Tageszeitung: Hermann Haering Says Pope Benedict XVI Should Resign Over Bishop Richard Williamson Scandal

The political tempest over the rehabilitation by Pope Benedict of Holocaust denier Richard Williamson is intensifying for two reasons.

First, there is worldwide a combined psychological, political and social aversion to anyone who abets a Nazi apologist. Support of a Holocaust denial is directly equivalent to an apologetic for the Nazi genocide of the Holocaust. Add into this the suspicions about the Pope's past as a Hitler Youth and German soldier and that magnifies the public's distaste for his awful decision.

Second, there is a strong majority of people within the Church who understand that by definition a traditional religion cannot be quickly modernized but still want to see evidence that it is moving forward, not backward. The Pope's rehabilitation of retrograde theologians sends signals to the laity that the Vatican has shifted gears into reverse.

Hence the outcry intensifies. [Hat tip to Henry, thanks.]

Breitbart.com reports in excellent detail:
Call for pope to step down over Holocaust denier

Attacks on Pope Benedict XVI's decision to lift the excommunication of a Holocaust denier escalated Monday, with one theologian calling on him to step down as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Criticism following the pope's January 24 announcement has been particularly cutting in Germany, where denying the Holocaust is a crime punishable with a jail sentence.

"If the pope wants to do some good for the Church, he should leave his job," eminent liberal Catholic theologian Hermann Haering told the German daily Tageszeitung.

"That would not be a scandal, a bishop has to relinquish his position at 75 years, a cardinal loses his rights at 80 years," he said. Pope Benedict is 81.

Meanwhile, a senior Vatican official acknowledged the Vatican administration may have made "management errors" with the decision to lift excommunication against four bishops, including Richard Williamson, whose comments sparked the controversy.

"I observe the debate with great concern. There were misunderstandings and management errors in the Curia," said Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is in charge of the Vatican department that deals with Jewish relations.

"The Pope wanted to open the debate because he wanted unity inside and outside," the German cardinal told Vatican Radio.

He also noted that "these bishops are still suspended."

An international uproar followed the decision to rehabilitate Williamson, an English bishop who has dismissed as "lies" historical evidence that six million Jews were gassed by the Nazis during World War II. Jews and Catholics alike have produced widespread criticism.

"A pardon that tastes of poison," wrote Franco Garelli, an expert in religious history, in Italy's daily La Stampa Monday.

"The trouble caused by this complicated affair is evident not only outside the Church but within it," wrote the academic, who spoke of the "profound discomfort stirred up by the lifting of the excommunication in numerous Catholic circles."

Back in Germany, high-ranking Catholic officials said the pope risked losing vital support.

"There is obviously a loss of confidence" in the pope and "rehabilitating a denier is always a bad idea," the bishop of Hamburg, Werner Thissen, told the daily Hamburger Abendblatt on Monday.

The bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Gebhard Furst, meanwhile spoke of his "uncertainty, incomprehension and deception" in the national Bild.

In France, home to Europe's largest Jewish population, chief rabbi Gilles Bernheim denounced Williamson's remarks as "despicable" in an interview with Le Monde.

Williamson claimed that only between 200,000 and 300,000 Jews died before and during World War II, and none in the gas chambers.

French government spokesman Luc Chatel called Williamson's remarks "unacceptable, abject and intolerable."

In Austria, where Pope Benedict last week named a controversial ultra-conservative priest as auxiliary bishop in Linz, criticism also came from within the Church.

Vienna's cardinal and archbishop, Christoph Schoenborn, on Sunday lashed out at the decision to bring Williamson back into the fold, saying that "he who denies the Holocaust cannot be rehabilitated within the Church."

Belgian daily La Libre Belgique slammed the Vatican's "blindness" and "deafness," drawing links between Williamson and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Apparently no one can make the Iranian president and his henchman see reason" when they deny the "truth" of the Holocaust, and it is the same with the "bishop recently anointed by the highest authority of the Catholic Church," it said.

For the pope, the "blunder is extraordinary, especially given that his willingness for a dialogue with Judaism is indisputable," said French daily Liberation.


Anonymous said...

Here is my opinion.

Was Bishop Williamson wrong and ignorant in his remarks? Yes

Was the Vatican right in repudiating the bishop's remarks? Yes

Do I beleive that the Vatican was right in telling the bishop he must recant before being received into full communion with the Church? No.

Williamson's remarks, though wrong and ignorant, have no bearing on whether or not he is an orthodox Catholic. There is no dogma in the church which says that "you must believe that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust in order to be a true Catholic." Its not an issue of the faith so it should not be a factor in whether or not he is reabilitated.

What is going on is just another example of those outside the Church trying to control what goes on inside the Church.

