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Rabbinical Alliance President Urges End to Criticism of Pope

An American Orthodox rabbinical group called on Jewish leaders today to refrain from further criticism of Pope Paul VI lest it create a backlash that would alienate Christian supporters of Israel. The statement, issued by Rabbi Bernard Weinberger, president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, referred to rebukes of the Pope from some Jewish quarters for his implied criticism of Israel’s Dec. 28 reprisal raid on Beirut Airport in a message of sympathy to Lebanon President Charles Helou.

According to Rabbi Weinberger, the Pope’s remarks were “another blot on the Church’s record of indifference to Jewish blood” but criticism of it “once made, should not require overwhelming repetition.” He criticized the fact that statements made by “umbrella” groups such as the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Synagogue Council of America were repeated individually by the dozens of individual organizations represented by those groups. “This leads to an impression of over-reaction which mitigates the impact of the initial criticism,” Rabbi Weinberger said. He noted that his group and a majority of Orthodox Jews were not represented by the “umbrella groups.”