Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 15, 2003
Hatred worries leaders
Church leaders speak out against anti-Semitism
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Nine Church leaders in Canada have committed themselves to confront anti-Semitism on every front and are challenging Canadians to "expose and eradicate anti-Semitism across the country within and from Canadian society."
In a letter coinciding with the Dec. 10 anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Dec. 20 beginning of Hanukah, leaders of the largest national churches acknowledged their "unqualified gratitude for the gifts of the Jewish people to world civilization in general and Canadian society in particular."
Among those signing the letter were Archbishop Brendan O'Brien, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and leaders of the Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran and United churches.
The leaders called on Canadians to "exercise the greatest diligence on behalf of our Jewish friends and neighbours, that when they come under attack, and their sacred places desecrated, that they find true solidarity in establishing security and in redressing wrong."
The letter from the nine leaders of the 17 member-churches of the Canadian Council of Churches also acknowledged "with sadness, regret and shame, historic persecution of the Jews," often inflicted by Christians, and invited a response of solidarity whenever Jews come under attack in Canada or their sacred places are desecrated.
Anti-Semitism in Canada is showing an "alarming increase" and is taking many forms, including violence against Jewish persons and the desecration of holy places and cemeteries, the leaders said.
"We have become alerted to this resurgent evil through our own witness, through the media, and through the concern of others," including the courts, they added.
"We must not be silent."