Persecution of Christians as an institutionalised tool of faith by both Roman Catholics and also by Protestants
Protestants in England and Wales were executed under legislation that punished anyone judged guilty of heresy against Catholicism. Although the standard penalty for those convicted of treason in England at the time was execution by being hanged, drawn and quartered, this legislation adopted the punishment of burning the condemned.
After the accession of Queen Mary I, also called 'Bloody Mary,' to the English throne in 1553, and her repeal of all religious legislation passed under Edward VI, Protestants faced a choice: exile, reconciliation/conversion, or punishment.
Bloody Mary had some 284 Protestants burned at the stake (including 56 women). Thirty others died in prison. While the so-called "Marian Persecutions" began with four clergymen, relics of Edwardian England’s Protestantism, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs offers an account of the executions, which branched well beyond the anticipated targets – high-level clergy. Tradesmen were also burned, as well as married men and women, sometimes in unison, "youths" and at least one couple was burned alive with their daughter.
The Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation are men and women of Catholic denomination who were executed under treason legislation in the years of the English Reformation between 1534 and 1680 CE. A number of them have been recognised as martyrs by the Catholic Church.
On 25 February 1570 Pope Pius V's "Regnans in Excelsis" bull excommunicated both the English Queen Elizabeth I and any who obeyed her. This papal bull also required all Catholics to rebel against the English Crown as a matter of faith. In response in 1571 legislation was enacted making it treasonable to be under the authority of the Pope, including being a Jesuit, being Catholic or harbouring a Catholic priest. The standard penalty for all those convicted of treason at the time was execution by being hanged, drawn and quartered.
Decrees of Elizabeth I - During the reign of Mary I, the Papal authority was officially reinstated and many Protestants were martyred. After Elizabeth I's accession to the throne, the Act of Supremacy 1558 was enacted denying Papal authority but it was not until more than a decade later in February 1570 that Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth and any who obeyed her and called on all Catholics to rebel. In the words of the New Catholic Encyclopedia,
'Without question it was Elizabeth I's intention to supplant the old religion with the new in a bloodless manner. It is significant that there were no martyrs in the first 12 years of her reign, and only five in the years 1570 to 1577.'
Of those five, Thomas Plumtree had been chaplain to the insurgents in the Rising of the North, John Felton had published Pope Pius V's Bull Regnans in Excelsis, excommunicating Queen Elizabeth, John Story was tried for high treason, for having supported the Rising of the North and encouraging the Duke of Alba to invade, Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland had led the Rising of the North and Thomas Woodhouse had declared in a letter to William Cecil that Elizabeth 'for her own great disobedience is most justly deposed'.
The threat of invasion by a Catholic country assisted by English subjects led the Crown to try to stamp out Catholicism with repressive measures. Elizabeth I's government passed anti-Catholic decrees in 1571: forbidding anyone from maintaining the jurisdiction of the pope by word, deed or act; requiring use of the Book of Common Prayer in all cathedrals, churches and chapels, and forbidding criticism of it; forbidding the publication of any bull, writing or instrument of the Holy See (the death penalty was assigned to this); and, prohibiting the importing of Agnus Dei images, crosses, pictures, beads or other things from the Bishop of Rome.
Later laws made the following activities illegal: to draw anyone away from the state religion; non-attendance at a Church of England church; raising children with teachers that were not licensed by an Anglican diocesan bishop; and, attending or celebrating the Catholic Mass.
During the reign of the Papal Church of Rome, tens of millions of Christians were persecuted and killed because they refused to bow to the "authority" of the Papal Church. This reign of terror lasted 1260 years and was prophesied in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. This will happen again when the mark of the Beast (Roman Catholic Church) is enforced. Below are quotes from history describing the most awful persecution at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. These quotes are not to cause upset, but to EXPOSE the Papal Church for what it really is.
