Jewish officials in Israel and abroad are outraged that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to lift the excommunication of a British bishop who denies that Jews were killed in Nazi gas chambers.

Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee called the move by the Roman Catholic Church “shameful.”

By “welcoming an open holocaust denier into the Catholic Church without any recantation on his part, the Vatican has made a mockery of John Paul II‘s moving and impressive repudiation and condemnation of anti-Semitism,” he said.

Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, also expressed disappointment at the pope’s decision.

“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 teaching and would foster disdain and contempt for other religions, particularly Judaism,” he said. “Given the centuries-long history of anti-Semitism in the church, this is a most troubling setback.”

“While there are still hundreds of thousands of living Holocaust survivors amongst us who carry the scars of the Holocaust in them, to accept back a Holocaust-denying bishop raises questions if the Vatican under Pope XVI has learned the lesson of the Holocaust,” said Amos Hermon, who heads the Task Force Against Anti-Semitism at Israel’s Jewish Agency.

The pope has twice visited synagogues, in the U.S. and his home country Germany, but recently stated, according to The Times, that dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims “in the strict sense of the word” was “not possible.”

After his 14th birthday in 1941, Benedict — then called Joseph Ratzinger — was forced along with the rest of his class in Bavaria, southern Germany, to join the Hitler Youth. However his biographer John Allen Jr., said Ratzinger’s family was strongly anti-Nazi.

Source: CNN

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21 thoughts on “Pope Benedict XVI Lifts Excommunication of Holocaust Denier

  1. Of course Bishop Williamson is completely wrong when he says only 200,000 – 300,000 Jews died from being in concentration camps and that there was no gas chambers. There’s very conclusive proof not only of millions of Jews being killed but also of the use of the gas chamber.

    If he was a politician, I’d never vote for him; if he was a history professor, I’d want to see him fired. If he was calling on Catholics to kill Jews, I’d want him in jail. However, he’s a priest and for matters outside of doctrine, I don’t see how a personal opinion should interfere with his ability to function as one.

    This is big news though but typical secular media, misses the deeper implications of this action.

    Bishop Williamson belongs to the religious order “Society of St. Pius X”. This order was started in 1970 by Archbishop Lefebvre. Lefebrve helped work on the initial documents to the Second Vatican Council but became dismayed when the Modernist faction hijacked the council and by invoking “The spirit of Vatican 2” was able to overturn much of the 2000 year old traditions of the Church. So Lefebvre started an order to train priests to keep saying the Tridentine Mass. And objectively looking at the health of the Caholic Church before and after Vatican 2, it’s no wonder Lefebvre did what he did.

    In 1988, to ensure the continued existance of the order after his death (A bishop is needed to ordain a priest) Lefebvre consecrated 4 bishops without approval from the Pope. This is against Canon Law and so Lefebvre and the 4 bishops were automatically excommunicated. Bishop Williamson was one of the four bishops and all four where unexcommunicated in this recent action.

    The importance of this move is that the SSPX is a very, very large traditional order and by unexcommunicating these four bishops, it removes one of the largest blocks to welcoming this order back fully within the Catholic Church. Another large block was removed in 2007, when the Pope allowed any priest to say the Tridentine Mass if there are people desiring to hear it.

  2. I can’t believe that there are people in the world that don’t think the holocaust happened. That’s like saying orange juice doesn’t exist. Pardon the random comparison.

  3. I think of Darth Sideous(SP?) when I see the emporer I mean pope..come with me to the dark side young Jedi. You do not know the power of the dark side, Together we can rule the Universe!!! Now, WIPE my ass with Holy Roman Toilet paper! Yea, some humble man you see those hold duds he has only fucking hell, that costs more that most people retirement funds. I would love to see how much I could get for his Holy Cap on ebay, I would never have to work again.

  4. 大神先生,

    Yes, much blood was shed due to some religious convictions, but religions are very diverse and do have benefits.

    – – –

    Steelbound,

    Thank you for this clarification. It seems that lifting excommunication from the three priests may make sense, but I do question the values of this priest. History should be acknowledged and serve as a lesson, not denied. Such views should be reprimanded by the Church rather than rewarded.

    – – –

    Blindvision,

    Yes, it is unbelievable, but such people do exist. His is not completely denying holocaust, nevertheless, it is a shame that a priest holds such views.

    – – –

    Joe,

    Yes, many people noted the resemblance to that character from Star Wars, but the similarity is only at a superficial level.

  5. Continuing with what steelbound said, when you consider that excommunication for a Catholic means consignment to Hell, then definitely holding a belief in the existence or non-existence of a historical event is not good enough reason to excommunicate someone.
    I imagine the Pope sympathizes with SSPX and he probably thinks Post-Vatican II has gone too far. Now if he can get the sedevacantists on his side…

    1. I see… Well, in this case it was not excommunication for his views, rather they lifted it. Thus, the question is should they save that person from Hell despite him holding those views… Spending some time in Hell does seem like a rough punishment though…

    1. 大神先生,

      Religions do have negative aspects, but here is an interesting observation: An analysis of over 200 social studies contends that “high religiousness predicts a rather lower risk of depression and drug abuse and fewer suicide attempts, and more reports of satisfaction with sex life and a sense of well-being,”

      Ways of life may also rely on something with no proof.

      – – –

      Diego,

      It is good that the majority disagree with his views.

