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WIESENTHAL CENTER RE: POPE’S EXPRESSION OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE JEWISH PEOPLE: "IT IS TIME THAT HIS ACTIONS MATCH HIS WORDS."

January 29, 2009

WIESENTHAL CENTER RE: POPE’S EXPRESSION OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE JEWISH PEOPLE: "IT IS TIME THAT HIS ACTIONS MATCH HIS WORDS."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center today responded to Pope Benedict’s recent statement on Jews and Judaism, saying, "the Vatican’s actions must match its words." The Pope’s statement comes in light of a recent television interview by Catholic prelate Richard Williamson where he denied that Jews were killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust. Williamson is one of the four members of the controversial Society of Pius X who were reinstated by the Pope this week after being excommunicated for 20 years. Earlier today, another member of the SSPX, Rev. Floriano Abrahamowicz, publicly defended Williamson saying that the gas chambers were used only to disinfect the Jewish inmates. In the same interview, he also described Jews as "the people of God who then became the God-killing people."

Mark Weitzman, the Director of the Center’s Task Force on Hate and Terrorism, said that the Vatican statement "contained wonderful sentiments about the Pope’s feelings toward the Jewish people and their religion" but that these are still "directly contradicted by his actions in welcoming back into the Catholic Church a group that maintains an extremist theology of antisemitism despite Vatican II and a generation of Church teachings to the contrary."

Weitzman, who was one of the American Jewish leaders who met with the Pope during his visit to the US last spring, added, "any attempt to portray the statements of Bishop Richard Williamson, who has denied the Holocaust, as isolated and limited are contradicted by the statements on the website of the Society of Saint Pius X." Weitzman pointed to a article on the Society’s website by Fathers Michael Crowdy and Kenneth Novak entitled "The Mystery of the Jewish People in History" that claims to be a theological explanation of the Jews. The article, which was originally published in 1997, argues that Judaism is a powerful force against Catholicism saying that:

"Judaism is inimical to all nations in general, and in a special manner to Christian nations."

"the unrepentant Jewish people are disposed by God to be a theological enemy, the status of this opposition must be universal, inevitable, and terrible."

"…acts of aggression by Judaism must be resisted. A characteristic strategy of Judaism is to perpetrate falsehood."

"Such overt antisemitism must be rejected, not welcomed back with open arms," said Weitzman. "Pope Benedict has often spoken movingly about his feelings toward the Jewish people – it is time that his actions match his words," he concluded.

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, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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