Posted by: mollyrossiter | January 28, 2009

Pope under fire

popePope Benedict XVI is coming under fire this week for lifting the excommunication of four bishops, including one who has publicly disputed the validity of the Holocaust.

Among the four from the Society of St. Pius X is Richard Williamson, who allegedly told a Swedish television station that “historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler,” according to the Religion News Service.

Those who know the pope offer the explanation that he wasn’t aware of the bishop’s comments.

“Otherwise, I think he would have made it clear at the beginning that he was not endorsing them,” the RNS quoted the Rev. Joseph D. Fessio as saying. Fessio is a former student of Benedict’s and is the English-language publisher of most of the pope’s books.

A statement from the Vatican stresses that the pope’s reversal of the excommunication is not an endorsement of the Holocaust statements but rather an effort to “reconcile with disaffected traditionalists.”

In an email sent to reporters today, Deborah Dwork,  Rose Professor of Holocaust History and director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., called the pope’s actions “wrong” and said they “deal a blow to your Church, just as you damage Catholic-Jewish relations.”

“Pope Benedict XVI’s decisison to lift the excommunication ban on Bishop Williamson, a denier of the Holocaust, is utterly baffling,” Dwork writes in her email. “It says much about his disregard for Catholic-Jewish relations. It says much, too, about a profound disregard for secular knowledge in general and history in particular.”



  1. I dont think any matter, and that includes the Holocaust, should be beyond discussion. I was told recently by someone returning from a visit to Auschwitz, that the guides there acknowledge that the gas chambers on display are reproductions built after the war. This surprised me, but if true I think that Bishop Williamson should at least be allowed to make his case without being insulted. There must be lots of able debaters to argue the other side.

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