Two Jewish leaders due to meet Pope Benedict on Thursday say he has to ensure the ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) changes some of its core views before current Catholic-Jewish strains can ease. We’ve run a news story on my interviews with them and a timeline on Catholic-Jewish relations. To give a fuller picture of what they’re saying, here are the transcripts of our talks.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (Photo: Conference of Presidents)
What do you hope to get from the meeting with the pope tomorrow? Can steps be taken to put this behind you?
Yes, I do believe that steps can be taken for us to turn this very negative experience into something positive and that is to use this as an opportunity, a pervasive opportunity in the Church, to root out those who engage in Holocaust denial or anti-Semitism of any form, for the Church to declare that there is no place within the Church for people who espouse such abhorrent views, that they renounce them and say that they will not countenance their presence. It is not just Bishop Williamson but members of that group, the organisation of which he is part, who have espoused anti-Semitic views over the years. I think it is important that before there can be an reconciliation with them, that not only there has to be a complete renunciation of those views and the Church establishing this as a standard and that the message will go out, especially at a time when we are seeing a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe, that the Church can play a critical role in helping to stem it and to declare it morally objectionable and religiously unacceptable.
What do want to hear from the pope tomorrow and what do you think he must say to start putting this behind us?