Thursday, 23 May 2019 - 18 of Iyyar, 5779

Catholic Church in Poland disapproves Easter symbolic lynching of Jewish effigy in Polish city

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“The Church is in a unique position to overcome age-old prejudice and stereotypes. We can only hope that one day a spirit of brotherhood and mutual respect will replace intolerance and hatred in Pruchnik–and that young people will be taught about the horrifying fate of that community’s Jewish inhabitants during the German occupation.”

WARSAW—The Catholic Church in Poland expressed her disapproval of the symbolic lynching of a Jewish effigy which took place in the  town of Pruchnik, in south-eastern Poland, as part of an Easter holiday ritual.

The 18th century “Judas court” ritual, which  was being revived after a break of a few years, saw adults and children dragging an effigy through the streets of a stereotypical Jew replete with a sidelocks, a large nose and a wide-brimmed hat, while beating it with sticks.

In a statement from the Polish Episcopal Conference — the church’s main organ — Bishop Rafal Markowski said that in the  “context of the events that took place in Pruchnik on Good Friday, Apr. 19, the Church clearly expresses her disapproval of practices that harm human dignity.”

Markowski emphasized that the “Catholic Church will never tolerate signs of contempt for members of any nation, including the Jewish people.”

World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer, whose group has condemned the display, said he was “heartened that the Church had taken an unequivocal stand” with respect to this antisemitic incident.

“Jews all over the world look to the Church to continue the struggle against antisemitism pioneered by Pope John Paul II who had called the Jews the older brothers of Christians,” Singer added.

“The Church is in a unique position to overcome age-old prejudice and stereotypes. We can only hope that one day a spirit of brotherhood and mutual respect will replace intolerance and hatred in Pruchnik–and that young people will be taught about the horrifying fate of that community’s Jewish inhabitants during the German occupation.”

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