The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has broken ties with the Vatican. Though there may be some hope in light of the pope’s comments earlier today. Here’s the AP story:
JERUSALEM – Israel’s chief rabbinate severed ties with the Vatican on Wednesday to protest a papal decision to reinstate a bishop who publicly denied 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
The Jewish state’s highest religious authority sent a letter to the Holy See expressing “sorrow and pain” at the papal decision. “It will be very difficult for the chief rabbinate of Israel to continue its dialogue with the Vatican as before,” the letter said. Chief rabbis of both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews were parties to the letter.
The rabbinate, which faxed a copy of the letter to The Associated Press, also canceled a meeting with the Vatican set for March. The rabbinate and the state of Israel have separate ties with the Vatican, and Wednesday’s move does not affect state relations.
Pope Benedict XVI, faced with an uproar over the bishop, said Wednesday he feels “full and indisputable solidarity” with Jews and warned against any denial of the full horror of the Nazi genocide.
The remarks were his first public comments on the issue since the controversy erupted Saturday.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican hoped that in light of the pope’s words, “the difficulties expressed by the Israeli Rabbinate can be subjected to further and deeper reflection.”
Lombardi expressed hope that dialogue between the two parties can continue “fruitfully and serenely.”
Oded Weiner, the director general of the chief rabbinate’s office, welcomed the pope’s remarks, calling them “a big step toward reconciliation.”
Meanwhile, Phil Pullella of Reuters updates his Jewish reax story (Elie Wiesel interview below) with this:
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said he hoped it would be “sufficient to respond to the doubts expressed about the position of the pope and the Catholic Church” on the Holocaust. But Jewish leaders said it was not enough.
“We still want to be reassured that the views that Williamson expressed have no place in the Church,” said Rabbi David Rosen, head of inter-religious dialogue for the American Jewish Committee.
“We appreciate his sincerity but our concern is that there should not be any room for mixed messages.”
Elan Steinberg, vice-president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said:
“Clearly the damage remains. As welcome as the pope’s remarks are they contain a glaring omission, the demand by the Vatican that Williamson renounce his heinous views.”