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Catholic Nun Says ‘don’t Go to Oberammergau’

A Catholic nun is urging people not to go to the West German village of Oberammergau in Bavaria this summer to see the “Passion Play.” “To go would be to participate in a play more of prejudice than of piety,” Sister Mary Jo Leddy of Toronto wrote in a column recently in the Toronto Star.

Oberammergau “has become a place of prejudice rather than of piety,” she wrote. “Why? Because of the anti-Semitic content of the play produced there. Hitler himself recognized this. The play was a favorite of his. He believed the drama provided the religious underpinning for his racist anti-Jewish policies.”

Ever since 1634, the people of Oberammergau have kept a promise made at the time when their village was threatened by a plague “to keep the tragedy of the passion (of Jesus) every 10 years.”

Leddy, a member of a Catholic monastic order, Sister of Sion, who on May 3 will receive the Ida Nudel Humanitarian Award from the Committee for Soviet Jewry, Ontario Region, stated in her column:

“It has taken the murder of six million Jews for Christian theologians to recognize the implications of what has always been the dominant theme of the Oberammergau production: The evil Jews crucified Christ the good. Unfortunately, this play never ended when the final curtain fell. The next acts were played out in reality. The presentation of Jews as Christ killers has, throughout the centuries, served to legitimize the crucifiction of Jews — by Christians.”

1984 VERSION HAS ONLY COSMETIC CHANGES

During the last 20 years, Christian and Jewish groups “have labored long and hard to correct the distortions present in the Oberammergau production, and there has been some progress,” Leddy wrote. “The 1980 production was less obviously anti-Semitic.” But, she added, while the Bishops of Bavaria have expressed their desire to have changes implemented, “the producers of the 1984 play have made only cosmetic changes.”

Concluding her column, entitled “Don’t go to Oberammergau,” Leddy stated: “The Oberammergau play is a significant example of a kind of popular Christian teaching which has resulted in the belief that the only good Jew is a crucified Jew. This teaching must change. It is not only a question of the justice which Jews deserve. It is also a question of the salvation of the soul of Christianity.”

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