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Press ReleaseVatican - Jewish Relations
ADL Says Canonization of Edith Stein is an Unnecessary Problem

New York, NY, October 8, 1998…The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it is distressed over the pending October 11th canonization as a martyr-saint of Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who died in Auschwitz. The League called it an unnecessary problem at a time when there are serious issues between the Catholic Church and the Jewish community related to the Holocaust which require attention.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor, and Rabbi Leon Klenicki, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs, issued the following statement:

The canonization of Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who died in Auschwitz, is the wrong issue at the wrong time if the hope is to foster interfaith relations between Catholics and Jews.

Pope John Paul II has gone to great lengths to improve interfaith relations. He has taken unprecedented steps to reconcile Catholicism and the Jewish people. We would hope that the Pope who called anti-Semitism a sin, who went to a synagogue, who recognized the State of Israel and the Jewish people, would be more sensitive. There is presently a need for the Vatican to open its archives so that a true and fair assessment of the Church’s role during the tragic period of the Holocaust can be made. We ask why he has chosen at this time, when other issues are so important, to make Edith Stein a martyr?

Why not Franz Jägerstätter, a humble Austrian Catholic beheaded by the Nazis in 1943 for his refusal to fight in Hitler’s armies? Why not a Catholic Polish peasant who hid Jews or a maid who took in a Jewish child as her own?

The canonization of Edith Stein is an unnecessary problem, in the words of the late Harry James Cargas, and a step toward Christianizing the Holocaust and diminishing Christian self-examination about this dark time in history.

Editor’s Note:
The following ADL experts are available for comment on the canonization of Edith Stein:

Abraham H. Foxman is ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. As a child in Nazi-occupied Lithuania, Mr. Foxman was saved by his Polish-Catholic nanny who had him baptized in a Vilna church.

Rabbi Leon Klenicki is Director of Interfaith Affairs and has been engaged in Catholic-Jewish dialogue for 25 years. Rabbi Klenicki works with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and is co-liaison to the Vatican.

Related Link(s):
Red Arrow  ADL Opinion: The Canonization of Edith Stein

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