Priest sorry for Shoah reference

A Catholic priest has apologised to the Jewish community over the interpretation of an article he wrote about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

Writing in a parish magazine in Norfolk, Chet News, Father Mark Hackeson said that since abortion had been legalised in the UK, more than six million lives had been destroyed - "on a par with the Jewish Holocaust".

But when the Eastern Daily Press asked a Messianic rabbi, Andrew Sheldrake, for a response, he was affronted. Mr Sheldrake, who leads the Adat Yashua Messianic synagogue in Thorpe St Andrew, Norfolk, said: "We do not support abortion either, but you cannot compare the two. The Holocaust was a single event designed in an evil mind to annihilate people. It is not on a par with abortion.

"Doctors and pregnant mothers do not hate the children within them."

He complained that Father Hackeson's comments were indicative of how Christians did not understand the enormity of the Holocaust and how it resonated in the Jewish community.

This week, Father Hackeson told The Universe: "I was not comparing events, I was only comparing numbers.

"I have emphasised that my article was not on the subject of abortion but on the HFE Bill. The crux of my argument was the fundamental equality in value and dignity of all human life, whatever its age, stage of gestation, gender, race or religion.

"I regret any offence caused by a misrepresentation of my article, and I condemn the Holocaust as one of the gravest crimes against humanity."

    Last updated: 1:03pm, July 24 2008