In an interview with CNA on Tuesday, Rabbi Jack Bemporad commented on the recent media onslaught concerning the Holy Father, calling the coverage “one dimensional” and saying that the depiction of the Church in the media has not been given “proper context.”
Rabbi Bemporad, director of the New Jersey-based Center for Interreligious Understanding, was recently quoted as a lone voice in an Associated Press article in which other Jewish leaders denounced the papal preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, for his comments likening the media depiction of the Church to anti-Semitism.
In the AP article released on April 2, and in a follow up interview with CNA, Rabbi Bemporad defended the papal preacher. Although the rabbi believes Fr. Cantalamessa used a “poor example,” ultimately, the preacher's “point is correct.”
What the preacher intended to indicate through his homily, Rabbi Bemporad said, was that “you can't collectively condemn the church for what some priests and some individuals in the Church may have done.”
Addressing those who have criticized Pope Benedict in recent days, Rabbi Bemporad stated that “you've got to have a sense of compassion, charity, and saying 'how can we help you do this properly?' Instead of condemning him and saying, 'See, you're not doing enough.'”
“We're so quick to judge, we're so quick to condemn,” he stressed. “There's no charity, there's no compassion, no sympathy, and no, by the way, self-criticism.”
A lot of sex abuse involving children is going on, the rabbi noted. “It's not simply a Catholic problem.”
“I do think that the pope is trying to do the best he can,” he added.
The rabbi also took a jab at the media coverage of the Pope, calling it “very one dimensional” and charging that many of the reports have not placed Vatican actions “in the proper context.”
“The tragedy of the media,” Rabbi Bemporad stated, “is that it has a capacity to educate, instead what it does is cater to the worst element in human beings. The most voyeuristic element.”
“We shouldn't be so quick to grab at headlines which are virulent, and in my opinion, hysterical,” he asserted.
The New Jersey rabbi also praised Pope Benedict for his efforts in helping advance the relationship between the two faiths, saying the pontiff has “tried to be a friend” and has done whatever he can “to show the close relationship between Catholics and Jews.”
“All I am asking for is charity,” and “that we should think about how we can help one another not condemn one another,” said the rabbi.