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Argentine Priest Criticized

An American Jewish leader urged the Vatican’s representative here Wednesday to publicly condemn a blatantly anti-Semitic homily delivered by a Roman Catholic priest in Cordoba Oct. 4, and expressed concern that the Vatican has not yet spoken out.

Seymour Reich, international president of B’nai B’rith, raised the issue at a meeting with the Papal Nuncio, Msgr. Ubaldo Calabresi. He was referring to the monthly Mass honoring “victims of subversion” at which Father Manuel Beltran denounced the “bad Jews” who “surround” the government of president Raul Alfonsin and suggested that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a document worth reflecting on.

If only because democracy is still so fragile in Argentina, it is important that the church’s reaction to anti-Semitic remarks by an Argentine priest be made public, Reich told Calabresi. Calabresi replied that he had informed Beltran that he was wrong but made no public statement because the incident was an isolated one.

Beltran’s audience consisted largely of rightwing military officers who oppose the Alfonsin government because of its efforts to bring to justice military officers who participated in murder and atrocities when the junta ruled Argentina. The priest differentiated between “bad” and “good” Jews — the latter being, according to him, those who stay out of public affairs.

He blamed Jews for Argentina’s economic and social problems, from divorce to pornography. He recalled that when he was young, he had read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and said of the notorious anti-Semitic forgery: “I don’t know what is its value, but one should think about what is said there.”

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