Pax Christi International strongly denounces the anti-Semitic tensions in our societies and worldwide. Anti-Semitism or hatred of Jews is condemnable and unacceptable. Pax Christi International stands for the human rights of all individuals and of all peoples. The roots of human rights are to be found in the dignity that belongs to each human being.

The peace movement has always paid great attention to cooperation and dialogue between the different confessions and religions, especially in the pursuit of justice and peace and a greater respect of diverging religious identities. Pax Christi International is committed to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and cooperation. An important point of reference is the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church.

In his teachings, Pope John Paul II greatly emphasized the existence of “sinful structures” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis 37 and 36) and it is not at all difficult to see that anti-Semitism is such a structure.

We as Christian peacemakers must actively challenge this sinful structure and refuse to participate in it. As Pope John Paul II wrote in Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 16, we must not only refuse to become a cause of evil but also refuse to remain passive or silent in the face of evil.

Historic examples of good understanding between Christianity and Judaism also existed, there can be no doubt, but more often than not this common history is one of shame.

An exception was Pax Christi International co-founder French Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas (1894-1977), who was one of the few members of the French Bishops’ Conference who during World War II publicly and fearlessly denounced the anti-Semitic legislation of the collaborationist Vichy government.

In a pastoral letter Bishop Théas wrote: “I give voice to the outraged protest of Christian conscience, and I proclaim … that all men, whatever their race or religion, have the right to be respected by individuals and by states…” (1942). Also, the Bishop was instrumental in saving Jewish lives and on July 8, 1969, Yad Vashem recognized Théas as “Righteous Among the Nations”.

Bishop Théas was arrested in 1944. While in a prison camp at Compiègne, prisoners asked him to lead them in prayer and reflection. He chose to preach on “Love your enemies” and suggested that all should pray for their guards. Prison gave Bishop Théas an insight into how difficult and demanding true reconciliation between enemies really is.

It is in his memory that Pax Christi International wants to denounce anti-Semitism and calls on all believers and all people of good faith to challenge anti-Semitism, to refuse to remain passive or silent in the face of this evil and not to become a cause of evil themselves. Pax Christi International says no to the sinful structure of anti-Semitism.

Originally posted at paxchristi.net

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