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July 15, 1988 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-07-15

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PURELY COMMENTA

Blood Libel As Surviving Stain On Christianity

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

0

n the occasion of the return
visit of Pope John Paul II to
Austria toward the end of June
the few thousand Jews remaining in
that country called upon the Pontiff, in
addition to a declaration re-
emphasizing the condemnation of the
Nazis and their crimes, to declare that
Jews never killed Christian children as
part of any religious ritual.
The latter demand is taken ver-
batim from a story in the Chicago
Tribune from Vienna by its correspon-
dent Howard Witt. Such was the brief
reference to the outrageous appeal to
hatred of Jews which has remained in-
delibly recorded in history as the
"Blood Libel?' In his Chicago Tribune
article Howard Witt thus reported the
renewed demand for rejection of the
spreading libel addressed to the Pope:
The Jewish community will
ask the Pope to declare that
Jews have never killed Christian
children as part of any religious
rite.
"Still in Austria there are
parishes, there are priests, who
believe that this ritual murder
took place," said Paul Grosz,
president of the Viennese
Jewish Community, many of
whose 6,000 members survived
the Holocaust.
"We would wish the Pope
would come here and say this is
not se
That such a medieval canard
could retain some currency in
this predominantly Roman
Catholic country hints at the
depth of anti-Semitism that are
still scarcely understood by the
outside world, despite all the
searching media attention
directed here over the last two
years since the election of Kurt
Waldheim as president.
Austrians
the
That
themselves may be losing their
appetite to confront such dark
issues deeply concerns Jewish
and Catholic leaders alike.
They are looking to the
Pope's five-day pastoral visit to
reinvigorate Austria's struggle
to overcome almost 2,000 years

church-inspired
of
anti-Semitism.
"This struggle has been hap-
pening late in Austria, but it has
been happening," said Ruth
Steiner, general secretary of
Catholic Action, a major
Austrian lay organization that
has sought a new dialogue with
Austrian Jews. "The danger is
that because of the Waldheim
issue people are becoming fed
up with it and don't want to hear
any more."
So-called "confessional"
anti-Semitism — medieval no-
tions of Jews as the killers of
Christ, ritual murderers and
desecrators — was explicitly de-
nounced 23 years ago by the Se-
cond Vatican Council, which
launched the Catholic church
on a bold new course of increas-
ing rapproachment with Jews.
But in some remote parts of
Austria the message seems not
to have come through. In 1985,
Bishop Reinhold Stecher of In-
nsbruck found it necessary to
order an end to persistent wor-

his name to the list of pontifs who join-
ed in the sense of outrage over even the
minutest adherence to it. Surely, the
Vatican would wish to keep spreading
the strong encyclicals like those of Pope
Clement XIV (1769-1774) who led in
the condemnation of the Blood Libel.
It was only weeks ago that this col-
umn found it necessary to expose again
the hate spread under the name of "The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion?' Now
there is the need again to call attention
to the fakes of the ritual murder accusa-
tions. Utilization of Vatican action in
the instance of Pope Clement XIV
necessitates recapitulation of the facts
to which this column is dedicated.
It is compelling at this time to recall
the Catholic Church record dealing
with the firm stand that was taken by
Cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli who, just
as he became Pope Clement XIV issued
an encyclical in which he branded the
ritual murder libel as "infamous and
false?'
That act was so important that a
review of it and of the Ganganelli
declaration condemning the blood libel
against the Jews merited this colum-
nist's essay in Commonweal magazine,

ship of a child martyr, Anderl
von Rinn, who, according to
legend, was murdered as part of
a ritual by Jewish tradesmen in
the Tyrol in 1462.
Yet just six months ago,
another bishop commented
publicly that he could not be
certain that the Anderl legend
was untrue.
The distressing conditions in
Austria are associated with the added
sadness of the Waldheim case. That
there should still exist the insane belief
among some people in the ritual
murder canard aggravates the effort to
erase it from receiving credence.
Pope John Paul II could have added
March 5, 1937. It was one of the world's
most respected Catholic publications.
The article stated:
Dr. Cecil Roth, in his "The
Ritual Murder Libel and the
Jew," wrote:
"To its lasting credit, the
Catholic Church (even when the
night of medievalism was at its
darkest) never gave the slightest

Continued on Page 30

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
(US PS 275-520) is published every Friday
with additional supplements the fourth
week of March, the fourth week of August
and the second week of November at
20300 Civic Center Drive, Southfield,
Michigan.

Second class postage paid at Southfield,
Michigan and additional mailing offices.

Postmaster: Send changes to:
DETROIT JEWISH NEWS, 20300 Civic
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Vol. %CHI No. 20

2

FRIDAY, JULY 15, 1988

July 15, 1988

Wpm*

a — Number denotes century.
- Avo libels in one century.
• — Canonization of "martyr child."
41 .• — Notorious blood libel trial in modern times.

Encyclopedia Judaica

Sites and periods of blood libels.

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