Fourth Lateran Council (1215)


#1

Can you help me understand the Fourth Lateran Council, in particular, the Canons of the Jews? (I believe that would’ve been Canons 68-79?) The Church imposed specific dress codes on the Jewish people, so as to distinguish them from Christians.

Can you help me understand this and put it in context of the times and history? It seems awfully anti-semitic (and exactly the charge I’m hearing).

Thanks in advance,

SouthernSister


#2

Those looking for more info on this Council can go here:

newadvent.org/cathen/09018a.htm


#3

[quote=SouthernSister]Can you help me understand this and put it in context of the times and history?
[/quote]

Sure. Just read the Canons. Canon 68 establishes the framework for the Council’s reasoning:

In some provinces a difference in dress distinguishes the Jews or Saracens from the Christians, but in certain others such a confusion has grown up that they cannot be distinguished by any difference. Thus it happens at times that through error Christians have relations with the women of Jews or Saracens, and Jews and Saracens with Christian women. Therefore, that they may not, under pretext of error of this sort, excuse themselves in the future for the excesses of such prohibited intercourse, we decree that such Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress. Particularly, since it may be read in the writings of Moses [Numbers 15:37-41], that this very law has been enjoined upon them.

Moreover, during the last three days before Easter and especially on Good Friday, they shall not go forth in public at all, for the reason that some of them on these very days, as we hear, do not blush to go forth better dressed and are not afraid to mock the Christians who maintain the memory of the most holy Passion by wearing signs of mourning.

This, however, we forbid most severely, that any one should presume at all to break forth in insult to the Redeemer. And since we ought not to ignore any insult to Him who blotted out our disgraceful deeds, we command that such impudent fellows be checked by the secular princes by imposing them proper punishment so that they shall not at all presume to blaspheme Him who was crucified for us.

The important thing to note is that the intent of having the Jews distinguish themselves by dress was NOT so that they could be persecuted. The decision was motivated by a desire to maintain moral and civil order.


#4

Why in the world did the Council not demand that CHRISTIANS dress differently?

This is very informative. Thanks for your help!

SouthernSister


#5

[quote=SouthernSister]Why in the world did the Council not demand that CHRISTIANS dress differently?

This is very informative. Thanks for your help!

SouthernSister
[/quote]

Jews were the minority, so in a way, it makes sense to demand that they accommodate the majority.

Also, it’s not really necessary to try to prove that this was the right thing for the Church to do. As far as I know, it can’t be argued that the Church has always done the right things, only that it has always taught the right things. Of course, it’s certainly recommended that you research and get a historical sense for the motives behind actions that don’t seem right to you at first glance. These were, after all, Christian brothers of ours and we should at least give them the courtesy of trying to see their point of view if we disagree with their actions.


#6

[quote=Kristina P.]Jews were the minority, so in a way, it makes sense to demand that they accommodate the majority.

Also, it’s not really necessary to try to prove that this was the right thing for the Church to do. As far as I know, it can’t be argued that the Church has always done the right things, only that it has always taught the right things. Of course, it’s certainly recommended that you research and get a historical sense for the motives behind actions that don’t seem right to you at first glance. These were, after all, Christian brothers of ours and we should at least give them the courtesy of trying to see their point of view if we disagree with their actions.
[/quote]

This makes sense. Where can I find the historical perspective of the Fourth Lateran Council? I think I’m having a hard time understanding why the Church put forth such a requirement on Christian “princes.”

What I think I understand you to be saying is that this is not a Truth that the Church taught but rather, something the Church did as a result of what was going on in the society at the time. If so, I need to gain some historical insight.

SouthernSister


#7

[quote=SouthernSister]Why in the world did the Council not demand that CHRISTIANS dress differently?
[/quote]

Well, as the Council cited from Sacred Scripture, this “distinctive dress” was already part of the Law of Moses. Many Jews were upholding this, but some were not. So this was not something the Catholic Church suddenly made up and imposed on them - Jews had been dressing this way for many centuries.


#8

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