NEW YORK (Aug. 30)
The Catholic periodical “Commonweal” edited by laymen differed sharply today with an editorial in “America, “a periodical edited by Jesuit priests, which had warned American Jews that their espousal of bans on prayers in public schools might evoke anti-Semitic reactions.
In its lead editorial of the September 7 issue, “Commonweal” described as “very curious” the editorial in the September 1 issue of “America” which argued that Jewish support of the United States Supreme Court June 25 ruling against use of the New York State Regents prayer in public schools had evoked “disturbing hints of heightened anti- Semitic feelings.”
The “Commonweal” editorial said that if “America” had seen signs of anti-Semitism arising from the legal battle which led to the Supreme Court decision, “we find their method of combatting it very odd and the questions they address to the Jewish community even odder. ” One of those questions was: “When court victories produce only a harvest of fear and distrust, will it all have been worthwhile?”
The “Commonweal” editorial declared that if there was any real danger of anti-Semitism among Catholics, “then it is Catholics who ought to be warned. Indeed, ‘warned’ is too mild a word; they ought to be told as sharply as possible of the sin of any form of anti-Semitism. “
The lay Catholic periodical, a weekly Journal of opinion, declared that the American system of settling disputes by law “would become meaningless if the various minority groups were made to fear any resort to the courts to Judge their claims. “
‘COMMONWEAL’ STAND PRAISED BY REFORM CONGREGATIONS
Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch. issued a statement on behalf of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations congratulating “Commonweal” for its “sensitive and sensible” criticism of the editorial in “America.” The statement said that the lay editors of “Commonweal” reflect the true spirit of religion” better than do the clerical editors of “America. “
“Catholics ought to know, ” Rabbi Hirsch said, “that in the 19th Century it was Catholic parents and Catholic clergy who, time after time, brought suit in the courts against religious practice in the public schools and Catholics ought to know that so-called “secularization of the public schools” came about in great measure as a result of Catholic objections to the Protestant character of the public schools.
The UAHC statement expressed trust that “Commonweal’s sense of objectivity, comprehension of democratic process, and understanding of the nature of religion will prevail and will set the standard for all Americans.”