Cardinal Walter Kasper, the German prelate who heads the Vatican’s ecumenical office, has called Holocaust-denying statements by one of the newly-rehabbed right-wing bishops “stupid” and “unacceptable.” Cardinal Kasper–a pastorally-minded man who was touted as “Kasper the Friendly Pope” by oddmakers ahead of the 2005 conclave that elected Ratzinger pope–has often spoken his mind in the past. Though less so now that his fellow German and former theological sparring partner is now his Supreme Boss.
Still, Kasper pointedly told the New York Times that although he is in charge of relations with the Jewish community he apparently had little if any input on whether to lift the excommunications of the leaders of the schismatic faction. “It was a decision of the pope,” Kasper told the Times.
Kasper has continued to support the pope’s decision, and spin it as best as possible. But it is proving to be an uphill battle–hence the slams at Bishop Richard Williamson, one of those Benedict brought back into the fold and out of the cold this month.
According to the Associated Press, the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has weighed in with a front-page article calling Bishop Williamson’s statements “unacceptable”:
The article was issued amid an outcry from Jewish groups that Benedict last week lifted the excommunication of a traditionalist bishop, Richard Williamson, who has denied that 6 million Jews were murdered during World War II.
The Vatican has stressed that that removing the excommunication by no means implied the Vatican shared Williamson’s views.
Williamson and three other bishops were excommunicated 20 years ago after they were consecrated by the late ultraconservative Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without papal consent — a move the Vatican said at the time was an act of schism.
Benedict has made clear from the start of his pontificate that he wanted to reconcile with Lefebvre’s traditionalist Society of St. Pius X and bring it back into the Vatican’s fold.
Lefebvre had rebelled against the Vatican and founded the society in 1969. He was bitterly opposed to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought liberal reforms to the church.
One of the key documents issued by Vatican II was “Nostra Aetate,” which said the church deplored all forms of anti-Semitism. The document revolutionized the church’s relations with Jews.
In the article, L’Osservatore said Benedict and his predecessors had all made clear the church’s teaching on “Nostra Aetate” in documents, actions and speeches and that its contents “are not debatable for Catholics.”
Hat tip: “In All Things”