VIENNA (Jul. 28)
On the eve of his retirement, Austrian Bishop Reinhold Stecher has banned an anti-Semitic cult that worships a small child said to have been ritually murdered by Jews during the Middle Ages.
Stecher’s liberal positions have been acknowledged and in some cases honored by Jewish organizations.
He imposed the ban in the name of Austria’s Roman Catholic church to ensure that his successor, who may be of a more conservative bent, complies with the decree, which has the full weight of church law.
For more than 500 years, the Catholic inhabitants of Rinn, a small community set in the mountains outside Innsbruck, have worshiped the bones of a 3-year-old said to have been tortured and sacrificed by wandering Jews.
The so-called blood libel, used throughout the Middle Ages as a pretext for the persecution of Jews, “cost innumerable Jews their homes, wealth, freedom, health and life,” Stecher said in his decree.
The decree denied that Jews ever took part in ritual murders, adding, “This was a terrible superstition all over Europe.”