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The Canadian Jewish Congress wants the Roman Catholic church to discipline a priest after he said in a CBC-TV interview that it was "an undeniable historical fact" that Jews killed Christ.

In a statement sent yesterday to a senior member of the Roman Catholic church in Canada, the Canadian Jewish Congress said the German Jesuit, Rev. Peter Gumpel, should have no part in the canonization process of Pope Pius XII.

"Surely these are grounds to disqualify him," the Jewish Congress said in its statement to the papal nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Romeo Paulo.

During the CBC-TV interview, Father Gumpel also said a Jewish professor, a colleague, told him: "What do you want? Our forefathers found out that Christ was a false prophet, so we killed him. And then, of course, why should we have changed our attitude with regard to those who followed this false prophet?"

Pius XII has been widely accused of indifference to Jewish suffering at the hands of Nazis during the Second World War.

The CBC interview on Thursday cited Father Gumpel as a priest designated by the Vatican to oversee the canonization process for Pius XII. Senior members of the Canadian Catholic church, however, said he is not a senior Vatican official, but involved in a campaign to make Pius XII a saint.

Such remarks were officially disavowed by the Roman Catholic church as anti-Semitic in the 1960s and, just last Sunday, Pope John Paul II asked God's forgiveness for anti-Semitism and other sins of the church.

But the Pope stopped short of an apology sought by many Jews for the behaviour of Pius.

The Catholic archbishop could not be reached for comment. But a spokesman for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops described Father Gumpel's remarks as "not necessarily from a senior church official."

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