An Italian bishop has decried Catholic anti-Semitism, recalling that “Jesus was Jewish in every respect, as were Mary, Joseph and the apostles”.

Driving the news

“We are all – as Pius XI said in very tragic times – spiritually Semites”, Ambrogio Spreafico, the President of the Italian Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, told SIR on the occasion today, January 16, of the day the Italian Church dedicates every year to Catholic-Jewish dialogue.

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It was under Pope Pius XI that the Weimar Republic transitioned into Nazi Germany, but Spreafico was careful to point out that with his reference to Pope Ratti he didn’t mean to say fascist times were making a comeback – necessarily.

Even with the figures the Italian Bishops’ Conference published for the Catholic-Jewish day today, which pointed to the fact that anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi sentiments are on the rise both in the real and virtual worlds, in this last to the tune of nearly 400,000 anti-Semitic posts online every year. 

“I hope not “, Spreafico, the Bishop of Frosinone, said when asked when the times of Pius XI were returning.

“I trust that Europe has learned the lesson of the tragedy of war: over 70 million dead, 6 million Jews exterminated, along with 500,000 gypsies, political opponents, priests and many others.

“My deepest hope is the preservation of the living memory of those tragic events, but preserving it today entails to avoid reverting back to a mentality of exclusion of our fellow other.

“Anti-Semitism is the most tragic manifestation of a form of exclusion that in our society is expressed in the hatred of strangers, intolerance of immigrants, racism, rejection of the weakest, the poorest, the elderly”, the prelate continued.

“Indeed, there are many forms of exclusion in our world. Far too many”.

What’s next

Looking ahead to Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, Spreafico said that “remembrance is fundamental to keep alive the memory of the past and to understand the present in which we live.

“It also serves to provide a vision for our future”, the bishop explained, warning however that “remembrance is not nostalgia”.

“Remembrance is something we cherish deep inside, it enables us to better understand the suffering of others, the hurting of the world, the neglect of our elderly, the exclusion of the poor. It allows us to understand that we must fight for a future in which we can live together in peace with one another”, Spreafico concluded.

Next on Novena:

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Italian far-right politician criticised for insulting Holocaust survivor, insisting “Jesus was not a Jew”

Pope rails against “Nazi”-like homophobia, anti-Semitism

Pope stresses anti-Semitism “isn’t human or Christian”

French priest investigating Nazi mass killings in Europe: “Holocaust deniers are getting stronger”

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.