Church of England to apologise for historic expulsion of Jews from England

General Synod meeting of Anglican Church leaders (STOCK PHOTO: Premier Christian News)

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 apologise for historic antisemitism 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 antisemitic laws requiring Jews to wear badges and banning them from particular jobs.

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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 antisemitic 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 antisemitism in the UK, asking: “In light of rapidly worsening antisemitism 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 neighbours, England’s oldest ethnic minority?”

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

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