Chabad rabbi, DovBer Pinson, who recently met with Pope Francis, was widely criticized for the meeting by Lubavitch adherents worldwide. His meeting with the Pope, according to many, was a direct violation of instructions left by their Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson who died in 1994. His offense was so great that (following the outcry) it triggered the removal of his name from the official Chabad directory. However, Chabad has offered no official reason for the removal.
In response to the chaos the a meeting (intended to inspire unity among different religions) has caused, Rabbi Pinson has issued a statement on his Facebook page. In it, he describes his time spent singing and dancing with the Pope as being “trapped.”
Dear friends and students, I feel the need to clarify the context left out from the video which is now having viral reception, unfortunately clouding the important mission I was there to accomplish.
In my very private audience with the pope, conducted in his private office (not in the church), we discussed the ideas of pure monotheism, hoping to increase the awareness of Oneness of G-d among all humankind as a true and only Source of all life, thus ensuring that there is no need to proselytize chas v’sholom to Jews. The conversation was fruitful. I had stipulated that there were to be no cameras and no press at all, and until the meeting ended, this was kept.
Leaving the private audience I came into the larger room and saw the group waiting there. Some of them were part of our official group, but a few of them were not supposed to be there, and had managed to “get in.”
The singing and music commenced spontaneously without my foreknowledge or consent. I found myself trapped between a duty to not make a chilul Hashem in the moment, and the spontaneous outburst of the group. Not wanting to offend created the wrongful impression that I was condoning this behavior. (You will notice in the video that I was able to stop the singing and music as soon as it was possible).
It is my deep regret that this video was released at all, (which was accidental) and that the visit was portrayed in such a way.
In truth, the actual meeting was a kiddush shem shamayim, and will be a benefit for all Jews around the world with Hashem’s help, as it was intended to be.
With apologies for the misunderstanding and misrepresentation.
Rav DovBer Pinson
At the time of this post, his name has not been restored to the Chabad directory.