Pope Meets with Antisemitic Priest–Jews Stunned

On August 5, Pope Benedict XVI met with antisemitic Polish priest, Tadeusz Rydzyk, C.S.S.R. The Vatican had to quell a firestorm of protest when the photos went round the world, saying it was just a “baciamano” (a kiss on the hand), and that it “does not indicate any change in the Holy See’s well-known position regarding relations between Catholics and Jews” (CNS; IHT).

Jewish organizations are not satisfied. The ADL reports on a letter sent to the pope by Abe Foxman:

In a letter to Benedict XVI, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, expressed deep concerns that by meeting with Rydzyk and keeping silent about the issue of anti-Semitism “you have unfortunately lent him the priceless credibility of your office and integrity in the eyes of the world.”

Foxman noted that, “As the founder and director of Radio Maryja, Father Rydzyk is responsible for the anti-Semitic comments and concepts the station regularly broadcasts to millions of Polish Catholic faithful,” and “Father Rydzyk himself has on several occasions made anti-Semitic statements on the air. These are despicable anti-Semitic remarks that must be strongly and publicly condemned by all leaders and people of good will.

“We respectfully request that you publicly condemn the anti-Semitism that is being spouted by Father Rydzyk and other Catholic leaders in Poland.”

Likewise, the Simon Wiesenthal Center says the pope now must speak:

The Simon Wiesenthal Center today reiterated its call to the Vatican to discipline Polish Catholic leader Father Tadeusz Rydzyk for anti-Semitic remarks, following an AP report that the Pope briefly met with the controversial priest this past Sunday at the papal summer residence. Comments by Rydzyk denouncing the Polish government for being “in the pockets of the Jewish Lobby” by delivering a $65 million restitution package to Polish Holocaust survivors, were made public last month.In a letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, wrote that he hoped had used the meeting as an opportunity to rebuke Rydzyk, because, “as a priest who reaches millions of people through radio and television, he speaks not only for himself, but for his Church as well.” Hier then wrote, “if that was the purpose of the meeting, then I believe the Holy See did the right thing and should make the rebuke public as an important example to anti-semites around the world that the Church will never tolerate hate speech, especially hate speech uttered by a man of G-d.”

Such a public rebuke would help the efforts of Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II to improve relations between Catholics and Jews. “Otherwise,” said Rabbi Hier, “ I’m afraid the Vatican would be sullying its reputation by granting legitimacy to an unrepentant bigot who will claim that rather than being admonished, he was honored to receive the Pope’s blessing. When Rydzyk’s anti-Semitic remarks were made public last month, the Wiesenthal Center launched a petition campaign last month that generated over 25,000 signatures calling on Rydzyk’s superiors to discipline him.

2 thoughts on “Pope Meets with Antisemitic Priest–Jews Stunned

  1. Hey Bill, maybe this comment won’t be killed by moderation? 😛

    I noted from Liam Foley’s links to the Clerical Whispers blog that the Vatican’s statement on Pope B16’s visit with Rydzyk is “that the pope had merely greeted several pilgrims at the audience, Rydzyk among them, and that the meeting was “without special significance.””

    http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2007/08/pope-steps-back-from-meeting-polish.html

    I just wanted to toss that out there, because you seemed to imply collusion between the Vatican and Rydzky’s antisemitism, when in fact, a brief visit such at Castelgandolfo as the two had would (as I understand it) be a most inopportune time to discipline and censure Rydzyk.

  2. I linked to the Vatican’s explanation.

    But John Paul II certainly felt that such a meet and greet on the tarmac in Nicaragua was an appropriate place to say some sharp words to Ernesto Cardenal.

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