The Vatican responded to criticism over the pope’s meeting with a Polish priest accused of anti-Semitism by reiterating its desire for close Catholic-Jewish ties.
The meeting “did not imply any change in the Holy See’s well-known position regarding relations between Catholics and Jews,” a Vatican statement said Thursday.
The Vatican did not, however, explain why Pope Benedict XVI granted an audience Sunday with Tadeusz Rydzyk, who allegedly called Jews greedy for seeking property restitution in Poland and slammed Polish President Lech Kaczynski for his support of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews set to open in Warsaw in 2009.
Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the European Jewish Congress expressed shock and anger at the meeting, saying the pope should publicly condemn Rydzyk rather than bless him.
The pope met briefly with Rydzyk and two other Catholic pilgrims at his summer residence outside of Rome after giving a Mass.
Rydzyk’s alleged anti-Jewish comments were taped during a university talk he gave and made public by the Polish magazine Wprost last month. Wprost, which obtained a tape of the priest’s talk, has handed it to a Polish prosecutor for further investigation to see if his remarks may have violated Polish hate speech laws.
Rydzyk has said his comments were manipulated and that he did not mean to offend anyone.
Rydzyk owns the ultra-conservative Catholic broadcaster Radio Maryja, which critics say has a history of airing anti-Semitic commentaries.