MADRID (Jan. 16)
For the first time in centuries, the Catholic Church in Spain is taking concrete steps to improve relations between Catholics and Jews, it was revealed here today by Max Mazin, president of the Madrid Jewish Community.
As a result of disclosures during the Adolf Eichmann trial in Israel, indicating that many Nazis, pro-Nazis and former Nazis had taken refuge in Spain, Mr, Mazin said he discussed Catholic-Jewish relations here with Monsignor Lahiguera, Deputy-Bishop of Madrid. “The Monsignor, ” said Mr. Mazin “showed great interest in the problems, and expressed his desire to cooperate, From then on, joint Christian-Jewish initiatives have multiplied,”
Growing out of the discussions with the Deputy Bishop, Mr. Mazin said, have been a series of meetings between leading Jews here and the Propaganda Popular Catolica, PPC issued a pamphlet, sharply criticizing “teaching of contempt” against Jews, and declaring:
“In no way can a Christian reproach the entire Jewish people for the assassination of Christ, A series of false, anti-Christian ideas, unfortunately persisting up to our days, have supplied a pretext to commit thousands of horrors against the God-chosen people. “
Twenty thousand copies of the pamphlet were sold in the first few days after its publication, and a second printing was issued, said Mr. Mazin. Later, a Christian-Jewish Action Group, called “Amistad Judeo-Christiana, ” was organized. The group adopted a program aimed at eradication of prejudice against Jews and the promotion of mutual understanding among Christians and Jews.
The executive board of the new organization includes a representative of the Bishop of Madrid, the Mother Superior of the Order of Our Lady of Zion, Mazin and Louis Blitz, honorary president of the Madrid Jewish Community.
“In my opinion, ” Mr. Main said, “this new attitude of the Spanish clergy, which finds inspiration and support also in the spirit animating Pope John XXIII toward the Jews, is one of the most important and encouraging events in the history of Christian -Jewish relations in this land. “
There are 3, 500 Jews in Spain today, about a third of them living in this city, with the majority in Barcelona, while others are dispersed throughout the country. Nearly all of the Jews in Spain arrived between World Wars I and II, but some came during and after World War II. There are two autonomous Jewish religious communities — Sep-hardic and Ashkenazi. In this city, the two groups hold Joint Sabbath services. In Barcelona, each of the groups has its own synagogues.