VARIOUS: Pope Benedict writes to Church leaders saying he is pained by "hate" and...
- Title: VARIOUS: Pope Benedict writes to Church leaders saying he is pained by "hate" and "hostility" against him
- Date: 14th March 2009
- Summary: VATICAN CITY, ITALY (MARCH 12, 2009) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF VATICAN STATUES OVERLOOKING ST. PETER'S SQUARE (these sequences - 10 seconds) EXTERIOR OF VATICAN PRESS OFFICE COPY OF LETTER BEING HANDED TO JOURNALISTS VARIOUS OF POPE BENEDICT'S LETTER NEWS CONFERENCE WITH VATICAN SPOKESMAN FATHER FEDERICO LOMBARDI (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) VATICAN SPOKESMAN FATHER FEDERICO LOMBARDI SAYING: "The Pope had a sense, during this time of tension and difficulty, of the necessity for a clarification to explain better his intentions and to contribute towards peace in the church."
- Reuters ID: LVA1PKLPFD0WTC2VUZDZF9YZKFMC
- Duration: 00:01:07
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- Topics: International Relations,Religion
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: Pope Benedict writes to Church leaders saying he is pained by "hate" and "hostility" from some Catholics over his decision to readmit four traditionalist bishops, including Bishop Richard Williamson.
Pope Benedict on Thursday (March 12) said he felt deep pain over the "hostility and hate" some Catholics directed at him after he allowed four traditionalist bishops, including a Holocaust denier, back into the Church.
In a letter addressed to the world's bishops, he admits the Vatican mishandled and badly communicated the affair and that some problems could have been foreseen if the Vatican had made more use of the Internet to check people's backgrounds.
In an extremely rare public show of personal emotion, the pope also warns that the Church risked "biting and devouring itself" over internal squabbles.
It is highly unusual for a pope to have to explain his actions to his bishops after the fact and to acknowledge that things went wrong.
Speaking at a news conference following the release of the letter, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the Pope wanted to explain better his intentions and to contribute towards peace in the church.
In the letter, the pope defends his decision to start the procedure to let the traditionalist Society of St Pius X (SSPX) back into the fold but rejects accusations he wanted to "turn back the clock".
He said he regretted that a "gesture of mercy" led to "a discussion more heated than any we have seen for a long time".
In January Benedict lifted the excommunication of Richard Williamson and three other bishops to try to heal a 20-year-old rift that began when they were thrown out of the Church for being ordained without the permission of Pope John Paul II.
Williamson said in an interview broadcast several days earlier that he believed there were no gas chambers and that no more than 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, rather than the six million accepted by most historians.
Williamson's comments and the pope's decision to lift the excommunication caused a deep rift in Catholic-Jewish relations. The decision was condemned by Holocaust survivors, some Catholics, Israel's Chief Rabbinate, world Jewish leaders and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He said the fact much of the attention concentrated on Williamson as a Holocaust denier was "an unforeseen mishap" that overshadowed his intention to bring healing to the Church.
Israel's religious leaders also met with the pontiff at the Vatican on Thursday. At a news conference later, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen said the meeting was "a real turning point" in their relationship with the Pope. The leaders asked Pope Benedict to make Holocaust studies a required subject in Catholic schools, saying it could help stamp out potential anti-Semitism in future generations.
They also asked that the Vatican take a strong stand against the draft final declaration of next month's U.N. conference on racism, a statement some countries view as hostile to Israel.
In Jerusalem Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Holocaust Studies welcomed the Pope's letter and acknowledgement that the Williamson case was mishandled.
In his defence, the pope said it was sad that modern society appeared to always need someone to hate.
The pope said his aim in starting procedures to readmit the SSPX was to bring good people back into the fold, while adding that some of its members act with "arrogance and presumptuousness".
The Vatican says before the SSPX can be fully readmitted into the Church it must accept the teachings of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council which urged respect for other religions.
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- Embargoed:29th March 2009 13:00