Catholic University Center Starts Drive Against Anti-semitism

The John XXIII Center for Eastern Christian Studies at Fordham University started this weekend a nationwide campaign to combat anti-Semitism among Catholics at the grass roots level.

A series of six 16-page pamphlets were issued by the Catholic university center for the campaign. The pamphlets describe in detail the history of Christian persecution of Jews, term such activities as “sinful” and present in laymen’s language the condemnation by the Second Vatican Council of anti-Semitism. The pamphlets will be distributed in parishes and parochial schools in all parts of the United States.

The Rev. Edward Flannery, a Jesuit who is editorial director of the series and a member of the United States ‘Bishops’ Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish relations, said the purpose of the campaign was to “interpret the Church’s opposition to anti-Semitism at the grass roots level.” He added that the Center would seek to have the material used in Catholic schools and homes “in every diocese” in the United States.

He revealed that the first printing is 250,000 sets. Each booklet is printed in color and contains many illustrations. Each set sells for 25 cents. The history of Christian persecution of Jews was described by Father Flannery as “the page that has been torn out of Christian history books.” “If we are to understand and talk realistically with Jews then these historical facts have to be out on the table for all to see,” he declared.

A booklet discussing the morality of anti-Semitism calls it “many times a sin.” Other booklets tell how Christianity had its roots in Judaism and how the church developed out of the synagogue. The Rev. George A. Maloney, a member of the Center staff, said nine bishops and archbishops had given specific approval to the use of the pamphlets in their dioceses. They include the Most Rev. John J. Wright, Bishop of Pittsburgh, and the Most Rev. John P. Cody, Archbishop of Chicago.

A spokesman for Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York, said it was not the Archdiocese policy to give specific approval to such publications but that this was not necessary because the booklets already have an imprimatur, or formal approval. He said also he hoped that the series would achieve “its intended purpose of better understanding between Christians and Jews.”

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