Bishops call for action against anti-Semitism

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Mgr. Karl Berg, Archbishop of Salzburg and President of the Austrian Bishops' Conference

Austria       17/07/1987

Expressing concern over the desecration of graves in Jewish cemeteries and anti-Semitic graffiti, Mgr. Karl Berg, Archbishop of Salzburg and President of the Austrian Bishops' Conference, issued the following statement on 17th July 1987:

"The Austrian bishops view the recent manifestations of an evidently latent anti-Semitism in Austria with deep regret and serious concern. This revival of anti-Semitism surely is caused by a minority of Austrians — hopefully a tiny one. But also a small minority can bring upon themselves great guilt. In view of the indescribable pain national socialism has brought upon millions of human beings of Jewish belief and Jewish descent, no one in our country may ignore these alarm signals. As chairman of the Austrian bishops' conference, I vehemently reject, in solidarity with Jewish fellow citizens, the injustice done to them by summary charges and polemics as well as personal attacks.

I do this with the same determination displayed by the Austrian bishops only recently against the summary judgment passed without proof against the Austrian Federal President Kurt Waldheim. Animosity or even hatred against Judaism is in complete contradiction to the Christian understanding of the personal dignity of every human being. No form of anti-Semitism can have a claim in Christian motives.

In the last decades the Catholic Church of our country has taken numerous steps (recognized internationally as examples) in order to open the path for a deeper Christian understanding of the values of Judaism and for a brotherly relationship between Christians and Jews. These efforts were backed by the decisions of the Second Vatican Council and the declarations and gestures of the popes, John Paul II in particular. The Council, the Popes and the Church in Austria were and still are aware of the guilt Christians bear concerning Jews in the course of history.

I invite our Jewish fellow citizens to fight anti-Semitism together with Austrian Christians, bishops included. The more Jews and Christians are united in rejecting such a disastrous spirit and in denouncing any form of hatred, the less anti-Semitism will be able to set foot in Austria."

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