Respectful Insolence

I’ve been a bit remiss about writing about this story. For that, I apologize. I realize a lot of you sent me links. For some reason, this week was an embarrassment of riches in terms of blogging material, and I didn’t have time to get to it all.

With that out of the way, let me just say that I find it very ironic that this particular story came to light during the week of the 64th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. If the Pope is truly appointed by God to rule over the Roman Catholic Church, in this case God chose someone who has an exquisitely bad sense of timing. Actually, he appears to have chosen someone who has exquisitely bad sense. The reason: Pope Benedict XVI has decided to rehabilitate four excommunicated bishops by reinstating them. Given Benedict’s conservative dogmatism, it’s not surprising that all four of them were excommunicated had suffered that fate because they had formed a society to protest what they perceived as an increasingly liberal Church. In fact, it was Pope John Paul II, no liberal he, who excommunicated them, which should give you an indication of just how bad they were.

What is surprising, even to me, is that one of them, Richard Williamson of Great Britain, is a blatant Holocaust denier. Indeed, he denied the Holocaust explicitly mere days before the revocation of his excommunication, and his rehabilitation has raised an uproar among both Jews and Catholics:

Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to rehabilitate four excommunicated bishops — including a Holocaust denier — has caused dismay among Jewish leaders. But the move also has shocked many Roman Catholics, who fear it may point to a repudiation of the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s.

Just days before the pope revoked the excommunication of the four bishops, one of them, Richard Williamson, again denied the Holocaust.

“The historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler,” he said in an interview that aired on Swedish television.

When his interview began circulating on the Internet, the Vatican was quick to try to dampen the controversy.

These are lies, plain and simple. Check out this video for the full interview:

There are a number of classic Holocaust denier talking points here. Let’s take a look:

  1. “I believe that the historical evidence is strongly–hugely–against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.” This is a straw man argument that Holocaust deniers use that exploits the misunderstandings that most people have about the Holocaust. Most people think that most Jews killed in the Holocaust died in gas chambers. That is not true. They died by almost every means imaginable: mass shootings by the Einsatzgruppen, who claimed approximately 1 million lives as they followed the Wermacht into the Soviet Union rounding up Jews and Communist Party officials and shooting them in pre-dug mass graves. Jews died by intentional overwork and starvation in the camps. They died in death marches at the end of the war, as Germans forced their prisoners away from the advancing Allies because they did not want their crimes to be discovered. That Williamson would mindlessly repeat such nonsense shows him to be not only an anti-Semite, but a stupid and dull anti-Semite. Finally, the extermination of the Jews was Nazi policy decided at the highest levels and finalized at the Wannsee Conference.
  2. “I believe there were no gas chambers.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. This lie is extensively debunked on a number of sites, including The Holocaust History Project (on whose advisory board I serve), Nizkor, and Holocaust Denial on Trial. Indeed, the “good” ex-bishop parrots enough denier lies that even David Irving would blush with embarrassment (links rebutting the lie placed): that the Auschwitz gas chambers were really air raid shelters (about as dumb a canard as exists in Holocaust denial); that the gas chambers couldn’t possibly have been used for gassing; one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz is a fake for show for tourists; and that scientific tests show that the gas chambers never existed (see also this rebuttal).
  3. “…I think the most serious conclude between two and three hundred thousand Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber.” This is simply nonsense. There were more Jews gassed than this at Auschwitz alone.

Williamson even cites the Leuchter Report. The Leuchter Report! Truly, the stupid burns (along with the anti-Semitism), as Fred Leuchter has to be one of the most inept, hapless “scientists” there is, a man who claims to be an expert in execution techniques but has no such expertise. Not surprisingly, the Leuchter Report is perhaps the most pseudoscientific and poorly done “scientific” report I’ve ever seen, and one that Holocaust deniers often cite. You know, I hereby declare a new law, like Scopie’s Law about alternative medicine that states, “In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately …and gets you laughed out of the room.” Here’s my variant of this law, which I hereby call Orac’s Law:

In any discussion involving the Holocaust, citing the Leuchter Report as a credible source loses you the argument immediately …and gets you laughed out of the room.

Cite it, quote it, love it. Heck, even David Irving doesn’t cite the Leuchter Report anymore!

There’s so much more in this idiotic interview, but fortunately for me Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt has methodically debunked the multiple other denier canards. Do Orac a solid and thank her for her work.

The Papal reaction to the uproar is, sadly, couched as an outreach to Jews. Nice touch, to slap Jews in the face by reinstating an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier (yes, there is no such thing as a Holocaust denier who is not anti-Semitic, as I have said time and time again).

Finally, believe it or not, Williamson has his own blog. Even more distressingly, he’s published an apology that is not really an apology there in the form of a letter to Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos. Get aload of what he says in this excerpt:

Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems.

For me, all that matters is the Truth Incarnate, and the interests of His one true Church, through which alone we can save our souls and give eternal glory, in our little way, to Almighty God.

He goes on to thank the Holy Father for having reinstated him and to quote the prophet Jonas, I, 12. In other words, Williamson’s not in the least bit sorry for having repeated the lies, pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and distortions of fact common in the lowest circles of Holocaust denier hell. He’s not sorry for being a deceitful scumbag. Oh, no. Williamson is only sorry because he caused a “media storm” that caused Cardinal Hoyos and Pope Benedict XVI so many problems. This is all of a piece with Williamson’s persecution complex, where he whines at the end of his interview about how in Germany he could be arrested for what he said.

I had really wanted to give Pope Benedict the benefit of the doubt when he was appointed, but it would appear that he’s turning out far worse than expected. It makes me long for the days of Pope John Paul II. I don’t know which is the worse possible explanation for Benedict’s action: that he honestly didn’t know Williamson is a Holocaust denier or that he did know and reinstated him anyway. He had to know. As Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein point out, the Society of Saint Pius X, the organization to which Williamson belongs, is anti-Semitic to the core:

Yet there is an even greater crisis waiting in the wings that will soon be picked up by world media. Williamson’s fellow travelers — the entire network of the breakaway Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) — are vocal enthusiasts of a medieval religious anti-Semitism that gives the Islamist imams in Pakistan some serious competition.

The papal move to re-embrace SSPX was carefully negotiated. And if Pope Benedict was expecting any cosmetic changes in SSPX’s Jew-hatred he was dead wrong. True ideologues in their hatred, their group’s website remains unchanged. Jews, it tells us, are directly responsible for the crucifixion. Jews are cursed with the “blindness to the things of G-d and eternity.” As a people, they stand “in entire opposition with the Catholic Church.” “Christendom and Jewry are designed inevitably to meet everywhere without reconciliation or mixing.” Jews “should neither be eliminated from among us, nor given equality of rights.”

SSPX bookstores sell the anti-Semitic screeds — “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and Henry Ford’s “The International Jew.” But Jews, we are told in an essay by SSPX icon Fr. Denis Fahey, should not worry. He explains why he is not an anti-Semite. Anti-semites hate Jews, which he does not. He hates the Jewish naturalism, which is the plot of Jews (who have secretly abandoned God for the last two millennia) to take over the world.

