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