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ADL Urges Orthodox Christian Churches To Excise Anti-Semitism From Liturgy

New York, NY, June 6, 2007 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is urging the world's Orthodox Christian leaders to support a Christian proposal to excise ancient anti-Semitic passages from their liturgy.

ADL cited a declaration by an independent group of Orthodox Christian priests and intellectuals who are calling for their churches to reject centuries-old negative theological positions toward Jews and Judaism, including positions on the State of Israel.  The group represents five different Orthodox churches, including Greek, Ukrainian, Russian, Georgian and Ecumenical Orthodox Churches. Some signed the declaration in defiance of their church leadership, according to news reports.

"We call on Orthodox Christian leaders to begin the process now to remove anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "This effort is long overdue.  Untold numbers of Jews have suffered throughout the centuries, and today, in some countries where these churches are prominent, Jews are confronted by growing anti-Semitism, because of the failure to address this."

Eric J. Greenberg, ADL Associate Director of Interfaith Affairs, noted that some Orthodox liturgy still refer to Jews as Christ-killers, and that some Easter services include calls for revenge against Jews. He noted that the Roman Catholic Church and several Protestant churches have removed anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy, and that the Vatican repudiated the deicide charge against the Jewish people in 1965.

"We commend the courageous priests and academics who seek to rid their churches of the poison of anti-Semitism," Greenberg said. "Support of this declaration by church leaders would help build a more positive interfaith dialogue between Orthodox Christians and Jews, and help increase religious respect around the world."

Bishop Paul Peter Jesep, U.S. Director of Public Affairs for the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Diaspora, said he supports the priests' campaign as essential to the future of the Orthodox Church.

"The Church has not done enough to address anti-Semitism," Jesep said, speaking in his individual capacity. "The Liturgy must be modified so that it is brought closer to the teachings of Christ."

The ten-page declaration endorses the eternal connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and calls for the repudiation of replacement theology, which erroneously contends that God's covenant with the Jewish people is not eternal. "It is time that we called anti-Semitism a grave sin against God and man," the declaration said. 

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.

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