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Holocaust Denial, Again

This past Saturday, the New York Times ran the article Pope Reinstates Four Excommunicated Bishops, in which they reported that Pope Benedict XVI has revoked the excommunications of four bishops described as being on the far right.

While in general this news item wouldn't concern me one way or another, it does, for the following reason (quoted from the article):


Among the men reinstated Saturday was Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe that six million Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers. He has also given interviews saying that the United States government staged the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan.


The problem of Holocaust denial is one that has so plagued me that I wrote a whole story about it ("Kaddish for the Last Survivor"). The simple historical fact of the Holocaust is as incontrovertible as American slavery and the many other injustices that have taken place in human history. And yet, it seems that there will always be people among us who wish to deny the truth, and whose motives I would suspect are not rooted in a desire to paint the human race as angels.

Bishop Williamson's erroneous (and to my mind, malicious) belief that there is no historical evidence for the Holocaust may have been repudiated by the Vatican spokesman. But in this case, sad to say, actions speak louder than words.

Comments

I am reminded of something I read a few years ago in Skeptical Inquirer. The writer had come across one of the deniers who didn't so much say that the Holocaust didn't happen, but that far less people were killed. Probably only half the official number, he said. The writer was 'amused' and pointed out that, in that case, if only 3,000,000 people died, what's the big deal? Yes, the writer was quite sarcastic.
Unfortunately, the man's opinions do not appear to have changed much, at least not according to this interview, which was conducted in November. The whole interview makes me angry, but the one point that really sends me over the edge is his insistence that he "is just going by the evidence, merely looking at the facts", thus justifying his hateful speech. To cap it off, I had learned enough by the age of 20 to disprove all of his so-called evidence that the Holocaust never happened.

On the somewhat amusing side, he sounds quite a bit like Anthony Hopkins, which makes the interview appear to be given by Hannibal Lecter.
Equally to the point, the movement he was excommunicated for accepting ordination from explicitly refused to accept the rules of Vatican 2. Among other things Vatican 2 covered was revoking the communal guilt for deicide from the Jewish people and no longer allowing the prayer 'for the conversion of the perfidious Jews' to be read on Easter.

While the movement is not being legitimized, by accepting people who took ordination from the movement certainly weakens the repudiation of their theology.
Eeh. It's kind of like dropping the speeding ticket on a kidnapper, or something. No one is saying he's not a freak, a liar, and terribly deluded on reality. But, he has apparently recanted the bit which got him excommunicated. Excommunication is a very technical thing, for specific types of disobedience.

Why bother? Because there are thousands of people caught in a kind of schism, led by these nutbars. (Though, I don't know that the other SSPX bishops are quite as bad.) Removing the excommunications is the first step in attempting to reunify.

Honestly, they're so prideful and disobedient, I expect them to be excommunicated again in a few years. :-/

I try not to think about the SSPX too much. They irritate me more than just about anyone, no exaggeration.
I agree. There's some unfortunate misunderstandings at work, here. The original NYT article failed to explain the reasons for the original excommunication, making it seem as if the whole thing is about holocaust denial, when it actually was about a schism. The fact that the guy is a holocaust denier just sort of illustrates a kind of obvious weakness of character that would lead someone to think that having mass in Latin makes you more holy than folks who like to hear it in their own language. As far as I can tell, the Catholic Church is not going to be putting this guy in any kind of position of authority.
I don't know if you'll find this helpful, but there's some information on wikipedia about Joseph Ratzinger's early life and involvement with the nazi party.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Benedict_XVI

To summarize, he was unwillingly enrolled in Hitler youth at age 14, as required of all German boys, but refused to attend meetings. Later, he was also unwillingly drafted into the German army, but deserted.
Ratzinger's Nazi past has been exaggerated. He was a member of the Hitler Youth, but it wasn't his choice to enroll, and he repudiated his involvement rather early on.
I would like to read your story. Where can I find it (in print or otherwise)?
"Kaddish for the Last Survivor" is available as an ebook from Fictionwise for less than a buck at http://www.fictionwise.com/servlet/mw?t=book.htm&bookid=563&id=6623. Or you can buy the eBook of I Remember the Future from Fictionwise for less than $5, and it includes a whole bunch of more stories. Or you can buy the book as a hardcover or trade paperback, which costs more, but signed copies of those can be found at Pandemonium.

Whatever you decide, thanks for the interest.
Well, there are an awful lot of revisionists down here in the South saying that "slavery wasn't such a bad thing" and "would have ended on it's own". If we weren't only 40-50 years away from the demonstrations of the 60's, you'd be seeing this all over the place I'm sure.

Any fact people don't like, that doesn't fit into their vision of reality, they try to change. Even if it doesn't make sense. Because very little of what people believe or do has anything to do with making sense.

Interesting. Although there might be historical evidence that slavery would have ended on its own (although that in no way excuses it). In Harry Turtledove's novel The Guns of the South, the south wins the Civil War and becomes an independent country from the north. But afterwards, the south struggles with slavery and finally brings it to an end.
As I understand it, the idea of Holocaust Revisionists is not that the Nazis were saints, but that they were merely ordinary tyrants, like many in history. The idea is that they were unpleasant antisemites, who rounded up all the Jews they could find, locked them up in camps where food was scarce and disease was rampant, and worked them to the bone, supervised by sadistic guards who had a pretty free hand; as a result hundreds of thousands died. But there was no plan to wipe out the Jews altogether; if there had been such a plan, surely they would have killed millions!

As for Williamson, I really do not understand the fuss being made over the lifting of his excommunication. I think the Jewish organisations who are protesting this are doing themselves and all Jews a disservice. Had Williamson been excommunicated for being an antisemitic prick, or for having delusional views of history, then it would be outrageous for that excommunication to be lifted without him recanting his views. But he wasn't; he was excommunicated for having accepted ordination as a bishop from Lefebvre, and now that the pope is trying to make peace this is an appropriate gesture. Peace is supposed to be a good thing, isn't it? Why should his views on the Holocaust be relevant? If Ivan Demjanjuk were to be convicted of dealing drugs, and were, after a while, to come up for parole, would his wartime crimes be relevant?
I know I've mentioned this in my own journal before, but I can at least say that no one will ever convince me it didn't happen: my uncle, Rodney Riley, was an infantryman in World War II Germany who helped liberate Dachau, and also had a camera with him at the time to document at least a small part of what he saw.
As a Catholic and a thinking being, I am appalled at many of Williamson's beliefs. I assure you that most of us (at least those I know!) do not subscribe to his ideas.
Oh, I absolutely know that. One cannot and should not judge a whole group based on the beliefs of one member.

Israeli Chief Rabbinate formally cuts ties with Vatican over Williamson reinstatement

Re: Israeli Chief Rabbinate formally cuts ties with Vatican over Williamson reinstatement

Fascinating...
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