To those sending me obtuse e-mail filled with indignation that the POPE would rehabilitate a HOLOCAUST DENIER!, I offer these comments.
To those journalists and columnists out there who are grinding their gears over this issue, please pay attention.
Please read what I and others have written about SSPX Bishop Williamson and try to get the facts clear in your head.
The Pope does not approve of hatred of the Jews or denial of the Holocaust simply because he lifted a man’s excommunication, incurred for entirely different reasons, reasons entirely internal to the good ordering of the Church herself.
The Pope’s merciful act is not a sign of approval of anything.
When his excommunication was lifted Bp. Williamson did not automatically become thereby a fully functioning and approved bishop of the Catholic Church.
He was validly consecrated in 1988, but he is forbidden, as are the other three bishops, to function as a bishop or as a priest in and for the Church. Forbidden. Still. That hasn’t changed.
Let’s try to keep this simple.
They can now go into a church and go to confession.
When the excommunication was lifted, those four men were from that moment permitted to confess their sins and receive absolution, receive Communion if they are in the state of grace, and receive Last Rites if they are about to die.
Get it now?
Don’t let their clothing and titles confuse you.
Lifting the excommunication was a single step in a process of reconciling a wound in the Church’s unity. It isn’t more than that. It isn’t a political statement or a judgment on debates or settled matters of history.
It was an act of kindness for a matter internal to the Church’s unity.