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Catholic Theologian Sees End of Christian Religious Anti-semitism

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A leading Catholic theologian foresees the disappearance of Christian religious anti-Semitism and Vatican recognition of Israel. The prediction was made by the Rev. Edward H. Flannery, executive secretary of the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the U.S. Bishops Conference, in an essay in the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith interreligious quarterly “Face to Face.” The issue, entitled “Jewish-Christian Relations: Looking to the Twenty-First Century.” features the views of Catholics, Protestants and Jews who have been prominent in the Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Father Flannery anticipates that “anti-Semitism of a religious or theological kind will be the first to disappear, leaving the field to secular or a religious varieties.” He said that for Christian churches, “which contributed so potently to the creation and growth of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism,” to be among the first to repudiate it is “a historical reversal.” He described the principal forms of anti-Semitism today as being “completely laicized, such as those found in Soviet Russia, the Middle East, fascist parties and some ‘liberal’ ideologies” These varieties, he continued, “live an existence of their own, independent of all religious sustenance, and are impervious to all ecclesiastical influence or effort.”

ROOTS IN NEW TESTAMENT

Dr. David R. Hunter, formerly deputy general secretary of the National Council of Churches, stated that a major obstacle to eliminating anti-Semitism is the root of the prejudice in the New Testament and the writings of such revered leaders as St. John Chrysostom and Martin Luther. Commenting that this has been “a paralyzing force.” he observed that “it will probably take another John XXIII, supported by a non-temporizing Curia, a courageous World Council of Churches, and a host of faithful lay people around the world really to change the course of history and finally remove the religious sanctions for anti-Semitism.”

Dr. Franklin H. Littell, founder of Christians Concerned for Israel, called for a fundamental reexamination of Christian theology in the light of the Holocaust and a returned Israel. He went on to pose questions about the credibility of Christianity after 6,000,000 Jews were murdered by baptized Christians, whether or not Jesus could be considered a “false Messiah” and, “if Jesus is the true Messiah, where are the signs of the Messianic age?”

Prof. Michael Wsychogrod, of Baruch College, urged that Christianity “not lose its self-confidence” in the next century because of “a sense of horror at Christian anti-Semitism.” which, he noted, is at times “the result not so much of compassion at the suffering of Jews” as using the Jewish issue to injure the church. He said Nazism and Communism are the two greatest enemies of Jews and Judaism in this century and are also “the most virulent anti-Christian forces.”

According to Wsychogrod, “while Jewish existence under Christian rule left much to be desired, Jewish existence under anti-Christian rule far, far worse. The continuation of hiring Christianity is vital to Jews.”

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