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Vatican Says Bishop Must Recant Holocaust Statements

VATICAN CITY — Responding to two weeks of international outcry, the Vatican on Wednesday (Feb. 4) demanded that a traditionalist bishop recant his statements denying the genocide of Jews during in the Holocaust.
The statement from the office of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who as Secretary of State is the Vatican’s No. 2 official, said Bishop Richard Williamson would not be permitted to function as a bishop without first “distancing himself in an absolute and unequivocal way from his positions” on the Holocaust.
Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, called the statement “the sign the Jewish world has been waiting for.”
“Holocaust denial must not go uncensored, and anti-Semites should not be allowed to have a say in the church,” Lauder said.
Williamson is one of four bishops of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) whose 1988 excommunications were lifted by Pope Benedict XVI on Jan. 21.
Jewish groups were outraged when Williamson recently told Swedish television that as many as 300,000 Jews “perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber.”
In an apparent response to the controversy, Benedict on Jan. 28 condemned the Nazi genocide of “millions of Jews” and expressed his “full and indisputable solidarity” with the Jewish people.
The pope has not, however, explicitly condemned Williamson’s remarks.
Wednesday’s statement noted that Benedict had not known of those remarks when he lifted the excommunications. Even so, harshly anti-Semitic writings — some dating back to 1997 — are widely available on the SSPX Web site.
The statement also stressed that Williamson and the other three readmitted bishops do not “licitly exercise a ministry” in the Catholic Church, which still does not recognize the SSPX.
As an “indispensable condition” of such recognition, the statement said SSPX must first offer “full recognition of the Second Vatican Council” from the 1960s, which explicitly rejects anti-Semitism and says Jews should not be blamed for the death of Christ.
The SSPX is the most vocal and militant group resisting changes in the Catholic Church that emerged from Vatican II, including Mass in local languages and a greater openness to ecumenism.
The four bishops were excommunicated in 1988, along with the society’s founder, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, after Lefebvre ordained them without the Vatican’s permission.
c. 2009 Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service.All rights reserved.No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • pagansister

    It seems that Bertone, #2 Man at the Vatican, perhaps has listened to the words from the Jewish community by telling Williamson to get his act together and recant his stupid statement regarding the Holocaust. So if Williamson wants to do his bishop duties, then I guess he will racant, as ordered by Bertone. What will be interesting is to see if Williamson recognizes the authority of the Vatican…or just continues to hold his position. Also I guess the group has to stop blaming the Jews for killing JC as well as recognize Vatican II. Will SSPX rejoin the RCC??? Tune in later and see! Sounds like a really bad soap opera.
    Does Bertone speak for Benny?

  • pagansister

    Just reread the article, and according to it, Benny hasn’t condemned the Williamson statement. He doesn’t agree, does he?

  • Nate W

    There’s no reason to assume that Benedict doesn’t agree and plenty of reasons to assume that he does, such as his rejection of racism and anti-Semitism as anti-Catholic. Like I’ve said many times, the lifting of the excommunication isn’t anything more than a formal step required before reconciliation could begin; it, in itself, is not reconciliation. There’s no reason whatsoever to think that the Vatican wasn’t going to require more effort from the SSPX bishops and members all along. I repeat that those who are making the most fuss don’t seem to understand what excommunication is or why it is practiced.

  • Your Name

    I think it is unfair that other attempts of genocide are not recognized and there is not at least as much outrage if not then more because of how recent these were carried out.

  • nnmns

    Ok he’s let those four back in the RCC but not into ministering. To do that they have to say the right things, despite having a long history of saying the wrong things. It would be interesting to know if he will have any other requirements and what they would be.
    Also this SSPX seems to represent thinking lots of Catholics (and I presume Lutherans) had before WWII which made the Holocaust possible. I fearfully wonder how many in the RCC follow this type of thinking. And I can’t imagine how anyone could know, though there may be those who could make a meaningful estimate.

  • nnmns

    There’s an article in the NYT saying some of the same things, with more commentary:

    Conversations with a variety of people inside and outside the Vatican portray an intellectual pope increasingly isolated from the Vatican administration. Many point to a lack of communication between the handful of cardinals responsible for revoking the excommunications and other members of the curia who might have opposed the move.


    Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German who directs the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and who is the liaison for Vatican-Jewish relations, has said he was not consulted before the pope’s decision.

    “There were certainly management errors on the part of the curia, I want to be clear about that,” Cardinal Kasper said in an unusually direct interview with Vatican Radio’s German service on Monday.

