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Papal show raises concerns in Sydney

A procession planned during a visit by Pope Benedict XVI could incite anti-Semitism, Australian Jewish leaders warned.

Roman Catholic officials in Sydney already have cut back a Stations of the Cross procession to be staged during the pope’s visit in July, from 14 stations to eight, but one segment still raises concerns, according to Vic Alhadeff, the director of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies. It is the third station, where Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin, the ancient Jewish tribunal.

“We are concerned at how this scene will be dramatized if it is to be retained,” Alhadeff said after a May 20 board resolution expressed disappointment at its inclusion. “The historical and biblical questions surrounding the notion that there was a formal Sanhedrin trial argue for extreme caution and, perhaps, even abandoning the device,” the resolution said.

A spokesman for the procession’s organizers said that “we’ve accommodated them [the Jews] where appropriate, but we’re unable to change the New Testament. Ultimately, we’re acknowledging that Christ was crucified for and by all sinners.”

The July 18 event is expected to attract 500,000 pilgrims.

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