Paris rabbi upbeat after cathedral lecture upset

Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:29pm EDT
 

PARIS (Reuters) - A Paris rabbi has voiced his confidence in Catholic-Jewish dialogue after young Catholic traditionalists briefly upset an unprecedented lecture he gave at the French capital's Notre Dame Cathedral.

Rabbi Rivon Krygier had to leave the cathedral's main hall and deliver his lecture from a side room on Sunday after several dozen traditionalists began loudly praying a rosary after Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois introduced him.

The traditionalists, who reject the improvement in relations between the two faiths decided at the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, said the prayers were meant as "amends for the outrage" of letting a Jewish cleric speak in the famous cathedral.

"They'll say they succeeded in banishing the rabbi to the sacristy," Krygier told the Catholic daily La Croix on Tuesday, "but the Christians active in dialogue seem much more determined to continue on this path."

He said he had "full confidence in this dialogue and in the people leading it, especially in France." Catholic-Jewish ties have been strained in some countries because of recent decisions by Pope Benedict that Jews saw as unfriendly to them.

In his lecture, Krygier said that interreligious dialogue helped "expose the vanity of always wanting to trump the other" and display "each tradition's irreplaceable treasure."

The unusual cathedral protest came at a time of growing tension between the mainstream French Church and a small minority of traditionalists who reject the Council's reforms.

Pope Benedict boosted the traditionalists' hopes last year when he readmitted to the Church four ultra-traditionalist bishops excommunicated since 1988. This caused an embarrassing uproar when one turned out to be a Holocaust denier.

The French branch of this group, the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), hailed the Notre Dame protest and said: "The Paris cathedral is neither a synagogue nor a Masonic temple."

Krygier received a warm round of applause from over 1,000 people attending his lecture, which he delivered over the public address system from a side room once the short protest ended and the traditionalists left the cathedral.

CRIF, the umbrella group of Jewish organizations in France, said Krygier's lecture was an historic step "followed by a large and friendly audience whose welcome sidelined the traditionalist group that tried to block him from speaking."