Wiesenthal Center asks Pope to dismiss anti-Semitic priest
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has launched a petition drive urging Pope Benedict XVI and the Roman Catholic hierarchy to dismiss a Polish priest described as ÒJosef Goebbels in a collar.Ó During a lecture, the priest, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, allegedly denounced Polish President Lech Kaczynski as Òa fraudster, who is in the pocket of the Jewish lobbyÉyou know what this is about, Poland giving [the Jews] $65 billion. They will come to you and say, ÔGive me your coat. Take off your trousers. Give me your shoes.ÕÓ The remarks were part of an attack by Rydzyk on a Polish agreement to compensate Jews for property confiscated by the post-war Communist regime. The controversial priest founded the influential Radio Maryja station and other media outlets, which frequently disseminate anti-Semitic statements. In a letter to the pope and other church leaders, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founding dean of the Wiesenthal Center, likened Rydzyk to Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels, noting that ÒOnce again, anti-Semitism has been injected into the mix of making the Jews, yet again, the scapegoats of another political crisis.Ó Pointing to the strides made over the last decades to improve Catholic-Jewish relations, Hier added, ÒIt is inconceivable that Father Rydzyk be allowed to use his radio pulpit as a means of inciting people to bigotry and hatredÉit is the Church that must discipline him.Ó The Wiesenthal Center reported that on the first day the petition was posted on its website (www.wiesenthal.com), 10,000 people had affixed their signatures.