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Forgive Our Trespasses
by William Bedford
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
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." Only assuming that it is true, (and it is not!) 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?
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
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
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 former Yugoslavia.
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 Savior.
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
These revisionists blame the Jews for everything from the
bubonic plague to World War I. In Canada, a Quebec Separatist, Yves
Michaud even had the temerity to accuse Canadian Jews of the shocking
crime of voting against the break-up of their country, when they voted
for national unity.
Richard Nixon, who had no qualms about using the
brains of Henry Kissinger to make up for his own shortcomings, agreed
with the “Reverend” Billy Graham that the Jews are a threat to the
security of the United States. So, we have still a long way to go.
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.
from the November 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine