Vatican City – Jewish groups are outraged again after a Catholic archbishop in Brazil downplayed Jewish suffering in the Holocaust, which he said had been exaggerated by Jewish “propaganda.”
“The Jews call themselves the main victims of the Holocaust. But the main victims were Gypsies. They were exterminated,” said Archbishop Dadeus Grings of Porto Alegre, Brazil, in an interview published Friday (Mar. 27). “They do not speak about that. The Jews have the propaganda of the world.”
Grings also told the Brazilian trade publication Press & Advertising that Catholics suffered “much more” than Jews in the Holocaust.
“The Jews speak of 6 million dead,” Grings said. “The Nazis killed more than 20 million people. You compare.”
Grings’ comments came two months after Pope Benedict XVI set off an international furor by lifting the 1988 excommunications of four ultra-traditionalist bishops in an effort to reconcile with their schismatic group.
Jewish organizations were outraged after one of the bishops, Richard Williamson, told Swedish television that no more than 300,000 Jews “perished in Nazi concentration camps … not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber.”
Unlike Williamson, who was ordained a bishop without permission of the Vatican and who is still not authorized to exercise his office, Grings is a bishop in good standing. He has served as archbishop of Porto Alegre, a diocese of 2.5 million Catholics, since 2001.
Jewish leaders in Brazil and elsewhere denounced Grings’ remarks.
“The church must take strong and public action against these Holocaust deniers who represent the Catholic Church to the world,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in a statement. “It is especially important that Pope Benedict make it clear that there will be consequences for those clergy who engage in Holocaust denial.”
The Vatican has not issued an official statement on the matter. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, did not respond to a request for comment late Tuesday.
By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service
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