Pope’s meeting with priest does not affect Jewish relations

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI’s brief encounter with a Polish priest accused of anti-Semitism does not indicate any change in the Vatican’s position concerning Catholic-Jewish relations, the Vatican said in a written statement.
Redemptorist Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who heads Poland’s largest Catholic broadcast agency and has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, met with the pope Aug. 5 at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, after the pope’s noontime Sunday Angelus prayer, a Vatican source told Catholic News Service Aug. 8.
The Vatican statement, released Aug. 9, said the fact that the pope met briefly with Father Rydzyk “does not indicate any change in the Holy See’s well-known position regarding relations between Catholics and Jews.”
The statement was issued after Jewish groups expressed concern over the meeting after photographs of the pope with Father Rydzyk and two other priests surfaced in the Polish media Aug. 7.
The Vatican statement, written in Italian, described the Aug. 5 encounter as a “baciamano” or a brief handshake rather than a private audience.
Both Father Rydzyk and the radio station he heads, Radio Maryja, have been criticized for inflammatory broadcasts. Complaints have been levied against Radio Maryja, which ranks fifth in Poland’s national ratings, for producing nationalist, anti-Semitic broadcasts.
Father Rydzyk faced possible jail time recently after describing Polish President Lech Kaczynski as “a crook subservient to the Jewish lobby.”
The priest denied making the remarks, published in July, and insisted he was the victim of “another provocation.”
Some church leaders in Poland have tried to rein in the radio. In April, in response to the complaints of anti-Semitism, the Vatican’s representative in Poland urged the nation’s bishops to reassert control “in a united action.”
Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Warsaw also complained the station had promoted “only a specific kind of godliness” and “selectively applied church teaching.”
“If Radio Maryja wants to be Catholic, it should help unify the church, whereas its activities are fomenting divisions,” the cardinal said in a December 2005 interview with the Polish Catholic news agency KAI.

Catholic Review

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