During a visit to Rome at the end of January, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the head of a group of over 1,000 Orthodox rabbis in North America, told LifeSiteNews.com that he believes the media furore over the lifting of the excommunications of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) is a red herring.
He called 'ridiculous' the accusations that in doing so Benedict XVI or the Catholic Church showed themselves to be anti-Semitic and dismissed accusations that the Holy See had not sufficiently distanced itself from the comments made by Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St Pius X on the Holocaust.
Rabbi Levin was in Rome holding meetings with high level Vatican officials to propose what he called a 'new stream of thinking' for the Church's inter-religious dialogue, one based on commonly held moral teachings, particularly on the right- to-life and the sanctity of natural marriage.
'The most important issue,' he said, is the work the Church is doing 'to save babies from abortion, and to save children's and young people's minds, helping them to know right and wrong on the life and family issues. That's where ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue has to go.'
He noted that the dissident, leftist movement in the Catholic Church over the last 40 years had severely undermined the Church's moral teachings on life and family.
He supported the Pope's move to reconcile the traditionalist faction in the Church, he said, 'because I understand the big picture, which is that the Catholic Church has a problem. There is a strong left-wing of the Church that is doing immeasurable harm to the faith.'
Rabbi Levin said that he understands 'perfectly' why the reconciliation is vital to the fight against abortion and the homosexualist movement. 'It is very important to fill the pews, not with cultural Catholics and left-wingers who are helping to destroy the Church and corrupt the Catholic values.' This corruption, he said, 'has a trickle-down effect to every single religious community in the world.'
'What's the Pope doing? He's trying to bring the traditionalists back in because they have a lot of very important things to contribute to the commonweal of Catholicism.
'Now, if in the process, he inadvertently includes someone who is prominent in the traditionalist movement who happens to say very strange things about the Holocaust, is that a reason to throw out the baby with the bath water and start to condemn Pope Benedict? Absolutely not.'
Rabbi Levin particularly defended the Pope, saying he was the genius behind the moves of the late Pope John Paul II to reconcile the Church with the Jewish community.
'Anyone who understands and follows Vatican history knows that in the last three decades, one of the moral and intellectual underpinnings of the papacy of Pope John Paul II was Cardinal Ratzinger.
'A lot of the things that Pope John Paul did vis-ˆ-vis the Holocaust, he [Benedict] might have done himself, whether it was visiting Auschwitz or visiting and speaking in the synagogues or asking forgiveness. A lot of this had direct input from Cardinal Ratzinger. Whoever doesn't understand this doesn't realise that this man, Pope Benedict XVI, has a decades-long track record of anti- Nazism and sympathy for the Jews.'
Rabbi Levin said he sees the media attack on Benedict as being more aboutthe influx of morally conservative Catholics into the mainstream of the Catholic Church, rather than anything else, including the downplaying of the Holocaust by one of theSSPX bishops.
'At this point there has been a wonderfully strong renunciation of Bishop Williamson by the Vatican and therefore the Jewish community from their statements seems to be satisfied that things are going in the right way,' he said. 'This is just going to increase the frenzy of left-wing Catholics, whether outside the Church or inside, because they now have to carry the ball in terms of keeping the attack on the Pope going.'
Criticisms of Pope
Dissident theologian Hans KŸng, for example, recently suggested in an article that Barack Obama would make a better Pope than Benedict. Writing in the German publication Sueddeutsche, Kung expressed his wish that Obama were the Pope. 'The mood in the Church is oppressive, reforms are paralysed, and the Church in crisis,' he said. 'Benedict is unteachable in matters of birth control and abortion, arrogant and without transparency and restrictive of freedom and human rights.'
Two liberalGerman theologians called on the Pope to resign over the Williamson affair and several bishops also criticised the Pope, notably Cardinal Karl Lehmann, a former chairman of the German bishops' confer- ence.
Rabbi Levin suggests that there is a 'silver lining' within the crisis. 'It has now become very clear, for all to see, the extreme danger of having some who hold high positions seeking to destroy their own Church and attack their own Pope. The silver lining is that it's now that the battle lines have been drawn.
'The remedy, I believe, is that Church hierarchy should take strong action in dealing with this type of insurrection. This should be a significant signal to the Pope, that it is absolutely essential that the right people be appointed in every place all over the world.And church faithful need to have unambiguous leadership that's totally in line with traditional Church teaching.'
With acknowledgement to LifeSiteNews.com