Ratzinger has been accussed of tone-deafness on Jewish issues. He reinstated a version of the Good Friday mass that includes a prayer calling for the conversion of the Jews, and is moving his predecessor Eugenio Pacelli (aka Pope Pius XXII) towards sainthood, despite his failure to act against Nazism with the full weight of his office. Now, the man who says mass for him, Raniero Cantalamessa, is doing him no favors:
At a solemn Good Friday service, Pope Benedict XVI’s personal preacher likened the tide of allegations that the pontiff has covered up sex abuse cases to the “more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.” But within hours, facing a storm of criticism at the comparison, the Vatican felt it necessary to distance the pope from the preacher’s remarks.Both Jewish and victims’ groups responded that it was inappropriate to compare the discomfort being experienced by the church leadership in the sex abuse scandal to the violence that culminated in the Holocaust. The Vatican has been on the defensive in recent days, saying the church has been singled out and collectively stereotyped for the problem of pedophilia, which it says is a society-wide issue.
Invoking any comparison with anti-Semitism was particularly sensitive on Good Friday, itself a delicate day in a decades-long effort by Jews and Catholics to overcome a legacy of mistrust. There was a long-held Catholic belief that Jews were collectively responsible for executing Christ, and a landmark achievement of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s was a declaration stating the Jews should not be blamed for the crucifixion. As the pope listened in a hushed St. Peter’s Basilica, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa likened accusations against the pontiff and the Catholic church in sex abuse scandals in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere to “collective violence” suffered by the Jews.