A statement by William P. Thompson, president of the National Council of Churches (NCC), that Archbishop Valarian Trifa of the Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate could not be constitutionally removed or suspended by the NCC’s governing board, sparked two separate actions within the last few days.
Thirty-five members of Concerned Jewish Youth took over the executive offices here of the NCC for more than six hours Thursday and left only after receiving a promise that their complaint over the church group’s stand would be placed on the NCC’s staff meeting agenda Wednesday. In a related action, the Rabbinical Council of America expressed dismay that Trifa, who has been accused of participating in the murder of thousands of Jews and Christians while a commander of the Rumanian fascist Iron Guard in 1941, has not been removed or suspended.
The CJY demonstrators, under the leadership of Rabbi Avraham Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdaly, NY, were promised that up to eight members of their group would be permitted to attend Wednesday’s meeting and that a substantive response would then be forthcoming. The CJY, which is not connected with Betar, contrary to a previous report, disrupted a meeting of the governing board of the NCC a week earlier and shouted demands for the removal of Trifa. That demonstration, at which the CJY was joined by members of Betar and at which the Jewish Defense League also became involved, and the latest one were non-violent.
The Rabbinical Council stated in a resolution adopted unanimously by its executive board that Trifa’s presence on the NCC governing board “is bound to weaken whatever moral leadership the National Council (of Churches) wishes to exercise.”
Thompson, in his statement, noted that investigations by the U.S. immigration authorities and by the Orthodox Church in America failed to substantiate war crimes charges against him. Declaring that the NCC board was not a court. Thompson said Trifa must be presumed innocent until proved guilty.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.