The Church of England is set to apologise next year for its contributions towards antisemitism in England during the Middle Ages, which included creating several antisemitic laws that ultimately led to the expulsion of the Jews.
The apology is set to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the Synod of Oxford in 1222, the council that created the antisemitic laws. These laws included the forcing of Jews to wear badges, limiting them to certain occupations, and prohibiting new synagogues from being built. Eventually, King Edward I would expel England’s 3,000 Jews in 1290.
Although the Church was not established until the 16th-century, it was stated that its apology will act as a “symbolic repentance.” This comes after the recent increase in antisemitic incidents in Britain, which include a Jewish man having faced two separate antisemitic incidents on London transport within one hour, a rabbi in Essex being assaulted and hospitalised, and a convoy of cars that drove down the Finchley Road shouting “F*** the Jews…rape their daughters” through a megaphone.
The Bishop of Lichfield and Right Reverend Dr Michael Ipgrave said: “The Archbishop’s office has indeed received a letter proposing a service that might offer an act of repentance at the 800th anniversary of the Synod of Oxford and its antisemitic laws. We are exploring the idea of such a service to be planned in conjunction with the Council of Christians and Jews, as well as the potential for a liturgical resource that might be offered to local churches to model an appropriate symbolic repentance.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “The Church of England, inspired by decrees from Rome, was absolutely central to the horrific antisemitism suffered by English Jews in the Middle Ages, including religious propaganda, badges of shame, the invention of the blood libel, massacres and the first national expulsion of an entire Jewish community from a European country.
“There is much to repent for in this ignominious record. 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.”