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Supporting Abortion Rights is Worse than Holocaust Denial

So the Pope has lifted the excommunications of the four illicitly consecrated Bishops of the Society of St. Pius X. For those who don't follow Catholic inside baseball, the SSPX considers itself an ultra-traditionalist group with the goal of attempting to preserve the pre-Vatican II patrimony of the Catholic Church in the face of Vatican II reforms. Assuming I have it right, which I might not because I don't have an intense interest in the matter, these four Bishops were consecrated - validly, that is to say, they really did sacramentally become bishops - but illicitly, that is, without the juridical permission of Rome. As a result they were excommunicated by Pope John Paul II. It is that excommunication which has been lifted by Pope Benedict XVI.

That is just background for what interests me in particular here, which is the hubbub over the fact that one of the four Bishops is apparently a Holocaust denier. (Note: I haven't been able to view the video at dotCommonweal as of this writing, but we can stipulate all of this for my purposes here).

Now Bishop Williamson was not excommunicated for being a Holocaust denier: he was excommunicated for his deliberate illicit consecration as a Bishop. The one really has nothing to do with the other. Nevertheless, and understandably, lifting his excommunication has created a bit of a storm. Many people feel that Holocaust denial is so gravely immoral - not to mention loopy - that it warrants excommunication in itself; and I am sympathetic to this view.

However, that directly raises the general question of what moral wrongs are so gravely wicked that they warrant excommunication. Keep in mind that even a serial killer is not excommunicated on account of being a serial killer: he may be damned, if he does not repent, but he is not excommunicated.

Holocaust denial is inexcusably crazy and wicked, but it does not involve advocacy and support of an existing legal right to murder Jews. Furthermore, it is not Catholic doctrine that some historical event such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, the moon landing, or the Holocaust actually occurred. On the other hand, opposition to a legal right to abortion is Catholic doctrine. So if the time has come to start excommunicating the wicked - a proposition about which I reserve judgment - they had better get in line behind the heretics.

(Cross-posted)

Comments (17)

Williamson is not yet a recognized bishop of the Roman Catholic Church and the betting is he'll stay outside and remain the head of a little cult of bigots. Few think he has the humility or sincerity to achieve full communion and canonical status. If he does, we can worry about the weight of carrying such an albatross at that time. In the meantime, I wish every faith and denomination better policed their own internal lunatics before advising Benedict on how best to retrieve his lost sheep. Healing schims is part of the job description and bringing substantial numbers of SSPXer's back to Rome will be a liturgical and evangelical boon to those who stayed and weathered the storms that followed the Second Council.

Anyone who thought B16 was going to preside over a "caretaker" Papacy has to be struck dumb by the bold iniatives he is undertaking on every front. Seems he takes Be Not Afraid to heart.

God bless our Holy Father. Of course the media, the "dissenters" in the Church and the apostate Left will misunderstand this, and will use it to attack the Pope and Holy Church, but that is just par for the course.

Kevin, you are right about this papacy, and the changes - cures - the Holy Father is instituting are amazing. I had not expected this much when he was elected, even knowing what a champion of Orthodoxy he is. Ad multos annos!

Bishop Williamson is a serious and orthodox Catholic. Unfortunately, on certain political issues, he's somewhat of a crank, to put it mildly. It is important, however, to understand that such silly notions have no necessary connection to traditional Catholicism, although a statistical correlation does exist.

The problem here is that Williamson's particular nuttiness in this regard doesn't seem to line up with a conventional canonical crime. Being bad at history isn't a crime; being a loudmouth about it in an uncharitable manner is undoubtedly sinful, but not (seemingly) in a way that would incur a specific canonical penalty. Note that he's not advocating anti-Semitic genocide. The people who get in trouble over being pro-abortion are encouraging or assisting people in committing defined immoral acts (or insofar as they are legislators adopting laws, committing distinct immoral acts themselves). Williamson is just being a jerk.

Kevin:

It is a good clarifying point for non-Catholics and probably most Catholics that, AFAIK, lifting the excommunication does not in any way authorize Bp Williamson to act on behalf of the Church. Assuming I have this right, which may be a rash assumption, the 'ontological change' of his consecration as Bishop, while it did make him truly a Bishop, does not grant him any particular legitimate authority to licitly, confect sacraments and exercise a teaching office, though of course any sacraments he confects will be valid. ("Real, but illegal" is perhaps a succinct way to think about it).

Zippy,
You are right. In proceeding this way, Williamson has been isolated from Fellay and the others. All 4 bishops have additioanl steps to take. You likely read them already bute John Allen of NCR and Sandro Magister are 2 guys I want to hear from on the next steps. I'm anxious to learn the reaction of SSPX's laity to all of this.

B16 might also have something to report on the The Anglican Communion next, as he manuevers around the professional "ecumenicists" worried about an upsurge in conversions.

Steve K.,
Ratzinger writings and the Communio school he belongs to should have prepared us, but...wow! If you live near a Communion and Liberation group, get in contact as soon as possible.

On another note, I never was able to reply directly to you on a previous thread before it was closed, but I honor you for your service to our country and appreciate your anecdotes about Andrew Bacevich.

