Preacher's Remarks Stir Controversy: Press Office Clarifies


(03 Apr 10 - RV) Expressions of renewed anger from Jewish groups and clerical sex abuse survivors greeted Capuchin Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa after his homily during the Good Friday Passion liturgy yesterday in St. Peter's Basilica. We have this report on the cause of the controversy and the response of the Holy See Press Office...

The preacher of the Papal Household delivered the homily yesterday afternoon at the Passion liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica.

At the end of his remarks, he read a few lines of a letter he had from a Jewish correspondent, which seemed to many to compare the anger and outrage over the clerical sex abuse crisis in the Church, to the underserved hatred of Jews that animates anti-Semitism and its ghastly consequences.

The Director of the Holy See's Press Office, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi issued a statement to Vatican Radio explaining the position of the Holy See.

Fr. Lombardi said the Holy See does not consider the recent criticism of the Pope over the Church's handling of abuse of minors by priests to be in any ways similar to anti-Semitism.

He went on to explain that Fr. Cantalamessa himself intended only to share an expression of solidarity from a Jewish brother.

After nightfall on Good Friday,

Pope Benedict travelled to the Colosseum in Rome for the traditional via crucis devotion.

This year, the meditations on the 14 Stations of the Cross were composed by the vicar emeritus for the Rome diocese, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who focused his reflections on the different kinds of suffering Christ experienced on the Cross and how they contribute to our salvation.

In his own remarks following the stations, Pope Benedict said the Cross is the symbol of love without limits, which gives its whole self, and is the source of grace, liberation, peace and salvation.

This evening, the Holy Father shall lead the Church into the season of the resurrection with the celebration of the Easter vigil Mass St. Peter's Basilica.