Canadian Prelate Urges Ecumenical Council to Absolve Jewish People

James Cardinal McGuigan, the Archbishop of Toronto, today denounced Christians who regard Jews as responsible for the crucifixion of Christ, and expressed the hope that the next session of the Ecumenical Council would “settle all possible controversy on this point.”

“If there ever was a stain on the conscience of the Christian, it must surely be our scandalously ambiguous attitude toward the Jew,” the Cardinal said in a signed column in the Toronto Telegram. “Christians today are slow to realize that hatred of the Jew has been fostered in a certain type of facile theological reasoning that makes a Jew a Christ-killer, an accursed race rejected by God. It is both injustice and theologically inaccurate to say that blame must be placed on the Jews of Christ’s time and even less on their descendants.”

He added: “This basically un-Christian notion has existed too long in the unspoken level of many a Christian conscience. It is hoped that the second Vatican Council will end all possible controversy on this point in its coming session in September.”

Cardinal McGuigan said that Christians must go farther and “must say that one of the greatest sins against Christ is the sin of anti-Semitism.” “What is asked of Christians, therefore,” he continued, “is something very logical and reasonable. The defense of the Jewish community, the fight for the rights and dignity of the Jew should be, without debate or question, the self-imposed task of the Christian.”

Declaring the Christians “must take the lead in this endeavor,” the Cardinal said that “the re-evaluation that this calls for must and can be done only within the framework of the essential faith of each denomination. This period of re-evaluation has already arrived in Canada, and it will and must spread. It will have far-reaching effects, for the fate of the Jews lies in the hands of the majority of which we Christians are a part.”

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