Magazine article The Christian Century

Jewish Groups Dismayed over Papal Decision on 'Holocaust Denier'

Magazine article The Christian Century

Jewish Groups Dismayed over Papal Decision on 'Holocaust Denier'

Article excerpt

American and British Jewish groups say they are shocked by a decision of Pope Benedict XVI to overturn the excommunication of a British bishop who has said the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust has been exaggerated.

The move is "a serious blow for Jewish-Vatican relations and a slap in the face of the late Pope John Paul II, who made such remarkable efforts to eradicate and combat anti-Semitism," said Rabbi David Rosen, the international director of interreligious affairs for the New York-based American Jewish Committee.

After the international outcry, Benedict asserted at his daily audience at the Vatican on January 28 that "no one can deny" the Holocaust.

Stating his "full and unquestionable solidarity with our Jewish brothers," the pope said he hoped the memory of the Holocaust "will induce humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of hate when it conquers the heart of man."

The decision by the Vatican involves lifting an excommunication ban on the Society of Saint Pius X, a traditionalist group founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a French cleric who died in 1991.

Lefebvre and his followers opposed various reforms of the Second Vatican Council--including ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, believing them heretical--and favored maintaining the use of Latin as at pre-Vatican II masses.

One of the group's four bishops whose excommunication was overturned in the papal decision announced January 21 is Bishop Richard Williamson. …

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