Church in Poland tells Catholics ‘antisemitism is a sin’ – and condemns ‘indifference’ of some Christians during holocaust
The Catholic Church in Poland has published an open letter
telling members that antisemitism is a ‘sin’, and condemning the ‘indifference…
of a certain section of Christians’ towards the fate of Jews during the Holocaust.
The letter from the Polish
Episcopate. acknowledges the heroism of the majority of Poles,
particularly those who risked their lives to shelter Jews as Nazi Germany
carried out the Holocaust in occupied Poland. Nevertheless, it adds, Jews would
have had even greater support ‘if Christians and Jews had practised religious
brotherhood in the past’.
An extract from the letter
reads: “The Nazi German planned Holocaust, carried out largely in occupied
Poland, was a great shock to Christians. The memory of the Holocaust is
both an accusation and a challenge. The barbaric judgment of the Jewish people
sometimes met with indifference from a certain section of Christians. The fate
of the Jews in the twentieth century has been deeply marked by suffering
The letter recalls
the Nostra Aetate declaration of the Second Vatican
Council, in October 1965. It was shortly before this that reference to ‘perfidis Judaeis’ was
completely purged from the Catholic Good Friday Prayer.
The bishops who signed the
letter wrote: “Nostra Aetate has become a real breakthrough in the relationship
between Christians and Jews. It paved the way for the purification of memory,
in the name of truty, about the ties [between Jews and Christians] that often
were not seen in the past… which led to mutual hostility”.
The letter also cites the
Polish Pope, John Paul II, noting that he said:
“Whoever meets Jesus Christ meets Judaism also. This means that the Jewish
religion is not external for Christians, but internal. Exploring the mystery of
the Church leads to the encounter with Jews, who are partakers of the covenant
which god made in the past”.
The bishops state clearly:
“Anti-Judaism and antisemitism are sins against [the commandment to] love thy
neighbour… and therefore cannot be ameliorated by cultural, political or
ideological factors in which antisemitism occurred in the past”.
For Catholics, say the bishops:
“Confessing the sin of antisemitism is the mature fruit of repentance and faith
in the Gospel. It emerges from the deepest religious and moral sources of