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Pope's preacher compares abuse fury to anti-Semitism

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Abuse scandal hangs over Good Friday
  • Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa made remarks at Good Friday commemoration
  • Cantalamessa: "They know ... what it means to be victims of the collective violence"
  • Easter falls in same week as Jewish holiday of Passover this year

(CNN) -- Pope Benedict XVI's personal preacher on Friday compared the fury aimed at the Catholic leadership because of sexual abuse within the Church to aspects of anti-Semitism.

Noting that Easter falls in the same week as the Jewish holiday of Passover this year, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa said, "This makes us make a thought to our Jewish brothers.

"They know from experience what it means to be victims of the collective violence, and because of this, they are able to recognize the reoccurring symptoms."

He then quoted what he said was a letter from a Jewish friend. "I am following with disgust the violent and concentric attack against the church, the pope and all the faithful from the whole world," the letter said.

"The use of the stereotype, the passage from the responsibility and personal wrong to that of the whole reminds us of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism."

But Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Cantalamessa was not espousing "the Vatican's official position."

"The Vatican is not trying to draw a parallel between the church and anti-Semitism," Lombardi said. "The intention of the preacher was to express a Jewish man's thoughts, his suffering and experience. He was not trying to compare the church with anti-Semitism.

"It is not the intention of the Vatican to compare the criticism it is currently receiving with anti-Semitism," Lombardi added.

Cantalamessa, preacher of the pontifical household, made the remarks at a Good Friday commemoration.