NEW YORK (Apr. 6)
Switzerland’s Conference of Catholic Bishops and representatives of the country’s Jewish community have signed a joint declaration condemning anti-Semitism as “a crime against God and humanity.”
The statement is Switzerland’s implementation of the 1990 Prague declaration, according to Michael Kohn, president of the Swiss Jewish community, and is meant to mark increased understanding between Jews and Catholics on the 500th anniversary of the expulsion of Jews from Spain.
The Prague declaration was issued in September 1990 by representatives of the Vatican and the International Jewish Committee on Inter-religious Consultations, the Jewish partner in interfaith dialogue. It states that anti-Semitism is a sin, and that concrete measures must be taken to combat it.
The nine-page Swiss declaration states that “through misguided preaching and catechisms, the Church contributed to the creation of the climate that allowed the murderers of the Nazi regime to carry out their crimes against Jews.”
The joint declaration also stresses the central role of Israel in Judaism and emphasizes that the country’s legitimacy is based not only on the Bible and tradition, but also on international law.
The policies of Israel’s government are open to criticism, like those of any other country, but Christians must accept Israel’s right to exist, the statement says.
Archbishop Joseph Candolfi, chairman of the Swiss Bishops Conference, said that the joint declaration also aims at the general problem of racism and xenophobia when it says that “current racism against Turks, Tamils and black Africans is a dreadful continuation of earlier hatred against Jews.”
With this statement, the Swiss church joins Poland’s Catholic hierarchy in having officially condemned anti-Semitism. Hungary and Czechoslovakia are expected to join that list shortly.