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May 23, 2018 4:41 pm

Leading Jewish Group Criticizes Papal Honors to Antisemitic Polish Cardinal

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

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Polish Cardinal August Hlond, photographed in 1939. Photo: Wikicommons.

A major Jewish group expressed its objections on Wednesday to the Vatican’s decision to honor an antisemitic World War II-era cardinal.

Cardinal August Hlond was Polish primate during and immediately after World War II. In a 1936 letter he attacked Jews for rejecting Jesus and supported a boycott of Jewish businesses.

“One should stay away from the harmful moral influence of Jews, keep away from their anti-Christian culture, and especially boycott the Jewish press and demoralizing Jewish publications,” he wrote.

In 1946, Jewish leaders sought to meet the primate in order to stem a wave of antisemitism in Poland that culminated in the murders of dozens of Jews in the Kielce Pogrom. He refused to do so and later justified the pogrom on the grounds that the Jews were all communists.

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The Church’s honors are the first step toward eventual canonization of Hlond.

Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s Director of International Interreligious Affairs, said in a letter to Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, that canonizing Hlond “will be perceived within the Jewish community and beyond as an expression of approval of Cardinal Hlond’s extremely negative approach towards the Jewish community.”

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