A Jewish gravestone defaced in the town of Olkusz, Poland.
(photo credit: MONITORING CENTRE FOR RACIST AND XENOPHOBIC BEHAVIOR)
The Polish Episcopate has declared Anti-Semitism is a sin just ahead of the 50th anniversary of the issuance of a Papal proclamation that revolutionized Catholic- Jewish relations.
According to Radio Poland, the local branch of the Church issued a pastoral letter asserting that “anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism are sins against the love of thy neighbor” and that “Christian-Jewish dialogue must never be treated as ‘the religious hobby,’” but rather “should increasingly become part of the mainstream of pastoral work.”
The letter admitted that the Nazi genocide of Jews on Polish soil was “sometimes met with indifference among certain Christians” and that “if Christians and Jews had practiced religious brotherhood in the past, more Jews would have found help and support from Christians.”
“The love of thy neighbor, and the spiritual bond with our older brothers in the faith obliges us to care for the places that bear witness to the centuries-long presence of Jews in Poland and the memory of their contribution to the culture of our multi-national and multi-religious country,” the letter stated.
Wednesday will mark 50 years since Pope Paul VI issued the Nostra Aetate, which stated that “God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers” and absolved the Jews from culpability in the death of Jesus.
“True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today… Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures,” that document read.
The newest Catholic overture was met warmly by Poland’s chief rabbi.
“The statement of the Polish Episcopate condemning anti-Semitism as a sin is a clear and important declaration of moral and historic value not only for Poland but for Europe and beyond,” Rabbi Michael Schudrich told The Jerusalem Post.
“I am not surprised as the Polish Episcopate, especially in the last several years, has been increasingly vocal in not only fighting anti-Semitism but also in encouraging their followers to study Judaism and to protect Jewish cemeteries and sites around Poland. At a time when the UN can consider that perhaps the Kotel HaMa’aravi (Western Wall) is not Jewish or that Jews defending themselves against knife attacks are called aggressors, the statement of the Polish Episcopate is that much more significant and important. May all of Poland and the world hear the clear and moral voice of the Polish Episcopate.”
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