Anti-Semitism, Christian persecution demand outcry, says dialogue group

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Members of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee said anti-Semitism was still thriving in the world and increasing Christian persecution demanded a stronger outcry.

The dialogue committee, meeting in Warsaw, Poland, 4-7 April, issued a joint declaration saying the current period was a “moment of moral challenge for people of faith.”

“Although the last 50 years have largely seen unprecedented openness between our two communities in many places, not least on the international level, the last few years have witnessed a surge of problematic developments impacting both,” the statement said.

“Anti-Semitism in both speech and action has resurfaced in Europe and elsewhere, and persecution of Christians, most notably in much of the Middle East and parts of Africa, has reached levels not seen in a long time,” it said.

Committee members underlined that “anti-Semitism is real” and being expressed in many different ways. “It is a danger not only to Jews but also to democratic ideals. Improved and revitalized educational programs are necessary to combat it,” the statement said.

It said participants noted “the persecution of Christians has increased every year between 2012 and 2015. They recognized the obligation to raise the consciousness across the world regarding this problem and acknowledged the moral responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless.”

The 23rd meeting of the dialogue committee, which is the forum for dialogue between the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, focused on the concept of “the other” in Jewish and Catholic tradition and refugees.

While Jewish and Christian sacred Scriptures “provide us with a framework for addressing pressing social issues such as the refugee crisis of today,” participants recognized “the tensions between the obligations of love of strangers and the dignity of their creation in God’s image, with concerns for security and fear of change.”

On behalf of the Yad Vashem Memorial to victims of the Holocaust, three Polish Catholics were posthumously recognized during the meeting as “‘Righteous Among the Nations’ for saving Jewish lives during the Shoah, embodying the noblest realization of Catholic-Jewish relations.”

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