09 February 2009
New York / Brussels
09 February 2009
"Holocaust denial is not an opinion, but a crime"
Representatives of World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder today held talks with senior officials at the Vatican, including Cardinal Walter Kasper. Richard Prasquier, president of the French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF, and Maram Stern, WJC deputy secretary-general responsible for inter-faith dialogue, were in Rome following the recent controversy over the decision by the Vatican to revoke the excommunication of four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and the Holocaust denial of Bishop Richard Williamson.
WJC President Ronald Lauder underlined that the last week's move by the Vatican to ask Williamson to disown his Holocaust denial or face consequences was a welcome first step, but that it now had to be followed up by concrete actions. "We want the Vatican to realize that by accommodating anti-Semites like Williamson, the achievements of four decades of Catholic-Jewish dialogue since the 1965 declaration Nostra Aetate will be put into doubt," adding: "We now believe that our message has been
understood. The controversial debate of the past three weeks has had a positive impact." Lauder also thanked Cardinal Kasper, the president of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, for his unequivocal stance and his determination to resolve the issue.
Following their meeting with Kasper on Monday, both Prasquier and Stern expressed optimism that the Williamson affair would soon be over and that it would not burden the Catholic-Jewish relationship in the longer term. Referring to Williamson's statements on Swedish TV, Richard Prasquier said: "Today, we strongly reaffirmed that the denial of the Shoah is not an opinion, but a crime."
Ronald Lauder expressed hope that the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Israel later this year would go ahead as planned. "We are looking forward to the Pope's visit to the Holy Land. This will be an opportunity to reaffirm the Vatican's commitment to dialogue with Jews."
The World Jewish Congress is the international organization representing Jewish communities around the world. The WJC serves as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people to governments and international organizations. Since its foundation, the WJC has been at the forefront of dialogue with the Catholic Church and other religious denominations.
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