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Two Jewish Organizations Praise Catholic Bishop’s Group for Condemning Passion Play

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Congress today praised a Catholic Bishops’ organization for declaring the 1970 Oberammergau Passion Play “offensive” to both Christians and Jews and a “purveyor of hatred and injustice.” The declaration was issued by the Rev. Edward H. Flannery, executive secretary of the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Inter religious Affairs, The ADL and the AJ Congress, in a Joint statement, called it “a sensitive and objective analysis of a long-standing vehicle of injustice not only to Jews but to Christian scripture as well.” Dr. Joseph L. Lichten, national director of the ADL’s Intercultural Affairs Department, additionally called the Flannery statement “a straightforward stand against an unhappy source of anti-Jewish bias,” and said he hoped it would expedite “long-called-for changes not only in the Oberammergau play but in others like it produced in this country.”

Phil Baum, assistant director of the AJ Congress, said, “The statement will caution potential audiences to view such plays in the spirit of Vatican II. We are aware that there already have been hundreds of cancellations to the Oberammergau performances from all over the world. We are confident that the Secretariat statement will induce many more Americans to reconsider their attendance at a spectacle that is so dubious morally, artistically and religiously.” The two Jewish organizations said the Oberammergau play, despite revisions and a disclaimer of anti-Jewish Intent, “remains deeply hostile to Jews and Judaism.” The Rev. Flannery, who is also co-chairman of the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University, South Orange, N.J., Issued his statement over the weekend.

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