1/24/09

Times: Pope Benedict Reinstates Holocaust Denier Bishop Richard Williamson

This action by Pope Benedict is outrageous beyond words. It confirms again what we have suspected, namely that Benedict is using the catholic church to foster a retrograde bigoted and racist agenda.

And to allay any doubts, here is an example of Williamson's antiSemitism, now implicitly endorsed by Pope Benedict, taken from Williamson's blog post of March 1, 2008:
Now ever since the Jews were responsible for the crucifying of Our Lord Jesus Christ -- "His blood be upon us and upon our children", Mt.XXVII,25 -- they have as a race and as a religion, always with noble exceptions, continued to reject him down to our day. Thus St. Paul observed that they not only "killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets", but they also prohibited St. Paul himself from "speaking to the Gentiles so as to save them". In brief, their behavior was such that "they please not God and are adversaries to men" (I Thess. II,14-16). Closer to our own time, it is a matter of historical record that the designing and launching of, for instance, Communism, to wrest mankind away from God and to replace his Heaven with a man-made paradise, was largely their achievement.

So they persecuted St. Paul at every turn (see Acts of the Apostles) as being one of their arch-enemies, when in fact nobody loved them more truly or labored more for their real well-being than did St. Paul (cf. Rom. IX,1-5). Similarly today, they will call an "anti-semite" anybody who gets in the way of any godlessness of theirs, when in fact all people laboring for their salvation, as for the salvation of Gentiles, are their best friends. St Paul, pray for us ! Kyrie eleison.

La Reja, Argentina
Posted by Bishop Richard Williamson at 7:33 AM

And here is the Times' story...
Pope Reinstates Four Excommunicated Bishops
By RACHEL DONADIO

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI, acceding to the far-right of the Roman Catholic Church, revoked the excommunications of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage.

The decision provided fresh fuel for critics who charge that Benedict’s four-year-old papacy has proven increasingly focused on appeasing traditionalists who are hostile to the sweeping reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that sought to create a more modern and open church.

A theologian resigned to the church’s diminished status in a secular world, Benedict has favored a smaller church of more ardent believers over a larger one with looser faith. But his focus on doctrinal debates has come at a cost. As in 2006, when Benedict offended Muslims by citing a medieval scholar who called Islam “evil and inhuman,” the revocation may help heal an internal rift, but it opens a broader wound.

A particularly contentious part of the reinstatement on Saturday was the inclusion of Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe that six million Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers.

He has also given interviews saying that the United States government staged the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan.

The four reinstated men are members of the Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by a French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, in 1970 as a protest against the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Lefebvre made the four bishops in unsanctioned consecrations in Switzerland in 1988, prompting the immediate excommunication of all five by Pope John Paul II.

Later that year, Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, sought to regularize the church’s relationship with the society. Archbishop Lefebvre died in 1991.

In a statement Saturday, the Vatican said that the pope would “reconsider” whether to formally affirm the four as full bishops, but referred to the men by that title.

In recent years, Benedict has made other concessions to the Lefebvrists, including allowing the broader recitation of the Latin Mass, which was made optional in the 1960s Vatican reforms and includes a Good Friday prayer calling for the conversion of Jews.

Chester Gillis, the Amaturo chair in Catholic studies at Georgetown University, said that both Benedict and John Paul II before him had tried for years to bring these traditionalists back into the church, out of concern that their movement might grow and create an entrenched parallel church.

“I don’t think the Vatican doesn’t care about Jewish-Christian relations, but at least it appears that internal church matters trump external relations,” he said. “They’re thinking, let’s heal our own house whatever the consequences are externally.”

The recent comments by Bishop Williamson, who led a traditionalist seminary in Ridgefield, Conn., at the time he was made bishop and later moved to a seminary in Argentina, inevitably overshadowed the debate about traditional and liberal strains in the Roman Catholic Church.

In a November interview broadcast on Swedish television last week and widely available on the Internet, the bishop said that he believed that “the historical evidence” was hugely against the conclusion that millions of Jews had been “deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.”

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Saturday that Bishop Williamson’s comments had “nothing to do with” the pope’s decision to welcome the schismatic bishops back into the fold. He added, “These are declarations that we don’t share in any way.”

