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July 05, 1985 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-07-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

2

Friday, July 5, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

• 451

21.47.1i9511Cri.t

PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Blood Libel, Most Atrocious Of Mankind's Calumnies, Condemned By
An Austrian Catholic Cleric Defying The Religious Bigots

A courageous, justice-inspired,
truth-seeking Catholic priest shows de-
termination to end the world's most at-
rocious calumny against the Jewish
people — at least in his church. The hor-
rible Blood Lie has been imbedded in the
history and tradition of his church and
he has ordered it closed. The parishion-
ers are staging a revolt and wish to per-
petuate the lie. Now the noblest tradi-
tions of the Catholic Church are again
being put to the test, but his courageous
protest is writing his name into the nob-
lest and most dignified records of his
Church.
Perhaps the most important news
story on the subject might have been
entirely lost were it not for a report from
Vienna relegated to the fourth page of
the JTA Daily News Bulletin of June 21,
1985. It relates the following:
A church in Rinn, a very small
community in Innsbruck in the Austrian
Tyrol, named Judenstein (Jews' Rock),
embodied in its traditions and decora-
tions the medieval ritual murder libel
against the Jews. Bishop Reinhold
Stecher of Tyrol has ordered the closing
of this church as means of abandoning
the spread of the outrageous libel.
The JTA report reveals that "the

the Blood Libel. It is still heard fre-
quently in the Soviet Union and its reit-
eration has not been condemned offi-
cially. It was one of the tools of the
Arabs in the struggle against Israel and
was circulated widely from Saudi
Arabia. It had circulators in Egypt dur-
ing the trying days that preceded the
peace agreement in 1979.
The courageous Bishop Stecher, who
contributes towards the honor of the
Catholic Church with his rejection of the
Blood Lie, is a reminder of a similar act
of decency in the church's record by Car-
dinal Lorenzo Ganganelli, who, just as
he became Pope Clement XIV, (1769-
1774), issued an encyclical in which he
branded the ritual murder libel as in-
famous and false.
That act was so important that a re-
view of it and of the Ganganelli declara-
tion condemning the Blood Libel against
the Jews merited this columnist's essay
in Commonweal magazine, March 5,
1937. As one of the world's most re-
spected Catholic publications, Com-
monweal continues to represent most
liberal views in the Church literature.
The prominence given to the article on
"The Ritual Murder Libel," published as
an acknowledgement of the more liberal

Catholic cult that worships there (the
Rinn church) was officially banned by
the Vatican in 1961. But pilgrims con-
tinued to coverge on Rinn several times
a year."
There were fierce protests against
Bishop Stecher when he ordered the clos-
ing of the church. More than 3,000
signed petitions demanded its re-
opening. Several hundred reportedly
threatened to leave the Catholic Church
unless the church is re-opened.
Bishop Stecher remains firm in his
decision which, in effect, demolished the
canard that has been perpetuated in the
Rinn church since 1462. The "legend"
that added to the canard and the Blood
Libel was about a Jewish merchant who,
in 1462, was charged with killing a
three-year old Christian child, named
Andreas or Anderle, to use his blood for
ritual purposes.
Added to the insult and the lie was
the depicting in the Rinn church of the
accusation of more than 400 years. The
fanaticism of the cult involved is the be-
lief that the child Anderle is the inter-
mediary in delivering prayers to God.
The occurrence in the Austrian
Tyrol revives interest in the ongoing
concerns over the continued spreading of

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Mr. Cecil Roth, who already has
his credit a number of very scholarl ,
historical works, has just produced
book which is without doubt one of
most significant documents published i
a hundred years from the viewpoint
its condemnation of an ancient calumn
and its plea for justice and truth in dea
ing with the Jewish people. "The Ritu
Murder Libel and the Jew" comes fro
the Woburn Press of London and is bein
distributed by Edward Goldston, Ltd
25, Museum St., London, W.C. 1 (7/6d
In this volume Dr. Roth pays a glowi
compliment to the Catholic Church b ,
giving honor to the various Pontif f
throughout history and to the generk
Jewish policy of the Holy See.
('
Occasion for this compliment is pr 1t,
vided by the 160th anniversary of th

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BY PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Reprinted from Commonweal, March 5, 1985

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