Sursum corda.

So if the time has come to start excommunicating the wicked - a proposition about which I reserve judgment - they had better get in line behind the heretics.

And, yet, many here engage in (and even go so far as relish) covenants with the heretics. Amazing.

Ari:

Could you try to be a little more oblique and incomprehensible? Because I almost though I might see some concrete meaning in what you just said, but I'm not sure.

What exactly did Bishop Williamson say that constitute Holocaust Denial?
Bishop Williamson has been an able defender of traditional Roman Catholic dogma. At least I understand him, and know where I differ from him. That is not true for much of what passes as Roman Catholicism these days.
I do remember that when he spoke about technology Bishp Williamson was kind of a crank, a neoluddite

The bishop bases his denial on Fred Leuchter, who has been thoroughly and completely discredited.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_A._Leuchter

Could you try to be a little more oblique and incomprehensible? Because I almost though I might see some concrete meaning in what you just said, but I'm not sure.

It was specifically formulated so as to not suffer the wrath of the procurator fatuorum.

When Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre broke with Rome and consecrated Williamson as a bishop, legend has him lamenting "what have I done?" shortly thereafter. Bishop Fellay is finally getting ready to throw Williamson overboard so as to lighten the journey across the Tiber. Keep paddling men, we're planning a warm welcome!

The affirmations of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any sense the position of our Fraternity. For this reason I have prohibited him, pending any new orders, from taking any public positions on political or historical questions.

We ask the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act. Because we recognize how ill-advised these declarations were, we can only look with sadness at the way in which they have directly struck our Fraternity, discrediting its mission.


http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/damian_thompson/blog/2009/01/27/sspx_silences_holocaustdenying_bishop_and_apologises_to_pope

Keep paddling men, we're planning a warm welcome!

If only certain faithful congregations within the Anglicana Ecclesia would do likewise; there would be such bittersweet recompense!

Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is an obstacle, but in the end no match for B16. England's existential crisis is all too clear. The choice is Rome or Islam. They'll choose life.

Further development on the matter:

Pope expresses 'full solidarity' with Jews http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28893452/

Excerpts:

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI, faced with an uproar over a bishop who denies the Holocaust, said Wednesday he feels "full and indisputable solidarity" with Jews and warned against any denial of the full horror of the Nazi genocide.

With his comments, the pope was reaching out to Jews angered by his recent decision to rehabilitate bishop Richard Williamson, who says no Jews were gassed during the Holocaust.

"As I renew my full and indisputable solidarity with our brothers," Benedict said, "I wish that the memory of the Shoah will prompt humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the hearts of men." Shoah is a Hebrew word for the Holocaust.

"May the Shoah be a warning to everyone against oblivion, denials or reductionism," the pope told thousands of pilgrims at a weekly audience at the Vatican.

The Holy See said that removing the excommunication by no means implied the Vatican shared Williamson's views.

The German-born Benedict recalled his visits to the Auschwitz concentration camp — including as pope in May 2006 — and the "brutal massacre of millions of Jews, innocent victims of blind racial and religious hatred."


Yet, I must say that I find it entirely ironic that a member of a supposedly traditional society would actually subscribe to such a horrendously false and distorted view. Perhaps they should've respectfully and, most especially, humbly taken noticed of Pius XII, who Rabbi Dalin himself had said of the man in a previous 2005 article:

[There] is ample evidence that the Pope personally sheltered nearly 5,000 Jews in the Vatican and nearby monasteries and convents during the Nazi occupation of Rome.

Rabbi Dalin notes that Pope Pius was following a tradition laid out by generations of popes before him, dating back to Pope Gregory I (590-604) who issued the decree, Sicut Judaeis, which states that Jews "should have no infringement of their rights…We forbid to vilify the Jews."

The Holy Father has also been cited as referring to Hitler as "the greatest enemy of Christ and of the Church in modern times."

He added that, “The personal testimonies and judgment of Pius’s Jewish contemporaries — including numerous Italian Jewish Holocaust survivors and Jewish military chaplains serving with the Allied forces during the Nazi occupation of Rome — that also bear witness to Pius XII’s historic role in rescuing and sheltering Jews, should also help restore his historic reputation as a friend of the Jewish people who should receive long-overdue recognition as a “righteous gentile."

The powers and principalities of this world loath peacemakers. War is their preferred means of diplomacy. Kill, imprison and humiliate the Other, that is what passes for statecraft among our nihilistic elites.

Pius XII risked a great deal when he joined a conspiracy against Hitler in 1942. The British government remained cautious to a fault, and history proceeded down its horrible path. Do not expect much mention of this episode from the ideologues who author the official narratives for a credulous public.

Benedict knows the currents and conditions under which he steers his Church. Israel's chief rabbinate suspended ties with the Vatican today over Williamson - a man who is not even returned to ministry yet. Israel launches a mindless, bloody assault on Gaza under the rubric of collective punishment and the apparent strategy of opting for apartheid and perpetual war against the Palestinians. Still, he plans to proceed with his visit even though much of the world will be revolted by his doing so. Truly the Vicar of Christ, drinks from a cup few could countenance.

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