Ultra-trad Catholics upset rabbi’s lecture in Paris cathedral

March 23, 2010
notre dame

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, 6 Aug 2009/Jacky Naegelen

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris witnessed a scene on Sunday afternoon that seemed to be from a bygone age. A rabbi invited to deliver a lecture about Catholic-Jewish dialogue was interrupted by young arch-traditionalist Catholics who began to pray the rosary to make “amends for the outrage” of letting him speak there. Rabbi Rivon Krygier had to leave the nave and retire to the sacristy, where he read his text into a microphone to broadcast it to about 1,200 people who came to hear him. Read our full story here.

Rabbi Krygier, the head of a small Conservative Jewish congregation in Paris, had the grace to recognise that his hecklers were a tiny minority. “They’ll say they succeeded in banishing the rabbi to the sacristy,” he told the Catholic daily La Croix“This is an act that has to be taken seriously, but the Christians active in dialogue seem much more determined to continue on this path.”


Rabbi Rivon Krygier/Adath Shalom

The warm round of applause that Krygier received when he returned to the nave after the lecture bore that out. At the same time, arch-traditionalists such as Rev. Régis de Cacqueray, head of the French section of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) congratulated protesters for their “courage” and said: “The Paris cathedral is neither a synagogue nor a Masonic temple.”

An ultra-traditionalist blog called “Les Intransigeants” (The Intransigents) spoke its mind more openly: “Notre Dame again defended against the outrage by the merchants of the Temple.” The rest of the post was worse anti-Semitic venom.

This incident came at a time of growing tension between the mainstream French Church and a small minority of arch-traditionalists who reject the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), especially the opening it brought to fellow Christians, Jews and the faithful of other religions.

These arch-traditionalists, who are stronger in France than most other countries, have gotten several boosts from the Vatican in recent years. Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications of four SSPX bishops last year, a move that caused an embarrassing uproar when one turned out to be a Holocaust denier. The SSPX was then invited to doctrinal discussions at the Vatican, which are now going into their third round. Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Swiss-based SSPX, said recently that the Vatican theologians at the talks “wish the Church well but want to save the Council at the same time. This is a squaring of the circle.”


Grand Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim and Cardinal Vingt-Trois, 21 Jan 2010/Gonzalo Fuentes

The French bishops, many of whom  wanted the SSPX rebels to accept the Vatican II reforms before being returned to the Church, have responded by organising conferences such as Notre Dame’s Lenten Lectures series to explain the Vatican II reforms and their relevance for today’s Church to parishioners who may not know many details about an event that happened almost five decades ago.

The Catholic television station KTO cut off its live transmission as the protest started, but you can still hear the beginning of it at the end of the introduction by Cardinal Vingt-Trois, at 3:31 in the video below. In the France Culture radio broadcast here, you can hear the protesters for about a minute until the cathedral’s mighty organ drowned them out.

In the next video, Cardinal Vingt-Trois sets up the microphone and Rabbi Krygier reads his lecture from the sacristy:

What do you think of this? Is this an isolated incident, or do you think it also reflects wider tensions in Catholic-Jewish relations recently?

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Posted by czecher | Report as abusive

Another interesting post. Thank you.
But are YOU going to be covering the resignation of John Magee? WOW. Fox News here had him as John Paul II’s secretary — which he was. But they missed the whole John Paul I story.
Kind of feel bad for Magee. You probably know him personally.
Thanks for YOUR great work.
Anura Guruge

Posted by aguruge | Report as abusive

I really wish that through this ecumenical dialogue, the Jews will be enlightened and apologize to the Christendom for killing Jesus Christ who is also a Jew. Amidst the scandals, the Catholic Church has the courage to repent and ask forgiveness. Can we also expect the same thing from the Jews?

Posted by drosaupan | Report as abusive

[…] Reuetrs FaithWorld: Religion, faith and ethics, 2010.03.23 […]

Posted by Christian prayers drive Satanic Pharisee out of Notre Dame « What Do You Believe? | Report as abusive

To drosaupan:

I really wish that through this ecumenical dialogue, anti-Semites like you will be set straight, to get your history corrected and realize that the Romans killed Jesus, not the Jews.

The last Pope said “The Jews are our elder brothers.” Obviously, you weren’t listening.

Posted by coop | Report as abusive

[…] of Saint Pius X, the same Catholic traditionalist grouping to which Richard Williamson belongs; last year, he complained about Rabbi Rivon Krygier being allowed to give a lecture in Notre Dame Cathedral in […]

Posted by Art Vandalism Highlights Catholic Right Organisations in France and Belgium « Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion | Report as abusive