Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Pope's poor judgment: Say it ain't so Joe!

I've not addressed this yet, but it seems to me I ought to make some comment. Let's make the problem really clear: The Pope has lifted an excommunication on at least two holocaust deniers.

Now I do not think that Benedict is himself a denier of the holocaust. And I doubt that he is an anti-semite. But he has clearly exercised both poor judgment and a callous disregard for the sensibilities and dignity of Jewish people.

The Holocaust - this does not even need saying - is one of the worst horrors in history. Few events were as evil, as great a violation of human dignity and rights. The Holocaust of the Armenians in Turkey is the only event like it in the last few centuries.

And there are still people alive who went through this horror!

To top this all off, the pope is German and was a Hitler youth!!! Let me clarify, I don't think Benedict was or is a Nazi or has any sympathy for such evil. But think of the image: a German pope receiving holocaust deniers back into his fold!!!!!!!!!

The German press, leadership, and even Chancellor Merkel have expressed profound outrage:


Come on Benedict!! Start thinking about how what you do will affect other people! Show some discernment and clear thinking!!!!


  1. Correct me if I am wrong, but only one had controversial things to say about the holocaust and it wasn't that he denied that it happened, but places the number at around 300,000 or so.

    I do in no way deny the holocaust, but I am at a loss to see on what grounds the Church may excommunicate (separate someone from the communion of saints and everlasting bliss) because of their personal opinion on the holocaust. Point me in the right direction here, because I am a total loss for such grounds...

  2. There was another fellow in the same ultra-right group who dened aspects of the Holocaust, saying he thought the gas chambers were only for "cleansing."

    Yes, you are correct they did not deny the holocaust alltogether. But what they did was not enough!

    I have not doubt that Benedict does not share their views. I'm sure he is much more aware of the historical truth than that.

    But it looks really bad, he is implicity - or at least that is how it appears t many - saying their views are acceptable views for a Catholic to hold.

    now I grant that there is probably nothing in traditional catholic rules that would say that ought to or could be excommunited on these grounds.

    But they already were exoommunicated. My question is, why did the pope reinstate them?

    And I do think he should have considered there uniformed and hostile views about the Holocaust.

    But then again, maybe I am leaving out something I ought to consider? Maybe I'm not considering all the facts?

  3. Denying the holocaust is sheer stupidity, but isn't grounds for excommunication.

  4. I suppose not. But again, these guys were excommunicated. And presumably the argument was that such views are absolutely incompatible with Catholic teachings that demand an honest search for truth and a passionate pursuit of social justice.

    Don't get me wrong, I've never been especially critical of Pope Benedict. As a non-catholic I don't concern myself with his theology, and in fact, I found his first encyclical "Deus es caritas" rather insightful.

    But this is a rather big issue! Taking such Bishops into the fold sends a terrible message.

    Granted, the pope does not share their views. I'm sure he despises and condemns such views, but I think they are more serious than simply "points of view."

  5. Hey guys,

    the Associated Press had a very interesting look at the whole issue a while back:


    it is worth looking at. Gives the explanation on why their atrocious views do not merit excommunication.

    Maybe not. On the other hand, if the Pope finds that he had to lift the excommunication, should he not have consulted his advisors first? Should he not have done the following: (a) publicly explained why he must lift the excommunication, (b) passionately condemn their views on the holocaust, (c) explain exactly why these views cannot warrant excommunication, and (d) dramatically emphasize his disgust, horror, and moral opposition to the holocaust and centuries of antisemitism.

    That in any case is my complaint: lift their excommunication if you must, if the church doctrine requires it, but make VERY CLEAR the horror and unacceptability of their views.

  6. You are correct to recognize that denying aspects of the holocaust is not worthy of excommunication.

    You are a tad off in categorizing them as "ultra-right." I know members of the SPPX. There are people who currently go to the Latin Mass at my church who were once part of the Society. The SPPX holds to traditional ideas, granted. But to refer to them as "ultra-right" is too great of a generalization.

    Should the pope have publicly explained it? Maybe. But the excommunication only concerned the initial formation and subsequent ordinations of the Society. Still, he could have clarified his decision, distinguished himself from the position of the holocaust they adhere to, and then clarify to the world that while it is unconventional to hold these views, they are not worthy of excommunication and had (have) no bearing on the matter.

    FInally, even if he distanced himself from their views, it wouldn't be perceived by the Jews, modernists, secularists, and the media as enough. They wouldn't treat this like they do with politicians who say that they oppose abortion but wish to keep it safe and legal. Rather, they would see such a gesture as a sham.

    For the record, the Church has gone overboard in assuring the world that it is not anti-Semitic. Vatican II goes above and beyond to make this clear. The visitation to synagogues, meeting with religious leaders, and reprimanding (right or wrong) groups and publications that differ from the conventional understanding of the holocaust are examples of this. Robert Sungenis, if I remember correctly, was told to change the name of his organization's name from Catholic Apologetics International to Bellarmine Theological Forum on account of his position concerning the Jews and the holocaust.

    The problem, though, is with how the Church defines and has historically understood the difference, and there is one, between Zionism, Jewish Naturalism, Talmudism, and the people as a nation or race. This, in my opinion, has not been formally resolved.

  7. I agree that the church has done much to prove it is not antisemitic. Quite successfully for the most part. John Paul II in particular did a great deal to establish that.

    perhaps "ultra-right" is a sloppy term on my part. I suppose "conservative traditionalists" or something like that might be more apt.


Comments from many different points of view are welcome. But I will not publish any comments that are hateful, insulting, or filled with profanity. I welcome and encourage dialogue and disagreement but will not publish any hate speech.