Father Lombardi called the revocation of the excommunications a fundamental step toward the unity of the church, after two decades of rift. “We have to consider it very positive news,” he added.

Jewish groups criticized the decision to reinstate the men.

In a statement released Saturday, the Anti-Defamation League said that lifting Bishop Williamson’s excommunication “undermines the strong relationship between Catholics and Jews that flourished under Pope John Paul II and which Pope Benedict XVI said he would continue when he came into his Papacy.”

Abraham Foxman, the A.D.L.’s national director, added that the decree “sends a terrible message to Catholics around the world that there is room in the church for those who would undermine the church’s teachings and who would foster disdain and contempt for other religions, particularly Judaism. Given the centuries-long history of anti-Semitism in the church, this is a most troubling setback.”

In a statement released Friday, Rabbi David Rosen, the director of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, said, “We urgently call on the Vatican to reiterate its unqualified repudiation and condemnation of all and any Holocaust denial.”

In welcoming the cleric back into the church, Benedict is “making a mockery of John Paul II, who called anti-Semitism ‘a sin against God and man,’ ” Rabbi Rosen added.

In revoking the excommunications, the Vatican said it was responding to a letter sent in December by the director of the Society of Pius X, in which the bishops said they were “firmly determined to remain Catholic and to put all our efforts to the service of the church.”

The letter appeared to stop short of saying that the society would embrace, or even accept, the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

“This is certainly a major concession to the traditionalists, part of a long effort by Rome to heal the only formal schism after Vatican II,” said John L. Allen Jr., a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter.

“Politically, this certainly emboldens the conservative reading of the council and emphasizes what Benedict XVI has repeatedly called the ‘continuity’ of Vatican II with earlier periods of church history,” he added.

Father Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the Vatican was “still holding discussions” with the Lefebvrists about the Second Vatican Council.

18 comments:

Frank said...

Disgusting and moronic as Holocaust denial is, it is not an excommunicable offence. The bishops were excommunicated in 1988 for taking part in illict consecrations (i.e. being made bishops without papal approval). That Pope Benedict has removed the excommunications in response to petitions and prayers by hundreds of thousands of Catholics has no relation to one of the four bishops' views on the Holocaust. In any case, Bishop Williamson remains suspended. That he is no longer excommunicated simply means that he is allowed to receive the sacraments in the same way that a Catholic layman can.

I hope this helps clarify what's going on a bit. The coverage hasn't been great, but remember that Pope Benedict has visited and prayed at Auschwitz, has spoken repeatedly against the sin of anti-Semitism, and that what he has done as regards the Society of St Pius X is in no way a repudiation of that. Your claim that he is "using the catholic church to foster a retrograde bigoted and racist agenda" is, I'm afraid, slanderous.

tzvee said...

well we have 6 million reasons to be suspicious and hence we cannot tolerate even the slightest hint of acceptance of holocaust denial. i have added to the post a troubling quote from the "bishop's" own blog. now that i have learned of this, i am even more concerned at the pope's reinstatement.

Frank said...

Again, Pope Benedict has not "implicitly endorsed" Bishop Williamson's views on the Holocaust or Jews in general, and to suggest that he has is slanderous. If a man were on trial for theft, and evidence were to show up in the course of the trial that suggested he'd cheated on his wife, the jury might have grounds to believe that he was a sleazeball. They would not, however, be "implicitly endorsing" his adultery in finding him not guilty of theft. Similarly, lifting an excommunication imposed for a precise reason does not mean that Bishop Williamson's views on anything have been endorsed - or even that they are likely to be tolerated in the terms of the new settlement. At present he is no longer excommunicated, but he remains suspended from exercising his functions as a bishop.

Have a look at what Bishop Williamson has said about Pope Benedict himself. (A clue: it's not nice.) Ask yourself: is Pope Benedict "implicitly endorsing" that, too?

tzvee said...

what you say is quite troubling to me. only a church in decline and in a defensive mode would scramble to reinstate factions that are problematic like this one. but i have no investment in the church. i speak as a jew who is troubled when a person who appears to be a dangerous entity is given an approval by the church.

