The New Christians

The New Christians

Pandering Pope?

In a move that I bet the Vatican wanted to happen with no media attention, Benedict  XVI un-excommunicated four ultra-conservative bishops over the weekend.  But it turns out that one of the bishops had recently gone on a radio program to deny that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.  Maybe 200,000 or 300,000 died, said “Bishop” Richard Williamson.  I put “Bishop” in scare quotes because Williamson was bishoped by the schismatic conservative, Marcel Lefebrve, in response to the liberalizing decisions at the Second Vatican Council.

Benedict has attempted to bring conservative Catholic leaders who were disenfranchised by Vatican II back into the fold, but this one is backfiring on him.  Jews are pissed, and the dissention with il Papa has even seeped into Vatican City.


Why would the pope risk this.  Well, I found this quote on an NPR story yesterday very telling:

“The Vatican fears schism like almost nothing else,” Allen explains,
“because you have legitimate bishops who are able to ordain other
legitimate bishops and, in effect, kind of reproduce the schism. Over
the centuries, popes have moved heaven and earth … to heal these
wounds in the body of the church.”

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Jeff Toobin

posted January 26, 2009 at 11:40 pm

TJones: But it turns out that one of the bishops had recently gone on a radio program to deny that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. Maybe 200,000 or 300,000 died, said “Bishop” Richard Williamson.
JToobin: This is a non-issue, as this man’s personal views of historic evidences regarding WWII aren’t relevant to anything in the case. Neither the bishop’s excommunication nor his restoration has anything whatsoever to do with debates about history and WWII. Nothing whatsoever.
Rather, the excommunication is strictly related to the teaching of Vatican II regarding changes made to Catholic traditions surrounding Mass and such.
The Jews have no dog in this fight. They have no reason to be stirring up a media fight over an entirely unrelated private opinion which that bishop holds regarding historical data and proofs and such. I bet not one person her has done a personal investigation into the *evidences* concerning much of anything regarding the facts of WWII. Moreover, I bet not one person here would claim that one’s position on the facts about WWII are central to the Christian faith’s doctrines and practices. It’s much ado about nothing.
So, the Pope is “risking” nothing. This fuss is nothing more than rhetorical aggression being stirred up to agitate against the Catholic Church without cause.

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posted January 27, 2009 at 3:50 am

Unfortunately your views cease to be personal when you broadcast them on Swedish television and are subsequently investigated by the German government, where Holocaust denial is a crime.
You might be suggesting that the restoration of the bishop is an “inside baseball” type deal, but to the rest of the world looking in they see two things: An excommunicated bishop denying historical reality, and a few days later said bishop restored to his post. Whether or not the two events are causal is totally irrelevant; the disturbing aspect of the story is that Benedict largely *ignored* the fact that the man denies the Holocaust.
It is just human nature to wonder why he would ignore such a position that is obviously depraved ideology to most of the world. It makes matters no better that the Catholic Church, to my naïve sense, has had a huge problem with covering up and not clearly addressing scandal, and this seems to be another link in that chain to some people, myself included.

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Jeff Toobin

posted January 27, 2009 at 8:02 am

Colin et. al.:
Though I personally have not examined head counts of WWII deaths (and neither have you), I suspect the bishop is way wrong about the historical evidences concerning WWII, and the Catholic Church itself rejects the man’s personal views on this secular historical topic. However, one’s stance on the historical evidences about what took place during WWII has nothing at all to do with anything, much less the circumstances of the bishop’s excommunication, which pertained to his views on the Vatican II council. So, the media report is much ado about *absolutely nothing.*
Pope Benedict has no more right to excommunicate a person over his stance on secular historical debates than you do in whatever group you may belong to. It’s simply irrelevant to the issue at hand. A Bishop’s ordination has nothing to do with expertise or ignorance of WWII facts.
In truth, the Pope is not “pandering,” but this thread is “sensationalizing.”

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