The SSPX bishop Richard Williamson
was recently reinstated to the Catholic Church after an ex-communication applied by Pope John Paul II over disciplinary matters concerning the SSPX. This ex-communication was lifted by Pope Benedict in an effort to reconcile the SSPX to the main body of the Catholic Church. If Catholics do not totally understand what took place then how on earth are Protestants, Jews or other interested parties to understand what has taken place.
The issue that has arisen is related to personal remarks made by Williamson. The man is not infallible and what he has stated – I disagree with him totally – is a private opinion that is not related in any way to his role within the Church.
The Catholic Church does not ex-communicate people because of their stated political views, unless those views are diametrically opposed to the moral teachings of the Church. In this case the views expressed, of holocaust denial, even though very repugnant has nothing to do with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. We need to see the issue of his reinstatement from that point of view.
However, the political views expressed by Richard Williamson about the 6 million Jews and the 2-3 million Catholics who also perished in the Hitler death chambers are very repugnant to the majority of Catholics, including Pope Benedict XVI, a German who was himself opposed to Hitler.
Richard Williamson, in an interview on Swedish TV denied the possibility that so many perished, despite the evidence to the contrary that exists at the concentration camps. It seems that he also denies the fact that so many Catholics and other Christians also died in these same camps. Since we are supposed to have free speech, he is entitled to express:
“I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against — is
hugely against — 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas
chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler,” Williamson said
recently in an interview with a Swedish television station, which also
appeared on various Web sites after its broadcast. “I believe there
were no gas chambers.”
but Williamson is not an historian, so what evidence has he seen to in fact deny what took place? His claim that there were no gas chambers shows that he has not read the records relating to the existence of the gas chambers, neither has he given any indication that he acknowledges the death of the disabled and weak in German society by gassing at hospitals prior to the outbreak of the second world war, and the travesty against the Jews that took place during that time. It would seem that he did not read the diary of Anne Frank and he dismissed other evidence provided by eyewitnesses to the experiments that took place.
However, the Vatican is taking steps against Williamson over his holocaust denial, and I do believe that these are the correct steps to take:
The Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has said
Williamson will not be allowed to perform priestly functions if he does
not recant. He said the pope was unaware of the comments when he
rehabilitated Williamson and three other members of the Society of
Saint Pius X.
Pope Benedict himself has distanced himself from the views of Williamson. The young Josef Ratzinger was forced to join Hitler Youth, but he did not attend the sessions – he got away with the non-attendance. He displayed extraordinary courage through his own defiance. For Pope Benedict the comments are a searing reminder of the past travesty against Jews from Germany, Poland, Holland, and other European nations.
Do I believe that Williamson should be disciplined? Yes, I believe that the disciplinary measures that are being taken are appropriate. If he is to be ex-communicated again then it needs to be for church disciplinary reasons and not the political reasons behind the present uproar.
I have no doubt that Angela Merkel is a good woman. I have no doubt that she has a Christian background, but she has no understanding of the Catholic Church and her comments and demands are unhelpful. I fully support those who are upset about Williamson’s remarks.