Skip to comments.Chief Rabbinate cuts ties with Vatican
Posted on 01/28/2009 11:11:13 AM PST by forkinsocket
Pope Benedict XVI insisted on Wednesday that he felt "full and indisputable solidarity" with Jews.
Benedict spoke days after his decision to revoke the excommunication of a bishop who says no Jews were gassed during the Holocaust provoked an outcry among Jews.
Benedict said Wednesday that he hoped the memory of the Holocaust would also serve as a warning against the "unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the hearts of men."
He spoke during a public audience at the Vatican.
The Vatican had already distanced itself from comments by bishop Richard Williamson, who has denied that 6 million Jews were murdered during World War II. The Holy See said that removing the excommunication by no means implied the Vatican shared Williamson's views.
But on Tuesday the Chief Rabbinate of Israel broke off official ties with the Vatican indefinitely in protest over the Pope's decision to reinstate a known Holocaust denier.
The Chief Rabbinate also canceled a meeting scheduled for March 2-4 in Rome with the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
In a letter to the commission's chairman, Cardinal Walter Casper, Chief Rabbinate Director-General Oded Weiner wrote that "without a public apology and recanting, it will be difficult to continue the dialogue."
According to a Chief Rabbinate source, the letter was leaked to the Israeli press before it was received by the Vatican, which might further complicate relations between the Chief Rabbinate and the Catholic Church.
Last week, in an attempt to heal a decades-old rift between the Church and a group of ultra-conservative breakaway group of clergymen, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of four bishops. The four Catholic bishops belong to the Society of Saint Pius, which opposed changes in Catholic doctrine made in the 1960s under the Second Vatican Council.
One of them is Britain's Bishop Richard Williamson, who is being investigated for Holocaust denial in Germany, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
In a recent interview with Swedish state television, Williamson denied the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis.
"I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews died in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them in gas chambers," Williamson told the interviewer.
"The historical evidence is hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler. I believe there were no gas chambers," Williamson reportedly said.
He has also reportedly endorsed the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion and claimed that Jews are bent on world domination.
In a parallel development Tuesday, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the Society of Saint Pius, distanced himself from Williamson's comments.
Fellay said he has forbidden Williamson from speaking publicly about any historical or political questions and that his views "don't reflect in any way the position of the society."
"We ask forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff and all the men of good will for the dramatic consequences of this act," Fellay said.
Haifa Chief Rabbi Shear Yishuv Cohen, chairman of the Rabbinate's commission, told The Jerusalem Post that he expected Williamson to publicly retract his statements before meetings could be renewed.
"I understand the Pope's efforts to bring about unity in the Church, but he should be aware that, indirectly, he hurt Jews. We expect him to do the best to repair the situation." Weiner's letter called Williamson's comments "odious" and "outrageous."
Rabbi David Rosen, Director of the American Jewish Committee's Department for Interreligious Affairs, and an advisory member of the Chief rabbinate's commission, said that the Pope's decision has created an atmosphere of "bad faith."
Rosen reckoned that the Pope's move to lift Williamson's excommunication, which was made public just days before International Holocaust Day, was made due to a lack of proper consultation.
"I tend to believe that the Pope simply was not informed about Williamson in advance and now he is in a very uncomfortable situation."
Rosen said that the Pope had a history of improper preparation, leading to large-scale blunders. He cited a speech made in Regensburg, Germany, in which he quoted a medieval emperor who called Islam "evil and inhuman," comments that sparked a wave of Islamic-led violence against Catholic churches around the world.
Rosen said that the Rabbinate expected the Pope to take tangible steps against Williamson.
"I don't think it is my place to tell the Church precisely what to do. But Williamson should be censured in some way or forced to retract his statements.
"Until that happens, we may be in contact with the Vatican on an individual level, but there will be no official meetings."
This is pure ignorance or spreading misinformation. The lifting of excommunication had nothing whatsoever to do with the Holocaust denials, which have already been condemned. This bishop was one of a number of renegade bishops involved in the illicit consecration of bishops by SSPX, which was in fact the chief ground for excommunication in the first place.
The Pope has no control over these people, who are basically outside the Church and run their own operation. He cannot remove them from office because he didn’t install them in the first place.
This pope has spent much of his life trying to build better relations with religious Jews. It’s too bad when you get a hasty reaction like this, hitting out against a friend on the word of trouble makers who are perhaps less supportive of Israel than the Pope.
The Pope must not let himself be stampeded by onlookers. He has his reasons for his decision, and I trust he knows what he is doing, just as he did at Regensburg. Critic Rosen didn't get that either, but it has been a good thing with the passage of time.
The nutcase Williamson probably hasn't had a single thought uninfected with anti-Semitism since he was just a wee lad.
For Catholics, the Holocaust is a matter of history, not religion. Those for whom it is a religion will have to accept that — esp. if they want to paint Christian “proselytising” as objectionable.
The Vatican, like Cicero said, is not involved because there's not ful reconciliation yet. Even if it were, there aren't any provisions in canon law that I'm aware of for deposing/excommunicating a bishop simply on his historical beliefs. The most that the Vatican could do would be to take exception to his remarks, which they have.
Williamson is, however, in a religious order, and his Superior has just ordered him to shut up on matters of history. So a censure has indeed been applied.
Williamson holds strong views regarding gender roles and dress. He opposes the wearing of trousers or shorts by women, and has urged greater "manliness" in men.
Williamson promoted conspiracy theories regarding the Kennedy assassination and the September 11 attacks, claiming that the latter were staged by the US government.
Williamson has expressed controversial views about Jews. He called Jews "enemies of Christ" and urges their conversion to Catholicism. He claims that Jews and Freemasons have contributed to the "changes and corruption" in the Catholic Church He has also stated that Jews aim at world dominion and believes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to be authentic. Williamson has denied that he is anti-semitic, stating that he goes against "adversaries of Our Lord Jesus Christ", that not all Jews are such, and that he also attacks other groups such as Communists and Freemasons.
Williamson has been charged with Holocaust denial. He has denied the existence of gas chambers and has claimed that not six million but 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps. Williamson has also praised Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel.
Williamson's Wikipedia entry
The excommunication and thus the de-excommunication had nothing to do with Williamson’s nutty historical views, and the Vatican has made it clear that it is not an endorsement of those views. This reaction by the Chief Rabbi seems like a overreaction by someone who deliberately wants to distort the meaning of what the Pope did.
Was he reinstated as a bishop or just have the ban of excommunication lifted?
lol...Williamson is a “truther” (9/11 conspiracy nut) as well? He’s a man of many tinfoil wardrobes.
| The Jews and George Bush
are fair game, but attacking
Daisy Dukes? DAMN him!
Well said. That was what I was trying to indicate.
You can’t give the boot to someone who already walked out the door on his own perverse initiative.
Pope Benedict specifically rebuked Williamson's holocaust denial, and Bernard Fellay (leader of the group to which Williamson belongs) told Williamson to shut up.
Both rebukes are the subject of threads on this forum.
The rest ... there's just not much that can be done.
So Williamson has personal opinions on non-religious matters. What’s your point?
Jesus Christ himself couldn't please people like this.
Come to think of it, He already tried . . . .
If you'd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
Well, I’m sure that Catholics would be suitable outraged in the following scenario:
Let’s say, after an Islamic dictator killed off half the world’s population of Catholics...
...that the Grand Mufti in Mecca then brought back into the fold an imam that said it never happened at all.