When what must not be forgotten is denied...

Gassing / Gazage by David Olere

Here are some excerpts from a report at TIME.com. (H/T to the Deacon's Bench)OHCARCC
By Forgiving Traditionalists, the Pope Offends Jews
By Jeff Israely - January 24, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has reinstated four bishops from an archconservative breakaway wing of the Roman Catholic Church, a decision that is bound to stir controversy within his own flock. But Saturday's announcement that the Vatican will undo the 20-year schism between the Vatican and the so-called Lefebvrian movement is all the more sensitive because it comes only days after the broadcast of an interview in which British-born Bishop Richard Williamson, one of those Benedict is bringing back into the fold, denies that the Nazi Holocaust ever happened.

"I believe there were no gas chambers," Williamson said. The bishop, who has been accused of anti-Semitism in the past, declared that the historical evidence was "hugely against" the accepted belief that close to 6 million Jews were systematically exterminated as part of Adolf Hitler's Final Solution. Williamson claims that no more than 300,000 Jews died during World War II.
Here's a video of the Williamson interview:

The Vatican made no mention of those remarks in the communiqué that announced the papal decree that revokes the 1988 excommunication of Williamson and his three fellow bishops. Papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the decree in no way means the Pope, a German, shares Williamson's views on the Holocaust.

Earlier this week, Jewish leaders warned that relations between the Holy See and Judaism would deteriorate if the controversial prelates were brought back into mainstream Catholicism.

The four bishops belong to a movement founded by late French traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Followers oppose dialogue with other religions and say Jews should convert. Rome's chief rabbi said Williamson's rehabilitation in particular would open "a deep wound" in Jewish-Vatican relations, which had already been strained by recent controversy over the effort to make Pope Pius XII a saint despite some historians' contention that he did little to save Jews during the Holocaust. The French Jewish organization CRIF called Williamson "a despicable liar whose only goal is to revive the centuries-old hatred against Jews."

Some will hail Benedict as a bold defender of the rights of traditionalist Catholics and a man of conviction unbent by the winds of controversy; but others, both inside and outside the Church, will take his embrace of the Lefebvre followers as the final proof that Benedict, deep down, is determined to make the Church far more traditional than it is today.

(read the complete report)


  1. I find this very disturbing and disheartening. I don't like the direction we seem to be going in with this papacy.
    I am always against excommunication as a punishment. However, I don't see this forgiveness as a positive act to unity. Who would want to be a follower of this man? Why does the pope forgive a man who holds such antisemitic beliefs (not to mention a rejection of Vatican II) but rejects another good priest whose only "crime" was to give a homily at an ordination of a woman? (Father Roy Bourgeois)? What kind of message is this sending to Catholics and the rest of the world? I have to say, there are times when I wonder if we are truly the One True Church of Christ. It now seems that any grave sin against the Church will be forgiven if it was an action coming from the traditional right.

  2. Aodh Óg Ó DomhnaillJanuary 25, 2009 at 9:50 AM

    The Pope has merely lifted the excommunication that Williamson inter alia incurred lata sententiae for illicitly receiving episcopal orders without a papal mandate. The SSPX is still without canonical recognition, as it was suppressed in 1975. Bishop Williamson is still suspended a divinis. He has no jurisdiction, and never will. He is not even permitted to celebrate Mass!

  3. Deep sigh.

    I have struggled with this news since hearing it.

    As a part of our diocesan Catholic-Jewish Interfaith Dialog group, I am dreading our next meeting.

    While I am all for reconciling, I do fail to understand what is happening here and why.

    I say that as a Catholic, as a human, as someone who has walked the sad grounds of Dachau, one who has spoken to many survivors, has been to Yad Vashem in Israel.

    God grant me wisdom and insight here as I am without either right now.

  4. I find this very disturbing. In Europe there has been a rise of neo-Nazis, and, periodically, in our own country there are anti-Semitic acts. This action by the pope couldn't help but be perceived as yet another rebuff to our Jewish brethren. The Good Friday service that will be used in the Tridentine liturgy is very upsetting to Jewish people. I do not understand the pope's rationale in all of this. I think he needs to explain why he is taking these steps. Quite frankly, I find it a bit frightening.

  5. Disturbing and frightening, yes. Also heartbreaking for this convert from Judaism. I contemplate St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) as these events continue to roll out from the Vatican.

  6. I agree with the others - a disturbing video. The church continues to alientate people - even it's own! Where is the pope's statement regarding this? It's the re-instatement of these bishops. Sad!

  7. What has the Pope accomplished for the Universal Church by lifting this excommunication? It does not comfort me that SSPX is still without canonical recognition (note Aodh Og Odomhnaill's comment above). (My apologies for not having defined a key to reproduce his name correctly.)
    Why, oh why, should there be any apparent tacit approval of anti-Semitism and denial of the Holocaust? I was afraid of the former Cardinal Ratzinger; I guess I was right to be frightened.

  8. What a sad commentary on Vatican pronouncements, as people of good will and different faiths seek to find common ground. Similarly, last year's announcement regarding the Pope's decision to include the Good Friday prayer that Jews will eventually come to know Jesus as the Messiah was yet another insult to their beliefs. Imagine how absurd it would feel if Jewish leadership announced that on their high Holy Day, they would be praying for Christians to realize that Christ was not the true Messiah? As a Catholic, it's very sad and bewildering, and can only make it more difficult to proceed with interfaith dialogue.


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