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C of E to apologize for historic expulsion of Jews from England in 'act of repentance'

by Heather Preston
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The Church of England is due to offer an apology for the role of English churches in the expulsion of Jews in the 13th Century. 

Speaking at a meeting of the General Synod, Anglican leaders announced plans for an 'act of repentance' to apologize for historic anti-Semitism within churches across the country that took place prior to the Church of England's formation.

The Bishop of Lichfield said a symbolic service of repentance has been proposed for the 800th anniversary of the church's Synod of Oxford in 1222, which saw the introduction of anti-Semitic laws requiring Jews to wear badges and banning them from particular jobs.

The Rt Rev Dr Michael Ipgrave said: "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."

It comes following data from the Community Security Trust (CST) - a charity that provides safety to the Jewish community in the UK - which found the number of anti- Semitic incidents had reached record levels in May. The CST has suggested that the recent spike is likely linked to recent Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Speaking about the Church's planned ceremony the CST's director of policy, Dave Rich said the 'historic trauma of anti-Semitism can never be erased' but applauded the Church of England for its 'support and empathy' of the Jewish community.

Jacob Vince, a member of General Synod from the Diocese of Chichester raised the issue of rising anti-Semitism in the UK, asking: "In light of rapidly worsening anti-Semitism in the UK in recent months, might the 800th anniversary next year be an opportune moment for the Church of England to consider making a formal break with these historic prejudices as a gesture of solidarity with our Jewish neighbors, England's oldest ethnic minority?"

This would mark the first time the church has apologized for the expulsion of Jews from the UK.

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