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Polish church condemns beating of Jewish effigy in Poland

An effigy of Judas was hanging in the town of Pruchnik, in southern  Poland, over the Easter weekend. The Catholic Church of Poland and the World Jewish Congress have condemned the town after residents there revived an old anti-Semitic Easter tradition.
An effigy of Judas was hanging in the town of Pruchnik, in southern Poland, over the Easter weekend. The Catholic Church of Poland and the World Jewish Congress have condemned the town after residents there revived an old anti-Semitic Easter tradition.(HUBERT LEWKOWICZ)

WARSAW — The Catholic Church in Poland poured scorn Monday on an anti-Semitic ritual enacted over the Easter holiday that involved an effigy of Judas represented by a stereotypical Jew being hanged, burned, and beaten.

Residents, among them children, beat and burned the effigy in Pruchnik, a small town in southeast Poland, on Good Friday. The figure represented Judas, the disciple of Christ who betrayed him according to the New Testament.

‘‘The Catholic Church will never tolerate manifestations of contempt toward members of any nation, including the Jewish people,’’ Bishop Rafal Markowski, chairman of the church’s Committee for Dialogue with Judaism, said, describing his view as the church’s position.

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After the church statement, Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski called the ritual ‘‘idiotic, pseudo-religious chutzpah’’ and asked why ‘‘Satans’’ revived the abandoned tradition. Poles also expressed their disgust at the revival of the anti-Semitic ritual. Some posted photos online of the ritual being carried out before World War II.

For centuries, the Catholic church taught that Jews killed Christ, a position that fomented centuries of hatred and violence against the Jewish communities in Europe. This position was rescinded by the Second Vatican Council’s revolutionary 1965 document on non-Christian religions, “In Our Times.”

A leading church figure who opposed anti-Semitism in the church was the Polish pope, John Paul II, who considered Jews to be Christians’ ‘‘elder brothers’’ in the faith.

ASSOCIATED PRESS