Who says that two wrongs can’t make a right? Pope Benedict XVI has had a change of heart about undoing British Bishop and holocaust denier Richard Williamson’s excommunication. To resume his position, Williamson will not have to recant his anti-Semitic rantings, one of which included the phrase “there was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers”.
“Bishop Williamson, in order to be admitted to episcopal functions within the church, will have to take his distance, in an absolutely unequivocal and public fashion, from his position on the Shoah, which the Holy Father was not aware of when the excommunication was lifted,” the statement said. Shoah is the Hebrew word for the Holocaust.
The Vatican is now going with the “Benedict didn’t know what Williamson is” defense. That’s a double-edged sword, of course, the duller half being that neither the pope nor his aides knew anything about the subject of Benedict’s merciful decree.
Sloppy work on the Vatican’s part, obviously, barely plausible, and perhaps just enough so that the issue may die down.
Williamson was shown on Swedish state television just days before the lifting of his excommunication was announced on Jan. 24, acknowledging his view that “there was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers” during World War II.
He said historical evidence “is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.”
Williamson subsequently apologized to the pope for having stirred controversy, but he did not repudiate his comments, in which he also said only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis and none were gassed.
“Germany has paid out billions and billions of deutschmarks and now euros because the Germans have a guilt complex about their having gassed 6 million Jews. Well, I don’t think 6 million Jews were gassed,” he said.
In a sense, Williamson is probably right in that some of Germany’s Jewish victims where shot and others starved to death. But somehow that just technicality doesn’t quite cut it.