April 2, 2010 -- New York -- The American Jewish Committee (AJC) sharply criticized the Vatican prelate who likened the growing controversy over sexual abuse of minors by priests to the long history of anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews.
“To invoke the issue of persecution against Jews as a lever to try and deflect attention from the crisis inside the Catholic Church is not only unfortunate, but simply stunning,” AJC Executive Director David Harris told Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News tonight.
In a Good Friday homily in St. Peter's Basilica, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa compared the accusations against Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church in the sex abuse scandal to "collective violence" suffered by the Jews.
Father Cantalamessa, who is Pope Benedict XVI's personal preacher, spoke of a Jewish friend who had reportedly written to him to say the sexual abuse allegation reminded him of the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism."
“There can be no justification for referring to centuries of Jewish suffering, persecution and death at the hands of anti-Semites and the Catholic sexual abuse crisis in the same breath,” said Harris. “Linking to two entirely distinct issues, much less suggesting that those in the church accused of either practicing or condoning sexual abuse are themselves the target of an equivalent of anti-Semitism, is a grave disservice to the truth -- and to history, past and present."