Jewish Leaders Denounce Traditionalist’s Remarks

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jewish groups have called on the Vatican to suspend reconciliation talks with a traditionalist group after one of its bishops argued that the Jewish people were responsible for the death of Jesus.

“Comments like these take us back decades to the dark days before there was a meaningful and mutually respectful dialogue between Jews and Roman Catholics,” Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement Oct. 19. “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,” he said.

He was referring to comments by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the Society of St. Pius X, who said recently in his online newsletter that the killing of Jesus “was truly deicide, the killing of God” and that “only the Jews (leaders and people) were the prime agents of the deicide” because they clamored for his crucifixion.

Bishop Williamson criticized modern church leaders who have moved away from that position, and said: “Until (the Jews) convert at the end of the world, as the church has always taught they will do, they seem bound to choose to go on acting, collectively, as enemies of the true Messiah.”

Bishop Williamson, one of four bishops whose excommunication was lifted in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI, became well-known at that time for his remarks denying the Holocaust. He has since been told by the Vatican that he will not be welcomed into full communion in the church until he disavows and publicly apologizes for those comments.

Meanwhile, Bishop Williamson has grown increasingly estranged from the leaders of the Society of St. Pius X. Bishop Bernard Fellay, the head of the society, recently told Bishop Williamson to stop publishing his online newsletter.

In New York, the Anti-Defamation League called on the Vatican to publicly repudiate Bishop Williamson’s remarks.

“Bishop Williamson’s remarks are further evidence that the Society of St. Pius X has no place in the mainstream church,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director.

“It is hard for us to imagine how a congregation that does not accept fundamental church teachings against anti-Semitism, and promotes classic anti-Jewish canards, can be accepted back into the fold,” he said.

In its landmark 1965 document on non-Christian religions, “Nostra Aetate,” the Second Vatican Council affirmed that “though Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ, neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his passion.”

The document said that although the church is the new “people of God,” the Jews “should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed.” The text also underlined the church’s “common heritage” with the Jews.

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