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
Churchs 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 Hitlers 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.
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.
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.