European rabbis urge Vatican to fight anti-Semitic rebels

Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:41pm EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - European rabbis and Holocaust survivors in the United States urged the Vatican Wednesday to suspend unity talks with ultra-traditionalist Catholics until their movement pledged to renounce anti-Semitic members in its ranks.

The Conference of European Rabbis said Bishop Richard Williamson, already known for publicly denying the Holocaust, and the head of the splinter group in France had recently revived the age-old accusation that Jews killed Jesus.

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants said Williamson repeated the charge of collective Jewish guilt for Jesus's death despite Pope Benedict's recent reaffirmation that the Church rejected that charge.

"We call upon the Catholic Church to suspend negotiations with extremist Catholic tendencies until it is clear that these groups show a clear commitment to tackling anti-Semitism within their ranks," said Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, whose group represents chief rabbis and top rabbinical judges in Europe.

"The Catholic Church should make clear that hate mongers have no place in its ranks," said Elan Steinberg of the Holocaust survivors group.

The Jewish groups reacted after Williamson repeated the Jewish deicide charge on his blog at the weekend. Reverend Regis de Cacqueray, head of the French chapter of the rebel Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), said the same in an article last month.

The two are outspoken critics of any compromise between the SSPX and the Vatican, which have been holding talks to return the society to the Church after it split off 23 years ago in rejection of modernizing reforms introduced in the 1960s.

They brought up the sensitive issue of relations with Jews as Pope Benedict prepared to host a summit of world faith leaders -- including Jews -- in Assisi, Italy next week.

The Roman Catholic Church said at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) that it did not hold Jews responsible for killing Jesus, launching an era of improved relations between Catholics and Jews.   Continued...