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Wiesenthal Center: Vatican Should Publicly Comment On Meeting Between Pope And Controversial Polish Priest Rydzyk

August 7, 2007

WIESENTHAL CENTER: VATICAN SHOULD PUBLICLY COMMENT ON MEETING BETWEEN POPE AND CONTROVERSIAL POLISH PRIEST RYDZYK

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.   

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States.
It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.

For more information, contact the Center's Public Relations department, 310-553-9036.