Anonymous said...

"i speak as a jew who is troubled when a person who appears to be a dangerous entity is given an approval by the church."

what "approval" are you referring to?? we have to stop being paranoid....

Aodh Óg Ó Domhnaill said...

The Pope has merely lifted the excommunication that Williamson inter alia incurred lata sententiae for illicitly receiving episcopal orders without a papal mandate. He has not been 'reinstated'. 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!

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church must be very sick if such a nutcase is seen to be needed within its fold. Instead of making sure that such people are removed from the church for their crazy, sick ideas- the Pope has done the opposite.

I think it is time for Israel to break off all relations with this sick & evil organisation.

Anonymous said...

tzvee, you're a bigot. I'm frum, have no education in church doctrine, but even I can see that he's not a bishop, the fact that you can't see it would indicate being blinded by bigotry that you place on others.

to make an analogy, if there would be a jew, who would be a member of a shul who was a bigot as well as a crook. If the shul kicked him out for being a crook, but he made ammends for his crookedness so they let him back in, it doesn't say that they agree with his bigotness.

that's all that happened here, he lost his position and was kicked out of the church, now he's been let back in the church, but he hasn't regained his position.

anyone with a few brain cells should be able to figure this out.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and I love it. Don’t worry about that Williamson Dude. Benedict has to unexcommunicate him to free the guys beneath him. As it stands right now the Vatican has no power over Pius X Society. Now that they are back in the Pope will clean their house. Trust me that the Catholic Church is not anti-Semitic. Bishop Williamson will be gone to pasture within a year and the Pope will fix their problems. I can understand how you feel about his rantings but he is just one messed up dude. The majority of Catholics I know detest bigots of any kind. Sincerely, Holly Hayes

tzvee said...

the jewish agency says holocaust denial = antisemitism and this williamson is guilty of it ---

Jewish Agency official slams bishop rehabilitation
By KAREN ZOLKA

JERUSALEM (AP) — A senior official in Israel's Jewish Agency on Sunday slammed a decision by Pope Benedict XVI to rehabilitate a bishop who denied the existence of the Holocaust.

"I think it's a scandal," said Amos Hermon, head of the Task Force Against Anti-Semitism at the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency. "It is something we cannot understand."

The pope's decision Saturday to rescind the excommunication of four bishops came just days after one of them, Richard Williamson of Britain, told Swedish TV that evidence "is hugely against 6 million Jews being deliberately gassed."

The Holocaust by German Nazis and their collaborators is recognized as the most traumatic event in modern Jewish history. Denial of the Holocaust is seen in Israel as anti-Semitism.

Hermon said at a news conference that Richardson's rehabilitation insulted Israel — and the more than 200,000 Holocaust survivors who live there.

"For them, it's their whole life," he said.

Despite warnings from Jewish groups that Williamson's rehabilitation might damage delicate ties between Israel and the Vatican and even throw doubt on the pontiff's plan to visit the Holy Land this year, a senior Israeli official played down the significance of the pope's action.

"This is not a matter that concerns the interactions between the states," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Associated Press.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said Saturday that Williamson's views were "absolutely indefensible." But he denied that rehabilitating Williamson implied that the Vatican shared them.

The four bishops were excommunicated 20 years ago after they were consecrated by a late ultraconservative archbishop without papal consent — a move the Vatican said at the time was an act of schism.

Anonymous said...

is anyone arguing that this guy is not an anti-semite?

he wasn't excommunicated for being an anti-semite, so why is his being allowed back in have anything to do with it.

you seem to want to make the point that no anti-semites should be allowed to exist within the church and that being anti-semitic should be an excommunicable offense. As a jew, I have a serious issue with that, and that's you telling christians what their theology should be, which should therefore cause you to re-read confrontations.

Anonymous said...

The elephant in the room is the fact - not a wild allegation, but an accepted, undisputed, undeniable fact - that the current Pope used to be a Nazi. The College of Cardinals was aware of this when they elected him. Caveat emptor.

Anonymous said...

He was a member of the Hitler Youth, as was any other German of his age, given that membership for non-Jews became mandatory in 1936. Neither he nor his family were Nazis, as any historian who has looked at the matter will gladly inform you. Still, don't let that get in the way of a nice smear.

