World Council of Churches Assembly Issues Call to Fight Anti-semitism

A resounding condemnation of anti-Semitism as “a sin against God and man,” coupled with a call on Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches all over the world to “resist every form of anti-Semitism wherever it is found,” was adopted here last night by the international assembly of the World Council of Churches.

The resolution, repeating a stand taken by the World Council in 1948, called on churches to avoid Christian teachings that fasten upon contemporary Jewry “responsibilities which belong to our corporate humanity” in connection with historic events that led to the crucifixion of Christ.

An amendment referring to the Jews as “God’s chosen people” was deleted prior to the adoption of the resolution by acclamation and applause. Prominent churchmen expressed the fear that the amendment would prevent the Council from issuing that “clear and simple word” against anti-Semitism which, they said, “continues to exist.”

An appeal to the delegates from 198 member church organizations around the world was made by the Rev. Dr. John C. Bennett, dean of faculty at the Union Theological Seminary in New York, warning the assembly that failure to speak out against anti-Semitism clearly “would be a disaster.”

“Anti-Semitism,” said Dr. Bennett, “is a special responsibility of the churches because, for centuries, Christian teachings and Christian symbols have been wrongly used against the Jews. This cannot be taken merely as a race problem. We are dealing with a deposit of centuries of religious feeling against the Jews.” Dr. Bennett pointed out as “significant” the fact that, recently, Pope John XXIII ordered deletion from Catholic liturgy the old reference to “perfidious” Jews.

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