Cardinal joins online event against antisemitism

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Cardinal Cupich joined Catholic, Jewish and civil leaders in an online event organized by the international Combat Antisemitism Movement  Feb. 21 to celebrate the “heroic actions” of Bishop of Assisi Giuseppe Placido Nicolini in allowing Jews fleeing deportation during the Holocaust to be housed in his diocese.

The event came just days before warnings of a “Day of Hate” against Jews on Feb. 25. While the Illinois State Police and the Chicago Police Department, among other law enforcement agencies and anti-hate organizations, issued advisories about possible antisemitic propaganda distribution and vandalism, no actual incidents were reported.

In his recorded presentation for the virtual event, Cardinal Cupich said, “Sadly, in our day, we are witnessing a troubling increase in hate-filled anti-Semitic language and acts of violence against Jews in the U.S. and elsewhere. Christians cannot just be alarmed by antisemitism. We must look to the example of Bishop Nicolini and band together in a network of support and protection.”

According to the presentation, which highlighted the increasing closeness of Catholic-Jewish relationships, Bishop Nicolini allowed Italian Jewish families trying to escape deportation to death camps to hide in convents and monasteries and other institutions not generally open to the public. The bishop and those working with him also provided false documents for Jewish families and arranged shelter for them as they moved on, becoming the hub of what became known as the “Assisi Network.”

All people must follow the example of Bishop Nicolini and those who worked with him, Cardinal Cupich said.

“We have come to recognize the deep harm that antisemitism causes and a better understanding of its roots,” he said. “We must create the kind of network in Assisi that saved the lives of Jews, but also saved the humanity of those who saved them.”

In the Archdiocese of Chicago, the cardinal said, “Jews and Catholics have come to know one another as friends and as human beings” by networking, dialoguing and working together to create genuine relationships.

Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, the apostolic nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and apostolic delegate to Jerusalum and Palestine, said all people must accept responsibility to care for and protect one another.

 “Each one must be our brother’s keeper, and act accordingly,” said Archbishop Yllana said. “The Catholic Church condemns and combats antisemitism in all of its forms and is totally committed in fighting it as one of mankind’s oldest, most pernicious and most destructive forms of bigotry and hate.”

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, said events like the Feb. 21 one can help prevent antisemitism.

“May today’s event help us ‘Never Again’ to choose violence against our brothers and sisters in the human family,” Archbishop Pierre said. “‘Never again’ to turn a blind eye to such violence being enacted in our midst.”

In advance of Feb. 25, the Chicago Police issued a community alert that read, in part: “This anti-Semitic proposed event has instructed like-minded individuals to drop banners, place stickers and flyers, and vandalize by way of graffiti as forms of biased so-called activism. These organizers request that potential actions be recorded and/or photographed to submit online.”


  • antisemitism
  • catholic-jewish relations

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