Pope Benedict XVI has made a personal crusade of hastening Church unity. According to the Vatican document announcing SSPX’s rehabilitation, lifting the ban against the four bishops allows the Church to talk in earnest with the four, and the tens of thousands of traditionalist Catholics they represent. Short of assigning Bishop Williamson a stint as intern in the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum it’s not clear what else can be said to a man of God who just last week denied the Nazi gas chambers and that 6 million Jews were the victims of genocide.

If you have any doubts about how bad SSPX and Bishop Williamson are, die-hard neo-Nazis are labeling the firestorm of criticism that has erupted over the Pope’s action as The Crucifixion of Bishop Willamson, even going so far as to say:

Good thing Jesus isn’t around in human form these days or He just might just find himself in a German prison, like Ernst Zundel or Germar Rudolf, or anyone else who dares to question the Holocaust™. Because I am convinced that if Jesus were still alive on this earth in human form, there would be no shortage of Christians dutifully denouncing Him as a threat to Jewish-Christian relations! It really has become that pathetic.

These are the same sort of people who celebrated yesterday because it was the 76th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s being elevated to German Chancellor and the beginning of the Nazi regime. They like Williamson a lot, because they recognize him as one of their own. Worse, Williamson isn’t the only Holocaust denier in associated with Williamson’s organization:

Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the order, distanced himself from Williamson’s views, saying they did not represent the society as a whole, and apologised to Benedict. However this week Father Floriano Abrahamowicz, a Lefebvrist priest at Treviso, sided with Bishop Williamson, saying “I know gas chambers existed at least to disinfect, I can’t say if anybody was killed in them or not”. He also referred to Jews as being “the people of God who then became the God-killing people”, a direct contradiction of the teachings of Vatican II.

It defies belief that Pope Benedict XVI wasn’t aware of the true nature of SSPX. On its website are articles stating that the Jews are guilty of deicide, an article detesting “Jewish naturalism,” and a defense of the Inquisition. Relevant to science, note again how the the SSPX deplores “Jewish naturalism.” For those of you who aren’t aware of it, that’s a code word for science, folks. In addition to   being anti-Semitic, the SSPX is clearly profoundly anti-scientific. In fact, the whole “Jewish naturalism” bit reminds me of Nazi purges of “Jewish” science from its universities. Moreover, SSPX leaders are not exactly shy about their beliefs or teachings. I can only conclude that Benedict either embraces SSPX beliefs or is so interested in Roman Catholic “unity” that he doesn’t care. Neither possibility speaks well of him.

Comments

  1. #1 Danio
    January 31, 2009

    Every time I think I couldn’t possibly have less respect for the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict goes and proves me wrong.

    Thanks for finding the time to take this on, Orac. Of all the coverage I’ve seen (notably little MSM attention in the US so far, sadly), your analysis is by far the most informative and sourced. The more I learn, the more I am saddened and appalled by this decision.

    I’m admittedly (and blissfully) ignorant of the inner workings of the Church. Does rescinding the excommunication mean that these men will be reinstated as Bishops? The fact that a meeting of the minds is sought between the SSPX and the Church suggests some restoration of authority or influence. Is there a possibility that the ‘love the Jew, hate the Jewishness’ message could get some pulpit-time as a result of this reunification?

  2. #2 I am so wise
    January 31, 2009

    If you ever get the chance, check out the NARA records on the Ustasha movement in RG 319. In them US Army intelligence officers document the relationship between the Vatican and the Ustashi (the group responsible for the Holocaust in Croatia). On report notes that the close relationship between the Papacy and the Ustashi would be a “staggering blow” to the Holy See.

  3. #3 Sam C
    January 31, 2009

    When your day job is telling lies, perhaps it becomes easier to believe other lies? After all, which is the more implausible, transubstantiation of a drop of booze and a bit of bread, or the Holocaust denier stories?

    The current pope is a nasty piece of work. I didn’t like John-Paul II, but at least he was fundamentally honest and decent (well, as honest as a chap can be whose job is to wear a clown suit and tell lies). Ratzinger/Benedict is and always has been a nasty slime ball. Has he ever done a good deed in his life, since he left the Hitler Youth? He cares nothing for the people of the world or of his church, only for himself and his friends.

    Williamson, what a turd, what a turd.

    Deborah Lipstadt, what a star!

  4. #4 Heatherly
    January 31, 2009

    I don’t know what disturbs me more–the reinstatement, or the fact that the SSPX runs 24 schools in the States, including a college.

  5. #5 Erp
    January 31, 2009

    From the Catholic church’s point of view once Lefevre made them bishops they were bishops (it was this action that caused the excommunication since he did it without papal permission). Bishops are a bit like queen bees, they can make priests and more bishops; priests and laity can do neither. Renegade bishops lead to schisms which is one reason Lefevre did it in the first place to make sure his views outlasted him and could still claim to be legit). Renegade priests or laity just lead to heretics. Old Catholics and Orthodox are considered schismatics because they still have bishops whose line can be traced back.

    They were bishops while excommunicated and they are bishops now. However, this doesn’t mean the Catholic church has given them permission to act as bishops (e.g., make priests, confirm people, etc) or even to act as priests much less given them a flock to fleece.

    BTW their views on the role of women include items such as women can’t sing in church choirs, should stick to the home (unless they become nuns), subordinate to their husbands, not allow most higher education, etc. Williamson disapprove of them wearing trousers, going to university, http://www.sspx.ca/Documents/Bishop-Williamson/September1-2001.htm . Admittedly the current pope might not disagree with much of this.

  6. #6 DLC
    January 31, 2009

    I really was expecting to see Cardinal Fang pop in and scream “No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition!”
    It would have made more sense.

  7. #7 Circe
    January 31, 2009

    “BTW their views on the role of women include items such as women can’t sing in church choirs, should stick to the home (unless they become nuns), subordinate to their husbands, not allow most higher education, etc. Williamson disapprove of them wearing trousers, going to university”

    This is why catholicism is no better than Muslim. All religions are fuelled by hatred, fear, and desire to control others. All religions are equally scarry and only practiced by the deluded. I’m sure plenty would like to burn me at the stake for my views, while I just get on with my peaceful moral life.

  8. #8 Prudence
    January 31, 2009

    I must exhort you to look closer, my Orac lovelies, there’s so much more krazy to explore!

    Williamson, a fellow Brit and Bog Fen poly alum, isn’t *just* a Holocaust denier, he’s an enthusiastic endorser of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion! http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/articles/a0000226.shtml
    Which makes perfect sense seeing as he’s one of those Pius X loons http://www.sspx.org/against_the_sound_bites/mystery_of_the_jews.htm

    But wait, there’s more! Williamson believes in all manner of government conspiracies, so obviously he’s a 9/11 Truther! You can actually listen to a sermon he gave where he discusses controlled explosives, how the “govt” was in on it, etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooGBMFShUVo

    This man needs Thorazine in bicycle pump-sized syringes, not a restoration into the fellowship of Christ.

  9. #9 I am so wise
    January 31, 2009

    Regarding the Vatican’s role in protecting the Ustashi, I recommend http://web.archive.org/web/20060510163205/www.pavelicpapers.com/documents/ratline/index.html

    I have paper copies of most of the files discussed there and you can see scanned copies, so have at it.