"On August 24, 1527, Roman Catholics in France, by prearranged plan, under Jesuit influence, murdered 70,000 Protestants within the space of two months. The Pope rejoiced when he heard the news of the successful outcome." (The Roman Catholic organ, 'Western Watchman,' Nov.21, 1912 (Catholic)
"There was no village of the Vaudois valleys but had its martyrs. The Waldenses were burned; they were cast into damp and horrid dungeons; they were smothered in crowds in mountain caverns, mothers and babes, and old men and women together; they were sent out into exile in the winter night, unclothed and unfed, to climb the snowy mountains; they were hurled over the rocks; their houses and lands were taken from them; their children were stolen to be indoctrinated with the religion which they abhorred. Rapacious individuals were sent among them to strip them of their property, to persecute and exterminate them. Thousands of heretics or Waldenses, old men, women and children, were hung, quartered, broken upon the wheel, or burned alive and their property confiscated for the benefit of the king, and Holy See." (Thompson - The Papacy and the Civil Power)
"That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge of history . . . It is impossible to form a complete conception of the multitude of her victims, and it is quite certain that no powers of imagination can adequately realize their sufferings." (W. E. H. Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, vol. 2, p. 32, 1910 edition)
"From the birth of popery to the present time, it is estimated by careful and credible historians, that more than fifty millions of the human family, have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy by popish persecutors,--an average of more than 40,000 religious murders for every year of the existence of popery to the present day. Of course the average number of victims yearly, was vastly greater, during those gloomy ages when popery was in her glory and reigned despot of the world; and it has been much less since the power of the popes has diminished to tyrannize over the nations, and to compel the princes of the earth, by the terrors of excommunication, interdiction, and deposition, to butcher their heretical subjects." (John Dowling, The History of Romanism, pp. 541-542)
"The church may by divine right confiscate the property of heretics, imprison their person, and condemn them to flames. In our age, the right to inflict the severest penalties, even death, belongs to the church. There is no graver offense than heresy, therefore it must be rooted out." (Public Eccliastical, Vol. 2, p.142)
Mr. Raywood Frazier, in his booklet 'Catholic Words and Actions', gives documentary evidence of persecution of Protestants and non-Catholics in Columbia, South America, between 1949 and 1953.
"The Catholic Church had the support of the Columbian government in the destruction of many churches, and the liquidation of more than 1,000 documented cases -- some of whom were shot, drowned, or emasculated. He says there is evidence of over 60,000 killed. Pope Pius XII awarded the President of Columbia with one of the highest awards which the Church bestows, and praised Columbia for its example of the Catholic faith." ['Catholic Words and Actions', pp. 59-60]
"Their refusal to surrender the scriptures was an offense that the Papacy could not tolerate. The Papacy was determined to exterminate the heretics from the face of the Earth. The heretics greatest offense, was that they refused to worship God according to the will of the Pope.
"For this crime, the heretics suffered every humiliation, insult and torture that man could event." (Fox's Book Of Martyrs) Tortures included:
1) Hanged and their genitals were cut off.
2) The mothers were whipped.
3) Women's breast were ripped off.
4) They were tied up and fried in a large pan.
5) Their mouths were sewed shut.
6) They were placed in pots of boiling water.
7) Their arms and legs were cut off.
8) Eyes were bored out.
On March 12, 2000, Pope John Paul II admitted that the Roman Catholic Church killed these Christians.
Was this the Church of Jesus Christ?
Christian theologians like Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas had legitimized religious persecution to various extents, and during the Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Christians considered heresy and dissent to be punishable offences. However, Early modern Europe witnessed the turning point in the history of Christian thought on persecution and tolerance. Christian writers like John Milton and John Locke argued for limited religious toleration, and later secular authors like Thomas Jefferson developed the concept of religious freedom. Christians nowadays generally accept that heresy and dissent are not punishable by a civil authority. Many Christians "look back on the centuries of persecution with a mixture of revulsion and incomprehension." [Coffer, 2000, p. 206]
Christian theologians like Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas had legitimized religious persecution to various extents, and during the Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Christians considered heresy and dissent to be punishable offences. However, Early modern Europe witnessed the turning point in the history of Christian thought on persecution and tolerance. Christian writers like John Milton and John Locke argued for limited religious toleration, and later secular authors like Thomas Jefferson developed the concept of religious freedom. Christians nowadays generally accept that heresy and dissent are not punishable by a civil authority. Many Christians "look back on the centuries of persecution with a mixture of revulsion and incomprehension."
