Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Vatican City, symbol and what we appear to condone...

Hello readers, there is so much contention over so many issues, however, this does look like another step backwards for church history and other relationships?

I want to try to start a dialogue here...

Jan. 28


Vatican is unflinching on Holocaust-denier

The church says Bishop Richard Williamson's ideas have nothing to do with the pope's decision to return him to the fold.

The Vatican stood firm Tuesday on a decision to rehabilitate a Holocaust-denying bishop, even as Jewish leaders warned that the move will set back decades of Roman Catholic overtures to mend strained relations between the two faiths.

The Vatican joined Jews and fellow Catholics in condemning the British bishop's assertions that no Jews died in Nazi gas chambers. But the Vatican also said Richard Williamson's ideas had nothing to do with the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to return him and three other traditionalist bishops to the fold.

The controversy over lifting the excommunication of Williamson came as people worldwide Tuesday observed an annual commemoration of the Holocaust.

The Vatican's embrace of Williamson has incensed Jewish groups in the United States and Europe, who noted that Catholic-Jewish relations have warmed since the 1960s, when the Second Vatican Council issued a groundbreaking condemnation of anti-Semitism.

"This is an astounding departure," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "It violates all of the goodwill of Vatican II, where the church said that . . . the long history of hatred toward Jews, silence toward Jews during the Holocaust is a thing of the past."

In an interview broadcast on Swedish television days before the pope lifted his excommunication Saturday, Williamson said: "I believe that the historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler. I believe there were no gas chambers."

He added: "I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them by a gas chamber."

Williamson's comments drew condemnation from Catholic bishops in Italy and Germany and from his own order, the Society of St. Pius X.

The leader of the society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, said in a statement that Williamson's views did not reflect the society's position. Fellay forbade Williamson to speak publicly and asked the pope's forgiveness for "the dramatic consequences" of the bishop's remarks.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Williamson's "unacceptable" ideas had "nothing to do with the thinking of the pope or the ideas expressed in the many documents of the church that condemn the Holocaust."

He said there has been no talk of revoking the decision because it represents a first step toward eventual reconciliation with an entire religious community, not a single clergyman. "This regards an issue of the internal life of the Catholic Church," Lombardi said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Lombardi said the Vatican expected some negative response but has been surprised by the reaction. "We are sorry, and we hope that the Jewish world understands that this decision has nothing to do with Williamson's ideas," he said.

Williamson and three other bishops were excommunicated by Pope John Paul II 20 years ago after they were consecrated by an ultraconservative archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, without papal consent. The Vatican viewed the step as a schismatic act.

Lefebvre, who opposed liberal reforms introduced by Vatican II, founded the Society of St. Pius X.

From the start of his pontificate in 2005, Benedict made it known that he wanted to reunite the society with the church, angering Jews in the process in 2007 when he relaxed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass, which on Good Friday calls for the conversion of Jews.

Benedict made his announcement about the lifting of excommunication after Williamson's interview aired. It was not clear whether he knew of the interview, but those familiar with the decision say he consulted only a few advisors.

Among those not in the loop, according to one source, was Cardinal Walter Kasper, who oversees the Vatican department that handles Jewish relations.

"The Vatican was not prepared for the firestorm that resulted," said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. "If the White House did this kind of thing, everybody would say they were tripping over each other and weren't organized."

The fallout among Jewish leaders continues.

"Given the centuries-old history of anti-Semitism in the church, this is a most troubling setback," Abraham H. Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director and a Holocaust survivor, said in a statement.

Amid the outcry, the Vatican has moved swiftly to defend the pope's decision and his record of condemning the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

On Tuesday, Vatican Radio devoted a program to the Holocaust, highlighting the pope's efforts to reach out to Jews, including his 2006 visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

Catholic leaders in the United States also denounced Williamson even as they endorsed the pope's actions.

"We support the Holy Father's decision to lift the censure," said the Rev. James Massa, who oversees ecumenical and interreligious affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Any division in the body of Christ that can be overcome is to be received with gratitude. This particular decision is made in the shadow of the unacceptable comments of Bishop Williamson."

(source: Los Angeles Times)

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Israel's highest Jewish body severs Vatican ties

Israel's chief rabbinate severed ties with the Vatican on Wednesday to protest a papal decision to reinstate a bishop who publicly denied 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Israel's highest Jewish body sent a letter to the Holy See expressing "sorrow and pain" at the papal decision. "It will be very difficult for the chief rabbinate of Israel to continue its dialogue with the Vatican as before," the letter said. Chief rabbis of both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews were parties to the letter.

The rabbinate, which faxed a copy of the letter to The Associated Press, also canceled a meeting with the Vatican set for March. The rabbinate and the state of Israel have separate ties with the Vatican, and Wednesday's move does not affect state relations.

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

The remarks were his first public comments on the issue since the controversy erupted Saturday.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican hoped that in light of the pope's words, "the difficulties expressed by the Israeli Rabbinate can be subjected to further and deeper reflection."

Lombardi expressed hope that dialogue between the two parties can continue "fruitfully and serenely..."

According to this article: About 6 million Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. Many were gassed in death camps while others were killed en masse in other ways, including shooting and
starvation. About 240,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel.

Jewish groups, including the American Jewish Committee, the Simon
Wiesenthal Center and Israel's quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, denounced
the Vatican for bringing a Holocaust denier back into the fold.

(source: Catholic Culture)


Council of Jews snubs German Holocaust ceremony

Germany's Central Council of Jews boycotted a ceremony in the Berlin parliament on Tuesday which commemorated victims of the Holocaust, saying their leaders had been treated without the proper respect in previous years.

The Council said its representatives would not attend a speech by President Horst Koehler for the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp as they had not been greeted personally and had been treated merely as "onlookers."

"At some point, it is enough," Stephan Kramer, General Secretary of the Council, told Reuters.

He also complained that in previous years the Council's leaders, including Holocaust survivors, had been given seats among other visitors in the gallery rather than in the main plenary hall.

"This symbol speaks for itself and is unsurpassable in terms of its lack of respect," Kramer told Die Welt newspaper.

..."Whoever incites hatred against Jews and other minorities has learnt nothing from history," he added....

(source: Reuters)

Blogger's NOTE: Of course there are MANY volatile current dynamics to be I am glad to find that these articles point not only to the actual acceptance of this Bishop's leadership and also to the items which "incite hatred against Jews and other minorities"...Important reminders for us in our history in the making with all the semitic peoples and all the religious and secular as well as people of color and the poor. As far as symbols go, MANY are quite concerned by the choice of Rahm Emmanuel as such a symbol of connection between the US government and the rest of the world.

Although Rahm E. can't be held accountable in general for what his father represented and says - still, in which way might background and history be also somewhat of a symbol to many and send a troublesome alert to many countries Obama has said he wants to befriend? (Although we have seen and will probably see some positive surprises among the appointees.) Also, the above is a good reminder that ACTIONS that our countries and groups do to may encourage dialogue and goodwill OR ask for trouble. Maybe this kind of trouble is even more worrisome and disengaging than the choices the Vatican makes? This would of course include the use of US bombs, cluster, white phosphorus and otherwise - in Gaza...and the killing of any babies and innocents by ANY group: Hamas? Israel? US? wherever, whenever...these things in themselves bring hatred upon groups of people...I would add that NO war is Holy...And we who are for rights and peace may not excuse any group, leader, nation or another person for adding fuel to the flames of hate and prejudice...

Thanx for listening...please add your own comment below...

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