Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Pope and the Bishop

The story is here for those who have not heard.

Here is my take on this situation: The issue of the the original excommunication and subsequent rehabilitation is a question of Catholic dogma. Being a Holocaust denier does not qualify or disqualify the bishop from being a Catholic. So, it would be irresponsible for Jews to oppose the rehabilitation of the bishop on these grounds.

However, I think that the Pope could have done much more than just issue a statement about the Holocaust. For one thing, he could have demoted the bishop. Being a bishop in the Catholic Church is a pretty big deal. By removing the man from a position of leadership and spiritual authority, the Pope could have transformed his words into concrete actions. Choosing not to do so is indeed troubling...


Blogger Theophrastus said...

I'm hardly an expert in Catholic Canon Law, but as I understand it, once one is a consecrated as a Bishop, one can only be excommunicated, one cannot be demoted. And of course, their consecration was valid but illicit.

E.g., the recent "married archbishop" (Emmanuel Milingo) had to be excommunicated -- he could not simply be fired or demoted.

January 28, 2009 9:04 AM  
Blogger Theophrastus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 28, 2009 9:09 AM  
Blogger Theophrastus said...

I realize that it seems wildly illogical, but maybe this is how gentiles feel when they try to understand some particularly mystifying aspect of halacha.

The real problem is that Williamson is not just a Holocaust denier (Holocaust denial is easily disproved by even a casual glance at the evidence), but he has helped to actively shield French war collaborators who murdered Jews, he denounces Jews every chance he gets, he believes the Protocol of the Elders of Zion is a true document, etc. In other words, he stirs up anti-Semitic feelings in his followers. And that should be unacceptable to the Catholic Church.

January 28, 2009 9:12 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

TheoP - you're correct about not being able demote bishops. I did not realize that.

There still has to be some way to publicly denounce him, which the Pope has not done.

January 28, 2009 10:29 AM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

The internal rift over the Pius X society is a Catholic matter and Jews should not be dealing with that if they're not going to allow Catholics input on dealing internal organizational matters (like re-establishing the Sanhedrin which seems to be going nowhere).

The de-ex-communication thing is perfectly legit as would rehabilitating Neutrei Karta if the Chief Rabbis want to do that. Not a matter for the outside.

What IS a matter for the outside and MORE IMPORTANTLY for the honor of the Catholics is that this bishop whose espoused beliefs are radically at odds with church doctrine of let's say right now. He rightfully per church doctrine must be called to recant or be excommunicated for that.

Right punishment for the right reason, and over and done with.

I seriously doubt he will. The current pope is a real letdown given it was the church under the last one that so strongly influenced my desire to leave and convert to Judaism. Not for the sake of hating Catholicism, but because bereft of the anti-Jewish angle as so much modern American Catholicism was, Jesus the Jew was a very likeable figure and made Jews seem supremely wonderful.

It was my opening to reading of the Second Temple period thinkers and realizing that the hustle and bustle of the time was a unique window into possibilities, granted by G-d. For a moment, as happens some time when He wills it, people achieved a state of being where they were thinking about Him differently than they often do.

I've seen those glimpses again in chasidic stories and philosophy, and in the writings of, gasp, Conservative and Reform rabbis.

And the Catholic Church's relaxed ways for a while I guess were G-d's granted glimpses that helped me. It would be sad to see that closed but maybe G-d decrees these things to be fleeting. Maybe men are just idiots.

The Catholic Church needs to put the man to trial and demand he recant. To do otherwise will be the biggest failure they've made since WWII.

January 28, 2009 12:29 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

I'm not really familiar with the entire story, but it does say in the article cited that the doctrine that these bishops denied was that of "religious freedom and pluralism". I don't know if this is intra-Christianity or more ecumenical, but I think that completely dividing between the technical dogma struggle and the bishop's other beliefs may not be justified. I'm not saying that this should have prevented the rehabilitation, but it seems possible that he was excommunicated for just this sort of thing and the rehabilitation is precisely on this subject. In that case, I can see how we would be disturbed- not because he is rehabilitating a bishop who happens to be Anti-Semitic, but because he is rehabilitating him despite his continuing Anti-Semitism.

January 29, 2009 12:33 AM  

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