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Archbishop McDonald on Catholic -Jewish relations after lifting of excommunication of SSPX bishops

 The Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Rev Kevin McDonald, has written to The Times newspaper to address the Pope's lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX Bishops (Society of Saint Pius X). He makes it clear that the Catholic Church "continues to be totally committed to Catholic-Jewish relations which are crucially important for both religions."

Sir,

While I fully appreciate the concerns of Edward Kessler about the effect on Catholic-Jewish relations of the Pope's lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, there are things that need to be said to put this matter in context and to provide reassurance about the Catholic Church's commitment to Catholic-Jewish dialogue.

The lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 was intended by the Pope as a way of reaching out to the Society of St Pius X, a group that has become alienated from the Catholic Church. The Pope did not, as Dr Kessler suggests "readmit" Bishop Williamson since his episcopal ordination was never sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the first place. The Pope's action has not brought the SSPX into full communion with the Catholic Church. In fact, the Pope is now looking to the SSPX for a clear adhesion to the magisterium of the Church.

The lifting of the excommunication, therefore, implies no endorsement of the views of Bishop Williamson, and Bishops' Conferences throughout the world were quick to condemn those views. At a recent meeting of the Standing Committee of the Bishops' Conference of England Wales we released a statement in which we said: "The views of one of the bishops of the SSPX in denying the reality of the Holocaust are totally unacceptable."

The Catholic Church continues to be totally committed to Catholic-Jewish relations which are crucially important for both religions.

I do hope that the reassurances that have been made both by the Pope at his weekly audience and by Bishops' Conferences can enable us to move forward and build on the work that began at Vatican II and has been continued by Catholics at all levels in the Church ever since.

Yours sincerely,

+Kevin McDonald
Archbishop of Southwark
Chairman of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
Department of Dialogue and Unity.