Saturday, 3 April 2010

Letter read to pontiff, by papal preacher sparks controversy

(Catholic Watchdog South Africa)

|Download the audio version of this Article|

Article by Marc Aupiais

In his Good Friday sermon at St. Peter's Basilica, to Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who belongs to the Franciscan order, and is the preacher to the pontifical household, the man who’s preaching the pope has to listen to, made some comments which have gained global attention. His job, is not as a policy maker, but as a priest who is to preach to the pope.

Raniero Cantalamessa, compared the attacks in media outlets, such as the New York Times, to the work of the Nazis during the Shoah, or so-called Holocaust of the Second World War if major news services are to be believed. In truth he did not, he simply read a letter from a Jewish friend, which claimed that the alleged mass labelling of Catholics, and the papacy, without due process, was also bigotry and dangerous, and reminded the preacher’s Jewish friend of the work of the Nazis.

In his Homily, as published, by independent Catholic news service Zenit, but missing it seems from the Vatican’s own site, the preacher focused on violence, and how it was losing against what he saw as better forces. His statement noted solidarity with the Jews, while his unnamed Jewish friend’s letter attacked “the whole world”, which his friend claims to have seen as attacking people of faith.

Despite constant mention by some media of the accusations by the New York Times, and others about the papacy and the former Cardinal Ratzinger’s cancelling the ecclesiastical trial of a dying man, who faced no civil charges or sanctions at the time, though suspected of sexual abuse, and those involving Ratzinger’s time as Archbishop of Munich, and other accusations, these have yet to have been proven to contain apathy or conspiracy on the part of the pope, even on a balance of scales. The details are also mostly ignored, only the accusations being made, apart from the cases set out by accusers.

An article by the Associated Press, appearing in the Toronto Star, used the accusation by the Preacher of media allegedly purposely creating a tempest in a teapot: the article determined to recall Christian abuse of Jewish people, and attempted to liken the comparison by the preacher of anti-Catholic sentiment and anti-Semitism, itself to anti-Semitic claims.

The Associated Press is quick to note that Vatican representative, Rev. Federico Lombardi, contacted them afterwards, to distance the Vatican from the alleged claims by the preacher, saying that the comparison was not Vatican policy, and say the Associated Press, that Lombardi claims that the preacher was not speaking as a Vatican official.

The fact remains, that the preacher, whose job it is to mentally stimulate the pontiff, was speaking in his official capacity as Preacher to the Papal Household, though this is not a policy making position. The Associated Press also gives their opinion that the pontiff looked weary during the time in which the preaching occurred.

Vatican Radio, also notes being contacted on the issue by Lombardi, saying:

“The Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi issued a statement to Vatican Radio explaining the position of the Holy See.

Fr. Lombardi said the Holy See does not consider the recent criticism of the Pope over the Church’s handling of abuse of minors by priests to be in any wise similar to anti-Semitism.

He went on to explain that Fr. Cantalamessa himself intended only to share an expression of solidarity from a Jewish brother.”

The Vatican’s run-ins with the New York Times are hardly a new event, with Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese located by New York, constantly alleging bias. The Vatican itself, has previously vetted an article alleging a conspiracy against it by the London Times, New York Times and others.

We noted this accusation in our article on the 1st of May 2009: "Vatican" vetted "Jesuit" Paper: "La Civiltà Cattolica" attacks credibility of the "Times", "New York Times" and "The Washington Post", "Le Monde", "the Italian press."

According to Zenit’s rendering of the Homily, the preacher gave to the pontiff, this is what the preacher’s Jewish friend is said to have said, analysis, shows this is the actual focus of news media, these words, allegedly by an unnamed Jewish man:

"I am following with indignation the violent and concentric attacks against the Church, the Pope and all the faithful by the whole world. The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism. Therefore I desire to express to you personally, to the Pope and to the whole Church my solidarity as Jew of dialogue and of all those that in the Jewish world (and there are many) share these sentiments of brotherhood. Our Passover and yours undoubtedly have different elements, but we both live with Messianic hope that surely will reunite us in the love of our common Father. I wish you and all Catholics a Good Easter."

Pope Benedict XVI, and other bishops, have themselves claimed responsibility for a collective guilt, incurred by the clergy, and hierarchy, for the sexual abuse scandal, this was done in many of the papacy’s personal apologies on behalf of the church, to many victims.

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