Trials of Judaizers becomes a Snare for Catholic Spaniards by Paula Rose Michelson

Today we look at what others think, how their thoughts become actions, and how their actions can change our life. As you read the selected section from Casa de Naomi, I want you to put your name wherever the text mentions Judaizers, Moors, Muslims, and gypsies, a repentant or unrepentant convert, penitent, Jew, or New Christian. Then add to that list the words Catholic Spaniards.

By now, you are probably scratching your head and wondering if I am daft since this list puts all in harms way. That, my friend is the Spanish legacy for what began as an Edict intended to correct the financial instability that shook the country became a means of forced exile for a large portion of the population, the eradication of those who could not or would not leave, and the seizing of coveted property.

If you think this scenario could never happen here ask yourself:

Is there stratification within my family, within the groups that I have joined?

Does stratification positively or negatively affect the social norms or me?

Does someone covet what I own, my rank, or status?

Do I covet what someone else owns, their rank, or status?


During the trial of Judaizers, the church sought repentant conversions. If a person was unrepentant, the office stripped him of his rank and worldly possessions, tortured him for information, and killed him. If the person repented, the church occasionally showed mercy and allowed him to serve as a cleric. A penitent forfeited everything he owned, was incommunicado for life, and forced to wear a penitent garment, which reflected his reduced status, making him a target of ridicule. If the church deemed the penitent unsuited for service, he incurred everything listed above, was placed under house arrest, and never allowed out of the sight of someone associated with the office of the inquisitor. Jews who became Catholic during this time were called New Christians as a means of differentiating them from those who had no Jewish blood.

Since the majority of the population was illiterate and poor, they viewed this as God’s recompense for what they assumed was the Jewish belief in their superiority. It took little encouragement for those working within the office to find many who were willing to falsify their witness to curry favor with those in power. The Inquisition’s purpose was to rid the country of all dissidents, including Moors, Muslims, and gypsies. Records show that some Catholic Spaniards used it to acquire the wealth, property, and power they coveted from other Catholics who practiced Catholicism hundreds of years before the Inquisition began.

“But, this is just an example of heightened reality,” you might say. “We see or hear of things like this quite often.” You are right! Sad as it is may be many believe that their desire to feel superior through demoting others, to feel empowered by stripping others of their inalienable rights, and when all else fails to silence decent is not a new thing. However, it is a sad epitaph for a person or a society.

God inscribed within our essence a longing to reach beyond our human drives. I believe the solution for behaviors that divide are found in scripture and suggest that whenever any of us are assailed with a desire to have what we feel is ours though another owns it, we remember Luke 12: 34 where Messiah says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

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