“We write as Jewish scholars, religious leaders, and long-time practitioners in Jewish-Christian dialogue, in Israel, America, and Europe, to remind our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church of “the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham’s stock” (Nostra Aetate #4) in a time of distress and anguish for Jews all over the world.”
This is how a letter that was signed by over 400 Jewish rabbis and scholars engaged in Jewish-Christian dialogue and adressed to Pope Francis starts.
“We, Jews of diverse political positions, national belongings and religious backgrounds, are not reaching out to you now as diplomats or politicians. The crisis we are facing transcends politics. Eighty years after the Holocaust, the threats facing Jews are once again truly and plainly existential,” the scholars comment later in the letter.
Taking from the speeches by the Popes and documents issued over the past decades by the Vatican offices, the rabbis and scholars continue:
“Recalling the Church’s “ardent desire for justice” and strong commitment “to ensur[ing] that evil does not prevail over good as it did for millions of the children of the Jewish people” (Pope John Paul II Address on the occasion of a commemoration of the Shoah, 7 April 1994, 3), we ask for the Church’s intervention in ensuring that “the spoiled seeds of anti-Judaism and anti- Semitism [will] never again be allowed to take root in any human heart” (Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah”, 1998). Since remembering “is a condition for a better future of peace and fraternity” (Pope Francis, “General Audience Remarks on Holocaust Remembrance Day”, 2021), we call the Catholic faithful to join us in the memory of the victims of October 7th massacre, to advocate for the release of the kidnapped and hostages, and to acknowledge the vulnerability of the Jewish community at this moment. Above all, we call our Catholic siblings to extend a hand in solidarity to the Jewish community throughout the world, in the spirit of the Church’s “genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant” (Pope John Paul II, Prayer at the Western Wall, 2000), that covenant of which the Catholic Church had taught that it “has never been revoked by God” (cf. 1 Romans 11:29).”
Prof. Adam Afterman, director of our JPII Center, was among the signatories of this open letter and he comments: “The open letter addressed to Pope Francis, and to the Faithful of the Catholic Church, aims to awaken the Holy See and the Catholic Church in general to the fact that we the Jews need the support and help of our Christian brothers. We are standing alone in the face of a terrible torrent of anti-Semitism and I believe that the Holy See and the Church must play a critical role in facing this evil.”
During the Russell Berrie Fellowship, our Fellows were lucky to learn and be trained about history and antisemitism as well as to reflect on how to make any form of racism no more an option in any way in our societies. “The lesson learned in the Holocaust, the lesson that everyone should remember everywhere – Prof. Afterman states – is that we must not remain silent in the face of evil and racism, including antisemitism. I hope that the fact that the letter was signed by more than 400 Jewish leaders, rabbis and academics, many of them known for their role in developing the relationship between the Jewish world and the Church, will encourage the Church to publish a clear and historical statement against what appears to be the worst outburst of antisemitism since the Holocaust.”
You can read the full open letter here