Pope Benedict XVI has rehabilitated four bishops who were excommunicated in 1988 for being ordained without Vatican permission. The bishops lead the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X, which rejects modernizations to Catholicism and is often characterized as anti-Semitic. Among the four Bishops is Richard Williamson, who has publicly denied the Holocaust.
The decision has outraged Jewish organizations and could strain Jewish-Catholic relations. The Vatican has stated that the initial excommunication and its overturn are “absolutely unrelated” to issues of Holocast denial or anti-Semitism.
Terrence Tilley, the theology chair of Fordham University and president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, discusses the Catholic church’s motives and implications of the decision.
Below, read blogger responses to Pope Benedict’s decision.
“Gawker” blogger Ryan Tate criticizes Pope Benedict, though a mixed-response discussion follows his post — including a comment from “Dorothea Bercq,” who argues that the Pope was merely reversing the priest’s excommunication on unrelated grounds.
Blogger “Deborah Lipstadt” writes that although the Pope has been sensitive to anti-Semitic issues in the past, the decision “makes the Vatican look utterly stupid.”
The “Get Religion” blog has questions about the Pope’s motives, but argues that media coverage has jumped to conclusions about the church’s intentions.
The “Hermeneutic of Continuity” blog supports the Pope’s decision, though opposing Bishop Williamson’s “reprehensible” views — arguing that, while risky, the rehabilitations will promote church unity.
Blogger “Wayne Besen” argues that the Pope’s decision moves the church further away from modernity and reality.
A blogger at “Pam’s House Blend” argues that the rehabilitations reflect both spiritual and political bigotry.