Polish bishops have condemned a new wave of anti-Semitism in the country amid tension over a government-backed law on responsibility for the Holocaust.

Archbishop Wojciech Polak of Gniezno, Poland’s primate, called anti-Semitism “a moral evil and a sin”, saying that attempts to divide people or pit them against each other “in a nationalistic context should be totally censured”.

“Any political activity which causes divisions, prejudices or tribal thinking is dangerous,” he said after the Polish bishops’ conference discussed the matter during its plenary meeting, which ended last week.

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki of Poznan, president of the bishops’ conference, said hostility belonged “neither to Christian nature nor to the nature of Judaism”. He urged prayers to ensure “the great good achieved by common efforts of Poles and Jews” was not squandered.

“We hear of an increase in aggressive attitudes among both Poles and Jews, who’ve begun to fear for their presence in Poland and speak very harshly about Poles,” Archbishop Gądecki told Poland’s Catholic Information Agency, KAI.

A new law imposes up to three years in jail for anyone who “publicly and against the facts attributes to the Polish nation or Polish state responsibility or co-responsibility for Nazi crimes” or “flagrantly reduces in any way the responsibility of the real perpetrators”.

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