Now that the Pope has apologized for the sins committed against Jews in the name of the
Catholic Church, and the German Lutheran Church has followed suit, it's expected that
other Christian denominations will also seek forgiveness for their sins of anti-Semitism.
A blanket apology for past wrongs is about all that any group can
hope for, since no church, or government for that matter, can be expected to itemize every
act of injustice committed by their predecessors over the centuries.
The Jews, however, are one group that deserves a special apology from all of
Christendom for the pain and suffering inflicted on them by Christians ever since some
long-forgotten Gentile first called them Christ-killers two millennia ago.
Peter Gumpel, a German Jesuit priest, recently said in an interview on Canadian TV,
``It is a fact that the Jews have killed Christ. This is an undeniable historical fact.''
What if it is?
No thinking person would blame anyone for the ''sins'' of their parents, let alone the
''sins'' of their ancient ancestors. Life is tough enough without that burden.
Besides, if the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was part of a divine plan, as Christians
believe, what choice did those ancient Jews have?
Branded by Christians as ''God killers,'' Jews have, at various times, been expelled
from Spain, barred from England, and persecuted in Poland, Ukraine and Russia.
In fact, there are few places in all of Christendom where the Jewish people have not
been on the pointy end of the Christian bigotry stick.
Ethnic hatred, in one form or another, has always been with us. The ancient Greeks and
Romans embraced slavery. The Norman conquerors despised the Saxons so much they prohibited
them from learning French. The Pilgrims who settled the American colonies seeking freedom
of worship had no qualms about denying freedom of conscience to anyone who disagreed with
their own narrow version of Christianity. Throughout history, practically every ethnic and
religious group has been subjected to the tyranny of the ruling majority. Things have
changed little over the years, as can be witnessed in such places as Indonesia and the
Nevertheless, the Jews are a special case because they have been persecuted by
Christians for no reason other than their rejection of Jesus, Himself a Jew, as their
The refusal by the western democracies to admit Jewish refugees from Hitler's Germany
lent encouragement to the sub-humans who targeted the whole Jewish people for
extermination in what has become known as the Holocaust.
Even in these so called enlightened times, anti-Semitism continues through vandalism of
synagogues, and through neo-Nazis who, despite all evidence to the contrary, keep trying
to convince the world that the Holocaust never happened. These revisionists blame the Jews
for everything from the bubonic plague to World War I.
Apologizing for past wrongs against every people from Australian Aboriginals to
Scottish Highlanders is the easy part. The hard part, which is the only part that matters,
is to cease and desist from hurtful actions against others just because they happen to
differ from us in ethnicity, religion or sex.
If we ever get around to treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves,
there will be no need for future leaders to ask forgiveness from, or for, any of us.
William Bedford is a freelance writer residing in Toronto, Ontario.