The Vatican has launched another damage limitation exercise after the pope’s personal preacher compared sex abuse scandals to Jewish persecution.
The sermon on Good Friday by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the only person allowed to preach to the pope, has further raised tensions over the allegations.
He told a congregation of a letter he had received from a Jewish friend who said he was “
following with disgust the violent and concentric attacks against the Church, the pope. The use of stereotypes, the shifting of personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism,” he quoted from the letter.
But the Vatican insists his comments were misunderstood.
Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said: “The comparison between the criticism to the Catholic Church and the scandals of paedophilia and the anti-Semitism is absolutely not the line of the Vatican and the Catholic Church.”
Many sections of the Italian press have reported that the pope’s preacher was reading from a letter.
But, political analyst, Gino Brunelli believes Father Catalamessa should have known better. “His words were, at worst, inappropriate and inopportune,” he says.
Timing aside, the matter is overshadowing the Catholic Church’s most important holiday of the year as it tries to restore its reputation.