Catholic Calls on Christian Leaders to Uproot Anti-semitic Attitudes

A leading Roman Catholic writer and editor said today “The battle against Christian anti-Semitism, conscious and unconscious, is not yet won” and called upon Christian leaders to take action to uproot the anti-Semitic attitudes that still pervade the world. Mrs. Clair Huchet Bishop of France, spoke at a symposium of 60 Christian and Jewish theologians and scholars convened by the American Jewish Committee to mark the publication by Holt, Rinehart and Winston of the English translation of “Jesus and Israel” by the late Professor Jules Isaac, which was originally published in 1948 in French. The book is credited with having influenced Pope John XXIII and Vatican Council II to reject the charge of collective Jewish guilt for the crucifixion. Mrs. Bishop declared that 2,000 years of Christian anti-Semitic teachings were not going to be eliminated overnight and stated that Christian acts today continue to reflect the result of this conditioning. To illustrate her point she asked, “Where were the Christians during the Six-Day War? Has not Oberammergau played to capacity audiences, mostly American, in 1950, 1960 and 1970? Why was there in 1970 a World Conference of Christians for Palestine where only Arabs were heard and not Jews?” Mrs. Bishop, whom Dr. Isaac had called his “spiritual heir,” is the editor of the English translation of “Jesus and Israel.” She had spent 20 years seeking to find a publisher for the English translation of the book that many hold to be responsible for the revision of textbooks used in Catholic and Protestant church schools to eliminate the teachings of contempt indifference and hostility of Christians toward the Jew.

Other speakers at the symposium included the Rev. Edward W. Flannery, executive secretary of the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations, National Conference of Catholic Bishops; and the Rev Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan, Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Yale Divinity School. Father Flannery, author of the prize-winning study, “The Anguish of the Jews,” said that many anti-Semitic teachings throughout the centuries had been evoked as underpinning for theological doctrine. This “conflict of dogma and history” is not altogether a thing of the past, he said. Dr. Pelikan, author of the multi-volume study on “The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine,” called “Jesus and Israel” “unique among the biblical studies of its time” in that it took seriously “the immediate context of the life and teachings of Jesus.” He added, “From the Sermon on the Mount to the crucifixion, nothing that Jesus said and did is intelligible apart from that Jewish context.” Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, national director of Interreligious Affairs of the AJ Committee, examined the impact of “Jesus and Israel” on the growing international movement of Jewish-Christian understanding. Rabbi Tanenbaum also served as chairman of the symposium. At the press conference and general discussion which preceded the symposium, Father Flannery declared that the problem of anti-Semitism was more important than the problems of the Negro and disinherited or the schism between rich and poor. Anti-Semitism has existed for 2,300 years. It will survive anti-Negroism, he said.

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