Likening criticism of the pope to anti-Semitism is insulting and impertinent, a top Jewish official in Germany said after the pontiff's personal preacher made the inflammatory comparison in a sermon.
A priest's comments may damage Jewish-Catholic relations
Father Raniero Cantalamessa used his Good Friday homily to read out a letter from a "Jewish friend" who likened the criticism of the pope and the Catholic Church over child abuse to "the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism."
Stephan Kramer, Secretary General of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the comments were "impertinent and an insult to the victims of sexual abuse as well as victims of the Holocaust."
Kramer added that the Vatican "is falling back upon the regular methods it has used over the decades to suppress and hide any affairs which compromise" the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church has been shaken by the child abuse scandal
The Vatican quickly tried to distance itself from the comments, saying they "should not be interpreted as an official position."
But, some Jewish groups are insisting on a personal apology from the pope for the words delivered by the priest.
"These hurtful remarks were made in the presence of the pope and the pope himself should take responsibility and apologize for them," said Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the international Jewish human rights group.
Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo di Segni, also condemned the sermon by the pope's personal preacher, calling the comparison to the persecution of Jews "out of place" and a "fall in style."
Bishop continues to deny allegations
The Bishop of Augsberg, Walter Mixa, denies any charges of abuse
Meanwhile, two women who grew up in an orphanage in southern Germany have refused to meet with the bishop they claim was responsible for physically abusing them. The women are among six people who have told a German daily newspaper that they were molested by the now bishop of Augsburg, Walter Mixa.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that six people have asserted in affidavits that Mixa struck them with his fists or objects such as sticks or carpet beaters when he was a priest in Schrobenhausen in the 1970s and 1980s.
Bishop Mixa had offered to meet with his accusers, as he said he was "deeply shaken by the allegations." He has strongly denied ever using violence against the children and young people in care at the St. Josef orphanage in Schrobenhausen.
Mixa said the offer remains open to all those who lived at the orphanage to come and speak to him in person.
Editor: Toma Tasovac