A sharp call from head of the first Orthodox center to engage in religious dialogue with Rome: Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, reacting to the uproar over Pope Benedict’s reinstatement of four right-wing schismatic bishops, one of whom is a Holocaust-denier, took the battle to the pope’s own turf–Catholic sacramentality:

“…The Pope has muddied the waters of truth and compromised his own religion, specifically the Gospel of John 8:32, you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat in Israel, said in a statement released today.

Riskin recently founded Ohr Torah Stone: Center for Jewish Christian Understanding & Cooperation, described as “the first Orthodox Jewish center to religiously dialogue with Christians,” something Orthodox Judaism has always forbidden. Some welcome he gets–and it’s not just Bishop Williamson, the outright Holocaust denier, but the strain (and stain) of anti-Semitism running through the movement.
As Riskin says, “this was more than a near fatal blow to the advancement of Jewish-Catholic relations; it’s staining the essence of sacrament within the church.” Powerful words, sure to elicit response. The rabbi continues, listing just a few of the other problematic actions the pontiff has taken:

“With the re-introduction of the Latin Mass last year calling for the conversion of Jews, senior Vatican official Cardinal Renato Martino of the Peace & Justice Commission sharply criticizing Israel’s actions and likening the Gaza Strip to a concentration camp, and now the Pope admitting a Holocaust denier into the hierarchy of the Catholic Church should concern Jews worldwide.”

The pope plans to visit Israel and the Holocaust memorial there, in May–or he did until this latest flare-up:

“…How will he walk into Yad Vashem and plant a wreath for the six million, when he just reinstated a bishop who denies that very historical fact within the greater truth of the Shoah? It is time for the Vatican to examine its conscience.”

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