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Roundup: angry reactions to Bishop Williamson; disavowals from SSPX, Church leaders

January 28, 2009

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has indefinitely broken off ties with the Vatican following the lifting of the excommunications of four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, one of whom-- Bishop Richard Williamson-- recently denied the extent of the Holocaust and the existence of gas chambers. Calling for “a public apology and recanting,” Chief Rabbinate Director-General Oded Weiner also cancelled a March meeting with the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Society’s superior general, issued a statement yesterday denouncing Bishop Williamson’s comments. “Deeply pained to see how much damage” these comments have done to the Society’s mission, Bishop Fellay forbade Bishop Williamson to make comments on political and historical questions and added, “We ask forgiveness of the Sovereign Pontiff and of all people of good will for the dramatic consequences of such an act.”

Bishops throughout Europe denounced Bishop Williamson’s comments. The bishops of Switzerland said, “We, the Swiss Bishops, offer our condemnation and ask the members of Jewish communities in Switzerland to forgive the irritations that have arisen in recent days," adding that the Church "could not accept this Holocaust denial under any circumstance" and that "those who know Benedict XVI and his positive attitude to Judaism know that he will not tolerate the indefensible nonsense."

A spokesman for the English and Welsh bishops added, “The views of one of the bishops of SSPX in denying the reality of the Holocaust are totally unacceptable … Today on Holocaust Memorial Day we remember the death of six million Jews and follow Pope Benedict XVI in deploring anti-Semitism in all its forms. We call on all Roman Catholics to do the same.”


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