Anonymous said...

To a certain, limited extent, you have a point. However, many Germans - thousands - refused to buckle under and refused to join the Nazis, though that usually meant they became refugees. At some level, everyone has a choice. I came of age when the USA was engaged in what I considered to be an unconscionable war in Viet Nam, and legally, I was subject to the draft. I refused to cooperate, at the risk of going to jail.

We all make choices; Some are more principled than others. Unfortunately, the man who is now Pope made the decision to join the Hitler Youth. Granted, the alternative choice would have been much more difficult. Nevertheless, it was a choice. I'm no saint, and would never expect to hold a high religious post of any sort, but at 17, I think my morals were on a whole different plane than those of the 17-year-old who chose the easy way out, and joined the Nazis decades before he would be appointed Pope.

Matt said...

Ratzinger fled! So...he fits the bill of your "whole different plane." This is very upsetting:

http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2005/04/What-Joseph-Ratzinger-Did-During-The-War.aspx

tzvee said...

for its heroic leadership, the church sets the bar pretty low

Anonymous said...

Here's an article that I found today which brings to light additional information on this subject. I find it very sad to see so many individuals readily attack the pope and the Church on a shoestring of information and their own hard-heartedness and anger. Please read on...

SSPX Head Apologizes
POSTED BY TOM MCFEELY
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 10:39 AM

Bishop Bernard Fellay (CNS/Reuters)
Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, has apologized to Pope Benedict XVI for the controversial Holocaust-denying remarks of another SSPX bishop.

Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four SSPX bishops to have their excommunications lifted last week by the Pope, made the comments in an interview aired in mid-January on Swedish TV.

Here is the text of Bishop Fellay’s Jan. 27 statement, as translated from Italian by the National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen, Jr.:

“We have become aware of an interview released by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Fraternity of St. Pius X, to Swedish television. In this interview, he expressed himself on historical questions, and in particular on the question of the genocide against the Jews carried out by the Nazis.

“It’s clear that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesiastical authority except on questions that regard faith and morals. Our Fraternity does not claim any authority on other matters. Its mission is the propagation and restoration of authentic Catholic doctrine, expressed in the dogmas of the faith. It’s for this reason that we are known, accepted and respected in the entire world.

“It’s with great sadness that we recognize the extent to which the violation of this mandate has done damage to our mission. The affirmations of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any sense the position of our Fraternity. For this reason I have prohibited him, pending any new orders, from taking any public positions on political or historical questions.

“We ask the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act. Because we recognize how ill-advised these declarations were, we can only look with sadness at the way in which they have directly struck our Fraternity, discrediting its mission.

“This is something we cannot accept, and we declare that we will continue to preach Catholic doctrine and to administer the sacraments of grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

At his general audience today at the Vatican, the Pope said he lifted the SSPX excommunications in hopes of fostering unity with the Society of St. Pius X, which opposes the Second Vatican Council’s liturgical reforms and some other aspects of the Council.

“I undertook this act of paternal mercy because these prelates had repeatedly manifested to me their deep pain at the situation in which they had come to find themselves,” the Holy Father said. “I hope my gesture is followed by the hoped-for commitment on their part to take the further steps necessary to realize full communion with the church, thus witnessing true fidelity, and true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council.”
Permalink | Filed under benedict xvi, bishop fellay, excommunications, society of st. pius x

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ratzinger openly admitted to serving in the Nazi army for two years after fulfilling his duty in the Hitler Youth Corps. Granted, he claimed to have never fired a shot during his service. Many think that statement lacks credibility. How does one serve on active duty in an army, as a gunner, during an all-out war, for two years, and never fire a shot?

Mr. Ratzinger's memory can reasonably be called into question here, particularly since he seemed also to have no recollection of the numerous incidents of anti-semitic violence which occurred in Traunstein while he was living there.

If, as he claimed, Mr. Ratzinger did not approve personally of the Nazi agenda, then his service in the Nazi army would have been, even more, a particularly egregiously immoral act.

I can't help but be reminded of the famous quote from Niemoller:

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew . . ."