MONDAY
March 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 51
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

SWISS BISHOPS CRITICIZE CATHOLIC OPPOSITION TO NAZI ANTI-SEMITISM
Preview of Swiss Episcopal Declaration

    BERN, MAR 10 (ZENIT.org).- Yesterday, Bishop Kurt Koch of Basel, vice-president of the Swiss Episcopal Conference, announced to the press that on April 14 an episcopal document will be published, stating that the Catholic Church in Switzerland did not do all that was possible to confront the tragedy of Nazi anti-Semitism both before and during the Second World War.

    "More could have been done. The criminal tyranny of National Socialism was not denounced with sufficient clarity," the episcopal text states. The document was written by Catholic members of the Swiss Hebrew-Catholic Dialogue Commission.

    According to Bishop Koch, the entire Swiss Episcopal Conference agrees with the text, which addresses a very painful and delicate chapter in history. The press announcement was made 3 days before John Paul II pronounces a petition for forgiveness in the Vatican Basilica for faults committed in the past by the Church's children.

    At this moment in time, an analysis of the Swiss document, entitled "Declaration of the Swiss Episcopal Conference on the Attitude of the Catholic Church in Switzerland to the Jewish People during the Second World War and Today," would be premature, as the final version is still in progress. But some paragraphs have been published, giving an idea of the general tenor of the document.

    There is an acknowledgment that too little was done to protect the refugees. In addition, there was passivity and fear that halted theological research, preaching and press activity, as there were very few voices heard in protest against the anti-Judaism and racism that grew from the very beginning of the century. In particular, the document states that the Catholic Church never expressed itself officially on the topic.

    Bishop Koch was candid in admitting that the Declaration reflects continued that "racism and anti-Semitism sadly continue even today." The combating of such phenomena, therefore, is an "urgent" concern of Swiss bishops.

    This is not the first time the Church in Switzerland has condemned anti-Semitism. It did so in 1972, on the occasion of the Synod of Swiss Catholics, and in 1992, with a joint declaration of the Swiss Episcopal Conference and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Switzerland, which defined anti-Semitism as a sin against God and humanity.

    The document also reveals that there were Christians and ecclesiastical institutions that carried out great endeavors to shelter Jews during the Second World War, saving an impressive number of lives, as well as enlightening public opinion on the racial persecutions. Figures of the stature of Bishop Alois Scheiwiler of Saint Gallo, and Cardinal Journet denounced the Nazi barbarism from the start.

    Sigi Feigel, honorary president of the Community of Jewish Worship in Zurich, expressed satisfaction over the imminent publication of the Declaration, because to acknowledge faults committed against Jews is "an important and beautiful gesture," he said. ZE00031005

          

March 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 51
NEWS & VIEWS

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