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New York — In the wake of an embarrassing Vatican response to a Holocaust-denying bishop, French Catholic cardinals on Monday (March 23) publicly and unambiguously expressed their opposition to Holocaust denial.
“Let this be another opportunity to recall — whether the time is right or not — that being a Catholic is radically incompatible with denying the Holocaust,” said Paris Cardinal Andre Armand Vingt-Trois, “and that recent statements have caused suffering among our Jewish brothers as well as among many Catholics.”
The cardinal’s comments followed a tour of an exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan dedicated to the murder of more than 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine during World War II.
Speaking to reporters after an hourlong tour of the exhibit, and surrounded by prominent New York Jewish leaders, Vingt-Trois did not comment directly on the Vatican’s handling of schismatic Bishop Richard Williamson, who was invited back to the church before his Holocaust-denial comments became public.
Still, Vingt-Trois said it was “shocking” that Williamson had used “his authority to disseminate” historical lies.
“Is it right or wrong? It’s wrong,” said Vingt-Trois, president of the French bishops’ conference.
Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the archbishop of Bordeaux and a three-time visitor to Auschwitz, said anyone who has visited a death camp “is deeply marked … you can’t be the same.” He called Williamson’s statements “unacceptable.”
The exhibition is drawn from the work of the Rev. Patrick Desbois, a Paris priest, and his colleagues from Yahad-In Unum, a group investigating the systematic mass murders of Jews by Germans in the Ukraine. Desbois and his team have located more than 800 graves so far.
Their work earned praise Monday from Fanya Gottesfeld Heller, 84, a Holocaust survivor and a museum trustee, who, along with her family, was saved by a Ukrainian Catholic rescuer, Sidor (Izydor) Sokolowski. “No one can say this didn’t happen,” Heller said.
The 14-member delegation of clerics, which included bishops from Germany, South Korea and Ghana, are in New York to meet with representatives from New York’s Touro College and other institutions about Jewish-Catholic educational programs.
By Chris Herlinger
Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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