest innermost heart they nevertheless remained always true to the belief of the ancients. In a new way one came to know on the peninsula the phenomenon of the dishonest proselytes who paid lip service to the ruling religion and within their houses kept to the Jewish traditions. Their unfaithfulness was evident."

So much for the complete text of the Jewish historian quoted, Cecil Roth, who proves:

  • That crypto-Judaism or concealed Judaism is in its different forms as old as the Jews themselves and that the Jews even in the times of pagan antiquity already used cunning to conceal their real nature as such, so as to appear as ordinary members of the (pagan) people in whose region they lived.
  • That in the 5th century of the Christian era, during the persecutions in Zoroastrian Persia, Jewry went to a certain extent underground.
  • That with the period of flowering of Christian teaching in the 4th century a new phase began in Jewish life, in that the latter claimed for itself the new faith and exclusive possession of the truth, inevitably regarding proselytism as one of its greatest moral obligations.

Although the Christian Church condemned the compulsory conversions or those attained with force and attempted to protect the Jews against these, it nevertheless accepted that they should be subjected to difficulties and pressure, so as to make them more inclined to conversion. In this case they were judged as acting from their own impulse. The author then cites conversions of this kind that were carried out on Minorca, in France and Italy in the 5th and 6th century of the Christian calendar, going on to conclude from this that such conversions of Jews to Christianity could not be sincere and that the new converts continued to practise their Judaism in secret.

He observes how in Byzantium something similar had already happened in the times of Leo the Isaurian, in the year 723, and proves that even in the eighth century of the Christian calendar, i.e. more than two hundred years earlier, the infiltration of the Jews into the bosom of the Church, by means of false conversions had become universal practice from France to Constantinople, from one end of Christian Europe to the other. In this manner there arose alongside Jewry, which openly practised its religion, a subterranean Judaism, whose members were only Christian in appearance.

  • That in Marranism, besides the hypocritical conversion and the practice of Judaism in secret there exists a deeply-rooted tradition, which obligates the Jews to transfer this inclination from parents to the children. The author cites the events in England and Scotland since 1290, where one of the reasons presented for the expulsion of the Jews was that they misled the newly converted to practise Judaism, and that many children were stolen by them and brought into the north of the land, where they continued to practise the old religion i.e. the Jewish. It must be pointed out that after 1290 the Jews were banished from England and no one could be domiciled in the land if he were not a Christian.

In this connection a very interesting reference is made by the renowned Hebrew historian to the assertion of a Jewish chronicler, viz. that to the presence of crypto-Judaism is to be attributed the fact the English so easily accepted the Reformation as well as their preference for Biblical names. It was thus a false conversion of the Jews to Christianity that allowed that Fifth Column to arise within the Church of England and made easier its severance from Rome.

It is also evident that these false conversions of Jews in England, far from obtaining for the Church the expected salvation of souls, brought it instead the loss of millions of souls, when the descendants of these false proselytes promoted the Anglican schism. There are still other very outstanding cases of false conversions of Jews to Christianity, among them that of the "neofiti" in the south of Italy, as recorded by Cecil Roth, who were persecuted by the Inquisition and of whom many were burned at the stake in Rome.

It is important to mention the fact that the Inquisition which functioned in Rome was, of course, the Holy Papal Inquisition whose serviceable activity was successful in the Middle Ages in holding up the progress of the apocalyptic beast of the Antichrist for three hundred years.

  • That the phenomenon of Crypto-Judaism was not merely confined to the Christian world. One still finds in different parts of the Musulman world, communities of Crypto-Jews, as Cecil Roth observes, who records several examples of Jewish communities in which the Hebrews, who outwardly were Musulmen, are in secret still Jews. This means that the Jews have also introduced a Fifth Column into the bosom of the Islamic religion. This fact perhaps explains the many divisions and the uproar which has occurred in the world of Mohammed.