Pope St. John Paul II made history in 1986 when he visited Rome’s synagogue. Elio Toaff, the chief rabbi of Rome during the time, called the Holy Father’s visit a “gesture destined to go down in history” and a “true turning point in the policy of the church.”
During his visit, John Paul II described the Jewish people as “our elder brothers” and stated that any acts or attitudes of anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated.
Over the past several weeks, the evil specter of anti-Semitism has reappeared in New York. We as a Catholic people cannot abide this. It is a wound on the world, hurting the people from which the Lord physically descended. Thus, in many ways, anti-Semitism causes a wound on the Body of Christ.
Bishop James Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton, Pa., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenism, released the following statement:
“The recent attack on a kosher market in Jersey City, alongside many other recent hateful and at times violent actions, has highlighted the importance of, once again, publicly condemning any and all forms of anti-Semitism whether in thought, word or action. The past has taught us silence and passivity can result in the advancement of the worst crimes humanity can commit.
“The Catholic Church has an irrevocable commitment to the Jewish community.
“This commitment is clear and straightforward: anti-Semitism is anti-Christian and should not be tolerated in any form. At the Second Vatican Council, in ‘Nostra Aetate’ … the Catholic Church articulated, ‘Mindful of the inheritance she shares with the Jews, the Church decries hatreds, persecutions and manifestations of anti-Semitism directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.’
“We offer our prayerful support for all victims of anti-Semitic violence and their families. It is our hope that through continued respectful collaboration and dialogue with our Jewish brothers and sisters, Catholics will help build a culture that completely rejects anti-Semitism.”
The Catholic people of the Diocese of Brooklyn roundly denounce the ill treatment of the Jewish people and the violence against them. They have the promise of our prayers and our support.
A German Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemöller, wrote the following in 1946:
First they came for the socialists,
and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade
unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me —
and there was no one left
to speak for me.
Pray for the courage to stand up to anti-Semitism, in the name of Christ Jesus.