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Criticism of pope likened to anti-Semitism

Criticism of pope likened to anti-Semitism

Pope Benedict XVI was preparing yesterday to hold an Easter vigil in St Peter's Square, in the wake of the latest row over the Church's response to paedophile priests.
Jewish groups and those representing victims of abuse by Catholic priests denounced remarks by the Vatican preacher, who suggested criticism of the Roman Catholic Church over paedophilia scandals was similar to anti-Semitism.
Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Papal Household at the Vatican, made the comments during the ceremony at St Peter's Basilica as the pope looked on.
Speaking during Good Friday observance, he said he was quoting from a letter from a Jewish friend.
"The stereotyping, the transfer of personal responsibility and blame to a collective blame reminds me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism," said Cantalamessa, quoting the letter.
"I have followed with disgust the violent attack... against the Church (and) the pope," said the letter, read out by Cantalamessa, who by tradition is the only person allowed to preach to the pope.
Benedict, 82, made no mention of the child abuse controversy during a traditional procession later Friday at Rome's Colosseum re-enacting Jesus Christ's final hours and crucifixion.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporter the comments were from "a letter read by the preacher and not the official position of the Vatican."
But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the largest and most active of such groups in the United States, denounced the remarks.
"It's heart-breaking to see yet another smart, high-ranking Vatican official making such callous remarks that insult both abuse victims and Jewish people," said executive director David Clohessy in a statement.
"The remarks are shameful, inaccurate and a complete distortion of history," Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement. He demanded an apology from the pope himself.


Updated : 2021-07-31 11:46 GMT+08:00