March 20, 2000
volume 11, no. 56
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Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Accuses Relator of Pius XII's Beatification Cause of Anti-Semitism

    VATICAN CITY, MAR 19 ( News agencies around the world are reporting the supposed anti-Semitic comments of Fr. Peter Gumpel, relator of the cause for Pius XII's beatification. According to the reports, he told CBS television that "it is a fact that the Jews have killed Christ."

    As expected, the news has caused quite a stir, and was picked up by several press agencies in the United States. Before verifying the news, these sources accused Fr. Gumpel of anti-Semitism, to the extent that Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel said: "I am amazed. I'm shocked and outraged. After all, this countryman, this priest who speaks on behalf of the Vatican, is coming up with accusations that are old, and he forgets that we all now live in the 21st century."

    The network has done nothing more than distort Fr. Gumpel's words, quoting them out of context for the purpose of launching a campaign against the Catholic Church on the eve of the Pope's trip to Israel.

    In a press statement yesterday, Fr. Gumpel explained that "In the presentation of the '60 Minutes' program, (which was broadcast last night on Sunday, March 19) the following phrase is attributed to me: 'It is a fact that the Jews have killed Christ. It is an undeniable fact.' This phrase was taken out of context and significantly distorts my position on this important question. In my interview with CBS, I sought to present the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on this matter. In its document 'Nostra Aetate' (n. 4) that Council stated: 'Although the Jewish authorities and their followers pressed for the death of Christ, what was done in his passion, however, cannot be indistinctly imputed to all Jews then living, nor to the Jews of today.' This is the position to which I fully and unreservedly adhere. I firmly reject and disassociate myself from any other interpretation of my words."

    "I also reject the attempt to portray me as being in opposition to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the Catholic Church on this whole question," Fr. Gumpel stressed.

    Fr. Gumpel said he spent two hours with the Canadian crew and "they take one sentence, leaving out the context," he said. "I don't think this is honest journalism."

    "We feel very strongly that quote was not taken out of context and we stand by our story," said CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius, who added that CBS News officials had read the full transcript.

    In addition to publishing this press statement, Fr. Gumpel wrote a letter to the Editor-in-Chief of CBS in New York, with a copy to the Canadian editorial board, which prepared the service in question, in which he requests an immediate denial and consequent rectification.

    In statements to ZENIT, Fr. Gumpel said, "This accusation of anti-Semitism that they make not only is absurd, but gravely wounds my honor. Such an accusation is totally out of place, as my family was harshly persecuted by the Nazis and, as a result, I myself had to spend the years of my youth outside my country to avoid being killed." ZE00031905


March 20, 2000
volume 11, no. 56

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