Sisters of Sion ‘horrified’ by anti-Semitic attacks

Sr. Lucy Thorson, NDS (CCN Photo by Michael Swan, The Catholic Register)

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – A spike in attacks on Jewish people and organizations in North America and Europe has prompted the Sisters of Sion in Canada to speak out.

“We have been horrified and saddened by the recent series of violent attacks against Jewish individuals and Jewish institutions,” said a Jan. 3 statement from the sisters and their lay associates.

The religious order dedicated to better understanding between Christians and Jews singled out the Dec. 28 machete attack on Jews celebrating the last night of Hanukkah in a rabbi’s home in Monsey, N.Y., but said their concern goes beyond any single incident.

“We are aware that these attacks are part of a larger rise in anti-Semitic attacks that deeply troubles us, and which our leaders must address swiftly and decisively,” state the Our Lady of Sion sisters.

Canadians can’t dismiss the rising and increasingly violent anti-Semitism in Europe or the U.S., Sr. Lucy Thorson, NDS, told The Catholic Register.

“It’s certainly significantly on the rise in Europe and obviously on the rise here in Canada, too,” said Thorson, who has been working on interfaith affairs with the Sisters of Sion for more than 30 years.

A Statistics Canada survey indicated a 63-per-cent increase in anti-Jewish hate crimes between 2016 and 2017. Jews, who represent just one per cent of Canadians, endured more hate crimes than any other religious community — 360 incidents in 2017 compared to 221 in 2016.

Any negative assessment, suspicion or dismissal of Jewish persons or Judaism is inconsistent with Catholic faith, Thorson said.

“All Christians and therefore all Catholics, we are invited to — it’s part of who we are — to better understand and to respect the Jewish people, especially in our relationships,” she said. “To deepen our understanding of the relationship between one another is part of the call to all Christians.”

In the Monsey attack, five people were injured and a man was charged with six counts of attempted murder.

American bishops’ conference president Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles strongly condemned the Monsey attack, declaring, “Violence in the name of God is blasphemy.”

“The rise of anti-Semitic violence in this country and around the world must be condemned along with the ongoing persecution of Christians. Protecting religious freedom and freedom of conscience should be among the highest priorities of every government,” Gomez said Dec. 31.

Thousands marched across New York Ctiy’s Brooklyn Bridge on Jan. 5, 2020 to signify their solidarity with the Jewish community.

In a New Year’s message, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster denounced anti-Semitic graffitti attacks that hit shops, cafés and a synagogue in London.

“The recent anti-Semitic graffiti in north London brings shame to us all,” said the cardinal, whose archdiocese covers the city north of the River Thames.

“Such hatred can have no place in our way of life. Only when we see the good in each other will every person feel welcomed and unafraid.”

(With files from Catholic News Service)