Worldwide complaints over Vatican acceptance of Holocaust-denying bishop

 Voices have been raised around the world in protest over Pope Benedict's decision to to lift the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson from
the Society of Pope Pius X, after it was revealed that he is a Holocaust-denier.

In Westmister, MPs on all sides of the House of Commons yesterday voiced their concerns over the Vatican's decision MP Sadiq Khan said: "the promotion of such a person highly unsavoury" and said the fact that someone such as could hold high office caused him "great concern".

Labour's David Winnick urged the minister to "deplore the fact that a British-born bishop, a Holocaust denier, obviously pro-Nazi, has been brought back into the fold by the Vatican. And although the Vatican, I accept, has totally disassociated itself from his remark isn't it rather unfortunate this bishop is allowed to be such a senior person in the Catholic clergy when he simply denies the gas chambers existed." Williamson was excommunication from the
Roman Catholic Church in 1988 along with other members of the breakaway Pius X Society, who rejected the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

His reinstatement does not mean he can practice as a priest. However, he is now
allowed to receive Communion. Israel's chief rabbinate yesterday cancelled talks with Catholic officials in Rome in response to the reinstatement of Bishop Williamson. "The five representatives of the chief rabbinate who were due to meet five Vatican representatives in Rome in March will not be able to participate in this meeting in the current state of affairs," the rabbinate's director general Oded Wiener told AFP. "The dialogue that we began in 2000 following the visit of former Pope John Paul II cannot continue as if nothing has happened after such a decision, announced nearly on the day that the international community commemorates the Holocaust," he said.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following

1. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops finds abhorrent the notion that somehow the terrible evil of the Holocaust is not a fact of history, and joins the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in calling on all people to recognize that the Holocaust is "an admonition against oblivion, negation and reductionism".

2. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops joins the Holy See in criticizing and rejecting the comments that Bishop Williamson has made on the Holocaust.

3. The Catholic Bishops of Canada, together with the Holy See, remain committed to dialogue with the Jews, as was reaffirmed by the Bishops of Canada at their September 2008 Plenary Assembly.

4. The Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, has apologized concerning the remarks made by Bishop Williamson and announced
that Bishop Williamson has been forbidden to speak further on this question.

5. It is only the declared excommunication of the four Bishops who are members of the Society of Saint Pius X, including Bishop Williamson, that has been lifted for the offence of their having received episcopal ordination without pontifical mandate. The lifting of the excommunication does not affect penalties for other offences. The decree made public on 24 January 2009 by the Holy See does not allow Bishop Williamson or the other Bishops to exercise sacred ministry licitly or to exercise any office or act of governance in the Catholic Church. It simply opens the possibility of restoring them to full communion with the Catholic Church.

LONDON - 30 January 2009 - 560 words

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