By giving in to those protesting the bishop's reabilitation and forcing him to recant ON AN ISSUE IRRELEVANT TO CATHOLIC TEACHING, the Church is sending the false impression that Non-Catholics somehow have control over the affairs of the Church. What I think the real issue is that Non-Catholics do not want to see the Catholic Church go back to its more traditional roots because if it does, those outside cannot continue their progressivist agenda to change the Church from within.

Again, I in no way endorse Holocaust denial or anti-semitism. But it makes me really uncomfortable when those outside the Church (whether Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Atheist, Liberal, Secularist ect.) try to tell the Catholic Church how it should or should not opperate

Anonymous said...

Your understanding of the lifting of the excommunication of the four SSSX bishops and the Pope's position on the beliefs of Williamson concerning the holocaust is not representative of the facts. Below is directly from the horse's mouth, the Vatican:

Vatican Clarification on Lefebvrites, Holocaust

"The Holy Father Asks Accompaniment in Prayer"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a note issued today by the Vatican Secretariat of State regarding last month's lifting of the excommunication of four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X.

* * *

In the wake of the reactions elicited by the recent decree from the Congregation for Bishops, with which the excommunication of four prelates of the Fraternity of St. Pius X were lifted, and in relation to negationist or reductionist declarations on the Shoah from Bishop Williamson of that same fraternity, it is considered opportune to clarify certain aspects of the issue.

1. Remission of the excommunication.

As has already been published previously, the decree of the Congregation for Bishops, dated Jan. 21, 2009, was an act by which the Holy Father graciously took in the reiterated petitions from the superior-general of the Fraternity of St. Pius X.

His Holiness wished to remove an impediment that adversely affected the opening of a door to dialogue. Now he expects that the same willingness be expressed by the four bishops, in total adhesion to the doctrine and discipline of the Church.

The most grave penalty of excommunication latae sententiae, which these bishops incurred June 30, 1988, afterward declared formally on July 1 of the same year, was a consequence of their illegitimate ordination by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

The lifting of the excommunication has freed the four bishops from a most grave canonical penalty, but it has not changed in any way the juridical situation of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, which for the moment does not enjoy any canonical recognition in the Catholic Church. Neither do the four bishops, though liberated from the excommunication, have a canonical function in the Church and they do not licitly exercise a ministry in it.

2. Tradition, doctrine and the Second Vatican Council.

For a future recognition of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, the full recognition of the Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI himself is an indispensable condition.

As has already been affirmed in the decree of Jan. 21, 2009, the Holy See will not cease, in the ways in which it judges opportune, to go deeper with the interested parties in the questions that remain open, in such a way that a full and satisfactory solution to the problems that have given rise to this painful fracture can be reached.

3. Declaration on the Shoah.

The viewpoints of Bishop Williamson on the Shoah are absolutely unacceptable and firmly rejected by the Holy Father, as he himself noted last Jan. 28, when, referring to that savage genocide, he reaffirmed his full and indisputable solidarity with our brother recipients of the First Covenant, and affirmed that the memory of that terrible genocide should induce "humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the human heart," adding that the Shoah remains "for everyone a warning against forgetting, against negating or reductionism, because violence committed against even one human being is violence against all."

Bishop Williamson, to be admitted to episcopal functions in the Church, must also distance himself in an absolutely unmistakable and public way from his position on the Shoah, which was unknown to the Holy Father in the moment of the lifting of the excommunication.

The Holy Father asks accompaniment in prayer from all the faithful, that the Lord may enlighten the path of the Church. May there be an increase in the determination of the pastors and all the faithful in support of the delicate and heavy mission of the Successor of the Apostle Peter as "guardian of the unity" of the Church.

From the Vatican, February 4, 2009

Anonymous said...

Bishop Williamson is a disgrace of a human being. He is in the same category a child molester or a serial murderer such as Charles Manson. The fact that the Pope could find time in his busy schedule to even consider rehabilitating this man is a measure of his complete lack of judgment.

The pope has demonstrated that he is not fit to govern, and therefore must resign.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Holocaust Denial is that it is often not understood for what it truly is – a form of psychological terrorism. It has nothing to do with historic facts. The Holocaust denier performs a reenactment of sorts on the tragedy of the original victim, trivializing the event to its very non-existence. The only sordid purpose of the denier is to elicit a reaction from his intended victim. Like the original torturers in the death camps, the denier can sit back and feel safe from meaningful retribution, after all his instruments of terror are mere propositions, or words. What real harm has been committed?
Bishop Williamson is a self proclaimed Holocaust Denier, and proud of it. He is a despicable human being because of it. The issue confronting Pope Benedict is not about whether to rehabilitate some wrongly excommunicated members from the Society of St. Pius X, on grounds of healing wounds in the church, so he can please the right wing fringe of his ecclesiastical empire. It is about the fact that the pontiff denies the outrageousness of Bishop Williamson in the first place, and hence like him is complicit in the same Faustian denial game. And it is for this reason that Benedict the XVI will and must abdicate.