ROME, February 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The dissident, leftist movement in the Catholic Church over the last forty years has severely undermined the teaching of the Catholic Church on the moral teachings on life and family, a prominent US Orthodox rabbi told LifeSiteNews.com. Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the head of a group of 800 Orthodox rabbis in the US and Canada, also dismissed the 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 (SSPX) on the Holocaust.
“I support this 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.
“I understand that it is very important to fill the pews of the Catholic Church not with cultural Catholics and left-wingers who are helping to destroy the Catholic Church and corrupt the values of the Catholic Church.” 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 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 bathwater and start to condemn Pope Benedict? Absolutely not.”
During a visit to Rome at the end of January, Rabbi Levin 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 is a red herring. He called “ridiculous” the accusations that in doing so Pope Benedict VXI or the Catholic Church are anti-Semitic and described as “very strong” the statements distancing the Holy See and the Pope from Williamson’s comments.
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 save children’s minds, 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.”
Although numbers are difficult to determine, it is estimated that the Society of St. Pius X has over a million followers worldwide. The traditionalist movement in the Catholic Church is noted for doctrinal orthodoxy and enthusiasm not only for old-fashioned devotional practices, but for the Church’s moral teachings and opposition to post-modern secularist sexual mores. Liberals in the Church, particularly in Europe, have bitterly opposed all overtures to the SSPX and other traditionalists, particularly the Pope’s recent permission to revive the traditional Latin Mass.
The Vatican announced in early January that, as part of ongoing efforts to reconcile the breakaway group, the 1988 decree of excommunication against the Society had been rescinded. Later that month, a Swedish television station aired an interview, recorded in November 2008, in which Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four leaders of the Society, said that he did not believe that six million Jews were killed in the Nazi death camps during World War II.
At that time, the media erupted with protests and accusations that the Catholic Church, and especially Pope Benedict XVI, are anti-Semitic.
Rabbi Levin particularly defended Pope Benedict, saying he is 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.
“And therefore, a lot of the things that Pope John Paul did vis-à-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.”
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Rabbi Speaks on Pope Benedict Controversy: Leftist Catholics Using Jews to Attack the Pope