NEW YORK (Jul. 14)
The Lutheran World Federation has pledged that the writings of Martin Luther “will never again serve in their churches as a source for the teaching of hatred for Judaism and the denigration of the Jewish people.”
The pledge was made at an international conference, just concluded in Stockholm, on “Martin Luther, the Jews and Anti-Semitism,” a three-day meeting co-sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC). It was the first international meeting of Lutherans and Jews during the year-long observance of Martin Luther’s 500th birthday.
Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee who attended the conference, hailed the Federation’s declaration repudiating “the sins of Luther’s anti-Jewish remarks … and his violent verbal attacks against Jews” as “one of the most significant achievements” of the birthday observances.
A FAR-REACHING AGREEMENT
Tanenbaum, who represented the AJCommittee in Stockholm, noted that the joint communique issued by the Lutheran and Jewish spokesman “also declared the far-reaching agreement that ‘we affirm the integrity of our two faith communities and repudiate any organized proselytizing of each other’.”
It furthermore acknowledged “with deep regret that Luther had been used to justify anti-Semitism and the Nazi period” and that “his writings lent themselves to such abuse.”
In addition, the joint statement paid tribute to “the compassionate response of Scandinavian Christians to the plight of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution.” It characterized the meeting as “a new chapter in the relationship between Jews and Lutherans, which should find practical expression in teaching, preaching, and worship as well as in joint activities for social justice, human rights and the cause of peace.”