De­nier in line for Pa­pal bless­ing

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News -

CLOSE OB­SERVERS OF Vat­i­can tea leaves sug­gest that the Holy See is close to an agree­ment with the ul­tra-con­ser­va­tive So­ci­ety of St Pius X, af­ter three years of ne­go­ti­a­tions. In 2009, Pope Bene­dict XVI caused con­tro­versy by lift­ing the ex­com­mu­ni­ca­tions of four of the So­ci­ety’s bish­ops, one of whom, Richard Wil­liamson, was a Holo­caust­de­nier.

The Pope has long wanted to heal the schism with the So­ci­ety, which was founded by Arch­bishop Le­feb­vre in 1969 in re­sponse to the re­forms of Vat­i­can II, when the Church stated that the Jewish peo­ple “re­main most dear to God” and com­mit­ted the Church to fight­ing “the sin of an­tisemitism”. The Le­feb­vrites ques­tion the teach­ing of the Coun­cil, es­pe­cially on fos­ter­ing closer re­la­tions with Jews and re­li­gious free­dom.

Some ar­gue that the re­turn of the So­ci­ety of St Pius X threat­ens to un­der­mine Vat­i­can II, which was a turn­ing point in the his­tory of Jewish-chris­tian re­la­tions. Rev Prof John Paw­likowski, from Catholic The­o­log­i­cal Union in Chicago, has called for the Pope to de­clare un­equiv­o­cally, like his pre­de­ces­sor, that the teach­ings of Vat­i­can II are not op­tional; that they rep­re­sent the true spirit of the Church.

Since 1969, the So­ci­ety has been on the out­side of the Catholic Church. Now, the group has writ­ten a let­ter that could pave the way for an agree­ment. Not ev­ery­one in the Church is likely to be pleased by a rap­proche­ment. Lib­eral Catholics, as well as the French Bish­ops, are likely to protest.

Un­der Pope Bene­dict XVI, there have been con­tro­ver­sies over the canon­i­sa­tion of wartime Pope Pius XII; the re­vised Tri­den­tine Rite Good Fri­day prayer, which calls ex­plic­itly for con­ver­sion of Jews; and ten­sions be­tween the Vat­i­can and Is­rael. If the So­ci­ety of St Pius X is read­mit­ted into the Ro­man Catholic Church and con­tin­ues to re­ject Vat­i­can II, it is un­clear to ob­servers whether the Pope’s decision is an­other bump in the road of Catholic-jewish rec­on­cil­i­a­tion or in­dica­tive of a more fun­da­men­tal con­cern. Dr Ed Kessler MBE is founder and di­rec­tor of the Woolf In­sti­tute, Cam­bridge

PHO­TOS: AP

Pope Bene­dict is close to heal­ing a schism with the So­ci­ety of St Pius X, of which de­nier Wil­liamson is a mem­ber

In favour? Wil­liamson

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