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Austria: open letter from Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox and Jews to MPs on racism and anti-Semitism

On the occasion of the inauguration meeting of the new Nationalrat, the National Council of the Austrian Parliament, and on the occasion of the 79th anniversary of the Nazi pogrom of 9 November 1938, the Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox Churches, in union with the Jewish Community of Austria, have issued an appeal with an open letter in which they invite all MPs to strengthen their commitment to combating all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and nationalism. Signed by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, by Evangelical Bishop Michael Bünker, by Orthodox Metropolitan Arsenios Kardamakis and by the president of the Jewish Community (IKG) Oskar Deutsch, the letter highlights that “with the oppression we are experiencing in recent years, wrong thoughts and life models are resurfacing. Racism, anti-Semitism, nationalism are not only matters of historical analysis of the past”. 9 November is a day of “painful and bitter remembrance” of the Kristallnacht, the pogrom carried out by the Nazis in 1938, in which thousands of Austrian Jews were robbed, arrested, wounded or killed: “It is a day of shame and remembrance, but still the word ‘no more’ is often said, but scarcely taken seriously”, the letter reads. In the examination of conscience after the Shoah, it became clear that “the resistance of Christians against this way of thinking was too weak, and this despite their faith contains the message of the equal dignity of all human beings by virtue of their likeness with God”.

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