Matt C. Abbott
Cardinal O'Malley and the Jewish community
By Matt C. Abbott
February 25, 2009

According to a Feb. 24 story by Boston Globe religion writer Michael Paulson:

    'Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, facing a group of local Jewish leaders upset by the Vatican's decision to lift the excommunication of a Holocaust denier, yesterday declared the Holocaust to be 'the worst crime in human history' and pledged to move a Holocaust memorial to the new Braintree headquarters of the Archdiocese of Boston.

    'O'Malley and his top advisers on interfaith relations met for about 75 minutes late yesterday with about 20 Jewish leaders at the downtown office building that serves as the headquarters for many Jewish community organizations. Two Holocaust survivors, Israel Arbeiter and Stephan Ross, told the cardinal about their experiences during World War II, and the group then discussed the ramifications of Pope Benedict XVI's decision to lift the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops, including Richard Williamson, who denies that the Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews.

    'In a telephone interview after the meeting, O'Malley was unusually forceful in his condemnation, not only of Holocaust denial, but of the leadership of the Society of St. Pius X, the ultraconservative and schismatic organization to which the four bishops belong.

    ''I sincerely believe that many of the Catholics who have gravitated toward this movement have done so because of nostalgia and a desire to participate in the old Mass, but in some of their leadership there's a broader agenda that's very poisonous,' O'Malley said.

    'But the cardinal reiterated his support for the pope's decision to lift the excommunications, saying it opens the door for the Catholic church [sic] to reconcile with as many as 1.5 million members of the society, most of whom live in Europe. One of its congregations worships in Woburn.

    ''The Holy Father lifted this excommunication unaware of the statements that Bishop Williamson had made, and his intention was to try and begin a dialogue that might lead to reconciliation with this group,' O'Malley said. 'The alternative is that this group is going to evolve farther and farther away from the Catholic church [sic] and probably embrace more and more of an anti-Semitic agenda'.....

    'O'Malley also said that he would travel this week to Washington for a memorial service for Rabbi Leon Klenicki, the longtime interfaith-affairs director for the Anti-Defamation League and a friend of the cardinal for the past several decades. O'Malley said that after the memorial service, he would meet with national leaders of Jewish organizations to discuss 'improving communications'.....'

I must say that I'm concerned about a couple of points in the above (excerpted) article. First, I realize the cardinal doesn't want to be seen as minimizing the Holocaust, but I don't know that it's prudent to refer to the Holocaust as "the worst crime in human history."

What about the Crucifixion of Our Lord? What about the other genocides throughout history, including the one still ongoing — legalized abortion?

Yes, the Holocaust was horrible. Very much so. But I think it would have been better for the cardinal to say the Holocaust was "a monstrous crime in human history," or a very similar choice of words. The difference might be considered hair-splitting by some, but, in my view, it would have been more appropriate.

Second, I don't understand the apparent desire among certain members of the clergy to appease (which will never truly happen, of course) groups such as the pro-abortion, pro-sodomy Anti-Defamation League, whose "values" are so antithetical to the Catholic Faith, simply because they're Jewish and, well, we need to constantly show them that Catholics are not anti-Semitic!

Now, by no means am I suggesting that Cardinal O'Malley et al. should defend Bishop Williamson, but trying to appease — or, at least, giving the appearance of trying to appease — those who have little if any regard for the theological and moral teachings of the Catholic Church is, frankly, the wrong way to go.

Anti-Semitism should have no place among Catholics, but neither should religious indifferentism.

Regarding Lent:

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© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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