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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) 

“The declaration not only took up an unambiguous position against every form of anti-Semitism, it also laid the groundwork for a theological reassessment of the church’s relationship with Judaism and it expressed confidence that an appreciation of the spiritual heritage shared by Jews and Christians would lead to ever greater mutual understanding and esteem,” the pope said.

Interviewed by Catholic News Service the following day, Bishop Fellay said the Society of St. Pius X can accept “some points” of “Nostra Aetate.”

To say that “all the Jews today are responsible for the death of our Lord is not the teaching of the church, and so this is wrong,” Bishop Fellay said. “But to say that people who agree (with the crucifixion), who say, ’No, they were right to do so,’ there they join themselves with those who were responsible.”

The bishop added that the society teaches that “we Catholics, with our sins, we are more responsible for the death of our Lord than the Jews.”

But in contrast with the pope’s remarks, Bishop Fellay’s description of the relationship between Catholics and Jews today hardly emphasizes cooperation or friendship.

Jews “have a special place in history,” Bishop Fellay said. “Unfortunately, by their refusing of the Messiah, of Christ, that does not change that they have a special role, but for the time being this role in comparison with Catholicism is an unpleasant role.”

The relationship between Jews and Christians is a fundamentally antagonistic one, he said.

Jews “see in Christianity the cause of their situation today,” the bishop said. “If you think of what happened to them during World War II, they claim that the fault or the cause is Christianity, which we claim is wrong.”

“When you see all the comments on the Jewish side about Catholicism, you see this antagonism which does not come first from the Catholics,” he said. “I think it comes more from their side than ours.”

The bishop said that he did not attribute such an attitude to “every Jew, as people,” but to “the religion, Judaism, which is something different.”

“Not all Jews follow Judaism,” he said.

Bishop Fellay said that, despite popular perceptions fed by controversies such as the Williamson case, Judaism is not a preoccupation of members of the society.

“I don’t think that in any talk or sermon, I ever talked about the Jewish question,” he said. “It’s not an issue for us.”

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