Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal today said Catholics and Jews continue to cooperate to improve relations.
On her remarks on the “Importance of Catholic-Jewish Partnerships and the Crucial Need for Tolerance Education,” Ms. Rosenthal said she values her partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and support the work they do to combat anti-Semitism.
“Over the past several decades, various Catholic leaders and organizations have assisted Jews and Jewish causes. For example, in 2002, Milan’s then-Archbishop Carlo Maria Martini created a Holocaust memorial at the site of a secret track connected to Milan’s Central Train Station which was used to deport Italian Jews to Auschwitz during World War II. The Catholic organization, Sant’Edidio, discovered this site, which is now called “Memoriale della Shoah di Milano”. This act symbolizes good deeds Catholics have done for Jews.” -Ms. Rosenthal
Ms. Rosenthal commended the Catholic Church for decrying anti-Semitism. She said since the Second Vatican Council in 1965, which officially declared that Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus, there has been more positive discourse between Catholics and Jews.
She stated that Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the claim when he recently stated that there was no basis for the accusation that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death.
“Last year, the United States Embassy to the Holy See organized an international conference on interfaith action to address global challenges, featuring panelists from each of the Abrahamic faiths.” -MS. Rosenthal
She stated that the ADL has also recently hosted an interfaith conference between Jews and Catholics to identify ways to end anti-Semitic statements from religious leaders, primarily in Eastern Catholic Churches. She said these efforts encourage people to take action, and form partnerships.
“As the President’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, I am charged with both monitoring anti-Semitic incidents and combating such intolerance. My approach to combating anti-Semitism is not just to preach to the choir, so to speak, but to join in partnership with non-Jews in condemning it – government, civil society, international institutions, business leaders, labor unions, and media.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She believed that it is more effective when a non-Jew condemns anti-Semitism as it is when she, a Jew, condemn hatred of Christians, Muslims, or other vulnerable religious groups.
Ms. Rosenthal emphasized that anti-Semitism is not History, it is News. She said more than six decades after the end of the Second World War, anti-Semitism is still alive and well, and evolving into new, contemporary forms of religious hatred, racism, and political, social and cultural bigotry.
She highlighted that one way to combat anti-Semitism is through education. She pointed out that it is critical to teach lessons of history and lessons of tolerance. She stressed that efforts to teach about Judaism in Catholic institutions have opened lines of communication and increased dialogue between our two groups.
“Catholic textbooks have changed significantly in the post-Vatican II era, promoting a positive view of Jews and Judaism.” -Ms. Rosenthal
Ms. Rosenthal underscored that she is a strong proponent of interfaith dialogue and action.
“We can affect change by working together to combat hatred and promote acceptance, respect and tolerance among all people.” -Ms. Rosenthal