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Dutch Rabbi Cancels Meeting to Protest Cardinal’s Remarks

A Dutch rabbinic leader canceled a scheduled meeting with a ranking Catholic Church official over the weekend as a result of the official’s recent remarks regarding the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz.

At the same time, Jewish demonstrators protested outside the residence of the Vatican representative at The Hague for the second consecutive Sunday.

Rabbi Eliezer Wikler, chairman of the Netherlands Ashkenazic Congregation, had an appointment to discuss the matter with Cardinal Adrian Simonis, the archbishop of Utrecht.

But Wikler canceled their meeting out of “bitter disappointment” with the cardinal’s words. Simonis recently blamed “very fanatical Jews” for creating the impasse over the convent.

He was referring to Jews from all parts of the world who have demonstrated at Auschwitz to protest the convent’s continued presence there.

In Wikler’s view, Simonis has confused cause and effect by positing that Jewish demonstrators are responsible for the deterioration of relations between Catholics and Jews.

Wikler pointed out that the Jews demonstrated only after the Polish Church reneged on the agreement signed in Geneva in February 1987.

Simonis, who is chairman of the Netherlands Episcopal Conference, had stated two years ago that the agreement should be upheld.

The Dutch Catholic Bishops had, in fact, allocated $50,000 toward construction of a ecumenical prayer center off the Auschwitz grounds where Carmelite nuns would be moved.

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