The head of a controversial Catholic sect says that Jews are "enemies of the Church," but the sect has denied any anti-Semitic intentions.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, declared Jews "enemies of the Church" during a talk that aired on a Canadian radio station, the Catholic News Agency recently reported. Fellay's remarks took place on Dec. 28 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Chapel in New Hamburg, Ontario.
Fellay, discussing negotiations with the Vatican in 2012 concerning the Society's future, said the following during the address: “Who, during that time, was the most opposed that the Church would recognize the Society? The enemies of the Church. The Jews, the Masons, the Modernists.”
Fellay said Jewish leaders' support of the Second Vatican Council "shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the Church's," according to the Catholic Register.
The Second Vatican Council modernized the Catholic Church in the 1960s and is the reason the Society of St. Pius X split from the main body and was founded in 1970 as part of the Traditionalist Catholic movement. Some traditionalists blame Jews for the reforms that took place during the Vatican II council sessions, notes the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The Society of St. Pius X posted a press release in response to Fellay's "enemies of the Church" comment, denying any anti-Semitic connotation. The release reads that "enemies" refers to "any group or religious sect which opposes the mission of the Catholic Church and her efforts to fulfill it: the salvation of souls."
The release continued thus:
By referring to the Jews, Bishop Fellay's comment was aimed at the leaders of Jewish organizations, and not the Jewish people, as is being implied by journalists. Accordingly the Society of St. Pius X denounces the repeated false accusations of anti-Semitism or hate speech made in an attempt to silence its message.
This is not the first time one of the sect's members has spoken out against Jews.
In 1985, one of the Society's founders, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, also identified enemies of the faith as "Jews, Communists and Freemasons," according to JTA. In addition, traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson has denied that the Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews in the Holocaust and that no more than 200,000 to 300,000 Jews died during WWII.
Jesuit Priest Rev. James Martin expressed his disapproval of Fellay's comment and of the Society in general. "I cannot imagine how any further talks can continue with the group," Martin told The Huffington Post. "Theologians have been silenced for dissenting in lesser ways from official church teaching."