After he had adopted Christianity following the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan in 313 (together with his co-emperor Licinius). Since 306 there had already had been several edicts that granted Christians religious toleration in parts of the Empire, but the Edict of Milan removed all obstacles to the Christian faith and made the Empire officially neutral with regard to religious worship. Constantine supported the church with his patronage; he had an extraordinary number of large basilicas built for the Christian church, and endowed it with land and other wealth. In doing this, however, he required the Pagans "to foot the bill". According to Christian chroniclers it appeared necessary to Constantine "to teach his subjects to give up their rites (...) and to accustom them to despise their temples and the images contained therein," which led to the closure of pagan temples due to a lack of support, their wealth flowing to the imperial treasure; Constantine I did not need to use force to implement this; his subjects are said to simply have obeyed him out of fear. Only the chronicler Theophanes has added that temples "were annihilated", but this is considered "not true" by contemporary historians. According to the historian Ramsay MacMullen Constantine desired to obliterate non-Christians but lacking the means he had to be content with robbing their temples towards the end of his reign. He resorted to derogatory and contemptuous comments relating to the old religion; writing of the "obstinacy" of the pagans, of their "misguided rites and ceremonial", and of their "temples of lying" contrasted with "the splendours of the home of truth".
During the course of his life he progressively became more Christian and turned away from any syncretic tendencies he appeared to favour at times and thus demonstrating, according to his biographers, that "The God of the Christians was indeed a jealous God who tolerated no other gods beside him. The Church could never acknowledge that she stood on the same plane with other religious bodies, she conquered for herself one domain after another".
After the 3-year-reign of Julian the Apostate (ruled 361 to 363), who revived the Roman state paganism for a short time, the later Christian Roman Emperors sanctioned "attacks on pagan worship". Towards the end of the 4th century Theodosius worked to establish Catholicism as the privileged religion in the Roman Empire."Theodosius was not the man to sympathise with the balancing policy of the Edict of Milan. He set himself steadfastly to the work of establishing Catholicism as the privileged religion of the state, of repressing dissident Christians (heretics) and of enacting explicit legal measures to abolish Paganism in all its phases."
Two hundred and fifty years after Constantine was converted and began the long campaign of official temple destruction and outlawing of non-Christian worship Justinian was still engaged in the war of dissent.
The transformation that happened in the 4th century lies at the heart of the debate between those Christian authors who advocated religious persecution and those who rejected it. Most of all, the advocates of persecution looked to the writings of Augustine of Hippo, the most influential of the Christian Church Fathers in the Latin West. Initially (in the 390s), he had been sceptical about the use of coercion in religious matters. However, he changed his mind after he had witnessed how the Donatists (a schismatic Christian sect) were "brought over to the Catholic unity by fear of imperial edicts." When Augustine had characterized himself in De utilitate credenti (392), he said he was cupidus veri, eager for truth. But in his 93. letter he described himself as quietis avidus, needing rest, and gave as reason the agitating Donatist. From a position that had trusted the power of philosophical argumentation, Augustine had moved to a position that emphasised the authority of the church. Augustine had become convinced of the effectiveness of mild forms of persecution and developed a defence of their use. His authority on this question was undisputed for over a millennium in Western Christianity. Within this Augustinian consensus there was only disagreement about the extent to which Christians should persecute heretics. Augustine advocated fines, imprisonment, banishment and moderate floggings, but, according to Henry Chadwick, "would have been horrified by the burning of heretics." In late Antiquity those burnings appear very rare indeed, the only certain case being the execution of Priscillian and six of his followers in 385. This sentence was roundly condemned by bishops like Ambrose, Augustine's mentor.
With the adoption of Christianity by Constantine I (after Battle of Milvian Bridge, 312), heresy had become a political issue in the late Roman empire. Adherents of unconventional Christian beliefs not covered by the Nicene Creed like Novatianism and Gnosticism were banned from holding meetings, but the Roman emperor intervened especially in the conflict between orthodox and Arian Christianity, which resulted in the burning of Arian books.