      Media tends to overhype many things, emphasizing some parts of the whole story.

      However, it seems that the SSPX held some intriguing perspectives:

      Archbishop Lefebvre (founder) vocally condemned French Revolution (1789) and supported pre-Revolution absolutist Catholic monarchy (Source)

  6. It’s an important conciliatory gesture – one that I, as a traditionalist who sympathises with the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), am extremely thankful for.

    Rest assured, many traditionalists disagree in the strongest terms with Bishop Williamson’s misguided views, and I pray that his wild rants don’t derail the process of bringing the SSPX back into the fold at this extremely delicate stage. It doesn’t help that the liberal, virulently anti-Catholic media seems to delight in emphasising the Bishop’s out-of-place remarks while relegating the more important reasons for the withdrawal of the excommunications to incidental comments and passing remarks.

    Sancte Michael Archangele,
    defende nos in proelio,
    contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
    Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
    tuque, Princeps militiae coelestis,
    Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
    qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
    divina virtute, in infernum detrude.
    Amen.

  7. I suppose it’s best to let this whole issue die a well-deserved death, but here’s a closing salvo – the SSPX’s Superior General has issued a statement stressing that Bishop Williamson’s views are not those of the Society.

    The mission of the priestly society is the distribution and restoration of authentic Catholic teaching and how it is laid down in dogmas. For that we are well known worldwide, accepted and appreciated.

    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.

    At the same time we must be clear that these remarks in no manner represent the views of our fraternity. Therefore I prohibit Bishop Williamson until further notice from speaking in public on political or historic questions.

    Source URL: http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2009-fellay-communique_from_Fellay.htm

  8. …And Abbott Jorna, the head of the St.Pius X seminary in Ecône, Switzerland, also said today in the Geneva media that: “We will not compromise on Vatican II and ecumenism. Nor on collegiality.[Meaning that they will always reject all three no matter what.] The Church isn’t a democracy. The only [Catholic] leader is the successor to Peter, the Pope. But the most important for us, is that we reject religious freedom, the freedom of thought. There is only one religion, Roman Catholicism.” They therefore not even acknowledge the other Christian obedience (Protestantism, Orthodoxy, etc.).

    One should also be aware that Vatican II was a great step towards a respectful dialogue with Judaism and the Jewish people, as it debunked the infamous theory of the deicidal Jew, that is that it was the Jews who killed Jesus and that for this reason, Christians should hate them. Rejecting Vatican II and the inter-faith dialogue it encouraged, also means endorsing this interpretation of the Bible, which was such a favorable breeding ground for traditional European antisemitism for centuries. So, in that respect, I’m not surprised to hear that there are revisionists among the St. Pius X leaders.

    I have no problem with this congregation, as long as its members respect the state laws and don’t try to push their faith down my throat. Unfortunately, they are quite dynamic proselytes as well. And I believe, it is one of the main reason why the Catholic church wants them back in its bosom.

  9. Joe,

    Controlling people, telling them how to live, and making them guilty can be a good thing, if done properly, but I see what you mean.

    – – –

    Ariane Beldi,

    Thank you for this interesting information.

    This was the most striking statement for me: “we reject religious freedom, the freedom of thought. There is only one religion, Roman Catholicism.”

    It sounds like Vatican II made some progress.

  10. Well, the birth place of the St.Pius X congregation being in Switzerland, it is normal that I’m aware of it. Recently, the Ecône community has stated its fornmal and legal opposition to the construction of a new soccer stadium and mall nearby their estate! So, we do hear about them from times to times and not just on religious matters.

    Another thing that I just learnt today in one of our national newspaper, is that Mgr. Lefebvre, the founder of this community regularly encouraged his followers to vote for extreme-right parties and politicians. Just yesterday, the Front National, France’s extreme-right wing party, saluted the Pope’s decision to reintegrate St.Pius X community in the Catholic Church in a statement entitled: “Mgr. Lefebvre was right.” (http://fnj95.hautetfort.com/archive/2009/01/24/monseigneur-lefebvre-avait-raison.html)In the light of this information, it seems to me even less surprising to find revisionists in this community.

    Mrg. Williamson also stated in 2001 that women shouldn’t be allowed into university, because their nature isn’t favorably disposed for global and rational thinking! I guess, I should immediately give up my doctoral dissertation and run to the kitchen…although, for me, it is a very dangerous place, where I regularly cut, burn, and scald myself!

    1. Thank you again – you find interesting news that are not readily available to the people on this side of the ocean 🙂

      A soccer stadium might be too loud for them probably, but a mall might be fine.

      Yes, I also read that they tend to have right-wing views.

      “isn’t favorably disposed for global and rational thinking!” Wow… what a horrible thing to say… It is too bad people still have such opinions in this century…

  11. “high religiousness predicts a rather lower risk of depression and drug abuse and fewer suicide attempts, and more reports of satisfaction with sex life and a sense of well-being”

    That’s simply evidence that ignorance is bliss. I’m sure I would be less depressed if I believed everyone around me had rainbow colored hair. But it wouldn’t be true. Facts matter more than feelings.

    1. It seems you are implying that religious people are ignorant. Yes, some of them are, but so are other people. Some of the great scientists were religious, so these categories are not disjoint.

      One of the reasons religious people have better mental health is because they have a strong sense of purpose and direction in their life that other people may lack. Both facts and feelings are necessary for progress.

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