  • nnmns

    “Wednesday’s statement [from Cardinal Bertoni, the number two Vatican official] noted that Benedict had not known of those remarks when he lifted the excommunications.”
    Nate perhaps you should point out to the Cardinal, as you have to us, that those remarks are irrelevant to lifting the excommunication so there was no point in mentioning that. :}
    I note with approval the timer is gone from this window.

  • Bob

    Pagansister said:
    “Also I guess the group has to stop blaming the Jews for killing JC
    I, for one, don’t blame the Jews for crucifying Christ. It was the PAGAN Romans who did that.

  • Nate W

    In a formal sense, nnmns, they are irrelevant to the excommunication, but I’m sure the Vatican would have done more preemptive damage control and perhaps tried to accomplish their goals in a different manner had they known the extent of the backlash over those remarks.

  • jestrfyl

    Ding Dong Diddly Doo – the security thing is finally through!!!! I feel safer already.
    It seems that b16 was feeling the heat under his feet. I wonder just how well these guys will submit to the House Rules. Do you think it is in part because the guy who authorized their outlaw ordination has died? It has been 20 years – do you suppose they have rethught their positions? Or is this going to flame up and make a bigger mess?

  • pagansister

    “I, for one, don’t blame the Jews for crucifying Christ”. Bob
    Unless you belong to SSPX (the group referred to in the article) I don’t expect you do.
    “It was the PAGAN Romans who did that.” Bob
    Yes, Bob, you have to watch those Pagans. Never know what they will do next,huh?

  • Tom

    At least one of them has become very predictable :-)

  • nnmns

    All of us who post here are pretty predictable. We each have a message or two we think is important and repeat it often. Except, of course, me. :)

  • Bob

    …you have to watch those Pagans…
    Yes, especially since it was the Pagan-run Roman Empire that executed thousands of people belonging to a minority religious sect, and did so by crucifixion, torture, burning, and that good old-fashioned time-tested method of tossing them into the Coliseum to be torn apart by wild beasts.
    The truly disturbing part is that it wasn’t just power and politics behind these horrific acts, it was also entertainment value. These pagans got their weekend thrills from watching people die in a terrifically gruesome manner.
    But it makes sense. I believe it was Chesterton who pointed out that if your religion is going to hold up Nature as the thing to be revered, then your religion will, by default, revere not only nature’s beauty, but also its cruelty and its mercilessness.

  • nnmns

    Wow, and Christians have never revered cruelty and mercilessness? Owing slaves and beating them. Bombing “ragheads” back to the stone age (proposed by Christians, not recently carried out, exactly). Bob are you really attributing present pagans with the mores of people 2,000 years ago? It cuts many ways.

  • pagansister

    nnmns, you must have been reading my mind when you responded to Bob and his expose on us Pagans and our transgressions!
    Bob, what can I add to your expert commentary? Lets see, Crusades, Inquisition, forced conversions of said Pagans, or any group who actually worshiped something else or someone else …thinking that they, the RCC was/is THE CHURCH! Then there was the mindset to conquer those natives they happened to run into when they invaded South America, etc. Could go on but I’d say no religion has a clean slate on the amount of cruelty it may have inflicted on other humans. The Romans, BTW, did have a worship set up. Just because they didn’t have a single Divine Being doesn’t make it wrong. Guess what? It was convienent having a god or goddess for each need (motherhood, wealth, love, etc.) There is no “right” way to believe.
    BTW. one can see nature…one can’t see invisible beings.
    And right now, my guess is that some Catholics are scared of Mulims, thinking that they want to kill all Christians. After all, they might not be worshiping the correct God. Is it OK to kill them?
    I like living by “As it harm none, do as you will.”
    Blessed Be

  • cknuck

    It’s impossible to harm none and do as you will talk about an oxymoron.
    The Crusades, Inquisition and all other activity of that sort were about power, money and land not Christ. But they are events easily exploited by anti-Christians sure they were bad behavior but not carried out by followers of Christ. Even a pagan can say they are Christian but if they are about money, power, and land at all cost then even to the most simple mind it is apparent they are not Christians, true Christians don’t do what they want.

  • pagansister

    Somehow, Cknuck, I think those Crusaders sure thought they were following some orders of a Divine Guy. Yes, it was about power, money and land,(what else is war about?)but also about forcefully changing those non-believers into believers…one way or another (while they were raping and pillaging the land). And it is possible to live by “As it harm none, do as you will.” It has worked for me for more than a few years. Kind of like a Christian favorite…”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
    All events that have been carried out under the cloak of anything religious can be condoned or acclaimed by those who don’t follow that particular religion. Expect there are a few things done by non-Christians that Christian’s find/found unacceptable. :o)

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