23 December 2010
The World Jewish Congress and the Conference of European Rabbis today issued the following joint statement calling on the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos II, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to condemn vitriolic, anti-Semitic public statements recently made by Metropolitan of Piraeus Seraphim and Metropolitan Anthimus of Salonika. The Metropolitan Seraphim, one of the Greek Orthodox Churches highest officials, appeared on a morning show on Greek television and falsely charged world Jewry with causing the current financial crisis in Greece. He also articulated the outrageous libel that the Jews had financed Adolf Hitler with the “sole purpose of having the Jewish people leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish a new Empire.”
Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk, Honorary President of the Conference of European Rabbis, said, “We had hoped that such vicious accusations and canards would no longer emanate from the Greek Orthodox Church in view of the many years of dialogue and cooperation between our two communities to advance ecumenism and mutual understanding. Such insidious pronouncements on the part of high-level Church leaders at such a sensitive time of economic and social instability in Greece are provocative to say the least and have the potential to cause violence.”
Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, said, “We call on the Ecumenical Patriarch, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos II, to publicly repudiate and condemn these anti-Semitic statements made by Metropolitan Seraphim and Metropolitan Anthimos so that may not be construed as official Church positions. We hope that the many years of interfaith efforts made by the World Jewish Congress and the Conference of European Rabbis will now demonstrate that positive relations developed between the Church, the Greek government, and the Jewish community and Israel have grown and matured and that these horrendous expressions of anti-Semitism will be immediately renounced.”
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