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Vatican and “Traditionalists” Differ on Anti-Semitism

Copies in French of “The Jews in the Mystery of History,” by the late Father Julio Meinvielle, are pictured among other titles in the bookshop of the Society of St. Pius X seminary in Econe, Switzerland, 9 May. The book, which describes Jews as “enemies of the Gospel,” who seek the “corruption and ruin” of Christians, does not reflect mainstream thinking in the SSPX, said the group’s superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring) 

16 May 2012 – by Francis X. Rocca

MENZINGEN, Switzerland (CNS) — Of all the controversies associated with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, no topic provokes stronger reactions inside or outside the church than the question of the society’s attitude toward Jews.

In 2009, after Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of all four of the society’s bishops, there was widespread outrage at revelations that one of the four, Bishop Richard Williamson, had denied the gassing of Jews in Nazi concentration camps and endorsed the notorious anti-Semitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

The society’s superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, repudiated those statements at the time, saying that “anti-Semitism has no place in our ranks” and that the “position of Bishop Williamson is clearly not the position of our society.”

More than three years later, the society, a breakaway group that rejects the modernizing changes that followed the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65, may now be on the verge of reconciliation with Rome under the leadership of Bishop Fellay and over the objections of other members, including Bishop Williamson.

A prerequisite for such reconciliation is the society’s assent to certain church teachings stipulated by the Vatican in a “doctrinal preamble,” which has not yet been published but which presumably includes elements of the teaching of Vatican II. In April, the director of the Vatican press office described the society’s recent response to the preamble as a “step forward” in the process.

Yet it remains unclear whether the society’s attitude toward Jews is fully in harmony with that adopted by the church at Vatican II, specifically in the 1965 declaration “Nostra Aetate,” which said the Jewish people could not be blamed for the death of Jesus Christ and taught that they “should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God.”

“’Nostra Aetate’ remains the charter and guide in our efforts to promote greater understanding, respect and cooperation between our two communities,” Pope Benedict told a delegation from the Latin American Jewish Congress at the Vatican May 10.

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Tags: Jews Catholic-Jewish relations anti-Semitism Society of St. Pius X