  10. #10 Prudence
    January 31, 2009

    Oh dear, I think my earlier comment was eaten by the ether (hiding in our vaccines!!), so, many apologies if this is replicated.

    The truth is, Williamson is a serious loon– it’s not just the Holocaust he denies, as a truly robust anti-Semite, he’s also an endorser of that old Tsarist canard the Protocols of the Elders of Zion http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/articles/a0000226.shtml

    And he’s a 9/11 Truther! This is him waffling on about “controlled explosions”, police states, one-world conspiracies, etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooGBMFShUVo

    As I’ve said before, Williamson needs bicycle-pump-sized injections of Thorazine, not a readmission into the community of Christ.

  11. #11 KristinMH
    January 31, 2009

    I could only read a couple of paragraphs of the article you linked to, Erp, before throwing up in my mouth, but I managed to get to this line:

    Revolutionary Man has betrayed modem woman

    It may just be the typeface squeezing the r and n together, but it sounds like the plot of a kick-ass graphic novel to me. Revolutionary Man v. Modem Woman: He betrays her! She slows down his DSL to a crawl!

  12. #12 Guy Stair Sainty
    January 31, 2009

    It is evident that the denizens of this blog are motivated more by their anti-Catholicism than intellectual rigour, but one might at least expect greater concern for facts from people who describe themselves as scientists.

    Archbishop Lefevre and the Bishops he consecrated were excommunicated automatically because no Catholic Bishop can consecrate a Bishop without Papal permission and an attempt to do so incurs immediate excommunication. All the Holy See did subsequently was announce this fact publicly. The Church does not welcome schisms and, indeed, over the past 350 years several groups have returned to Papal authority but have been allowed to keep their own liturgical practices and language as a compromise. The Chaldean Christians – those who are now paying the price of freedom from Saddam with appalling persecution from their Moslem neighbours – are one such group.

    The Catholic Church includes people of widely different views on politics and history, some of them may well express obnoxious views which are not the official view of the Church. The Church’s position on the Holocaust has been so clearly stated and its attitude to the Nazis demonstrated from the publication of Mit brennender sorge (1938) onwards. That was why the Nazis closed all Catholic schools and religious houses and imprisoned thousands of priests and religious, executing at least 2000. There were some Catholics who supported the Nazis and some who participated actively in the Nazi crimes. But the leaders of several of the plots against Hitler, including that now the subject of a new film with Tom Cruise, were Catholics inspired by their faith. One has the testimony (for example) of Jewish Rabbi Pinchas Lapide who wrote that The Church saved at least 700,000 and perhaps as many as 860,000 Jewish lives [Pinchas E. Lapide, 'Three Popes and the Jews', pp 227-228].

    There were Catholics who participated in Ustashi crimes (as Coatia I smnetioned in one comment above) – the Ustashi were getting revenge for what they perceived as persecution by a domineering Serbian majority – but initially appeared as nationalist movement trying to obtain equal rights for Catholics. The appalling way they achieved this was only understood much later. The Vatican had signed a Concordat with Yugoslavia in 1935 but the Serbian Orthodox Church excommunicated everyone who had participated in the negotiations and it was never ratified. The leader of the Catholic Church in Croatia, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Stepinac, however, although an early supporter of Pavelic after Croatia first broke away from the forced union with Serbia that had been imposed as a punishment on Austria-Hungary for being on the losing side in WWI (the Croatians, Bosnians and Slovenians were the victims of this policy) later repeatedly condemned the Ustashi and indeed personally intervened to save the lives of many Croatian Jews. Similarly the Vatican, although it first supported Pavelic – precisely because he was perceived as freeing Croatian Catholics from the active discrimination of the central Yugoslav government – soon realised what kind of a man he was and the regime he installed. Even in the early stages of the Ustashi regime, however, great care was taken – Pavelic was received by the Vatican, buit not as a head of state, only a as private citizen – to see what kind of man he was (only later was the Croatian state recognized, over the protests of the Yugoslav government in exile – which, however, had little credence after failing to push through the Concordat). The Vatican’s great difficulty in openly breaking with Croatia was that it was a close ally of Italy and a clause in the Lateran Treaty (now removed in the present treaty) imposed very specific restrictions on actions by the Holy See which could be perceived as attacks on Italian policy decisions.

    Unfortunately there has been a vast amount written on this which is simply untrue and was based on the falsified testimony produced by Tito’s regime after WWII to justify the Yugoslav state’s murder of some 200,000 Croats (and 100s of Catholic priests) at the end of the war and the attempt to destroy altogether the Catholic Church in Yugoslavia. However the actual attitude of Stepinac and his criticism of the government is well documented in records of the RHSA (headed by Himmler) where grat concern was expressed at the strong criticisms of the Ustaski and Pavelic made by Stepanic leading eventually to a total condemnation of Ustashi methods in a sermon read from the pulpits of all Catholic Churches in Croatia. Yet this is entirely ignored by those who imply the Vatican was somehow complicit in Ustashi terrorIn a similar fashion, forgeries were produced by the East German intelligence service and fed through the media (and to the playwright Rold Hochuth, for example, a Stasi agent of influence) to discredit Pius XII.

    Among the very worst criminals serving the Nazi cause were scientists who used human guinea pigs to further their “researches”, slave labour and expended considerable energy on finding the best ways to exterminate large numbers of people. I am sure the scientists on this blog would find it astonishing if all scientists were to be branded as criminal associates or secret Nazis for this. Eugenics, long lauded by scientists (and used as the justification for selective abortion) was the inspiration for many of the scientists working to further Nazi racial aims; would anyone here consider it fair to brand all scientists today simply because a majority in the medical community in some countries once supported Eugenics enthusiastically?

    The present Pope has placed Catholic-Jewish relations at the top of his agenda and it is unfortunate that the decision to lift the excommunication of the Lefevrists – as a first step to bringing them back into the Church – which has been in planning for several years, coincided with the outrageous statements by Williamson. Yet the Pope has again reiterated his strong condemnation of the Shoah and has several times received Jewish groups in close and personal dialogue. One of the most effective programmes investigating the role of Pius XII in WWII is led by a devout Jew, Gary Krupp (Pave the Way foundation).

    One of the effects of bringing this group back, however, will be to bring its bishops and priests under the control of the Church. This will mean that they will have to compromise their position on some issues and that Williamson will be effectively silenced – he has already been discredited even with the society of which he is a member.

    To suggest that the Pope is somehow complicit with Williamson, or indeed that he would like to see the whole Church follow the SSPX is absolutely false – he no more wants this than to re-establish Aramaic, the language probably spoken by Christ, which is used by the Chaldean Church. The SSPX will negotiate the right to maintain some of their existing prohibitions – but in other parts of the Catholic Church (the some of what used to be called Uniate Churches and the Latin-Byzantine rite) there are married priests, something which commentators on Catholicism are usually entirely ignorant of. This is just a small example of how little many commentators understand the Church or how it functions.

