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Bishops call for religious tolerance

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By Kevin Eckery
SAN DIEGO — In an action meant to underscore the serious danger posed by rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in California and around the world as a result of the war in Gaza, Cardinal Robert W. McElroy and two Christian bishops in the San Diego region issued a joint statement.

They urged people of all faiths in San Diego and Imperial counties to join together and acknowledge the “deep grief” being experienced by Muslims and Jews “in the escalating cycle of violence that is consuming the Holy Land.” And they reminded Christians that “Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are utterly incompatible with what it means to be a Follower of Christ or what it means to be an American.”

Cardinal McElroy issued the statement on Nov. 8 along with San Diego Episcopal Bishop Susan Brown Snook and Bishop David Nagler of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

“God weeps with us and all who suffer,” said the bishops.

The bishops acted because the effects of the war have not been limited to Gaza. The war has caused incidents of Islamophobic and anti-Semitic hate speech and violence to rise alarmingly around the world, including the United States.

A national report from the Anti-Defamation League cites a nearly 400-percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Similar reports reflect an almost doubling of Islamophobic incidents since the start of the war.

In Chicago, a 6-year-old Muslim boy was stabbed to death and his mother was injured when they were attacked by their landlord in Chicago in what authorities called a hate crime.

In Southern California, an elderly Jewish man died at a protest rally after a clash with a counter-demonstrator in Ventura County.

The bishops closed their statement by calling “on all people of faith to stand with us and our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters to oppose hate, to console one another in their suffering, to protect and support the innocent, to listen to each other’s experiences, to pray for an end to violence in the Middle East, and to work for a just and lasting peace in the land that all three of our religious traditions cherish so deeply.”

The complete statement can be found below and online at sdcatholic.org, under “Communication and News.”

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