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Cardinal Castrillon denies advance knowledge of Bishop Williamson's views

September 25, 2009

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos has heatedly denied a report that he had been informed about the extreme views of Bishop Richard Williamson prior to the January 2009 announcement that the Pope was lifting the excommunications of Williamson and other bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).

In a Swedish television broadcast earlier this week, Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm disclosed that he was aware of Bishop Williamson's statements questioning the severity of the Holocaust, and had alerted Vatican officials to those statements. But Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos-- who, as president of the Ecclesia Dei commission at that time, was primarily responsible for Vatican talks with the SSPX, told the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung that it was "calumny" to say that he had been informed of Williamson's views.

Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos indicated that the records of the Ecclesia Dei commission would corroborate his statement, noting that "we keep archive copies of all the documents that we receive, in digital form." He indicated that he was not informed of Bishop Williamson's views until after the Pope lifted the excommunications.

The cardinal's statement left open the possibility that Archbishop Arborelius had communicated his concerns to another Vatican office, and the message had not been passed along to the Ecclesia Dei commission. The Swedish bishop reportedly informed the apostolic nuncio in Stockholm, who would ordinarily make his own report to the Secretariat of State. In fact, in his interview with the German newspaper, Cardinal Castrillon himself pointed a finger at the Secretariat of State. When Suddeutsche Zeitung noted that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re "felt cheated" because Cardinal Castrillon had not warned his colleagues about Williamson's extremism, Cardinal Castrillon replied that he had not heard that accusation directly, but was aware that Cardinal Re "said some incautious words about me to the press." The Colombian prelate continued:

So I wrote him a letter, in which I said if anybody had known about the Williamson Holocaust-interview beforehand, it must be he alone. He was for many years in the Secretariat of the State. Today he is the head of the bishops' congregation. It is his task to watch over the bishops.

However, Cardinal Castrillon reminded his German interviewer that the controversy over Bishop Williamson's remarks had distracted attention from the Pope's true reasons for lifting the excommunications:

Williamson was excommunicated because of his illegitimate episcopal ordination, not because of his theories, judgments or statements about the Holocaust.


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