  13. #13 Chesterton
    January 31, 2009

    The Catholic Church has been embracing these groups because the church is bleeding clerical vocations among liberals while the conservative and authoritarian societies are thriving. The authoritarian bent of these societies is also quite to the liking of authoritarians who have regained control of the Vatican and the international hierarchy after RC’s brief flirtation with semi-modernity in the wake of Vatican II.

    The authoritarians see democracy and secular modernity as the causes of their loss of power and prestige. Rich people who live in secular societies generally won’t kowtow to deeply conflicted, closeted gay men who want to dictate every move their genitals make. So, societies led by authoritarians like Williamson are perfect if they can be brought back into the fold. While Williamson himself won’t kowtow to the Vatican, he’s developed a following that will do so on his command.

  14. #14 Lurkbot
    January 31, 2009

    I can’t speak to most of Guy Stair Sainty’s screed up above, but one little item jumps out.

    The creation of Yugoslavia after WWI was not a punishment for Austria-Hungary. Trying to put the Empire back together would have been a fool’s errand at that point in time, and the fact that none of the Allies had any interest in doing it doesn’t alter that.

    The punishment that was inflicted on Austria was to forbid what everyone assumed would then take place, the union of Rump Austria with the rest of Germany. The Kingdom of Jugoslavia (as it was always spelled then) was created as a reward for Serbia.

    The Serbian government sent assassins to Sarajevo to kill the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, thus throwing a lit match into a powder keg, and deliberately starting a general European war. Their goal was to snatch back the empire they imagine they lost in 1389 in the attendant confusion. It worked like a charm, and they had that Greater Serbia handed to them on a silver platter.

    They even managed to cast blame on a “rogue political organization” called the Black Hand; as if every responsible person in the Serbian government was not a founding member of the Black Hand, and vice versa. In American law, at least, you are responsible for any results of a felony you committed whether they were part of your original intent or not. Serbia is responsible for all the resulting misery of the 20th century. They blew up Western Civilization in a cynical power grab, and some of the biggest pieces are just now hitting the ground.

    As for Ratzi the Nazi, when he was rewarded with the tiara for crafting the cover-up that kept all the pedophile priests out of jail, I was horrified. This latest outrage just shows more of his true colors. I now see it as a good thing, however. John Paul II was just as primitive a nutjob, but he seemed to have a charm that blinded most people to it. (I guess I was born blind to that wavelength, like to Reagan’s “charm.”)

    Ratzi, however, can safely be described as Charm-Free. I think more and more people are beginning to see where the Church is headed since John Paul I was assassinated and this 10th century cabal took over. I hope they come to their senses and consign this sick, perverted organization to the dustbin of history as a result.

  15. #15 gaiainc
    January 31, 2009

    Every time I read some anti-Semitic screed or other such burning stupidity and idiocy, I want to point out to the author/writer/whoever that Jesus was a Jew. He wasn’t a Christian. He was a Jew. In fact the early history of the Christian Church involved a lot of discussion, argument, and strong disagreement about whether anyone who wasn’t a Jew could join the Church in the first place (this I learned from my friend whose PhD was in early Jewish/Christian history and identity-I can get citations if people are interested).

    *beat head against the wall*

    Holocaust deniers are fricking idjits. There is no other way to put it. Unflippingbelievable.

  16. #16 Erp
    January 31, 2009

    Guy,

    The pope can not have been unaware of the anti-semiticism that pervades Williamson’s writings and which is shared to a lesser or at least quieter degree by some other members of the Society of Pius X.

    Mystery of the Jewish People in History
    by Frs. Michael Crowdy and Kenneth Novak
    http://www.sspx.org/against_the_sound_bites/mystery_of_the_jews.htm
    or
    http://www.sspx.org/Catholic_FAQs/jews_guilty_of_deicide.htm

    I can see why he wanted to get them back into the church and under control but to do it in the week of International Holocaust Remembrance Day and without addressing the well-known anti-semiticism of one of the four bishops shows a tin ear.

    ps. I doubt Williamson will bend himself to control

  17. #17 tdhowe
    January 31, 2009

    Maybe Williamson will still get what’s coming to him?

    “State prosecutors in Regensburg, Germany, have opened a preliminary investigation into whether Williamson broke German laws against Holocaust denial as he spoke to Swedish state TV last year while in Germany. ”

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gpbkisgs-EZ40shoCodJd4rfBNwAD95V35RO0

  18. #18 Liesl
    February 1, 2009

    “…are vocal enthusiasts of a medieval religious anti-Semitism that gives the Islamist imams in Pakistan some serious competition.”

    This from two directors at the Wiesenthal Center? That is so disappointing.

  19. #19 I am so wise
    February 1, 2009

    “Yet this is entirely ignored by those who imply the Vatican was somehow complicit in Ustashi terrorIn a similar fashion, forgeries were produced by the East German intelligence service and fed through the media (and to the playwright Rold Hochuth, for example, a Stasi agent of influence) to discredit Pius XII.”

    Notice I said the US Army records in RG 319 NARA II in College Park MD. If you have any evidence that the Eastern Germans penetrated US Army Intelligence, placed fake documents in their files, and those files have now conned the professional archivists at NARA as well as the still living US CIC officers officers than produce it. Otherwise stop lying because there is nothing in Canon Law nor the Bible that allows lying for Jesus or his Vicar in Rome.

    “Unfortunately there has been a vast amount written on this which is simply untrue and was based on the falsified testimony produced by Tito’s regime after WWII to justify the Yugoslav state’s murder of some 200,000 Croats (and 100s of Catholic priests) ”

    Nobody outside of rabid commie haters, the Ustashi themselves and their fellow travelers still accept this nonsense.

    Even in the early stages of the Ustashi regime, however, great care was taken – Pavelic was received by the Vatican, buit not as a head of state, only a as private citizen)..

    Listen to yourself. The Pope is meeting a man who at that point was under two death sentences for terrorism, was in charge of a group that had conducted numerous terrorist attacks and was rapidly accelerate a program of mass murder and pogroms that would come to appall leading Nazi figures. Seriously, if I met with OBL as a “not as a head of state, only a as private citizen” would you accept it? I doubt it and neither should anyone excuse Pius XII’s actions.

  20. #20 Anthonyk
    February 1, 2009

    Orac, it’s unusual for you to make a dubious statistical argument, but I think I’ve spotted one:
    I find it very ironic that this particular story came to light during the week of the 64th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
    Surely, the chance of such a thing happening is only 1/52, or, if one extends this to a week on either side of the day itself, only 1/26? Then, if you introduce other events such as the bishop’s interview, the issuing of an official clarification etc, even less unlikely?
    Nitpicking over, though, it does seem the church has much to be embarrassed about over the holocaust and its role in it. One only needs to consider the long-time history of anti-semitism within the church to see how possible it is that such a thing might have happened – remind us again, what year was it that the pope finally declared the Jews as a people no longer responsible for the death of Jesus? (1965). The role of Pius XII in the holocaust is very much debatable (see books: “Hitler’s Pope” and “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope” for these arguments).
    As regards this particular wackaloon, it’s surely correct that he was de-excommunicated in an attempt to build bridges with this particular breakaway faction of the church, not for recanting his anti-Semitic, revisionist views. Has the current pope speaken out against this opinion? One would have thought that he, of all people, should have done so.
    As for scientists being involved in the death camps, and promoting eugenics – well scientists as people are susceptible to racism and lending their expertise to the pseudo-scientific nonsense of eugenics, just as any others are. However these are in fact political viewpoints, and have long since been passed on with embarrassment by “science” – individual scientists do bear persaonal responsibilty for what happened, but “science” does not. Religion, on the other hand, with its ability to lead and influence the populace, could be properly said to bear responsiblitly for events which happened on its watch, the pope especially so.
    Of course, the one thing to bear full, total responsibilty for the holocaust is god himself. But we’re not allowed to criticize him, are we, eh?