In contrast to the late antiquity, the execution of heretics was much more easily approved in the late Middle Ages, after the Christianization of Europe was largely completed. The first known case is the burning of fourteen people at Orléans in 1022. In the following centuries groups like the Bogomils, Waldensians, Cathars and Lollards were persecuted throughout Europe. The Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) codified the theory and practise of persecution. In its third canon, the council declared: "Secular authorities, whatever office they may hold, shall be admonished and induced and if necessary compelled by ecclesiastical censure, .. to take an oath that they will strive .. to exterminate in the territories subject to their jurisdiction all heretics pointed out by the Church."
Saint Thomas Aquinas summed up the standard medieval position, when he declared that that obstinate heretics deserved "not only to be separated from the Church, but also to be eliminated from the world by death"
The Old Testament has been the main source for Christian theologians advocating religious persecution. An example of this would be John Jewel. In defending the demand for religious uniformity by Elizabeth I of England, he declared: "Queen Elizabeth doth as did Moses, Josua, David, Salomon, Josias, Jesophat, ..."
The Protestant Reformation changed the face of Western Christianity forever, but initially it did nothing to change the Christian endorsement of religious persecution. The Reformers "fully embraced" Augustine's advocacy of coercion in religious matters, and many regarded the death penalty for heresy as legitimate. Furthermore, by presenting a much more powerful threat to Catholic unity than the heretic groups of the Middle Ages, the Reformation led to the intensification of persecution under Catholic regimes.
Martin Luther had written against persecution in the 1520s, and had demonstrated genuine sympathy towards the Jews in his earlier writings, especially in Das Jesus ein geborener Jude sei (That Jesus was born as a Jew) from 1523, but after 1525 his position hardened. In Wider die Sabbather an einen guten Freund (Against the Sabbather to a Good Friend), 1538, he still considered a conversion of the Jews to Christianity as possible, but in 1543 he published On the Jews and their Lies, a "violent anti-semitic tract."
John Calvin helped to secure the execution for heresy of Michael Servetus, although he unsuccessfully requested that he should be beheaded instead of being burned at the stake.
Effectively, however, the 16th-century Protestant view was less extreme than the mediaeval Catholic position. In England, John Foxe, John Hales, Richard Perrinchief, Herbert Thorndike and Jonas Proast all only saw mild forms of persecution against the English Dissenters as legitimate. But (with the probable exception of John Foxe), this was only a retraction in degree, not a full rejection of religious persecution. There is also the crucial distinction between dissent and heresy to consider. Most dissenters disagreed with the Anglican Church only on secondary matters of worship and ecclesiology, and although this was a considered a serious sin, only a few 17th-century Anglican writers thought that this 'crime' deserved the death penalty. These concerns notwithstanding, the English government saw fit to execute as treasonous a multitude of priests, dissenters, and recusant Catholics, even those who retained but private reservations. The English Act of Supremacy thus significantly complicated the matter by securely welding church and state.
The Elizabethan bishop Thomas Bilson was of the opinion that men ought to be "corrected, not murdered", but he did not condemn the Christian Emperors for executing the Manichaeans for "monstrous blasphemies". The Lutheran theologian Georgius Calixtus argued for the reconciliation of Christendom by removing all unimportant differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, and Rupertus Meldenius advocated in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas (in necessary things unity; in uncertain things freedom; in everything compassion) in 1626.
The English Protestant 'Call for Toleration' - While the Christian theologians mentioned above advocated religious persecution to various extents, it was also Christians who helped pioneer the concept of religious toleration.
