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Cardinal, archbishops call for end to antisemitism as extremists plot ‘Day of Hate’

A candlelight vigil is held April 27, 2019, at Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church for victims of a shooting incident at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, Calif., near San Diego. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago and other senior Catholic clergy have called for an end to antisemitism, even as new threats are emerging of a possible Feb. 25, 2023, "National Day of Hate" organized by U.S.-based extremists. (OSV News photo/John Gastaldo, Reuters)

(OSV News) — Senior Catholic clergy have issued a plea to end antisemitism, even as extremists are calling for a National Day of Hate against Jews.

“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 of Chicago, speaking at a Feb. 21 online event sponsored by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), a global interfaith initiative of the Kansas-based Combat Antisemitism Foundation.

Two days later, the Illinois State Police issued an online alert asking the public to remain “vigilant over the next several days,” following “increased online domestic violent extremist messaging announcing Feb. 25, 2023, as a ‘National Day of Hate.'”

According to the post, “Neo-Nazi anti-Semite groups are encouraging hate actions for this weekend.”

Similar warnings have been issued by the Chicago and New York police departments.

While stressing that no specific threats have yet emerged, law enforcement agencies have urged caution.

The warnings come just days after two Jewish men were wounded in separate shootings Feb. 15 and 16 in Los Angeles as they exited synagogues. The attacks took place in the city’s
Pico-Robertson district, home to a large Jewish population, and suspect Jamie Tran has been charged by the U.S. Justice Department with hate crimes.

In response to the National Day of Hate threat, the Anti-Defamation League has organized a counter campaign entitled #ShabbatOfPeaceNotHate, asking supporters to share social media messages of unity against antisemitism, and to contact elected officials for greater protection and Holocaust awareness education.

“It is completely unacceptable that the Jewish community — or any community — should be targeted by extremists spreading hate and alarm,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and national director, in a Feb. 24 press release. “The hate groups behind this effort hope that we will be afraid and isolated. Instead, we are coming together in resolve and solidarity.”

The CAM presentation celebrated the efforts of Bishop Giuseppe Placido Nicolini of Assisi, Italy, who helped to save hundreds of Jews during the Shoah (Holocaust) through what was dubbed the “Assisi Network” of shelter and escape.

“Christians cannot just be alarmed by antisemitism. We must look to the example of Bishop Nicolini and band together in a network of support and protection,” said Cardinal Cupich in his pre-recorded message. “We have come to recognize the deep harm that antisemitism causes and a better understanding of its roots. 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.

During his address for the CAM event, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the U.S., urged Catholics “never again to choose violence against our brothers and sisters in the human family,” and “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,” said Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, apostolic nuncio to Israel and Cyprus, in his message for the CAM presentation. “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.”

Gina Christian is a national reporter for OSV News. Follow her on Twitter at @GinaJesseReina.

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