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Vatican: Bishop’s Apology on Holocaust Not Enough

posted by nsymmonds

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican said Friday that the apology issued by an ultraconservative bishop who denied the Holocaust was not good enough to admit him into the Catholic Church as a clergyman.
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said Bishop Richard Williamson’s statement “doesn’t appear to respect the conditions” the Vatican set out for him.
In an interview broadcast last month on Swedish state TV, Williamson denied 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, saying 200,000 or 300,000 were murdered. He said none were gassed.
Williamson apologized for his remarks on Thursday, saying he would never have made them if he had known “the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise.”
But he did not say his comments had been erroneous, nor that he no longer believed them.
On Friday, Germany’s justice minister, Brigitte Zypries, said Germany could issue a European-wide arrest warrant on hate crimes charges for Williamson, because the Swedish TV interview was conducted in Germany.
State prosecutors in Regensburg, Germany, have already opened a preliminary investigation into whether Williamson broke German laws against Holocaust denial.
Williamson’s initial remarks sparked widespread outrage among Jewish groups and others. The interview was broadcast just days before the Vatican announced that it was lifting his excommunication and that of three other bishops.
The four, members of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, had been excommunicated after being consecrated as bishops without papal consent in 1988.
Bowing to the criticism, the Vatican on Feb. 4 demanded that Williamson “absolutely and unequivocally distance himself from his remarks about the Shoah if he is to be admitted to episcopal functions in the church.” Shoah is the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.
In his statement Friday, Lombardi noted that Williamson’s comments were not addressed to Pope Benedict XVI or to the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei commission, which has been dealing with the Society of St. Pius X ever since its bishops were excommunicated.
Williamson issued the statement, carried by the Zenit Catholic news agency, upon his arrival in Britain after being expelled from Argentina.
In it, Williamson said he was only giving the opinion of a “non-historian” during the Swedish TV interview. He said that opinion was “formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available, and rarely expressed in public since.”
However, he said, “the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St. Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused.”
“To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize.”
Jewish groups were not impressed.
“With his failure to clearly retract his malicious lies, Williamson has shown again that he is a convinced anti-Semite and an incorrigible Holocaust denier,” said the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Charlotte Knobloch.
Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said he could not tell if Williamson’s apology was genuine.
“If it is, let him reflect over the coming weeks and make a proper act of penance,” he said in an e-mail statement. “For our part, we seek to move ahead and resume the Catholic-Jewish dialogue with renewed vigor and determination.”
The Society of St. Pius X has distanced itself from Williamson’s remarks and removed him as the director of its seminary in La Reja, Argentina.
The Switzerland-based society was formed in 1969 by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, opposed to the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, particularly its outreach to Jews.
Associated Press – February 27, 2009
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



  • pagansister

    There’s hope for the Vatican! I’ll give them a thumbs up for this.(and I don’t do that often!) Williamson still believes he is speaking the truth…the man is deluded.

  • nnmns

    Agreed, ps.

  • cknuck

    I think an apology should always be accepted and in this case enough, people want to really hurt this guy but that is not right either.

  • Scott R.

    Yeah, I would have expect that from you CK. Well, why would you care about the Holocaust?
    But if he said anything about black people…uh oh!

  • nnmns

    ck, do you realize what he said and what he apologized for? You seem to be saying that if you apologized for inconveniencing me I should let you teach my children. Not gonna happen!

  • Tom

    “You seem to be saying that if you apologized for inconveniencing me I should let you teach my children.”
    ‘Bishop’ Williamson would not be readmitted to a position of authority even if full communion with the Church were restored to him. And for the time being, we could give ‘Bishop’ Williamson the benefit of a doubt while he ‘studies the evidence at hand’. Hopefully, he’ll ‘see the light’.
    Anyhow, as luck would have it, I stumbled upon a juicy nugget from the good ole SSPX this morning which luminates some of their wacko conspiracy theory from ’93 (one could only hope they’ve evolved since then).
    http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/SiSiNoNo/1993_April/Secret-Vatican-Power-Group.htm
    Yet, there are still fringe groups who buy into this nonsense, among them this group and one of my own personal favorites ‘Bro.’ Michael Dimond:
    http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/

  • Nate W

    Thing is, Cknuck, this apology doesn’t really sound very genuine. The Christian churches, after all, must demand more than mere apology, they must demand repentance. From what I can see, and from what the Vatican sees too, Williamson doesn’t seem to be making this apology in a spirit of genuine repentance.

  • Tom

    Williamson may not have been attempting to be restored fully into the Church with his apology and admission of imprudence. An apology made in good spirit, by definition, wouldn’t have alterior motives attached to it such as reincorporation into the Catholic Church. True contrition would be necessary. Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi may have jumped the gun a hair by stating that Williamson “doesn’t appear to respect the conditions” the Vatican set out for him. Personally, I’d be more suspicious had he apologized and admitted his historical error, and thus renounced his earlier convictions so quickly. Only time will tell if this dialogue between the Society and the Vatican will bear good fruit.

