A German cardinal has called for stronger social commitment and cohesion in the face of resurgent antisemitism in Germany and Europe.
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Cardinal Reinhard Marx was speaking Sunday evening at a panel discussion at the Catholic Academy in Berlin originally slated to discuss the theme: ‘Has Europe Become Old, Tired and Anemic?’
Because of the recent Nazi shooting in Halle, however, the topic of conversation changed to anti-Semitism.
Present with Marx on the German Bishops and Orthodox Jews-sponsored panel were North Rhine-Westphalia Chief Minister, Armin Laschet, and Central Council of Jews in Germany head, Josef Schuster.
Also taking part were European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, and Rabbi Julian-Chaim Soussan, of the Orthodox Rabbi Conference in Germany.
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Marx, President of the German Bishops’ Conference, revealed he was “very worried” about a society in which 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 anti-Semitism”.
“Anti-Semitism is an attack on us all! Christians and Jews will never separate again”, insisted Marx.
“That, too, must be clear in our training centers. We need experience and sensitivity in this field”.
The cardinal, who is also Archbishop of Munich and Freising and one of Pope Francis’ closest advisors, decried the occasional Catholic complicity in the resurgence of anti-Semitic hate.
“Much has been achieved” through the Second Vatican Council Declaration on interfaith dialogue Nostra aetate, Marx explained, though he decried:
“Sometimes I am surprised how much ignorance there is in our own ranks concerning the relationship to the other religions”.
“We can not be Christians without the Jews. Without the Jewish tradition of the Old Testament we could not understand Jesus”, the cardinal emphasised, warning that some Christians still don’t seem to have internalised that fact.
“We, Jews and Christians, are bound together… That should be clear to the parishes”, Marx stressed, before recalling:
“Jesus was a Jew, until the end. He never became a Catholic”.
For the record
In his remarks, Central Council of Jews in Germany head Schuster set out what is needed to fight anti-Semitism today:
“What we need [to combat anti-Semitism] is very cost-effective: we need the courage of each and every one of us. Civil courage can change our country”.
“We all have to stand up to oppose any anti-Semitic hate speech”, European Commission Anti-Semitism Coordinator von Schnurbein agreed.
“The highly complex situation in Europe makes it necessary to agree on common standards – including the definition of anti-Semitism”.
North Rhine-Westphalia Chief Minister Laschet insisted on the need “to convey a culture of remembrance”, and said teaching children empathy was a key “investment in the future” to that end.
Rabbi Soussan, for his part, called for the strengthening of the “consensus of the social and political centre” against anti-Semitism: “a centre that agrees on democracy and values”, he explained.