January 24, 2009 – New York – AJC has expressed shock and regret over the Vatican’s decision to welcome a Holocaust denier into the Church as a bishop. “It is a serious blow for Jewish-Vatican relations and a slap in the face of the late Pope John Paul II who made such remarkable efforts to eradicate and combat anti-Semitism,” said Rabbi David Rosen, AJC’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs.
The Holy See lifted today the excommunication ban on the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), founded by Archbishop Lefebrve, who rebelled against the changes of the Second Vatican Council. Among the four bishops of this movement welcomed back into the Church is Bishop Richard Williamson who has denied there were any gas chambers in which Jews were murdered by the Nazis.
“While the Vatican's reconciliation with the SSPX is an internal Catholic Church matter, embracing an open Holocaust denier is shameful,” said Rabbi Rosen. “By welcoming an open Holocaust denier into the Catholic Church without any recantation on his part, the Vatican has made a mockery of John Paul II's moving and impressive repudiation and condemnation of anti-Semitism."
Recalling that “Pope John Paul II called anti-Semitism a sin against God and man,” Rabbi Rosen emphasized that “denial of the overwhelmingly detailed documentation of the Shoah is anti-Semitism at its most blatant.”
Rabbi Rosen urged “the Holy See to call Bishop Williamson to task and to apologize for his deplorable comments regarding the Holocaust.”