Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Vatican Does the Right thing

To follow up yesterday's post, it is good to learn that the Vatican has now demanded one of the Bishops recant for denying the holocaust.

This deplorable bishop will not be re-admitted unless he does.

I am glad to hear this!

Had the Vatican simply admitted this bishop, the catholic church's reputation would have been seriously harmed and Jewish people would have been slandered.

Glad to know that the Vatican has chosen the right path.

Watch the Video here for more details:


  1. Matt,

    I am very troubled by this, for some reasons journalistically and others ecclesiastically.

    Journalistically: The media portrays him as a holocaust denier. But is he? He denies certain aspects of the history most of us accept, this much is true. But is that a denial of the holocaust? No. It would be like accusing someone of denying the Civil War took place because they don't believe it was primarily motivated by slavery.

    Truth be told, this is piss-poor journalism. Were they to be truthful, they would say that he holds an unconventional view of the Holocaust in so far as he denies the historical credibility of certain methods of execution during the holocaust as well as believing that the number of Jews murdered in the holocaust are much less (still at 300,000+) than what is conventionally accepted by historians.

    Ecclesiastically: The Church excommunicated them on the grounds the he was part of the SPPX having ordained bishops without permission from Rome. These are the grounds. Nothing more. If they believe, as they do, that this is no longer worthy of excommunication, then justice demands they lift it.

    What worries me is that the Church is now using something not included within the grounds for excommunication, and something that in itself is by no means a ground for excommunication, as reason to maintain the status of excommunication. This is pure politics, and something the Church should avoid.

    The holocaust, along with its details, is not a dogma. One has the right to dispute various claims concerning the holocaust without fear of perishing in hell. It is not a mortal or even venial sin, whether it is committed by a bishop, priest, or lay person. It is a historical event with details that have been generally accepted as entirely trustworthy. But it is not, to the best of my knowledge, a sin, mortal or venial, to question the historical details of events that are not dogmatic.

    Do I agree with the bishop? No. Am I a holocaust scholar? No. But I know that there are credible people on both sides of the debate. Regardless, this is a matter that should have absolutely no bearing on the lifting of the excommunication, as it is not part of the reason for his being excommunicated and that it should be reserved for debate amongst historians rather than a new criterion for Catholic orthodoxy.

    NOTE: They could (should?) lift the excommunication, following that with restricting him on what he is able to publicly speak and write about. While I don't personally think this to be ideal, I would rather have a silenced bishop reinstated into the Kingdom of God than a vocal priest being under the verdict of excommunication, barring him from the Kingdom. The lesser or two evils in my estimation...

  2. I think you put that extremely well.

    True, he does not deny the entire Holocaust. He denies certain aspects of it. I'm not sure why, as we have numerous first hand accounts of the very things he denies as well as video and physical evidence!

    Is that grouds for excommunication? Well I'm not expert in Catholic law, but it sounds like it is not, at least as this doctrine has been explained to me.

    The bishop in question is known as an anti-semite. I've not looked into the matter to a degree to verify all such claims on this matter.

    I think the view of the Vatican now is that this denial of much of the horror of the holocaust is imcompatible with Catholic teachings on justice, that is with moral teachings.

    Perhaps that is not a tenanble position in Catholic theology?

    I'm a United Methodist and not an expert in Catholic doctrine. But from an outsider's perspective, I would also not admit him for such comments, at least as those comments have been explained.

    I will say this though, you make a extremely good point about journalism. I also am guilty of saying he "denies" the holocaust, which he does not. He denies aspects of it. Horrible of course! But we should still get our details right.

    And I appreciate your explanation of catholic doctrine. It's very thankful!

    As always, thanks for you thoughtful comment!

  3. The only difficulty with not lifting an excommunication is that, at least for Catholics, an excommunication would have him as being outside of the Church, destined for hell upon death. While many Protestants treat it as a matter of being kicked out of a particular denomination, the Catholic Church does not see it as such. Hence, my problem with making his position on the holocaust an issue that would have him burn in hell for all eternity.

    Not a mortal sin. Not a venial sin. Just a disagreement over an historical event, albeit one of the worst the world has witnessed. All things in context. All things done right.

  4. That is a serious concern. If to be excommunicated is to be sentenced to hell, the I can see why the matter would be of grave concern.

    I think that if, as the case has been reported, he really is motivated in his holocaust denials by anti-semtism, that is very VERY serious!

    I think that is worth looking into. But I definitely see the point, that his statements alone don't warrant excluding him from the church.


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