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Rose Thering, 85, nun who fought anti-Semitism

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- Sister Rose Thering, a Roman Catholic nun whose lifelong campaign against anti-Semitism helped change the policies of her church, died early yesterday in her native Wisconsin.

Sister Thering died of kidney failure at the Sisters of St. Dominic's Siena Center in Racine, Wis., according to Seton Hall University, where she was a professor emerita of Jewish Christian Studies.

She was 85.

Luna Kaufman, chairwoman for a Seton Hall endowment bearing Sister Thering's name, said the nun ''opened the eyes of her Catholic brothers and sisters to the importance of Jewish-Christian relations."

''It is such a tribute to her that people all over the country are more interested in and supportive of Jews and Jewish culture," Kaufman said.

Sister Thering's life was the subject of the movie ''Sister Rose's Passion," which was nominated in 2005 for an Academy Award in the short documentary category.

Sister Thering grew up in the 1920s in the mostly Catholic town of Plain, Wis., where her mother and teachers told her that Jews killed Jesus.

''But I got something else from my books, that God is all good. And it didn't make sense to me, even as a little kid," Sister Thering told the Associated Press last year.

Sister Thering put her concerns over anti-Semitism into action when she arrived at St. Louis University in 1957 to pursue her doctorate. For her dissertation, she examined how Catholic teaching materials contained numerous passages that were disparaging of Jews.

The work was eventually used by the Vatican as it issued a declaration in 1965 that the events of Jesus' death could not be held against ''all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews today."

Sister Thering came to Seton Hall in 1968 to start an educational outreach program in Jewish-Christian studies.

She spent her life advocating tolerance between Christians and Jews, traveling across the United States and around the world.

Sister Thering leaves two brothers and four sisters, as well as her Dominican sisters and associates.

A funeral Mass for is scheduled for Tuesday at the Siena Center Chapel in Racine.

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