In his book on 'The English Reformation', particularly in the chapter 'The Origins of Religious Toleration', the late A. G. Dickens argued that from the beginning of the Reformation there had "existed in Protestant thought – in Zwingli, Melanchthon and Bucer, as well as among the Anabaptists – a more liberal tradition, which John Frith was perhaps the first echo in England". Condemned for heresy, Frith was burnt at the stake in 1533. In his own mind, he died not because of the denial of the doctrines on purgatory and transubstantiation but "for the principle that a particular doctrine on either point was not a necessary part of a Christian's faith". In other words, there was an important distinction to be made between a genuine article of faith and other matters where a variety of very different conclusions should be tolerated within the Church. This stand against unreasonable and profligate dogmatism meant that Frith, "to a greater extent than any other of our early Protestants", upheld "a certain degree of religious freedom".
Frith was not alone. John Foxe, for example, "strove hard to save Anabaptists from the fire, and he enunciated a sweeping doctrine of tolerance even towards Catholics, whose doctrines he detested with every fibre of his being".
In the early 17th century, Thomas Helwys was principal formulator of that distinctively Baptist request: that the church and the state be kept separate in matters of law, so that individuals might have a freedom of religious conscience. Helwys said the King "is a mortal man, and not God, therefore he hath no power over the mortal soul of his subjects to make laws and ordinances for them and to set spiritual Lords over them". King James I had Helwys thrown into Newgate prison, where he had died by 1616 at about the age of forty.
By the time of the English Revolution Helwys' stance on religious toleration was more commonplace. However, whilst accepting their zeal in desiring a 'godly society', some contemporary historians doubt whether the English Puritans during the English Revolution were as committed to religious liberty and pluralism as traditional histories have suggested. However, historian John Coffey's recent work emphasises the contribution of a minority of radical Protestants who steadfastly sought toleration for heresy, blasphemy, Catholicism, non-Christian religions, and even atheism. This minority included the Seekers, as well as the General Baptists and the Levellers. Their collective witness demanded the church be an entirely voluntary, non-coercive community able to evangelise in a pluralistic society governed by a purely civil state. Such a demand was in sharp contrast to the ambitions of the magisterial Protestantism of the Calvinist majority.
In 1644 the "Augustinian consensus concerning persecution was irreparably fractured." This year can be identified quite exactly, because 1644 saw the publication of John Milton's Areopagitica, William Walwyn's The Compassionate Samaritane, Henry Robinson's Liberty of Conscience and Roger William's The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution. These authors were Puritans or had dissented from the Church of England, and their radical Protestantism led them to condemn religious persecution, which they saw as a popish corruption of primitive Christianity. Other non-Anglican writers advocating toleration were Richard Overton, John Wildman and John Goodwin, the Baptists Samuel Richardson and Thomas Collier and the Quakers Samuel Fisher and William Penn. Anglicans who argued against persecution were: John Locke, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, James Harrington, Jeremy Taylor, Henry More, John Tillotson and Gilbert Burnet.
All of these considered themselves Christians or were actual churchmen. John Milton and John Locke are the predecessors of modern liberalism. Although Milton was a Puritan and Locke an Anglican, Areopagitica and A Letter concerning Toleration are canonical liberal texts. Only from the 1690s onwards the philosophy of Deism emerged, and with it a third group that advocated religious toleration, but, unlike the radical Protestants and the Anglicans, also rejected biblical authority; this group prominently includes Voltaire, Frederick II of Prussia, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, Thomas Jefferson and the English-Irish philosopher John Toland. When Toland published the writings of Milton, Edmund Ludlow and Algernon Sidney, he tried to downplay the Puritan divinity in these works.
Following the debates that started in the 1640s the Church of England was the first Christian church to grant adherents of other Christian denominations freedom of worship, with the Act of Toleration 1689, which nevertheless still retained some forms of religious discrimination and did not include toleration for Catholics. At present, only individuals who are members of the Church of England at the time of the succession may become the British monarch.
The Puritan-Whig tradition of toleration did have their greatest effect not in England, but in the Thirteen Colonies that would later form the United States. Notable tolerationists were directly involved in the founding of the colonies. Roger Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island, "a haven for persecuted minorities,"
John Locke drafted the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina and William Penn drew up the constitution of Pennsylvania. Voltaire pointed the readers of his Traité sur la Tolérance (1763) specifically to the examples of Carolina and Pennsylvania. People like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Adams stood self-consciously in the tradition of Milton, Sidney and Locke, and extended their tolerationism further to also apply to Catholics and atheists. Coffey considers it possible to argue, "that the tolerationist tradition of seventeenth-century England reached its fulfilment in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and the First Amendment to the American Constitution."
