ADL Concerned about Vatican's Plans to Beatify 19th Century Nun

New York, NY, June 7, 2004 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has written to high-level Catholic Church officials in Rome, the United States and Germany to express "great distress" over the Vatican's plans to beatify a 19th century stigmatic nun whose visions, as recounted in literature of the period, have fomented hatred and anti-Semitism in her name.

ADL said the beatification of Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) "could cause harm to Jewish-Christian relations," especially in the aftermath of Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ." Many of the most troubling scenes in Mr. Gibson's film were inspired by the visions of Sr. Emmerich as recounted in a book attributed to her, "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ." Beatification is considered the last step before sainthood.

"At a time when Jews are concerned and disillusioned by Mel Gibson's film, 'The Passion of the Christ' and the renewed interest in Sr. Emmerich's book, we believe that the beatification of Anne Catherine Emmerich could cause harm to Christian-Jewish relations," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The disturbing conclusion that could be drawn from this beatification is that her anti-Semitic views, even if only attributed to her, are being discounted."

In letters to various high-level officials, including Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and William Cardinal Keeler, President of the Committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, ADL urged Church leaders to consider the potential impact on Christian-Jewish relations as a "major factor in the beatification process."

"We respect the fact that beatification is entirely within the realm of the Church and we understand that Sr. Emmerich has been proposed in recognition of her virtuous life and how she strengthened others in faith despite her own ill-health," said Mr. Foxman. "Yet, it cannot be contested that in addition to the aid she offered many of her co-religionists, hatred and anti-Semitism were fomented in her name."

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.