Several senior archbishops called on their people to battle antisemitism in its modern incarnation, at a virtual event organized by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) on Tuesday evening.
The event honored past leaders who confronted antisemitism in its most extreme form during World War II.
Among them was Monsignor Giuseppe Placido Nicolini who, as the Bishop of Assisi, organized a network to save hundreds of Italian Jews during the Nazi occupation. Sheltering places were arranged in 26 monasteries and convents, and false papers for transit were provided. Nicolini was recognized as Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1977.
At the event, Senior Archbishops called on Catholics from around the world to gather together to actively help fight the rise of Antisemitism.
“Sadly, in our day, we are witnessing a troubling increase in hate-filled anti-Semitic language and acts of violence against Jews in the U.S. and elsewhere,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago. “Christians can not just be alarmed by antisemitism. We must look to the example of Bishop Nicolini and band together in a network of support and protection.”
“We have come to recognize the deep harm that antisemitism causes and a better understanding of its roots,” he added. “We must create the kind of network in Assisi that saved the lives of Jews, but also saved the humanity of those who saved them.”
The event was intended to inspire the current generation of civic and religious leaders, motivating them to confront antisemitism and other forms of bigotry.
“May today’s event help us to ‘Never Again’ choose violence against our brothers and sisters in the human family,” said Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. “‘Never Again’ to turn a blind eye to such violence being enacted in our midst.”
“Each one must be our brother’s keeper, and act accordingly,” remarked Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus. “The Catholic Church condemns and combats Antisemitism in all of its forms and is totally committed in fighting it as one of mankind’s oldest, most pernicious and most destructive forms of bigotry and hate.”
Father Manuel Barrios, Secretary General of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, stressed that fighting antisemitism also means fighting its causes and identifying them.
“These include social distress, uncertainty, fear, and the scapegoat mechanism,” said Father Barrios. “We must acknowledge that we are all brothers and sisters, we belong to the same human family and are called together to take care of one another. This is the cure for many of the evils that are afflicting our world today.”
The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) is a global coalition engaging more than 650 partner organizations and over two million people from a diverse array of religious, political, and cultural backgrounds in the common mission of fighting the world’s oldest hatred.
“Today, we see more and more bridges between the Catholic Church and civil and religious Jewish leaders,” said Natan Sharansky, CAM Advisory Board Chair. “Unfortunately, antisemitism is on the rise across the world and CAM is constantly looking for allies in this fight, trying to mobilize people across the world, because it is not just a problem for the Jewish people but also for anyone who wants to live in a world of justice and freedom.”
The event also featured Mayor of Assisi Stefania Proietti, Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See Raphael Schutz, Chairman of the European March of the Living Benjamin Albalas, CEO of B’nai B’rith International Dan Mariaschin, and Anna Cividalli, a descendant of a saved member of the Jewish community in Italy during the Holocaust.
“In 2023, we stand at a unique point in history,” said Catherine Szkop, CAM Partnerships and Diplomatic Relations Manager. “The opportunity for Catholics and Jews at all levels of leadership and laymenship to build meaningful relationships and stand together against hatred as siblings in faith proves ever more paramount. Let’s follow in the footsteps of the holy and righteous men and women who have gone before us to achieve what many claim to be impossible: peace between peoples, and an end to antisemitism and all forms of hate.”