At today’s weekly general (public) audience, Pope Benedict XVI weighed in with remarks aimed at distancing himself from the Holocaust denials of one of the recently un-excommunicated ultra-right “Tradical” bishops. Here’s the AP account:
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that he feels “full and indisputable solidarity” with Jews and warned against any denial of the full horror of the Holocaust.
Benedict spoke days he revoked the excommunication of a bishop who says no Jews were gassed during the Holocaust. The decision provoked an outcry among Jews.
“As I renew my full and indisputable solidarity with our brothers,” Benedict said, “I wish that the memory of the Shoah prompt humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the hearts of men.” Shoah is a Hebrew word for the Holocaust.
“May the Shoah be a warning to everyone against oblivion, denials or reduction,” the pope told thousands of pilgrims at a weekly audience at the Vatican.
The Vatican had already distanced itself from comments by bishop Richard Williamson, who has denied that 6 million Jews were murdered during World War II. The Holy See said that removing the excommunication by no means implied the Vatican shared Williamson’s views.
But these were the first comments on the issue by the pope since the controversy erupted.
I’m not sure that goes far enough for the Jewish community–or many others–in light of the many other sore points out there. What is interesting is the clear pattern that has developed: Benedict says or does something that upsets a community, there is an outcry, then the generic statements of reassurance from the Vatican. There are better ways to do this, if one cares to.