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Meditation 741
Moral clarity lacking in Vatican

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There has been a large number of news articles in the last week on Pope Benedict XVI's decision to lift the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X, particularly that of Bishop Richard Williamson, a holocaust denier.

For those unfamiliar with the Society of Saint Pius X, the society promotes the doctrine that

...since the death of the last known Pope, Pius XII (1939-58), the apparent Catholic establishment in the Vatican has been run by anti-Catholic infiltrators who have done everything in their power to destroy the Catholic Faith and cause scandal and impiety among the faithful, all under the guise of a "Great Renewal" of the Faith and ad nauseam references to a supposed "New Springtime" of Catholicism.

And yet, Pope Benedict XVI has welcomed them, the leaders of the Society into the fold, none of whom recognized him as the legitimate Pope (at least until he let them back in.)

In addition to actively promoting the above doctrine of the Society, Bishop Richard Williamson has publicly denied the holocaust,[1] stating that only two or three hundred thousand Jews were killed, none of them in gas chambers. He has claimed that the Protocols of Zion are genuine, and that the Jews and Freemasons are conspiring to take over the world and establish a police state. He blames 9/11 on this conspiracy by the Jews and Freemasons. And in a lighter vein, he has identified the film The Sound of Music as pornography (Could this have something to do with the anti-Nazi stand of the Trapp family?)

And yet, Pope Benedict XVI has welcomed him back into the fold.

Given the Pope's wish to bring back into the Catholic Church the couple of hundred thousand traditionalists (including Mel Gibson) who willingly follow the Society of Saint Pius X and reject his authority, did he have a choice? Yes he did. He could have lifted the excommunications of the three bishops who at least did not publicly express any anti-Semitic beliefs they may have had, and left Williamson out in the cold by himself.

And yet, Pope Benedict XVI has welcomed all four back into the fold.

The Pope's apologists have said that the initial excommunication had nothing to do with anti-Semitism, therefore lifting the excommunication has nothing to do with it either. Williamson's anti-Semitism is irrelevant.

Of course it is relevant. The bigot was outside the church by his own decision. The Pope did not have to let him back in. And yet, he did.

A few years ago, I received an application for ordination from an individual who made no secret of the fact he actively promoted pedophilia. I trashed it, unanswered. He applied over and over - about six times in the span of a year. I did not enter into correspondence with the individual. I simply deleted every application. I ignored him. I saw no reason to have any association with him.

The fact he was an agnostic (apathetic or otherwise) was irrelevant. The fact that he met the official requirements for ordination was irrelevant. He openly promoted something which is morally abhorrent, and I wanted no connection between him and this church.

That was not a hard decision for me. It's simple moral clarity.

I see no reason why Pope Benedict XVI could not have made an equivalent decision with respect to Bishop Richard Williamson.


  1. It was reported today (30 January, 2009) that Bishop Williamson has written to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos , a Vatican official, apologizing:
    "Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems,"
    Note that apology is for causing unnecessary distress, there is no retraction of the anti-Semitic remarks. The apology changes nothing.