After 800 years, the Church of England apologized for passing anti-Jewish laws that led to the expulsion of Jews.
A special service was held at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford to commemorate the passing of the Synod of Oxford in 1222, encouraging Christians to reject contemporary forms of anti-Judaism and antisemitism, The Times of Israel reported. Britain's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and representatives of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby were among the civic dignitaries and church leaders to attend the service.
In 1215, the Synod added a range of further anti-Jewish measures for the Medieval Church in England to promulgate the decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council.
Through the canons, the Jewish community was forbidden to interact with Christians, specific church tithes have been established for the Jews, and the wearing of identifying badges has been imposed on English Jews. In the thirteenth century, anti-Jewish statutes followed these prejudicial laws, culminating in the mass expulsion of the Jewish community in 1290.
In an interview, Professor Miri Rubin, Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary University London said "In fact, the church had no authority over Jews in England." According to her, the church leaders were described as "Servants of the Crown," which mean that they had no merit to enforce any of the laws.
For Rubin, it's good to hold anniversaries that would help acknowledge mistakes of the past but true transformation happened when people would be committed to learning how to confront similar issues in the society.
As she asked, who would be held accountable for the Jewish people 800 years ago? As heirs of generation, she encouraged people to recognize what actions should be done to change the matter.
Remember, Repent, and Rebuild
The leaders of the Church of England, though it was only formed in the 1530s, the church leaders have insisted on the significance of an apology, Vatican News reported.
Archbishop Welby said in a tweet on Sunday, "Today's service is an opportunity to remember, repent and rebuild." He encouraged people to pray that it would be an inspiration to Christians of today to reject contemporary forms of anti-Judaism and antisemitism and to appreciate and receive the gift of our Jewish neighbors.
Today’s service at @ChChCathedralOx is an opportunity to remember, repent and rebuild. Let us pray it inspires Christians today to reject contemporary forms of anti-Judaism and antisemitism, and to appreciate and receive the gift of our Jewish neighbours.https://t.co/lgNVl7sRPf
— Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) May 8, 2022
Aside from the symbolic moment of apology, the Diocese of Oxford noted, this event aimed to recognize the positive reframing of Jewish-Christian relations since the publication of "Nostra Aetate," a report of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 that deploring and condemning hatred and persecutions of Jews, whether arose in former or in recent days.
The time had come for Christians to repent of their "shameful actions" and "reframe positively" their relations with the Jewish community, Archdeacon of Oxford Jonathan Chaffey said. He also mentioned that the Catholic Church agreed with the apology.
The special service on Sunday comes after previous recent efforts to foster goodwill with the Jewish community. In 2019, the Church of England issued a declaration titled "God's Unfailing Word," which emphasized the importance of the Christian-Jewish relationship and urged Christians to actively combat antisemitism.