  21. #21 Marilyn Mann
    February 1, 2009

    I’m totally with you on the Holocaust denialism, anti-semitism and general stupidity. I just have a couple of questions.

    I’m not and have never been a Catholic, so I don’t know much about Catholic doctrine. When a Catholic is excommunicated, does that mean they can’t take communion? I guess I would have no objection to Williamson and his friends taking communion for purposes of their own salvation (or whatever it is communion is supposed to achieve) as long as they have no official position in the Catholic Church. I guess what I am saying is that what bothers me the most is that these guys are apparently still allowed to call themselves Bishops, which implies that they are some kind of leaders of the Catholic Church.

    If I am missing something please let me know.

  22. #22 Prudence
    February 1, 2009

    @Anthonyk

    “Of course, the one thing to bear full, total responsibilty for the holocaust is god himself. But we’re not allowed to criticize him, are we, eh?”

    Speak for yourself. I’m blaming all manner of angry sky gods, Easter bunnies and tooth fairies for the Holocaust. After all, every Nazi soldier was issued with a belt buckle that said, “Gott Mitt Uns”, or “god is with us”, so whom else would we blame other than an unprovable entity no-one can agree on? Heaven forbid we as a species practice a little collective introspection.

    And you can dress it up in what ever dogma you like, Pius XII was an old fashioned Jew-hater, plain and simple. Bigotry, racism, call it what you will, it’s all part of the same mental defect, seeing “other” as inferior and self as superior. It’s numpty.

  23. #23 AnthonyK
    February 1, 2009

    My remark was very much tongue in cheek, which is why it may have come out garbled ;)
    But this is not an atheist rant – which I could quite happily give – merely a comment on the lack of real moral accountability of one of the many one-true-churches. For Pope Benedict, it is a matter of expediency to reunite the church and try to repair past schisms – the fact that this Bishop (where is he a Bishop BTW? Shouldn’t placard waving protesters be gathering to protest against his message?) is astoundingly anti-semitic and, well, fucking nuts, seems to have passed him by. This shows to me the real state of denial of the church over the evils done in its name. Say what you like about Pope John-Paul, he woud never have allowed a holocaust denier to spout his nonsense without a robust statement to the contary.
    It makes me wonder why the efficacy of prayer does not extend to some simple advice from the holy spirit on how to speak out so that the enemies of the church gain no advantage from the words of its emissaries.

  24. #24 I am so wise
    February 1, 2009

    The punishment that was inflicted on Austria was to forbid what everyone assumed would then take place, the union of Rump Austria with the rest of Germany. The Kingdom of Jugoslavia (as it was always spelled then) was created as a reward for Serbia.

    The Kingdom of Yugoslavia declared its independence well before The Treaty of Versailles which basically affirmed it and then establish its boundaries.

  25. #25 Erp
    February 1, 2009

    For the Catholics being a bishop (or priest or baptized) is an indelible mark; it cannot be removed (though it never existed if it turns out the person in question is female or lacked the intent or the bishop who made them wasn’t really a bishop). However the ability to function can be suspended. In this case the bishops had been suspended (from both bishop and priestly duties) and excommunicated (forbidden to partake in the sacraments). The excommunication has been lifted but the suspension is still in effect (and might actually be followed now considering that I think they were performing masses, etc).

  26. #26 AnthonyK
    February 1, 2009

    Ah, theology. So many great minds wasted “parsing a collective delusion”.

  27. #27 Guy Stair Sainty
    February 1, 2009

    All the Christian Churches have some responsibility for anti-Semitism; Luther was a vehement anti-Semite in his writings and preachings. Anti-Semitism is common to many societies, notably in the United States. But to blame Catholics for this is ridiculous. But equally its condemnation was strongly voiced by Church leaders in Germany, Poland, France, the Netherlands and indeed the Vatican from the 1930s onwards, when it had manifested itself as the evil of Nazism.

    It is wrong to assume that because one particular priest or bishop, or groups of bishops and priests are politically involved on either the left or right that this implicates the Church as a whole. At one time the Jesuits were renowned for the conservative views, by the 1960s they were espousing liberation theology and politics of the left. Neither was an official Church view.

    The Church is not like the military; canon law gives considerable autonomy to Bishops in their dioceses and to the religious Orders which are to a great degree outside local episocpal control. The ability to impose sanctions is extrenely limited, precisely because there is no police force nor any means of forcing a priest to accept the Church’s judgement.

    To give an example, the Franciscans from Croatia who were certainly implicated in some appalling crimes against Orthodox Christians, could not be simply called in by the Vatican. They were not even controllable by the superior of the Franciscan Order. Even today the Franciscans are causing huge problems there, and are in open conflict with the local Bishop over Medjugorje. They have been repeatdly condemned and one has been excommunicated, but the Church has no way of arresting or dealing with these priests when they still have the support of belevers and their churches are outside the bishop’s control (religious Orders are not controlled by the local bishops). Yet elsewhere in the world Franciscans do extraordinary work for the Poor and disadvantages, at great personal sacrifice.

    There is a huge amount of direct evidence that the Holy See was trying to find out exactly what was going on in Croatia – Pavelic, for example is branded by a correspondent above for having been condemned as a terrorist – he, however, would have seen himself as fighting for the independence of his country. Croatians, unlike for example the Czechs and Slovaks, rather than be given independence following the forced breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were forced into an unwelcome union with Serbia with which it had no ties other than language. Croatian resistance began immediately while the Serbs imposed many civil difficulites on the Catholic Church – hence the excommunication by the Serbs of those who tried to negotiate a concordat with the Vatican allowing Catholic schools in Croatia. Pavelic was certainly opposed to the Serb government but whether, for example, he was really implicated in the assassination of King Alexander is uncertain – he was convicted in absentia with no opportunity to defend himself. Nonetheless, he was in 1941 still known to be a practising Catholic and a significant political leader – Popes have to deal with all types and the Pope agreed to meet him as a private individual. It only became clear later just how nasty he was.

    The Vatican in no way condoned atrocities committed by the Ustashi; that there were local churchmen involved is certain – as there were in the recent Rwandan massacres, but it is equally preposterous to suggest that the Vatican supported the Hutu or Tutsi in that dreadful conflict. However the Vatican does not have a police force to go out and arrest people, nor does it have any procedure for dealing with criminal offences. Only if a priest is convicted is it possible to take sanctions against him or her, or only if there can be evidence brought before a Church tribunal where wrongdoing is shown to have happened, with the submission of evidence and its proper evaulation, as in any judicial system. People cannot be condemned, dismissed or punished on hearsay evidence – that is why courts follow procedures.

