German Cardinal: Antisemitism is an attack on us all

Archbishop of Munich and Freising says "Christians and Jews will never separate again," in the face of new antisemitism

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November 4, 2019 17:26
2 minute read.
German Cardinal: Antisemitism is an attack on us all

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, chairman of the German Bishop's Conference holds a news conference in Berlin, Germany, October 16, 2019. (photo credit: MICHELE TANTUSSI / REUTERS)

A prominent German cardinal of the Catholic Church has pledged that Jews and Christians will stand together in the fight against rising antisemitism in the country.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who is chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference and serves as the archbishop of Munich and Freising, said on Sunday night that “Christians and Jews will never separate again,” in the face of new antisemitism.

He made the comments during a panel discussion on antisemitism at the Catholic Academy in Berlin hosted by the German Bishops’ Conference and the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference of Germany.

Among prominent figures who attended were Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission coordinator on combating antisemitism; Armin Laschet, prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia; and Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

A statement released by the German Bishops’ Conference quoted Marx as calling for stronger social commitment and better cohesion in society “in the face of resurgent antisemitism in Germany and Europe.”

He stressed that he was “very worried” about the direction society is heading because there are “more and more blogs and ideologies from people that cannot be taught, who indulge in conspiracy theories and soon unite as a sounding board for... slogans of antisemitism.”

Marx went on to explain that the religious component of antisemitism is also playing a role in its rise.

He questioned whether aspects of theological understanding between Christians and Jews should be more integrated into the priestly and rabbinical training.

“Antisemitism is an attack on us all! Christians and Jews will never separate again,” he added. “That, too, must be clear in our training centers. We need experience and sensitivity in this field.”

Schuster explained that the recent events in Halle “had consumed the Jewish community and led them into uncertainty.”

He said that in the last few years, making antisemitic comments has been made possible, which is “something that would not have happened a few years ago,” adding that “that’s a move of redlines.”

He also slammed the Berlin prosecution for releasing the suspect who attempted to enter a synagogue wielding a knife last month.

Schuster added that the many expressions of solidarity was “a hopeful sign.

“What we need [to combat antisemitism] is very cost-effective: we need the courage of each and every one of us. Civil courage can change our country,” the Jewish leader continued. “Through this a lot would be achieved.”

Von Schnurbein made it clear that “every generation is obliged” to fight antisemitism and encouraged organization to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism.

“We all have to stand up to oppose any antisemitic hate speech,” she said. “The highly complex situation in Europe makes it necessary to agree on common standards – including the definition of antisemitism.”

She also stressed the importance of educating law enforcement officers about the different forms of antisemitism.
For Laschet, empathy was needed to reach children and adolescents “to convey a culture of remembrance.”

He said that teaching children and teenagers empathy is “an investment in the future.”

He advocated for religion to be practiced in public as well.

“Religion must take place in public space, otherwise there will soon be a radical secularization,” he said. “If we stop talking about religion – from the kindergarten – then one will no longer understand religious symbols and talking about religion will become even more difficult.”


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