AWKWARD

Vatican Defense Angers Jews

The Catholic Church is in plenty of hot water already this month over charges the pope helped cover up acts by abusive priests, but a senior Vatican official has hardly helped matters by comparing the priests' ordeal to persecution of Jews. Speaking at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome with the pope in attendance, Father Raniero Cantalamessa likened criticism of the church to "the collective violence suffered by the Jews" and said he had the support of at least one Jewish friend in making the connection. The secretary general of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Stephan Kramer, told the Associated Press that Cantalamessa's claim was "repulsive, obscene and most of all offensive toward all abuse victims as well as to all the victims of the Holocaust."