    The Lefevrist excommunication, for example, was automatic because they publicly and openly did something which incurred this automatically. To have taken action against the Croatian Church required proof and, as with so many brutal regimes great efforts are made to suppress evidence (look at North Korea, Zimbabwe or Iran), real proof was hard to find (as, indeed, it has always been difficult to find direct evidence of the command responsibilities for deciding on the policy of genocidal extermination of the Jews, and in particular – as holocaust deniers and Hitler supporters like to point out – direct evidence that Hitler gave the commands for this to begin). Look how the Milosevic trial dragged on with evidence being very hard to find and introduce – there is little doubt tha had he lived, Milosevic would have been aquitted of some of the worst crimes of which he was accused because of evidentiary problems. Even when armed with the full apparatus of the Nuremberg trials, the Allied judges missed some crucial evidence that would have condemned Albert Speer – who instead was able to get off with a sentence of imprisonment (this evidence would not almost have certainly sent him to the gallows).

    It is easy for those with a gripe against the Catholic Church, whether expressed in the infantile terms of your corresdpondent who describess the Church as an organisation of conflicted gay men or by simple mistsatements of evidence, to propose that is somehow criminally responsible as a whole for the acts of individual members. Why this should be true of the Church, but not for example of the US Demoratis party (when a State governor tries to sell a senbate seat) or the Republican party (when a Louisians governor goes to prison for corruption) or of all doctors because a handful murder their patients, is why it is so obvious that the attacks are primarily base don bigotry rather than knowledge.

    Stepinac is quoted at the time (by the RHSA) as having said to Himmler’s representative that “the Church always condemn measures which terrorised the public… responsibility for the growing and dangerous partisan movement would be laid at the door of the government who were too severely, even unlawfully, acting against Orthodox, Serbs, Jews and gypsies, imitating the methods of the Germans…” According to the RHSA representative Stepinac accused the ustashi of “practising the methods of the National Socialists so that their regime could be regarded as hostile to the Church as that of the German Nazis” (May 1943, AA Pol III Akten Repetorium, p. 0027, Bezxiehungen zu Kroatien, 1942-43. There is much more like this in the records, but it does not suit those who want to present the Vatican in the worst light to even consider it.

    The US Army was not present or involved until the war was over when their sole informants were the communist partisans, Allied policy having already condemned the Serbian Monarchist partisans to be murdered by Tito. The Allies, both US and British, handed over to the Russians and Serbs 100,000s of prisoners such as the Donm Cossacks (who had fought with the Germans after being brutally persecuted by the Soviets) and Ukranians (who, after the deliberate starvation of 7 million kulaks, had also fought with the Germans) and of course Croatians. The US Army relied entirely on Croatiand and Serbian communist partisans as their intermediaries with the defeated Croats and Ustashi, and both groups were bitterly opposed to the Church – as the Church was to communism. It was, after all, US policy to insure that the Soviets got and kept control over all of Eastern Europe as a result of the Yalta and Teheran agreements and it was US military police who regularly handed over to the soviets and refugees from the Societ zones.

    That is why the German RHSA records, which reflect the contemporary views of the Germans towards the Church and its leaders – to which they were entirely hostile – are a much more reliable source of information than the documents in US archives compiled from communist partisan statements. The Americans were astonishingly naive in their acceptance of assurances from the Soviets both during and immediatelty after the War – it did not take long for them to be disullusioned once confronted with the reality, but before then tremendous damage was done by well meaning but hopelessly incomprehending military intelligence departments.

  28. #28 AnthonyK
    February 1, 2009

    It’s true that you can’t blame the catholic church for everything carried out by its adherents, but it has been responsible for many (historic) atrocities – what about the murder of so many “heretics” in the middle ages? How come that was ok then if the church represents a single unchanging truth?
    And what about systematic rape of children by priests, and the subsequent mulitiple coverups – why has the church never really taken responibility? To me, this represents a strong indication, if not a proof, that the istitution of the church is unable to cope with the all-too-human behaviour of its accolytes.
    And just where is your catholic god, exactly, when a sweating priest buggers a 10-year-old choirboy behind the altar?
    I realise of course that other religions have carried out equal atrocities, but being defensive about your own church will only serve to cover up the continuing problems with your own theology and practice.
    And a Holocaust denying fuckwit has just re-entered your priesthood!

  29. #29 Zipi
    February 1, 2009

    As much as I despise the Catholic Church (and I truly do), reinstating the bishop makes “sense”. The excommunication had nothing to do with his Holocaust views. The pope has reevaluated the reasons for his excommunication and decided to reinstate him. Again, nothing to do with his Holocaust views. Being a Holocaust denier, being anti-semitic, (or, for that matter, committing mass murder) are not grounds for excommunication. They are not considered important crimes, such as desecrate a cracker.

  30. #30 Prudence
    February 1, 2009

    “The Vatican in no way condoned atrocities committed by the Ustashi; that there were local churchmen involved is certain – as there were in the recent Rwandan massacres, but it is equally preposterous to suggest that the Vatican supported the Hutu or Tutsi in that dreadful conflict.”

    Guy, the Belgians and the Vatican’s White Fathers in Rwanda did exactly that in about the 1880s, under the influence of some seriously kooky racial theory called the “Ham-itic hypothesis”, they heavily preferred the Tutsi over the Hutu, which certainly went some way towards building enmity between them until, after WWII, more priests came with a competing theory and flipped their positions.

    And why did they hide monsters like Athanase Seromba when the Arusha Courts asked for his extradition? He was finally tracked down by a newspaper in Tuscany, Italy and the Vatican was embarrassed into coughing him up.

    Anyway, all this is OT. Williamson is an objectionable fruitcake, and a sign of the Church’s larger malaise.

  31. #31 Pareidolius
    February 1, 2009

    This reminds me of that old quote that I think went something like this . . .

    “Is God willing to prevent evil idiots from being in his church, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.

    Is he able to keep them from molesting children, but not willing?
    Then he is a diabolical pimp.

    Is he both able and willing?
    Then how do you explain the inquisition, the crusades, the holocaust, the hundred year war, the thirty year war, the twenty year war, Deepak Chopra, 9/11, Mormon missionaries, flies, Celine Dion (list goes on for 10^456 pages) . . . and Williamson?

    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

    With my deepest apologies to Epicurus – Greek philosopher, BC 341-270

  32. #32 I am so wise
    February 1, 2009

    “The US Army was not present or involved until the war was over when their sole informants were the communist partisans”

    Nope. The US military sent several missions to Yugoslavia during the war and the reports in RG 319 were done by the CIC officers themselves.

    Babbling about shit which you do not know is dishonest, rude, and makes Baby Jesus cry himself to sleep.

