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Pope Benedict XVI Gives the Urbi et Orbi

Pope Benedict XVI Gives the Urbi et Orbi

I found the following this afternoon:

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Fifty Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives pressed Pope Benedict XVI to fully repudiate the views of a Holocaust-denying bishop.

“Your Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, As Catholic Members of Congress, we are writing to express our deep concerns with your decision to reinstate Bishop Richard Williamson to communion with the Catholic Church at the same time that Bishop Williamson publicly denies that the Holocaust occurred or that such was the policy under Adolf Hitler,” they wrote in a letter sent last month after Williamson’s reinstatement was announced. “We do not question your reasons for revoking the excommunication of Bishop Williamson or your right to do so, but we fail to understand why the revocation was not accompanied by an emphatic public rejection of his denial of the Holocaust.”

Williamson was excommunicated in 1988 by the late Pope John Paul II for defying the teachings of the 1965 Second Vatican Council, which removed from the Jewish people the guilt of deicide.

The letter was spearheaded by U.S. Reps William Delahunt (D-Mass.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who is married to Stanley Greenberg, a leading Democratic pollster who is active in pro-Israel circles.

Subdequent to sending the letter, the Vatican called on Williamson to take back his Holocaust denials. In a short statement, DeLauro and Delahunt welcomed the call but added, “In its initial offer to reinstate Bishop Williamson to communion, the Church’s silence on his view that the Holocaust never existed was deeply troubling.”

DeLauro is part of a congressional delegation led by U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House speaker, visiting Italy this week. During the tour, Pelosi and her husband met alone with the pope.

Up to the early 20th century, it was possible for rulers of nations to influence the policies of the Popes and even elections. While many politicians have tried to sway the will of various popes over the last hundred years, none of them have been really successful in getting what they wanted or needed from the Holy See.

The present letter sent to His Holiness asks him why he was silent when the excommunication of Bishop Williamson was revoked in the matter of his Holocaust denial. While these Catholic lawmakers do not question the Pope’s ability to revoke excommunications, they are deeply troubled by his re-instatement of a Holocaust denier.

First of all, nobody has been re-instated yet. As I have said elsewhere on this site, the lifting of the excommunications is only a step towards greater reconciliation between the SSPX and the Vatican. Until that rapprochement takes place, we really are putting the cart ahead of the horse.

Secondly, this letter smacks of something that has been making the rounds of the liberal media for almost a decade: the myth of Hitler’s pope.  This myth comes from the fact that Pope Pius XII had been a diplomat in Germany during the Weimar Republic and his silence during the Holocaust. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Like his predecessor, Pope Pius XI,  Pope Pius XII flatly said privately that the Holocaust was unconscionable. It was in order to save Rome’s Jews that the Pope created a safe haven within the walls of Vatican City. This was a supreme act of charity on the part of a Pope, who was called “Pastor Angelicus” by St. Malachy.

With Pope Benedict, the question asked is when did he know and why didn’t he do anything about it.  Whether or not the Pope knew anything about Williamson’s views has absolutely nothing to do with the lifting of the excommunications. The excommunications were lifted to begin a process by which the SSPX could be fully integrated in the Church. It had absolutely nothing to do with Williamson’s views or ideas since he was one of four bishops for whom the excommunications were lifted. Since he was the most controversial of the four, however, the media latched on to him and his ideas about the Holocaust.

If the Democrats are trying to pressure the Pope into making a statement on the Holocaust, then it probably isn’t working. Pope Benedict knows what is best for the Church and it is up to him to issue a statement. With the recent fall out from L’Affaire Wagner, however, we may have to wait sometime before we receive such a statement.  When the Pope says something, we will probably hear about it. But at the time of this post, I have not heard anything from the Vatican.

Let us continue to pray for the Pope in these troubling times as well as the conversion of our politicians.

Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!

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