Churches condemn anti-Semitism

By on January 1, 2004

Concerned by an “alarming increase of anti-Semitism in Canada,” leaders of nine Christian churches in Canada ? including the Anglican Church of Canada ? have urged religious communities and Canadians in general to resist violence against Jewish people, holy places and cemeteries.

“We challenge all churches, parishes, congregations and people of good will to find ways and means to expose and eradicate anti-Semitism within and from Canadian society,” the church leaders said in an open letter. Among those who signed the statement were Archbishop Michael Peers, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; Archbishop Brendan O’Brien, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops; Commissioner M. Christine MacMillan of the Salvation Army and Bishop Peter Short, moderator of the United Church of Canada. The letter was released to coincide with the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights last Dec. 10 and the beginning of Hanukkah on Dec. 20.

Rabbi Reuven Bulka, Canadian Jewish Congress chair of religious and interreligious affairs, welcomed the release of the statement saying, “the expressed determination by church signatories to systematically combat anti-Semitism across Canada in both word and deed is especially timely and resonates positively with all Canadians.” The statement 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.”

Rabbi Bulka also noted that the statement had expressed “an appreciation of the Jewish community’s significant contribution to Canada and an unequivocal affirmation of Judaism’s vigor and inspirational power not only for its adherents but also for other believers.” The two-page statement had noted that many Christian churches in Canada “are fully aware of and deeply grateful for the Jewish roots of our faith traditions” and expressed “unqualified gratitude for the gifts of the Jewish people to world civilization in general and Canadian society in particular.”

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