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VATICAN CITY (RNS) A Polish Catholic bishop who has been denounced for calling the Holocaust a “Jewish invention” distanced himself from the statement on Tuesday (Jan. 26), saying that he had been misunderstood.
In an interview published Monday (Jan. 25) on an Italian Catholic Web site, Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek was quoted as saying that Jews had “appropriated” the Holocaust for propaganda purposes.
“It’s undeniable that most of the dead in the concentration camps were Jews, but the list also includes gypsies, Poles, Italians and Catholics,” Pieronek said. “Therefore it is not licit to appropriate that tragedy to make propaganda. The Shoah (Holocaust) in that sense is a Jewish invention. … It’s used as a propaganda weapon and to obtain advantages that are often unjustified.”
Jewish groups swiftly denounced Pieronek’s remarks, noting that the interview was published two days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday, the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“The false accusations made by Bishop Pieronek once again show the underlying anti-Semitism that still lingers among some European clergymen in the Catholic Church — especially in regards to the Holocaust,” said Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress.
On Tuesday, Pieronek did not deny the statements, but insisted that they did not express his true views.
“Either I expressed myself wrongly or (the reporter) misunderstood me,” he told Anna Artymiak of the Gaudium Press news agency. “I have spoken with a Polish rabbi and my other Jewish friends. They understand and know me, that I haven’t changed my opinion and friendship with Jews.”
By Francis X. Rocca
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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