22 January 2001
Dr Margaret Brearley has been appointed by the Archbishops' Council as Adviser on the Holocaust. Dr Brearley has lectured widely to Christian and Jewish audiences in Britain, Germany, Finland, Israel and the USA, and has published many articles on subjects including the history of Christian anti-Judaism, the persecution of the Roma/Gypsies of Europe and Richard Wagner's antisemitism and its influence on Hitler.
Dr Brearley will work in an honorary capacity alongside Canon Dr Michael Ipgrave, Inter-Faith Relations Adviser to the Archbishops' Council, to raise awareness, among clergy and lay people in the Church of England, of the significance of the Holocaust. Working closely with colleagues in other churches, her main concern will be to highlight the particular issues that the Holocaust raises for Christians.
During the years 1939-45, six million Jews, and millions of other people, were murdered by the Nazis at the heart of Christian Europe. This was one of the greatest challenges to Christian faith of the last century and it continues to be the Church's task in this new century to work through its implications. The Adviser's work will highlight important lessons to be learnt about Jewish-Christian relations, about respecting religious and cultural differences, about building an inclusive society, and about the ways in which Christianity can be distorted to serve evil and destructive ideologies.
Canon Ipgrave said: "In a world where genocide still takes place and a society where antisemitism, racism and intolerance still need to be overcome, the Church cannot afford not to take these lessons seriously. I am confident that Margaret's wisdom and expertise will be of great value to clergy and lay people struggling with these issues."
Dr Margaret Brearley, an Anglican, is married to Stephen, a general and vascular consultant surgeon. They have two sons. After studying at Oxford, Munster and Cambridge, she became a research academic in the German Department of Birmingham University, lecturing in mediaeval, Renaissance and Reformation literature and ideas, during which time she set up a day-centre for the mentally ill. Dr Brearley took early retirement after 13 years in order to found and direct the West Midlands Israel Information Centre, based in Singer's Hall Synagogue. In 1987, she became Senior Fellow at the Centre for Judaism and Jewish-Christian Relations at the Selly Oak Colleges and, from 1992 to 1996, was part-time Research Fellow in Christian-Jewish relations at the Institute of Jewish Affairs in London.