Romanian priest accused of equating Jews with virus says he was misinterpreted

Watchdog says sermon was inappropriate; Father Francisc Dobos maintains those who accuse him of anti-Semitism are ‘biased’

Cnaan Liphshiz is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Romanian Catholic priest Francisc Dobos, the spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Bucharest, in 2019. (Screenshot: YouTube)
Romanian Catholic priest Francisc Dobos, the spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Bucharest, in 2019. (Screenshot: YouTube)

JTA — A senior Catholic priest in Romania priest who referenced fear of the coronavirus during a sermon about Christian disciples’ fear of Jews said that people who accused him of anti-Semitic speech were “biased” against him.

Francisc Dobos, the spokesman for the Archdiocese of Bucharest, wrote this on Facebook on Monday.

On April 9, in a filmed greeting ahead of Easter, Dobos spoke about how the disciples of Jesus “feared the Jews,” adding “And here in the bracket we should read: feared the virus.”

Dobos on Facebook rejected the criticism of the MCA Romania Center for Monitoring and Combatting Antisemitism, which said in a statement that his reference to the virus risked equating it in the minds of his viewers with Jews. The statement criticized the reference to Jews in the sermon as inappropriate but did not accuse Dobos of anti-Semitism.

Illustrative – A Romanian Christian Orthodox priest, with a face mask, distributes willow branches for the Easter Sunday on April 12, 2020 ( DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images via JTA)

“I paraphrased, saying that these days of the pandemic we’re locked in houses for fear of a virus. And I added that it’s not from fear, but out of prudence. My intention was this: Even if we are locked up or in homes, the risen Jesus comes to us,” Dobos wrote in his reply.

“Someone interpreted my words as equating Jews with a virus. I was shocked that some made such an association. Then a wave of virulent reactions broke out against me.

“I consider the anti-Semitic interpretation biased toward me. Posting even content that does not offend anyone is no longer prudent.”

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