Lombardi rejects criticism
The debate over the Lefebvre supporters and the British traditionalist bishop and Holocaust-denier, Richard Williamson, continues. Since criticism has been getting louder on the silence of the Pope in this matter especially from the German-speaking world, Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman made a further statement on Tuesday evening. The Pope had several times condemned statements that deny the Holocaust, Lombardi said clearly in German and Italian. The Vatican spokesman recalled the words of the Pope in the Cologne Synagogue in 2005, the Auschwitz concentration camp in 2006 and most recently at the General Audience on 28 January this year. The significant words of the Pope also applied to Bishop Richard Williamson, Lombardi explained, quoting:
"While I wish wholeheartedly again to express my full and unquestionable solidarity with our brothers, the participators in the first covenant, that the Shoah brings humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil, if it lodges in the heart of the people take. The Shoah was a warning to all against forgetting, against any denial or reduction ... "
"The condemnation of statements that deny the Holocaust, could not be clearer, and from the context it can be concluded that this also extends to the positions of Bishop Williamson and all those who take similar positions."
The lifting of the excommunication of SSPX, to which the controversial Bishop Williamson belongs, have nothing to do with the legitimisation of statements that deny the Holocaust, said Lombardi continuing. Benedict condemns any denial of the Holocaust in the strongest terms.
Thus Lombardi also responded to criticism from German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the attitude of the Pope in the discussion about dealing with the Holocaust. The Chancellor on Tuesday at a press conference in Berlin had called on Benedict XVI to express a clear position. Merkel said:
"It is generally not up to me, to pass judgement on church decisions or to comment on them. However, it is different when it comes to policy issues. And I think it's a question of principle, if a decision by the Vatican gives the impression that the denial of the Holocaust could be tolerated and that is also about fundamental issues of the relationship with Judaism goes. Therefore, this is not without consequences if one stands still on the matter. That is, in my opinion not only a matter for Christian communities, the Catholic parishes in Germany and the Jewish communities, but it is a question that from the Pope and Vatican must very clearly that there can be no denial and that obviously there has to be a positive relationship with Judaism. These clarifications have in my view not been done properly. "
Encouragingly, however, Merkel said further, there are many voices from the Catholic Church calling on the Vatican to clearly distance themselves from the positions of the Holocaust denier Williamson. Merkel received the support of the former Bundestag President Rita Süssmuth (CDU). To the Berlin radio Info, Süssmuth said that there was a massive contradiction between the basic attitude of the Pope and his action in the Williamson case. Merkel is therefore morally obliged to take part in the debate. - With her criticism of the Pope, the Chancellor however only found favour. Dissenting votes came from the ranks of the Catholic bishops, and also from the Christian Democratic Union.