WELT ONLINE: Your Eminence, the Pope has revoked the excommunication of the four bishops of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X - just a few days before Holocaust Memorial Day. Does that show he has special feelings?
Cardinal Lehmann: Happy is was not. Admittedly, much has been distorted in the media. This led some to the impression that Benedict XVI had lifted the excommunication, although he knew about the interview statement by Bishop Williamson, in which he denied the Holocaust. In fact the Pope did not know the utterances. However, if now the President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," the Colombian Cardinal Hoyos says, he did not know then I say: He did have the opportunity to present an accurate picture of Williamson, because he has already expressed his views on other more problematic issues expressed. You would actually need to have this knowledge.
WELT ONLINE: Do the four bishops represent positions that are contrary to the commandment of love and the “spirit of the Council”?
Cardinal Lehmann: The four bishops who Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated himself, I personally do not know at all. For me, however, it was always clear that the traditionalist movement of Archbishop Lefebvre was not primarily about liturgical issues.
WELT ONLINE: What were they about then?
Cardinal Lehmann: They were at the core content and dogmatic issues. Above all, they were adamantly opposed to "Dignitatis humanae," the declaration of the Second Vatican Council on religious freedom, which they could never accept. When about 20 years ago today the Pope in his capacity as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith twice travelled to Paris and almost himself negotiated an agreement with Lefebvre - which Lefebvre at the last moment then had however signed - I was very sceptical. I felt the wording that it was more of a pastoral council, and not so much about dogmatic questions was much too soft. The Lefebvre people have never reconciled with the Council's message, that in questions of faith pressure can never be applied and the church renounces secular power.
WELT ONLINE: Did the Pope with the re-authorization of the old liturgy make a mistake and laid out on the floor the restorative forces of the Church?
Cardinal Lehmann: no. For the unbiased observer the decision of the Pope for greater liberalization of the Latin Mass and the question of "The Good Friday Prayers" now is put into a strange light. This has to do with the comments made by Williamson. Many now believe that everything lies down one path. This is not the case - but that could be perceived as such and that's a bad thing. I must say I'm sorry for the Pope, who, really had the best intentions . But obviously the Vatican's political relationships and linkages were paid too little attention to.
WELT ONLINE: Again: Do the Lefebrve supporters represent questionable political positions?
Cardinal Lehmann: Certainly, I am sure. Which is why I absolutely do not see this primarily as a theologically motivated movement. They are partly in the tradition of the "Action française", the radical nationalist movement, which was formed in France around 1900, after the Dreyfus affair. This movement understood itself as militantly Catholic, was monarchist and anti-Semitic - which is why t Pius X. 1914 had already declared it as incompatible with the Catholic religion. The milieu of the Lefebvre supporters have not even today come to terms with the French Revolution. But God be praised the group is very small. And if they concentrate so much on the Latin liturgy, this is only to disguise their true intentions. The antitheses are too simple: collegiality of bishops is not in fact a loss of authority of the Pope, ecumenical effort does not to betray the truth.
WELT ONLINE: Is the anti-Semitism in the church still backing?
Cardinal Lehmann: Let's put it this way: Whenever I have spoken in the last 20 years about the relationship between Germans and foreigners, or about our relationship to the Jews, the reactions were regularly much more numerous than any other theme. And above all: they were to a large extent very impertinent. There is still a large reservoir of distaste, even hatred. We still have a sizeable deposit of anti-Semitism and xenophobia, admittedly often uncritical, but so dangerous.
WELT ONLINE: Should the Pope with a gesture to make it clear how he stands to Judaism?
The Pope has rejected the remarks of Bishop Williamson. The church must continue along the path it has travelled for forty years. The Pope has spoken at the World Youth Day in Cologne in the synagogue as clearly and unambiguously as possible on the relationship of the Church to the Jews - there is nothing to be added. It would devalue his own statements if he is now tempted into quick gestures. You read the words of the Pope in Auschwitz. Such words do not need adding to in an inflationary manner.