Pope Should Excommunicate Holocaust-Denying Bishop Williamson

The pope should excommunicate the Holocaust-denying bishop and apologize for his mistake.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

Virtually all the good Pope John Paul II did to renew and reinvigorate Catholic-Jewish relations has been undone by his hand-picked successor, Pope Benedict XVI. When it comes to being tone deaf on Catholic-Jewish relations, this pope wins Olympic gold.

Many Jews were leery of his 2005 selection as pope, due to Benedict's membership in the Hitler Youth. They were much relieved when it was learned he was never an avid fan:

When Ratzinger turned 14 in 1941, as required by law he joined the Hitler Youth. According to his biographer John Allen he was not an enthusiastic member. He requested to be taken off the rolls and reportedly refused to attend a single meeting.

Nonetheless skepticism has remained in many parts of the American Jewish community and so it was with some degree of "We told you so" that Jews lashed out at Pope Benedict for his rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying bishop:

JERUSALEM (CNN) — Jewish officials in Israel and abroad are outraged that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to lift the excommunication of a British bishop who denies that Jews were killed in Nazi gas chambers.

The pope's decree, issued Saturday, brings back into the Catholic Church's fold Bishop Richard Williamson and three other bishops who belong to the Society of Saint Pius X.

Now that the world, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (good for her!) have made plain the complete insensitivity, even provocation, of the pope's actions, he's taken one step in response:

Responding to global outrage, especially in Pope Benedict XVI's native Germany, the Vatican on Wednesday called on a recently rehabilitated bishop to take back his statements denying the Holocaust.

But even if Bishop Williamson follows orders, that won't be enough to quell Jewish outrage. Williamson should be permanently excommunicated and Pope Benedict should apologize for his insensitivities. Nothing less will restore the two communities to the peace Benedict has undone.

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