That the North American colonies and later the United States provided a refuge for religious minorities from Europe partly explains the higher degree of religiosity in the contemporary United States and the "unusual sectarian quality of U.S. Protestantism". Compared to Europe, "the United States has a superabundance of denominations and sects (...) as well as a far higher ratio of churchgoers." Which importance the Christian religion should have in the United States, with its strong concept of Separation of church and state, is a contentious question. For Kevin Phillips, who wrote a book with the polemical title American Theocracy, "few questions will be more important to the twenty-first-century United States than whether renascent religion and its accompanying hubris will be carried on the nation's books as an asset or as a liability."
According to a 2008 survey, 65% of US-American Christians believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. 52% of US-American Christians think that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life.
(At its surface, the percentages above seem contradictory; the key is in the appellation of the term non-Christian in the second, lesser quantity. For some Christians, different sects of Christianity represent "different religions." These people thus mistake the survey term "many religions" to mean "different sects of Christianity," even though that is not the common intended use of the phrase. What the survey really shows is that more US Christians believe that God can make himself known through multiple Christian sects, than believe that He can make Himself known even through other religions. It is worth noting that a majority of US Christians take the more inclusive stance.)
As of the mid-20th century, an example of Catholic church-state relations was the Catholic situation in Franco's Spain, where under the National Catholicism doctrine the Catholic Church:was officially recognized and protected by the state, had substantial control over social policy, and had this relationship explicitly set out in a Concordat. It had long been the policy of the Catholic Church to support toleration of competing religions under such a scheme, but to support legal restrictions on attempts to convert Catholics to those religions, under the motto that "error has no rights".
On the seventh of December 1965 The Catholic Church as part of the Vatican II council issued the decree "Dignitatis humanae" that dealt with the rights of the person and communities to social and civil liberty in religious matters. It states:
"2. The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power so that, within due limits, nobody is forced to act against his convictions in religious matters in private or public, alone or in associations with others. The Vatican Council further declares that the right of religious freedom is based on the very word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civic right...but if it [the civil authority] presumes to control or restrict religious activity it must be said to have exceeded the limits of its power...Therefore, provided the just requirements of public order are not violated, these groups [i.e. religious communities] have a right to immunity so that they may organize their own lives according to their religious principles...From this it follows that it is wrong for a public authority to compel its citizens by force or fear or any other means to profess or repudiate any religion or to prevent anyone from joining or leaving a religious body. There is even more serious transgression of God's will and of the sacred rights of the individual person and the family of nations when force is applied to wipe out or repress religion either throughout the whole world or in a single region or in a particular community".
On 12 March 2000 Pope John Paul II prayed for forgiveness because
"Christians have often denied the Gospel; yielding to a mentality of power, they have violated the rights of ethnic groups and peoples, and shown contempt for their cultures and religious traditions"
The documentary evidence speaks clearly and forthrightly that the major denominations have systematically conducted major campaigns of violence against each other and against denominations and faiths outside their own folds. Nothing tell with greater clarity than these bitter and bloody persecutions carried out in the name of Christianity that the churches that gave grown out of these traditions cannot claim to be the continuation of the Church that Jesus Christ formed during his mortal ministry.
That Church by its own actions, and by the actions of those that believe they were and are Christ's that Church re-formed and cleansed have distanced themselves from God and Christ and from the work of salvation.
Christians persecute Jews - The Infamous Blood Libel
The attitude of the Roman Catholic Church towards these accusations and the cults venerating children supposedly killed by Jews has varied over time. The Papacy generally opposed them, although it had problems in enforcing its opposition.
