Bishop Dennis Sullivan and other church leaders have spoken out in response to a rise in anti-Semitic acts both locally and across the United States.
“This abhorrent behavior, which has no place in contemporary culture, stands in opposition to everything the Catholic Church believes and teaches,” Bishop Sullivan said in a statement Feb. 27, the same day the Katz Community Center in Cherry Hill received a bomb threat. (See the bishop’s full statement on this page.)
In addition to the center at Springdale and Kresson roads, Jewish community centers in North Jersey, Wilmington, Delaware, and York, Pennsylvania, also had to be evacuated the same day, according to media reports.
The bomb threats came the day after the destruction of some 100 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. The gravestones were discovered toppled over from their bases at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia on Feb. 27 issued a statement in which he called on the clergy, religious and laypeople of the archdiocese “to join in prayerful solidarity with the families of those whose final resting places have been disturbed. Violence and hate against anyone, simply because of who they are, is inexcusable.”
The incident at Mount Carmel Cemetery mirrors gravestones destroyed at another Jewish cemetery near Saint Louis about a week before.
In a statement Feb. 24, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, expressed solidarity and support for the Jewish community and also called for the rejection of such hateful actions.
“I want to express our deep sympathy, solidarity, and support to our Jewish brothers and sisters who have experienced once again a surge of anti-Semitic actions in the United States,” said Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, speaking on behalf of all the bishops and U.S. Catholics. “I wish to offer our deepest concern, as well as our unequivocal rejection of these hateful actions.”