The head of a controversial Catholic sect has accused the Vatican of excessive sensitivity towards Jews and the Holocaust.
Bishop Bernard Fellay’s comments came after the row over Holocaust denier, Bishop Richard Williamson, which led to two Vatican officials being sacked by Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop Williamson is a former member of Bishop Fellay’s sect, the ultra-conservative “Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X”.
In January, Pope Benedict XVI was persuaded by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos and his deputy Camille Perl to reverse Bishop Williamson’s excommunication for denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers.
The Pope then insisted that he was unaware of Bishop Williamson’s Holocaust denial, reversed his decision
and the two Vatican officials were sacked.
Bishop Fellay told Italian news agency Apcom that he felt “embarrassed” by the Pope’s actions.
He said: “What he [Bishop Williamson] said has no relation whatsoever with the crisis of the church.
“The question of knowing how many and in what way the Jews were killed is not a matter of faith, it is not even a religious matter, it is a historical matter.”
Bishop Fellay also rebuked Jewish criticism of a new prayer in the Vatican’s Good Friday service, urging God to let Jews “recognise Jesus Christ as saviour of all men”.
Jews should not concern themselves with what Catholics pray for, the bishop said.
He said: “It is not their religion. Leave us alone. They are matters which concern the Catholic Church.
“If we wish to pray for the Jews, we will pray for the Jews in the manner we see fit. I do not know if they pray for us, but I would say that this is their problem.”
Rabbi Arye Goldberg, deputy director of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe said: “The whole tone of Bishop Fellay’s interview is insensitive and borders on antisemitism.”