  • cknuck

    Scott R. quote: “Yeah, I would have expect that from you CK. Well, why would you care about the Holocaust?
    But if he said anything about black people…uh oh!”
    Nice Scott, I’m talking about the man and his apology for what he said. What should be his punishment? What will satisfy your lush for his pain?
    The sin is that millions of people are dying in similar ways today and the way people are not concerned is denying their genocide. Everybody is sorry for what happened to the Jews and we are reminded about what happened to the point that it sometimes feel like if you don’t say the right thing you can catch the punishment as if you actually participated in the holocaust. Meanwhile millions of people actually experience similar fate in this decade with little response from the world.
    I think a heartfelt apology is enough and people’s personal outrage may color the way they receive the apology because they want him to feel more pain or at least until they are satisfied. The problem is that kind of contempt is rarely satisfied.

  • Henrietta22

    I understand what Ck feels about Williamson, he is being honest in his own way, Williamson, that is, to say he didn’t mean to hurt so many people with what he said about the Holocust and etc. Like Tom said with time and more study he may come to a different opinion. What seems unjust to me is that the group he belonged to in Argentina threw him out of their Church, and in turn he got kicked out of the country. Could it be that the group didn’t want anymore scrutiny where they are concerned, and it was safer to get rid of him? Not much brotherhood there. He’ll have lots of time to think it through.

  • nnmns

    Perhaps especially if Germany gets hold of him. It seems he wasn’t careful enough where he advanced his baseless claims.

  • Tom

    To my knowledge Williamson hasn’t been kicked out of the Society (yet); they just removed him as director of the seminary in Argentina. I’m not sure what the Society has planned for him in the future. They may be looking to convince Rome of their foibles, and therefore are removing any obstacles in the way of a possible dialogue.

  • Scott R.

    He shouldn’t be a priest. He wouldn’t be allowed to administer what is sodered to be God’s sacraments while he embraces evil.

  • Your Name

    Not every question is evil and I am sure Williamson had no evil intent. Everyone that looks for the truth in history should be able to question facts. The fact is that the numbers of death have been in question by certain historians and it is not to lessen the horrible facts of evil deeds done to the Jews of that time.
    Sometimes it seems as if certain groups keep the holocaust as a tool to use to keep folk in check. It is not a weapon it is history meaning the past. The P.R. keeps the holocaust so prominent that so evils committed in these times are overlooked even some atrocities carried out by Israel to their neighbors like when Hamas militants killed 4 Israeli citizens and Israel killed in retaliation over 400 Palestinian citizens, Russia in Georgia and Afghanistan, mass killings in Bangladesh, Rwanda and Darfur I’d be willing to be if someone fudged the numbers in these atrocities there would be not much mentioned. If there is to be an outrage let it be for all and help those still suffering.
    The man has apologized take it on faith that it was sincere and more on; take that outrage and do something constructive with it for people who are currently in trouble.

  • cknuck

    sorry that is my post

  • Your Name

    The hatred that the Xian church sold for 1,900 years helped make the Holocaust possible. That one of their priests should try to diminish the deaths of one of our precious relatives makes the church suspect – again – in our eyes.
    I KNOW you will never grasp that.

  • cknuck

    you know a lot, I realize I know little

  • Bob

    “He shouldn’t be a priest. He wouldn’t be allowed to administer what is sodered to be God’s sacraments while he embraces evil.”
    But you’re forgetting that –
    “…the priest consecrates this sacrament not by his own power, but as the minister of Christ, in Whose person he consecrates this sacrament. But from the fact of being wicked he does not cease to be Christ’s minister…
    And this belongs to Christ’s excellence, Whom, as the true God, things both good and evil serve, since they are ordained by His providence for His glory. Hence it is evident that priests, even though they be not godly, but sinners, can consecrate the Eucharist.”

    – St. Thomas Aquinas, as written in Summa Theologica

  • nnmns

    Bob I don’t think it’s a question of who gets to say Abracadabra for a lot of us, it’s a question of who might get to influence what children, or indeed adults, are taught.

  • Tom

    Nnmns, please don’t give any of our more dim-witted priests bad ideas. We already have plenty of problems with renegades deviating from the Eucharistic liturgical formula of consecration, and some of them are just ‘sharp’ enough to use the A word.
    It does, however, remind me of one of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons (to put my childlike mentality on display). Too bad they don’t make em like they used to:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCyBlWpb8Og&feature=related

  • cknuck

    One of my staff came in my office to check on me I was laughing so hard at Bugs.

  • nnmns

    Thanks Tom, that was a hoot.

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