ADL Distressed By Beatification of Nun Whose Visions Fomented Anti-Semitism
New York, NY, September 27, 2004 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed "deep distress" at the beatification of a 19th century nun whose visions fomented anti-Semitism and inspired Mel Gibson in the creation of his film, "The Passion of the Christ."
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs, issued the following statement:
It is with deep distress that we note the beatification of the Sr. Anne Catherine Emmerich on October 3. As we have previously expressed in letters to leaders of the Catholic Church, hatred and anti-Semitism were fomented in her name, and attributed to her in the book which records her visions, "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ."
Recently, the release of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ," reasserted the anti-Semitism that derives from the work attributed to Sr. Emmerich. Serving as his muse, her visions guided Mr. Gibson in adding elements that do not derive from the Gospel narratives and break with the Second Vatican Council's teachings. Among these elements include: the association of Jewish characters with the demonic, the destruction of the Second Temple, the benign portrait of Pilate, and the negative characterization of Jewish guards and leaders.
In our letter to Church leaders, sent in early June, we acknowledged that beatification is entirely within the realm of the Church and we understand that Sr. Emmerich has been proposed in recognition of her virtuous life and how she strengthened others in faith despite her own ill-health. Yet, it cannot be contested that in addition to the aid she offered many of her co-religionists, hatred and anti-Semitism were fomented in her name.
The papacy of John Paul II has been marked by the most far-reaching and welcome changes in Church attitudes towards Jews and Judaism. We are grateful for all of the efforts this Pontiff has made to implement and advance the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and its Councilor Declaration, Nostra Aetate.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.