(AP) - The Vatican demanded Wednesday that a bishop who denied the Holocaust recant his positions before being fully admitted into the Roman Catholic Church.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Such action was very predictable. Anyone who watches the Vatican could have told you, long before the media hysteria broke out, that a statement like this was inevitable. There is no way the Vatican would leave it open. What the mainstream media fails to account for, perhaps intentionally, is the snail pace nature of the Vatican. Nothing happens quick there. We're talking about an institution that is nearly 2,000 years old, and measures regular events with a calendar as opposed to a wristwatch. You just can't expect anything to happen fast at the Vatican. As far as the Holy See in concerned, the lifting of the SSPX excommunications, and this most previous Vatican ultimatum to Bishop Williamson, are back to back events. Even though the rest of the world sees them separated by nearly two full weeks.
The Vatican also said in a statement that Pope Benedict XVI didn't know about Bishop Richard Williamson's views when he agreed to lift his excommunication and that of three other ultraconservative bishops Jan. 21...
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Now for the hysterical maniacs in the media, and the Left-wing nut cases calling for the pope's resignation, 'The Catholic Knight' will attempt to explain what's really going on. Here are the facts and probabilities...
- The 1988 excommunications of the four SSPX bishops had nothing to do with anything other than the fact that Archbishop Lefebvre never gained Vatican approval to consecrate them as bishops. This doesn't make their consecrations invalid, but it does make them illicit, because proper permission from the pope was never obtained.
- The subsequent excommunications may not have been issued validly, namely because they did not follow the Code of Canon Law, and the punishment did not fit the "crime." Archbishop Lefebvre believed he had canonical justification for the episcopal consecrations due to a provision in canon law that states such consecrations can be made without papal permission in extraordinary circumstances. Lefebvre, and the four bishops consecrated, believed such circumstances existed at the time. The Code of Canon Law explicitly states that excommunication cannot be used as a punishment when something like this happens. Other punishments can be used, but not excommunication.
- Because of the questionable nature of the 1988 excommunications, and in the interest of putting an end to the presumed "schism" between the Vatican and the SSPX, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI decided to lift those excommunications as an "act of mercy" and because of repeated requests by Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior General of the SSPX. In addition to that, the faithful of the SSPX also made their intentions known by offering 1.7 million rosaries the previous year for the lifting of the excommunications.
- The lifting of these excommunications is an act that the Vatican and SSPX have been working on for years, as part of an overall process toward reconciliation. The nature of these excommunications was technical, not moral or theological, and they have nothing to do with the subsequent controversial views developed by Bishop Richard Williamson.
- Four SSPX bishops were excommunicated (perhaps unlawfully) in 1988 along with Archbishop Lefebvre. Of those four bishops, one subsequently lost his faculties. That would be the controversial English Bishop Richard Williamson. He began embracing conspiracy theories of all sorts, ranging on a variety of topics. One of the conspiracy theories he adopted was a supposed post World War II plot to falsify information about the Holocaust, in which the number of Jewish deaths was artificially inflated from 300 thousand to 6 million. Bishop Williamson was very vocal about his private views on conspiracy theories, and frequently taught them from the pulpit. Besides such behavior being very unbecoming of a Catholic priest, let alone a bishop, it also served to create a swirl of controversy surrounding him.
- Upon word that the Holy Father intended to lift the questionable excommunications, a Swedish Television station decided to interview Bishop Williamson and ask him questions about his controversial theories while on German soil, knowing full well that his answers would cause a worldwide scandal for the pope once the excommunications were lifted, and result in an investigation by German authorities for a possible "hate crime." (Germany does not have free speech protection for issues related to the Holocaust.) The interview was filmed on November 1st of 2008, but hidden from the public until the exact date (January 21, 2009) when it could do the most damage to the pope, and generate the highest ratings for the television station. The program was eventually aired just hours after the excommunications were officially lifted, and just days before the official announcement was made by the pope. This gave a good three to four days for the media to go crazy. Headlines around the world created the impression that the pope exonerated an unrepentant holocaust denier and welcomed him into the Church. The implication being that the pope approves of the bishop's controversial views, and is himself a secret anti-Semite.
- In actuality, the removal of the excommunications merely eliminates an obstacle in relations between the Vatican and the SSPX. It does not change the status of the bishops who's excommunications had been removed. These bishops have no authority or jurisdiction within the Church, because they are still technically suspended from all clerical duties. Effectively, that means they are still bishops in name only.
- The next step is to remove the suspensions of these bishops, but in order for that to happen, certain criteria must be met. Otherwise, these four bishops will remain suspended perpetually as bishops in name only. One of those criteria is acceptance of Vatican II's teaching on the Church's relationship with the Jewish people.
- Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, has indicated that the SSPX already accepts Vatican II in principle, and the minor points it has issues with have nothing to do with the Church's relationship with the Jewish people. It would appear that the ONLY bishop who has an issue with that is the controversial Bishop Richard Williamson.
- The Vatican has publicly rebuked Bishop Williamson for his controversial views.
- The SSPX has silenced Bishop Williamson from speaking any further on any issue related to history or politics.
- The SSPX is working on disciplinary action for Bishop Williamson.
- The Vatican has demanded Bishop Williamson recant his views, and may consider disciplinary action of it's own.
- Bishop Williamson has apologized to the SSPX, and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, for his statements that have caused so much trouble, but he has not yet repudiated them.
- In all probability, the reconciliation process between the Vatican and the SSPX will move forward with, or without, Bishop Williamson. The Vatican could very easily remove the suspensions of the remaining three SSPX bishops, granting them canonical jurisdiction, while leaving Bishop Williamson in a suspended state - a bishop in name only. The other three SSPX bishops can be given authority over the SSPX priests formerly under Bishop Williamson's pastoral care. This would rehabilitate the SSPX entirely, minus Bishop Williamson for the time being.
- Sadly, some have chosen to use these events as an opportunity to attack the good people of the SSPX, traditional Catholicism in general, and/or the Holy Father. Some have even gone so far as to call for the pope's resignation over this. Such capitalization is shameful, and only demonstrates the depths to which some will stoop for their own political agenda. Among the shameless are Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, along with various politicians in Europe, liberal Catholic theologians, a few rogue liberal bishops, various left-wing activists and many Cafeteria Catholics in the United States Congress. In addition, various media outlets have chosen to jump on board the hysteria band wagon, prompting the knee jerk reaction of the ADL and various Jewish civil rights advocacy groups.