History: Pope Clement VI and the Protection of the Jews

July 8, 2010

The “Black Death” of the 14th century is one of the most horrible times in the history of the West. Historians estimate that somewhere between 30% and 60% of the population of Europe was killed. In such chaos, it is human nature to look for a scapegoat. Outsiders are usually the first victims. Popular opinion placed the blame on the Jews. Violence broke out against them.

The pope at the time, Clement VI is not known for his piety. He loved lavish living and expanded the power of Rome to help further fund his efforts. In this Protestant’s eyes, he also issued some pretty bad doctrinal statements (particularly on indulgences). But even in his corruption, he came to the defense of the Jewish people. He issued two papal bulls in 1348 calling condemning violence against the Jews, calling the attacks Satanic, and urging the clergy to offer refuge and protection for Jews fleeing violence.

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