Poland: Catholic Church in Support of Shechita

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shechitaThe Presidium of the Polish Episcopal Conference announced its position on ritual slaughter. The support of the Catholic Church to legalize ritual slaughter was expressed in a statement.

“By issuing the statement of the Presidium, the Polish Episcopate expresses its hope that ritual slaughter will be allowed to continue. This is important to followers of Judaism and Islam in the spirit of liberties pertaining to religion,” said the spokesman of the Polish Episcopate, Fr. Józef Kloch.

The statement of the Presidium of the Polish Episcopal Conference was issued in relation to the ongoing discussions on the admissibility of ritual slaughter in Polish legislation. In the opinion of representatives of the Catholic Church of Poland, the practice of ritual slaughter, without the stunning of the animal, is an expression of religious faith and embodies religious freedom.

“The Presidium of the Polish Episcopal Conference shares the concern of the Jewish religious communities and the followers of Islam concerning their ability to maintain and implement their fundamental rights of freedom of religion and worship. Among them, is the right to maintain their practices of the ritual slaughter of animals” – notes the official document.

The Presidium of the Polish Episcopal Conference addressed the issue of ritual slaughter during its last meeting. Special attention was given to the conflicting law on the protection of animals and the law concerning relations of the Polish state with the Jewish religious communities. While analyzing the situation, emphasis was given to Poland’s long tradition of religious freedom and the importance of maintaining the rights of freedom of religious practice and worship of Judaism.

“The most important issue is the fact that for centuries in Polish history the right to religious freedom was never questioned. Part of the freedom of religion is to preserve the tradition and custom of ritual slaughter. This custom had never before been undermined” – noted the spokesman of the Polish Episcopate, Fr. Józef Kloch.

The position of the Catholic Church has great importance to the Jewish communities and is a sign of support in the ongoing public discussion.

“I am glad that the Catholic Church, which is important to the people of Poland, has supported the legalization of ritual slaughter. I hope that this opinion will have an important meaning to those public figures who refer to the teachings of the church,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Director General of the European Jewish Association.

On 2 September 2013, Pope Francis met in the Vatican with the President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Ronald S. Lauder. During the meeting, they spoke about the problems of limiting religious freedom in Europe and, in this context, about the recent banning of ritual slaughter in Poland.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)