Clear words of Robert Zollitsch: The chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference is "unhappy" about Pope Benedict XVI. He understood the Jewish protest against the rehabilitation of the controversial Bishop Williamson, he said - and demanded an apology from him.
Munich - The German Bishops' Conference seeks again to relax the relationship between Catholics and Jews in Germany. Following the escalation because of the readmission of Richard Williamson into the Catholic Church, the chairman Robert Zollitsch announced he would work for a de-escalation.
Archbishop Zollitsch: "We must do everything possible to ensure that such statements will not be repeated"
The Archbishop of Freiburg showed concern because of the tensions: "I will try soon to meet for talks with representatives of the Central Council of Jews in Germany," he said before a long planned visit to the synagogue in Mannheim. He will, with all his best efforts, ensure the continuance of regular meeting opportunities with Judaism in Germany. There could and should be no turning back in the dialogue between the two religions.
Williamson has denied, inter alia, the existence of gas chambers in the Nazi era denied. Zollitsch said that it was "unfortunate" that the Pope had not taken these comments into consideration when making his decision. There is no doubt that during the Nazi regime crimes had been committed against the Jewish people. "There are people who have been deliberately killed - simply because they were Jews." Zollitsch showed understanding for the sharp criticism from Jewish organizations of the rehabilitation of the papal Bishop Williamson: "I can understand that our Jewish brethren are concerned."
The Chairman of the Bishops' Conference demanded an apology from Williamson, whose excommunication Pope Benedict XVI had lifted at the weekend: "Bishop Williamson must take back the statements made by him and apologize." His statements were "factually inaccurate and irresponsible": "We must do everything possible to ensure that such statements will not be repeated." There is no place in the Catholic Church for anti-Semitism and the denial of the Holocaust. The Church is in unceasing dialogue with Judaism. Zollitsch gave the assurance that "We will also do everything in our power to work on the dialogue in Germany."