In 1911, the Dictionnaire apologétique de la foi catholique, an important French Catholic encyclopedia, published an analysis of the blood libel accusations. This may be taken as being broadly representative of educated Catholic opinion in continental Europe at that time. The article noted that the popes had generally refrained from endorsing the blood libel, and it concluded that the accusations were unproven in a general sense, but it left open the possibility that some Jews had committed ritual murders of Christians. Other contemporary Catholic sources (notably the Jesuit periodical Civiltà cattolica) promoted the blood libel as truth.
Today, the accusations are almost entirely discredited in Catholic circles, and the cults associated with them have fallen into disfavour. For example, Simon of Trent was deleted from the Calendar of Saints in 1965 and does not appear in the current (2000) edition of the Roman Martyrology.
Pope Innocent IV took action against the blood libel: "5 July 1247 "Mandate to the prelates of Germany and France to annul all measures adopted against the Jews on account of the ritual murder libel, and to prevent accusation of Arabs on similar charges" (The Apostolic See and the Jews, Documents: 492-1404; Simonsohn, Shlomo, pp. 188–189, 193–195, 208). In 1247, he wrote also that "Certain of the clergy, and princes, nobles and great lords of your cities and dioceses have falsely devised certain godless plans against the Jews, unjustly depriving them by force of their property, and appropriating it themselves;... they falsely charge them with dividing up among themselves on the Passover the heart of a murdered boy...In their malice, they ascribe every murder, wherever it chance to occur, to the Jews. And on the ground of these and other fabrications, they are filled with rage against them, rob them of their possessions without any formal accusation, without confession, and without legal trial and conviction, contrary to the privileges granted to them by the Apostolic See... Since it is our pleasure that they shall not be disturbed,... we ordain that ye behave towards them in a friendly and kind manner. Whenever any unjust attacks upon them come under your notice, redress their injuries, and do not suffer them to be visited in the future by similar tribulations" (Catholic Encyclopedia (1910), Vol. 8, pp. 393–394). 
Pope Gregory X (1271–1276) issued a letter which criticized the practice of blood libels and forbade arrests and persecution of Jews based on a blood libel, ... unless which we do not believe they be caught in the commission of the crime.
Pope Paul III, in a bull of 12 May 1540, made clear his displeasure at having learned, through the complaints of the Jews of Hungary, Bohemia and Poland, that their enemies, looking for a pretext to lay their hands on the Jews' property, were falsely attributing terrible crimes to them, in particular that of killing children and drinking their blood.
St. Pius V in the bull Hebraeorum gens (26 February 1569) did not reference blood libel, but he did make multiple accusations against the Jews, including: usury, theft, receiving stolen goods, pimping, divination and magic. He finishes with this accusation: "Finally, we have sufficiently investigated and explored how unworthily this perverse race attacks the name of Christ; how much hated it is by all those who bear that name; and, finally, with what cunning it plots against their lives."
Pope Benedict XIV wrote a bull Beatus Andreas (22 February 1755) in which he does not express any doubt concerning the murders of children ascribed to the Jews. He states they are perpetrated "out of hatred of Christ" and "out of hatred for the Christian faith" in his De servorum Dei beatificatione. In the bull he speaks about determining what is to be done "when there arises a case of this sort, which often comes to be put forward, concerning some boy who was slain by the Hebrews in Holy Week out of hostility to Christ, such as Blessed Simon and Anderl and also many of the other murdered boys whom the authors mention".
Views of Muslims
In late 1553 or 1554, Suleiman the Magnificent, the reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, issued a firman (royal decree) formally denouncing blood libels against the Jews.
In 2003, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram published a series of articles by Osama Al-Baz, a senior advisor to then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Among other things, Osam Al-Baz explained the origins of the blood libel against the Jews. He said that Arabs and Muslims have never been antisemitic, as a group, but accepted that a few Arab writers and media figures attack Jews "on the basis of the racist fallacies and myths that originated in Europe". He urged people not to succumb to "myths" such as the blood libel.
Today, among the educated, the Blood Libel is known to be a hate campaign entirely without foundation. Jews are forbidden by kashrut law to consume blood. When someone decides to vent their hatred on others, even those they do not know, then no lies is so gross that it will not be raised, and the innocent suffer through the ignorance and hatred of those that say they follow Jesus Christ.