AJC Welcomes Vatican Statement on Holocaust Denier Bishop

New York – February 4, 2009 – AJC has applauded today’s statement from the Vatican demanding that Bishop Richard Williamson “absolutely, unequivocally and publicly distance himself” from his advocacy of Holocaust denial.

Williamson, a conservative Bishop whose excommunication by the late Pope John Paul II was recently revoked by Pope Benedict XVI, has consistently denied the existence of the Nazi gas chambers. The Vatican’s statement demanding he recant these view follows a chorus of angry protest from both Jewish groups and non-Jewish groups.

"This is what we were asking for - an unequivocal repudiation of Williamson's odious opinions and all such forms of anti-Semitism," said Rabbi David Rosen, AJC's International Director of Interreligious Affairs. “This welcome statement, as well as the clear reiteration that the Society of Saint Pius X, to which Williamson belongs, will only be allowed back into the Church once it respects the historic reforms of the Second Vatican Council, demonstrates the Vatican’s continuing commitment to good relations with the Jewish community. Had all this been expressed at the outset, we could have avoided the unnecessary damage and distress.”

Rosen paid special tribute to the many religious and civic leaders who contributed to this satisfactory resolution, in particular German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Chancellor Merkel urged the Vatican to go further in its clear rejection of  Holocaust denial and deniers. “We deeply appreciate Chancellor Merkel’s principled stance,” Rosen said. “Holocaust denial must never be tolerated or legitimized.”
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