Jesus Christ, you really couldn’t make it up, could you? Pope Benedict, who was a member of Hitler Youth during the last years of the Third Reich, has yesterday reversed the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, who believes that it is impossible that the Nazis could have killed six million Jews in gas chambers and cremated them.
Williamson, now once more accepted as a Roman Catholic, said in a TV interview last November that he feels there has been a “huge exploitation” of the claim that six million Jews were gassed – which, he is at pains to tell the interviewer, he is certain is not true. He’s “not interested” in being called an anti-Semite, either. It’s not a matter of emotion, he says. (view the video here) He has a pleasant, polite, very English voice. And Pope Benedict, God’s rottweiler, wants him back.) For the record, Williamson believes it may be true that “several thousand” Jews were killed by the Nazis. But not six million. And there were no gas chambers. No crematoria. He’s sure of that.
Ruth Gledhill at the Times:
Bishop Richard Williamson is a hardline ultra-conservative bishop of the Society of St Pius X. He is excommunicated from the RC church, along with his three brother SSPX bishops but as we report, and also according to reports coming out of Rome, the excommunications could be lifted soon by the Pope. It could even be lifted by Sunday, according to the usually reliable Rorate Caeli. And that while he faces possible prosecution for Holocaust denial in Germany after an interview with a reporter from Swedish TV in which he claimed that six million Jews did not die in the Holocaust, merely a few thousand, and that the gas chambers did not exist. CathCon has the translation of the Der Spiegel report and more on the likely lifting of those excommunications. Could the clock really be turned back this far on Nostra Aetate and the teachings of Vatican II?
The response of the Lefebvrist Society of St Pius X was telling:
Although it had been understood that the interview would deal with religious issues only, the reporter asked the bishop’s opinion concerning historical matters. It is obvious that a bishop can only speak about questions of faith and morals with any ecclesiastical authority. If he deals with secular issues, he is personally responsible for his own private opinions. The Society I am governing has no authority to address such issues, nor will it ever claim such authority. –Bishop Bernard Fellay, 21st January 2009, via
From the Independent, October 1999, back when Pope John Paul II was trying to have the first Nazi Pope sainted, on Pius XII (who canonized Pope Pius X):
a single-minded Vatican lawyer and diplomat who, from the earliest part of his career, set out to establish the absolute authority of Rome over Europe’s Catholic populations in a series of accommodations with autocratic regimes. Having served as papal nuncio in Germany throughout the 1920s before becoming the Vatican’s chief diplomat, Eugenio Pacelli was in a unique position to negotiate with the Nazis over the church’s status. The deal that was cut guaranteed Catholic influence over education and spiritual life in Germany, but at a terrible price: the Catholic Centre Party was forced into dissolution, removing the last obstacle to Hitler’s goal of absolute power, and all attempts at resistance by Germany’s Catholic bishops were cut off at the knees.
The so-called Reichskonkordat, between the Vatican and Germany, handed the Nazis their first much-needed piece of international recognition and, according to Hitler’s crowing at a subsequent cabinet meeting, opened the way to undertake “the urgent struggle against international Jewry”. The concordat was celebrated in St Hedwig’s cathedral in Berlin with swastikas flying alongside the Catholic banners and the “Horst Wessel” song, the Nazis’ unofficial anthem, blaring out from loudspeakers to the thousands that had assembled outside.Cornwell shows that Pius XII’s attitude to Jews was ambivalent at best, unearthing letters from his early career in Germany in which he refuses favours to the Jewish community on the most pusillanimous of grounds and describes the Munich chapter of the German Communist Party as being chaotic, filthy and full of Jews. He refers dismissively to “a group of young women, of dubious appearance, Jews like all the rest of them” and describes the Communist leader Max Levien as a Jew, “pale, dirty, with drugged eyes, hoarse voice, vulgar, repulsive…”
When, during the war, he came to learn of the extermination of millions of Jews, he made only the vaguest of references to the slaughter in a 1942 Christmas message – making no mention of either anti-Semitism or the Jews – and concentrated instead on developing his inner spirituality, commissioning a film called Pastor Angelicus to show off his reflective, fiercely ascetic nature.”It is very sad,” the then British ambassador to the Holy See, Francis D’Arcy Osborne, wrote in a letter unearthed by Cornwell. “The fact is that the moral authority of the Holy See, which Pius XI and his predecessors had built up into a world power, is now sadly reduced.” link (more here)
In September 2008, Pope Benedict spoke at a symposium in honour of Pope Pius XII on the 50th anniversary of his death, praising his predecessor.
Ruth Gledhill asks if this means the Catholic Church is reversing the Vatican II reforms. Yes: both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have made clear over the decades, Benedict both as head of the Papal Inquisition as well as Pope, they don’t like the Vatican II concept of the Catholic Church: they like Pius XII’s concept of the Church as a fascist authority, working in concert with other fascist authorities, to rule over the people. Bishop Williamson belongs in Pope Benedict’s church.