Rehabilitated bishop is silenced by sect

Boston Globe/January 28, 2009

Vatican City - An ultraconservative society recently rehabilitated by Pope Benedict XVI silenced one of its bishops yesterday and distanced itself from his claim that no Jews were gassed during World War II.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, also asked for forgiveness from the pope for the "dramatic consequences" of Bishop Richard Williamson's comments.

The Vatican press office issued Fellay's statement as part of its own efforts to quell an outcry among Jews that Benedict had removed Williamson's 20-year-old excommunication, despite his views on the Holocaust.

Fellay said he has forbidden Williamson from speaking publicly about any historical or political questions and that his views "don't reflect in any way the position of the society." Fellay himself referred to the "genocide of Jews" by Nazis.

"We ask forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff and all the men of good will for the dramatic consequences of this act," Fellay said.

Benedict rehabilitated Williamson, Fellay and two other members of the society last week as part of his efforts to bring the traditionalist society, which opposes many of the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, back into the Vatican's fold.

Jewish groups denounced Benedict for embracing Williamson, who denied during an interview broadcast last week on Swedish state TV that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. He said only about 200,000 or 300,000 were killed.

Yesterday, Vatican Radio aired a lengthy program to mark Holocaust remembrance day, recalling Benedict's 2006 visit to Auschwitz, his 2005 visit to the main synagogue in Cologne, Germany, and other remarks in which he has denounced the "insane, racist ideology" that produced the Holocaust.

On Monday, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, ran a front-page article saying Williamson's views were "unacceptable" and violated church teaching. It reaffirmed that Benedict deplored all forms of anti-Semitism and that all Roman Catholics must do the same.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.