Saturday, February 7, 2009

Can An Unrepentant Holocaust Denier be Rehabilitated?

After Pope John Paul II made reconciliation between Catholics and Jews a key feature of his papacy and after he publicly apologized for the sins of the Church and Christians over the past 2000 years, you would think that the Church would continue seeking common ground with Jews.

Rev. Thomas Reese, Jesuit author and the former editor-in-chief of America, said in an interview with Ray Suarez of PBS in Feb of 2000, "I think that the Pope has talked about the Holocaust in the past, the failure of so many Christians to reach out to help the Jews and to protect them from the Nazis. The Pope has put on a back burner the whole question about the canonization of Pius XII. Clearly this is a pope who wants to have reconciliation with the Jewish community and is asking for forgiveness of all the sins, all the sins. And there are lots of sins that the Christian community has committed against the Jews."

So wouldn't you think the Church would want to continue to examine it's relationship with Jews and continue to seek the truth? (With the exception of course of Pius XII's complicity with the Nazis).

Evidently not.

Pope Benedict XVI has just recently announced the "rehabilitation" of Holocaust Denier Richard Williamson,
a member of the ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X whose excommunication was lifted by the Vatican last month. The decision sparked outrage because Williamson had said in a television interview he did not believe any Jews were gassed during the Holocaust.

What on earth can this Pope be thinking?

How can Joseph Ratzinger, the ultra-conservative former German Cardinal, a former member of Hitler Youth, a former member of a German anti-aircraft unit, who's zeal in enforcing Church orthodoxy attracted labels such as "The Hammer," "Cardinal No" and "God's Rottweiler," bring Holocaust denier Williamson back into the Church's fold?

It's disgraceful. It's sinful. It's a retrograde step that underscores the continuing influence of far right-wing, ultra-conservative thought and policy in the Roman Catholic Church - especially by secretive groups like Opus Dei and the Society of St. Pius X (which was founded in opposition to the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council.)

Israel’s highest religious body sent a letter to the Vatican asking to postpone an annual bilateral meeting and voicing “sorrow and pain” at the pope’s decision to welcome the bishop back into the fold.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly urged that the Pope make a “very clear” rejection of Holocaust denial.

Under such pressure and criticism the Vatican is now demanding that Williamson recant his denial before he can be readmitted as a Bishop in the Roman Catholic Church.

Remember, this is the guy that said only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were killed during World War II and none was gassed.

This is the guy who refuses to visit Auschwitz and see the truth.

Williamson's response to the Vatican? "...I must look again at the historical evidence.'' It is about historical evidence, not about emotions,'' he added, ''And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself. But that will take time.''

Isn't that the same thing as saying "fuck you?"

By the way, Williamson lives in Argentina. Isn't that where a lot of Nazis escaped to after WWII?

The only moral response from the Vatican now is to tell Williamson not to bother. Let him remain excommunicated. Let him remain in Argentina. Let him remain outside the Church.

To do otherwise would be to lay waste to the progress made by John Paul II and to forever taint the Church's relationship with Jews around the world.

The person who needs to recant now is Benedict.