  33. #33 Marilyn Mann
    February 1, 2009

    “For the Catholics being a bishop (or priest or baptized) is an indelible mark; it cannot be removed (though it never existed if it turns out the person in question is female or lacked the intent or the bishop who made them wasn’t really a bishop). However the ability to function can be suspended. In this case the bishops had been suspended (from both bishop and priestly duties) and excommunicated (forbidden to partake in the sacraments). The excommunication has been lifted but the suspension is still in effect (and might actually be followed now considering that I think they were performing masses, etc).”

    OK, I get the picture although it makes no sense to me.

  34. #34 efarris
    February 1, 2009

    Long-time lurker here –

    This is obviously a sensitive issue, but most people don’t understand what lifting excommunication means. That’s not most people’s fault – the people reporting on this generally don’t understand either. The vileness of Williamson’s statements is undeniable, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a far more “nuanced” issue than the reporting indicates. Of course, “Pope says suspended bishop who has idiotic political views will be allowed to take Communion again – if he shapes up” doesn’t make nearly as sensational a news story as “Pope ‘embraces’ Holocaust denier.”

    In answer to the questions about whether this means the four are bishops again…

    Lifting their excommunication does NOT make them bishops in good standing with the Church. It is essentially an invitation to reconcile with Rome. There’s a condition attached – to believe and obey what the Catholic Church teaches on faith and morals. This would include the recognition of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) that officially condemned all forms of anti-Semitism. (You can look this one up.)

    They are still suspended as clergy and any services they perform are illicit. Lifting their excommunication doesn’t give them the right to function as priests or imply any approval of their views or actions. The only thing it does is give them permission to receive the sacraments of the Catholic Church. If you think (like many do) that those are meaningless, then the Pope has done — absolutely nothing. The Church basically doesn’t deny communion to people on the basis of their political views even if those views are at odds with Church teaching. When the Church doesn’t deny communion to pro-choice American politicians, for example, most Americans think that this policy is a good thing.

    This is a huge communications botch by the Vatican. They should have concurrently provided some condemnation of Williamson’s views and explained what excommunication means. In fact they waited a day later until the Vatican official in charge of inter-religious dialogue, Cardinal Walter Kasper, commenting on Williamson’s views, said, “They are unacceptable words, stupid words. To deny the Holocaust is stupid and it is a position that has nothing to do with the Catholic Church”. The Pope has both written and spoken on this since, but too late.

    You have to actually understand something about what excommunication means and how the Catholic Church works as an institution to get this one. Since, to most folks, these are arcane and irrelevant topics, the news media and public opinion have by and large painted this as a Papal endorsement for an avowed anti-Semite.

    If anyone wants to criticize the Church there’s real stuff to pick on– the handling of the clerical abuse scandal, for example. This one is a media firestorm over something that is not really there except as a PR screw-up.

  35. #35 anonimouse
    February 1, 2009

    efarris is right – the notion that the Catholic Church would allow avowed anti-semites to act as clergy is patently absurd. As a Catholic, I am saddened by the sudden rush to villify Pope Benedict and the Vatican without even the most basic understanding of how our church works.

  36. #36 Orac
    February 1, 2009

    You forget, I was raised Catholic. Not only that, I went to Catholic school for 8 out of my 12 K-12 years. I know what excommunication means, and I know what it is not. I don’t need any lectures from Catholics presenting apologias for what the Pope did. Indeed, I’m very disturbed at how many Catholics are leaping to Benedict’s defense over this. It’s not just the Holocaust denial on Williamson’s part; I’m disturbed that, on the Catholic Church’s own terms, Benedict didn’t do even the most basic due diligence and basically gave up something for nothing.

    Leaving aside my having fallen away from the Church, from my perspective it’s the rankest stupidity on the part of Benedict to have rescinded the excommunication of these bishops without first demanding from them as a precondition of having their excommunication lifted a public renunciation of their previous disobedience of the Church in having accepted their clearly illicit ordinations and their current heresy against the Church. I also can’t believe that Benedict didn’t also extract from them as a precondition of their reinstatement in the Church a vow of obedience to the Church and a statement affirming their belief in Church teaching–including Vatican II. Reversing Lefebvrists’ excommunications without first requiring of them even those minimal public demonstrations of repentance sends the worst possible message. It suggests that Benedict was so desperate for reconciliation that he didn’t even bother to make sure that the bishops would come back to the fold in word and deed if he rescinded their excommunication for having participated in the “rogue” ordinations of bishops outside the authority of Rome.

    From this action, I have a hard time concluding one of two things: Either Pope Benedict XVI and his underlings didn’t know (or don’t really want to know) the full extent of the anti-Semitism and nastiness of these bishops, particularly Williamson (in which case they are incompetent and ignorant, having exercised insufficient due diligence before making this decision), or they did know and didn’t care (in which case one has to wonder if the Pope himself sympathizes with some of SSPX’s beliefs, a frightening thought to me indeed). That Benedict announced his rescinding of their excommunications on the week of Holocaust Remembrance Day shows a real tin ear and serious insensitivity.

  37. #37 Harry Eagar
    February 1, 2009

    The Croatian Catholic murder of Jews was very efficient. The total of 300,000 was 5% of the whole total, and nobody will suggest that Croatia had as much as 5% of the capacity of the German regime.

    The reason we think the Church approved of and supported the murders is that priests led the processions of the condemned, carrying Crucifixes and singing hymns, and — contra Guy — helped the Croatian murderers escape after the war. Even, according to John Cornwell, hiding some in the Vatican from secular investigators.

    The Roman Catholic Church, and its subsidiary the Uniate Church, were in cahoots with the Nazis, as was the Confessing Church. They all approved and encouraged the persecution of the Jews in Germany before the war started, and they supported, encouraged and justified the German policies throughout the war. The occasional exception, like Bishop Galen, does not change anything.

    The Roman Catholic Church has always been run by Jew-haters. Some have been a little more subtle about it, for public relations reasons, than others.

    – Former student at St. Pius X High School

  38. #38 Phoenix Woman
    February 2, 2009

    Holocaust denial is on the upswing as the number of concentration-camp survivors dwindles; it was a lot harder for the loons to sustain when most people personally knew someone — or knew someone who knew someone — with a camp number tattooed on his or her arm.

    This is following the same trajectory as the “loyal black slaves who fought in Confederate uniform” myth; this was readily and easily debunked back when Confederate veterans still lived, and in fact the very records of the Confederate Congress show that right up to the last days of the war, any and all attempts to allow black slaves to fight alongside white Confederate soldiers were turned aside, Only in the last week of March, 1865, did the Confederate Congress vote to allow this — a move far too late in the game to be implemented, much less make any difference.

  39. #39 AnthonyK
    February 2, 2009

    Religious morality, once again, is a shining example to all mankind.

  40. #40 Mu
    February 2, 2009

    I think the main difference between JPII’s stile and Benedict’s is that JPII seemed to be mostly interested in the “statesman” image, while Benedict is more “head of the church”. What’s not surprising, if you remember that Benedict was basically the Vatican’s internal policeman under JPII for a decade, as what would have been chief inquisitor in centuries past.
    You can probably argue for both positions, and for a recent political example: Bush sr. was a well regarded statesman throughout the world, but lost because his people at home trusted an unknown from Arkansas more than the statesman. His son was condemned worldwide for his actions and got reelected.

