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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Vandalism at Jewish cemeteries decried, called hateful actions

Responding to the destruction of some 100 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles Chaput deplored the ‘senseless acts of mass vandalism’.

The gravestones were discovered toppled over from their bases the previous morning at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia.

The archbishop issued a statement on 27th February in which he called on the clergy, religious and laypeople of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia ‘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 St Louis about a week before.

In a statement on 24th Februay, the chairman of the US 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 Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts, speaking on behalf of all the bishops and US Catholics. ‘I wish to offer our deepest concern, as well as our unequivocal rejection of these hateful actions. The Catholic Church stands in love with the Jewish community in the current face of anti-Semitism.’

Picture: Local and national media report on more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones on 21st February after a vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Mo. The incident at the cemetery near St Louis was repeated in suburban Philadelphia on 26th February when gravestones were destroyed at a Jewish cemetery there. (CNS photo/Tom Gannam, Reuters).