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 CNS Story:

JEWISH-HISPANIC Jul-1-2004 (410 words) xxxi

Jewish leaders fear anti-Semitism among Hispanic immigrants

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- U.S. Jewish leaders met with Vatican officials in late June to raise what they consider a growing problem: anti-Semitism among Hispanic immigrants to the United States.

According to surveys, new Hispanic arrivals in the United States are "44 percent infected" with anti-Semitic attitudes, reflecting lower sensitivity to the problem throughout their Latin American countries of origin, said Abraham Foxman, national director of the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League.

The rate of anti-Semitism among the immigrants is more than twice that of U.S.-born Hispanics, Foxman said. A high percentage of the immigrants believe the Jews were responsible for Christ's death, he said.

"For us, this is very important, because the Hispanic community is growing in the United States. And at the end of the day that will also have an impact on the Catholic Church," Foxman said.

Foxman and other ADL leaders spoke with reporters after meeting with three Vatican officials: Msgr. Norbert Hoffman, secretary of the Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews; Swiss Cardinal Georges Cottier, the papal theologian; and Msgr. Pietro Parolin, a foreign policy expert in the Secretariat of State.

Foxman said he believes anti-Semitism is more prevalent in Latin America in part because of poverty and lack of education, and in part because the church hasn't promoted its recent pronouncements on Judaism as effectively as it could.

Because the vast majority of Hispanics coming into the United States are Catholic, the ADL believes the church can use its leverage to sensitize these communities to the strong teaching against anti-Semitism that has come out of the Vatican over the last 40 years.

The Jewish leaders think a particular teaching moment in Latin America may be offered by next year's 40th anniversary of the landmark decree of the Second Vatican Council, "Nostra Aetate," which condemned all forms of anti-Semitism and affirmed the continuing validity of God's covenant with the Jews.

"We need priests, bishops and cardinals to speak out about this, as they do in the United States. That's what we're asking -- a leadership role," Foxman said. He said the Vatican response was positive.

Cardinal Cottier told Catholic News Service that it was a good idea to use the 2005 anniversary to re-emphasize the teachings on non-Christian religions.

"What we need is to undertake a capillary pastoral action among our Catholic actions," he said. He added that some Latin American countries, like Argentina, Chile and Brazil, already have significant Catholic-Jewish dialogue.


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