  41. #41 efarris
    February 2, 2009

    Orac –

    Sorry, I had indeed forgotten that you were raised Catholic. My lecture (and I guess it was one) was not aimed at you since it was clear from your post that you did understand the issue. I was attempting to answer some of the questions that had come up in the comments about whether this meant that the Lefevbrist bishops were now legitimate clergy again. My comments about this being a “PR screw-up” were meant to advance the argument that there was no evil motive behind this move and not to suggest that it was correctly done.

    I guess I am defending the Catholic Church here to the extent that the purpose of the Pope’s action seems to have been to try to rein in the SSPX rather than endorse it. The goal was to try and prevent them from creating a new generation of Lefevbrist bishops and perpetuating the organization – something they certainly would do eventually if left excommunicate. Trying to stop that seems to me to be a good thing.

    Unfortunately, the way this was handled constitutes an endorsement of the SSPX even if that wasn’t intended. I agree with you that this was something that should not have been done without the conditions that Williamson publicly repudiate his statements about the Holocaust and that the rest of the SSPX leadership publicly apologize for them. These things should have been a precondition for lifting the excommunication. All that has been said after the fact by the Vatican and the SSPX is too little, too late. (Williamson seems singularly unrepentant with his “apology”.) It sure doesn’t help that the Pope is a German of the WWII generation.

    The way this was done created a perception that the Church is tolerant of the anti-Semitism within the SSPX. I don’t think it can be reasonably denied that this was a monumentally insensitive mistake and that it may create more problems than it solves.

    I want to believe that this was caused a bunch of old men, immersed in their own world in the Vatican, who really don’t understand the speed and power of the media today. They don’t get that statements a day or two later can’t undo the damage. I don’t know if they were in denial about the anti-Semitism within the SSPX or whether they (more likely, I think) knew but saw this as a matter of church governance and did not think about what kind of message they would be sending outside that sphere. Either way, the fact that the action was taken without considering the message it would send is profoundly disappointing and indefensible. I hope that none of those who suspect sinister motives behind this action are correct.

    Hope I made myself clearer…

  42. #42 Marcus Ranum
    February 3, 2009

    Delusional asswipes are liars, too. Surprise, surprise.

  43. #43 Marcus Ranum
    February 3, 2009

    But to blame Catholics for this is ridiculous.

    What, is the pope jewish? Of course all catholics aren’t to blame for this nonsense – it’s just their divinely inspired infallible retard-in-chief. You know, the head of the catholic church?

    The holocaust was a christian hit on another religion. Pure and simple. It’s happened over and over in the past and they’re trying to wash their hands of it but every religion has it in for every other religion – it’s the nature of the stupidity we call “faith”

    You can make excuses all you like, but if you keep it up “here’s your sign.”

  44. #44 Marcus Ranum
    February 3, 2009

    , I am saddened by the sudden rush to villify Pope Benedict and the Vatican without even the most basic understanding of how our church works.

    How’s this for a most basic understanding:
    – Catholicism is a huge con
    – The leader of the religious con is a worldly politician elected by a select group of other politicians through a political process that’s got more incense and drama than how the mafia choose a new “capo” but little else
    – The christian religion (like all religions) is a way of making sure the deluded sheep transfer worldly assets to a bunch of old men who peddle them tall tales
    – The pope wears really expensive shoes, but the guy he claims to represent had to walk at night because the stones on the road were too hot for his bare feet

    That sums up everything anyone NEEDS to know about catholicism, and most other branches of christianity, right there. There’s nothing else that’s WORTH learning, other than out of historical interest – but the history of any of the christian churches is only recommended to those who have strong stomachs.

  45. #45 Marcus Ranum
    February 3, 2009

    Reuters:
    German pope becomes an embarrassment in homeland

    http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSTRE5124E320090203

    BERLIN (Reuters) – Nearly four years after a rare outburst of national pride over the election of a German pope, Germans are falling out of love with Pope Benedict because of his rehabilitation of a bishop who denies the Holocaust.

    Prominent Catholics, politicians and newspaper commentators in Joseph Ratzinger’s homeland are pulling no punches in their criticism of his lifting of the excommunications of four bishops, including one who denies the extent of the Holocaust.

    In a rare move, even Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized him.

  46. #46 Prometheus
    February 3, 2009

    About Pope Benedict XVI, Orac comments:


    “It makes me long for the days of Pope John Paul II.”

    Heck, I think before Benedict XVI is done, we’ll all be longing for the days of Pope Alexander VI.

    Prometheus

  47. #47 gaiainc
    February 3, 2009
  48. #48 ama
    February 4, 2009

    Look at this Nazi pigsty: Message bei Youtube:

    “Dieses Video ist in deinem Land nicht verfügbar.”

    This is “1984″.

    Abolish this Nazi regime!

  49. #49 ama
    February 4, 2009

    Look at this Nazi pigsty: Message by Youtube:

    “Dieses Video ist in deinem Land nicht verfügbar.”

    This is “1984″.

    Abolish this Nazi regime!

  50. #50 ama
    February 5, 2009

    Now look at this mess:

    http://www.ftd.de/politik/europa/:Nach-Papst-Kritik-Vatikan-ver%E4rgert-%FCber-Deutschland/470235.html

    “Exklusiv Vatikan verärgert über Deutschland

    Der Papst selbst ist offenbar verärgert über die offene Kritik aus Deutschland, in die auch Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel eingestimmt hatte. Aus Rom hieß es, man sei geradezu “entsetzt”.”

    http://derstandard.at/text/?id=1233586726720

    “05.02.2009 07:12

    Vatikan über deutsche Kritik “entsetzt”
    Münchner Erzbischof und deutscher Bundestagspräsident nehmen Papst Benedikt gegenüber Kanzlerin Merkel in Schutz”

    A belief which is based on genozide is a wierd thing…

  51. #51 ama
    February 5, 2009

    Latest news:

    The attorneys in Regensburg (Germany) investigate against Williamson because of hatred seeding (“Volksverhetzung”).

  52. #52 Bradley Smith
    April 26, 2009

    Re the Bishop Williamson affair:

    Since early 2008 I have been searching for one academic who can provide the name, with proof, of one person who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz. To no avail. If you want to see the kinds of responses I do get to the question see: http://bradleysmithsblog.blogspot.com/

  53. #53 Akira
    October 3, 2009

    Now the people Christ said have the Devil for their father are lording it over the formerly Christian Church of Rome. Obviously Benedict is a Freemason or he’d have told the Christ-killers to go fuck off and repent their sins.

    To think he just calmly takes criticism from the greasy thugs of ADL…

    And having grown up during the war, he must know very well about all the Holyhoax lies.

    What a disgrace. The Jew shamelessly cracks the whip and plays the whinge fiddle “oh I’m such a poor kike…”

    God sees everything.

    Thank Christ Jesus for righteous Jews like Brother Nathaneal and Bobby Fisher.

    Look how the hate-filled Jew operates. If the Bishop is in error, sent him a note explaining how so. But no, they just pile on like Bolshevik IDF hyenas. The Bishop can’t lie. No Khazar he.

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