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Dutch Clergy Favors Moving Convent but Says That It’s Powerless to Act

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The Dutch Catholic clergy favors the removal of a Carmelite convent from the grounds of the former Auschwitz death camp but is powerless to act, two Orthodox rabbis of Amsterdam were told.

The bishop of Haarlem, Msgr. Hendrik Bomers, advised Rabbis Lody Van De Kamp and Isaac Vorst at a meeting Monday night that the entire Dutch Catholic episcopate believes the convent should be located elsewhere.

He explained, however, that all prelates are autonomous in their respective diocese and Dutch Catholics therefore cannot influence the Polish cardinal, Franciszek Macharski, the archbishop of Krakow who has jurisdiction over the Auschwitz convent.

The rabbis and Bomers arranged to meet Monday night to discuss a range of Catholic-Jewish issues, with the convent issue at the forefront.

One of the subjects was an interview with Bomers published recently in the Dutch Jewish weekly NIW.

The bishop was quoted as saying that “Christians have the duty to preach the Gospel to the Jews.”

He told the rabbis that according to Matthew XII, they indeed have the duty to preach the Gospel to everyone, including Jews, but that does not mean they have to enforce it.

Another subject was the opinion expressed in the interview by Bomers that Pope Pius XII had been powerless to speak against Hitler during World War II, and that his public condemnation of the Nazis would not have helped the Jews.

The rabbis said afterward that the dialogue was “open and sincere,” but both parties stuck to their views.

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