On the official blog of the Archdiocese of Toronto, H.E. Most Rev. Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto offers observations about the lifting the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops and the subsequent ruckus in the press, especially concerning the Jews and whether Pope Benedict embraced an anti-Semite.
You can read the whole article at the link above. Here is an important excerpt with my emphases and comments.
One important step in an effort to lead excommunicated bishops and especially their followers to end the division and return to the Church is to lift the excommunication that was imposed because of the unlawful ordination, and that has just recently happened as the Pope has made one more attempt to open the pathway for hundreds of thousands of followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to come back to the Church. The four bishops he ordained when he broke away were automatically excommunicated because they split the Church; now that excommunication of the four bishops has been lifted in an effort to heal the wound of that division. This is the most recent of several actions in years of patient work by Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict and others to try to bring home hundreds of thousands of Catholics. [He did not use the word "schism".]
Apart from the fact that Pope Benedict is not known to be a fan of Swedish television interviews, in which one of the four bishops has revealed that he holds bizarre and evil opinions, it should be noted that the lifting of the excommunication is simply an important but limited step to help bring about the reversal of a move made years ago to destroy the unity the Church.
Williamson has clearly revealed himself to be a holocaust denier, but the Pope has not "embraced a Holocaust denier". Lifting the excommunications of the four bishops ordained by Lefebvre in an effort to repair the damage he caused is not in any way an award, nor a sign of approval, nor a blessing, nor an endorsement of the opinions or behaviour of any of the four Lefebvre bishops. [Exactly.] In any case, they are still suspended from priestly ministry, and it is now up to them and their numerous followers to respond to Pope Benedict’s action by taking the initiative to complete the restoration of unity. A hopeful sign is that the leader of the four bishops and their break-away church has now strongly condemned Williamson. ["condemned"... too strong?]
Pope Benedict’s total opposition to anti-semitism and Holocaust denial has been made clear over the years. As recently as last week he stated: "I hope that the memory of the Holocaust may induce humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man. May the Holocaust be for all an admonition against forgetting, against denial or reductionism, [You will find this word pop up once in a while. It is a rendering of an Italian word, which describes reducing the scale of the Holocaust, diminishing the numbers, etc.] because violence against a single human being is violence against all." The Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, last week ran an article denouncing those who deny the Holocaust. You can find the text here. To suggest that the Pope in any way approves of those who deny the Holocaust is utterly unjust.
Bishop Sheen once said that there are not ten people in the country who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate the image of the Catholic Church that they have created out of misunderstanding. [Excellent quote.] Before people jump to conclusions and launch into impassioned condemnations of the actions of the Pope, simple decency and fairness dictate that they understand what they think they are disagreeing with, and not construct great castles of indignation upon the sandy foundations of mistaken information.
Archbishop Thomas Collins
January 30, 2009