Christians are “obliged” to fight anti-Semitism, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx has insisted, adding, in an allusion to the Holocaust, that “we must not… look away again”.
– Congratulations to the Central Council of Jews in Germany on its 70th anniversary
“Not only as citizens, but also as Christians, we are obliged to oppose anti-Jewish prejudices and to stand up against anti-Jewish attacks. We must not and will not look away again”, Marx clamoured in a letter to the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, on the occasion of the Council’s 70th anniversary, which will be celebrated this Sunday.
In his letter, Marx – the Archbishop of Munich and Freising and former president of the German Bishops’ Conference – recalled that the Central Council of Jews was founded on July 19, 1950, a mere five years after the end of the Second World War.
This step to found a federation to bring together Germany’s decimated Jewish communities was “anything but matter-of-course and yet it was necessary, because only in this way Jewish life in institutionalised form became possible again in this country”, Marx wrote.
“It was a sign and a deliberate, courageous decision – despite the horrible history and the many perpetrators who remained untouched – to make Jewish life possible and to organise Jewish life in this country again on a permanent basis”, the cardinal also said of the move to set up the Jewish Central Council, thanking the body for the good relations it maintains with the Catholic Church.
– German Bishops’ chair: “Attacks on Jews are attacks on democracy and coexistence”
Also to mark the 70th anniversary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the current president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of the Limburg diocese, likewise wrote a letter to Council president Schuster in which the prelated affirmed that “attacks on Jews are attacks on democracy and coexistence”.
In his message, Bätzing recalled the essential task of the Jewish organisation – to strengthen the unity of the Jewish community, integrating its different origins, experiences, cultures and religious currents – which in the bishop’s opinion continues to be sorely needed today.
The Limburg bishop also brought to mind the fact that the German Central Council of Jews has recently founded new synagogues, a College of Jewish Studies and two rabbinical seminaries.
Those are all undertakings which, according to Bätzing, “have demonstrated the intellectual and spiritual vitality of Judaism in Germany”.
– “The Catholic Church will continue to stand by you in the fight against anti-Semitism”
Bätzing went on in his message to recall that “in the development of a democratic culture in the country, Jewish voices have played an important role”, drawing public attention to “extremist and anti-Semitic right-wing groups and currents”, which are unfortunately “increasing”.
But at the same time, the bishop encouraged the Council: “Rest assured that the Catholic Church will continue to stand by you in the fight against anti-Semitism”.
Finally, in his letter Bätzing called for a deepening of the “culture of dialogue between Christians and Jews” that has strengthened over the years, so much so that “today there are many intense contacts between bishops and rabbis, Catholic and Jewish institutions and, last but not least, also between the German Bishops’ Conference and the Central Council”.
Today the Central Council of Jews in Germany brings together just over 100 congregations with approximately 95,000 members in total, Schuster said in an interview with Catholic news agency KNA.
Schuster said that the Council sees itself “as a political, not a religious, umbrella organisation” whose goal is to represent Jews vis-à-vis politics, to support communities with services and projects and to act as a mouthpiece for all Jews, whether religious or not.
(With reporting by Vatican News)