‘Better late than never’: Church of England apologizes for anti-Semitism

“The historic trauma of medieval English anti-Semitism can never be erased,” said the director of a UK Jewish NGO.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The Church of England announced that it intends to apologize to the Jewish community for its role in promoting anti-Semitism, which culminated in the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290 — despite the fact that the Church was not established until centuries later.

According to the Telegraph, the church plans to perform a “symbolic repentance” during a service this Sunday, on the 800-year anniversary of the Synod of Oxford.

The 1222 Synod of Oxford set forth a number of discriminatory laws aimed at the Jewish communities, including that Jews must wear badges differentiating them from gentiles and pay higher taxes than other citizens.

The Church of England will take responsibility for general Christian anti-Semitism in England that predates its establishment, as the institution came into being in 1534.

“The phrase ‘better late than never’ is truly appropriate here,” Dave Rich, policy director at Jewish watchdog group Community Security Trust, told the Telegraph.

“The historic trauma of medieval English anti-Semitism can never be erased and its legacy survives today — for example, through the persistence of the ‘blood libel’ allegation that was invented in this country.

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“But at a time of rising anti-Semitism, the support and empathy of the Church of England for our Jewish community is most welcome as a reminder that the Britain of today is a very different place,” Rich said.

On the heels of the May 2021 Israel-Hamas clash, British Jews have suffered from an uptick in anti-Semitism. In one incident, pro-Palestinian protesters called for the rape of Jewish women.

A statement from UK NGO Campaign Against Antisemitism praised the church for its decision, saying it has “much to repent for” in terms of fostering a culture of anti-Semitism.

“The Church of England, inspired by decrees from Rome, was absolutely central to the horrific anti-Semitism suffered by English Jews in the Middle Ages, including…the invention of the blood libel, massacres and the first national expulsion of an entire Jewish community from a European country.

“For the Church to confront its past is laudable, and we commend the Church of England for taking this historic step, which sends a powerful message not just about historic misdeeds but about how our faiths and society can better themselves today.”