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Catholic bishop declares ‘Jews are not our enemies’

“In this age of social media, people read or listen to all kinds of opinions expressed about Judaism and the Jewish people on Internet blogs, websites. Some are filled with false and hateful rhetoric, opposed to the very spirit of Christianity,” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.

St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City, Rome, on Aug. 17, 2016. Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90.
St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City, Rome, on Aug. 17, 2016. Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90.
Dexter Van Zile
Dexter Van Zile is Managing Editor at the Middle East Forum.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., made a stunning condemnation of anti-Semitism on Wednesday. In an oblique but thoroughgoing rebuke to the Jew-hatred promoted by E. Michael Jones, who lives in the diocese Bishop Rhoades serves, the bishop declared that Catholics “recognize that the anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism of past centuries contributed to the rise of the Nazi project to exterminate Jews.”

He then warned the Catholic faithful in his diocese (and the rest of the world) that “all must take care, lest in catechizing or in preaching the Word of God, they teach anything which is not in accord with the truth of the Gospel or the spirit of Christ.”

“Unfortunately,” Rhoades declared, “there has been a rise in recent years of anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic rhetoric in our society,” and that “there have been incidents of violence by hateful speech about Jews. The Church has firmly condemned such rhetoric and violence.”

He added, “We must never forget that Judaism was the religion of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the apostle, and of the early disciples who spread the good news of Christ to the world,” and that the Jewish people “are Jesus’ own family.”

Rhoades reiterated that Nostra Aetate (“In Our Age”), a document issued by the Second Vatican Council, “rejected the charge that Jews were ‘Christ killers.’ ”

This and other teachings, he said, “are not optional for Catholics, but require our consent as true expressions of our faith. Negative language towards Jews as a people, a culture or religion is not acceptable.”

In an implied reference to commentators such as the virulent anti-Semitic writer E. Michael Jones, who resides in the bishop’s diocese, the Feb. 19 statement declared: “Some writers today do not present Jews or Judaism in a respectful or theologically correct manner,” and that “the Catholic church offers no shelter to anti-Jewish bias, regardless of its content or expression. This applies to racist statements against Jews, to anti-Semitism, or to any religious opinion that denigrates Jews or Judaism.”

The statement offers a badly needed counterpoint to Jones, who has described Jews as “the group that is responsible for virtually every social ill in our day—from wars in the Middle East to pornography and gay marriage at home” and the people “around whose evil machinations the axis of history turns.”

After 11 Jews were murdered at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, Jones argued that Jews had invited the violence perpetrated against them. “You have undermined the moral order and now don’t be surprised if people start acting out their aggression towards you,” Jones warned. “And don’t blame me.”

Rhoades warned the Catholic faithful that “in this age of social media, people read or listen to all kinds of opinions expressed about Judaism and the Jewish people on Internet blogs, websites and the like. Some are filled with false and hateful rhetoric, opposed to the very spirit of Christianity. As Catholics, we must reject any that express or can lead to contempt for Jews.”

“The Jews are not our enemies,” wrote Bishop Rhoades.

The statement comes after CAMERA corresponded with Bishop Rhoades about the anti-Semitic writings of E. Michael Jones.

Dexter Van Zile is a researcher at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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