Elie Wiesel attacks Pope over “Holocaust bishop”

If this gets wearisome, stop reading.

Elie Wiesel attacks pope over Holocaust bishop [What a dreadful title]

Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:33am EST

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict has given credence to "the most vulgar aspect of anti-Semitism" by rehabilitating a Holocaust-denying bishop, said Elie Wiesel, the death camp survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Wiesel also said there was no way the Vatican could have not known about the bishop’s past and it may have been done "intentionally.[Of course the lifting of the excomm was "intentional".  But the issue of the excommunication didn’t have anything at all to do with denying the Holocaust.  Now… I can understand that a survivor of a deathcamp would be upset at a man who denies the extent of the massacre of Jews in WWII… but does it even sound rational to keep a man in the state of excommunication incurred for one thing because you don’t like his ideas about something entirely unrated?]

"What does the pope think we feel when he did that?  [The issue of feelings aside, and I don’t deny that feelings are important, I think the Pope must have assumed that people would be able to reason through the move.  He did the same with the famous Regensburg Address.  He assumed that smart people would overcome their initial reaction to see what the point was.] That a man who is a bishop and Holocaust denier — and today of course the most vulgar aspect of anti-Semitism is Holocaust denial — and for the pope to go that far and do what he did, knowing what he knows, is disturbing," Wiesel said by telephone from New York.

"The result of this move is very simple: to give credence to a man who is a Holocaust denier, [I deny the premise: I don’t think that lifting the censure gives credence to any of Williamson’s ideas about anything not having to do with the Church.  I don’t think Pope Benedict’s move increased Williamson’s worldwide prestige in the field of Jewish Studies or among historians or even people with a basic reading level.] which means that the sensitivity to us as Jews is not what it should be," he said late Tuesday. [Yah?  And their sensitivity to us as Catholics isn’t either.  And, by the by when will the relentless and baseless attacks on Pius XII stop?]

Speaking at his general audience Wednesday, the pope reaffirmed his "full and unquestionable solidarity with Jews," condemned the "pitiless killing of millions of Jews" and said the Holocaust should remain a warning against "denial."

British-born Richard Williamson, one of four traditionalist bishops whose excommunications were lifted Saturday, has made several statements denying the full extent of the Holocaust of European Jews, as accepted by mainstream historians.

Williamson told Swedish television in an interview broadcast a week ago: "I believe there were no gas chambers" and only up to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, instead of 6 million.

His interview, taped in November, caused an uproar among Jewish leaders and progressive Catholics, many of whom said it had cast a dark shadow over 50 years of Christian-Jewish dialogue.

"It’s a pity because Jewish-Catholic relations, thanks to John XXIII and John Paul II, had never been as good, never in history," Wiesel said, referring to the popes who revolutionized relations with Jews after 2,000 years of mistrust.


Asked if he believed it was possible that the Vatican did not know that Williamson was a Holocaust denier, Wiesel, who won the Nobel in 1986 and survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald, said:

"Oh no! The Church knows what it does, especially on that level for the pope to readmit this man, they know what they are doing. They know what they are doing and they did it intentionally. What the intention was, I don’t know."  [He doesn’t know, but he is suggesting that it was a bad intention.]

Since the furor over the pope’s decision to lift the excommunication, the Vatican has condemned Williamson’s comments as "grave, upsetting (and) unacceptable," restating the Church’s — and Benedict’s — teachings against anti-Semitism.

Wiesel said he could not offer the Vatican any advice on how to put things right with Jews but something had to be done.

"The Vatican created the situation. [hmmmm] It’s up to them to resolve it. As it is, it is a very sad situation. So unexpected because we had high hopes for the relations between Jews and Catholics because they had been so good under those two popes … and now it’s the opposite," said the 80-year-old.  [So, what… now they have the opposite of what… of high hopes?  Do they now deep despair?]

Wiesel recounted his experiences in death camps in the book "Night." Asked what the controversy meant to him personally as a survivor, he said: "Puzzlement, shock, and immense sadness."

Tuesday, Williamson’s superior in the traditionalist movement publicly apologized to the pope and said William had been disciplined and ordered to remain silent on political or historical issues.

But Wiesel agreed with other Jewish leaders who have said the episode would have long-lasting ramifications in the fight against anti-Semitism.

"One thing is clear. This move by the pope surely will not help us fight anti-Semitism. Quite the opposite," he said.  [I cannot see how it is going to stir up anti-semitism either.  Were there anti-Jewish riots after Summorum Pontificum or when Pope Benedict changed the Good Friday prayer? I really don’t think Hamas is taking cues from Apostolic Palace either.]

(Editing by Richard Balmforth)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. sekman says:

    Wow! I am currently reading Night by Elie Wiesel. So far I have found this book very very good, this ignorant attack by Mr. Wiesel definitely lessens what I think of him. [Whatever sort of attack it was, it wasn’t “ignorant”, nor is Mr. Weisel.]

  2. Basil says:

    This controversy has now reached BBC News here in the UK and was the last on the 10.00 news this evening.

    It does seem highly unfortunate that Pope Benedict didn’t take better advice from Cardinal Kasper and others who could have told him of the risks involved with associating with Williamson.

  3. David says:

    Really what this amounts to is hateful people being hateful. They show far less tolerance than +Williamson.

    I remember shortly after Summorum Pontificum being reduced to tears at one point due to all the negative things being said about the immortal Mass and the Holy Father. The attacks came from so many corners, from priests, theologians, laity, and especially the media.

    So now, it’s still hurtful, but at least I was expecting it. Those who are losing grip on the Church will lash out like cornered tigers, but in the end, like in the case of Summorum Pontificum, we will find that they are toothless and clawles, in addition to being clueless.

  4. Ann says:

    It seems like this gentleman thinks that being a smart man who lived through a horrible blot on history gives him the obligation and right to try and control what our religious leaders do in the disciplining of their own flock. I don’t see the Pope, also a very brilliant man but one lucky enough to have avoided most of the pain of the Holocaust does not try to tell Rabbis how to run their synagogues.

    It is like the entire world has gone insane, with people convinced that parents need to be treated as criminals and relegated to servants to their children, and property owners so regulated that they cannot even care for their property in the middle of nowhere without permits, and business owners so regulated that they must pass up the best employee in order to meet a race based criteria–only to be fined if one race runs the other race off with threats–and a Jewish scientist obviously thinks he should be Pope and determine who is and is not excommunicated.

    It feels like the whole world is going insane. Like something out of a science fiction book I read as a child and nothing like the world I thought I knew.

    Where has common sense gone?

  5. Josephus muris saliensis says:

    All very sad, all very modern.

    If good Catholic/Jewish relationships are based upon emotion and feel-good, then there is no point in them. NOTHING has changed intellectually in these recent events, so this “hurt” and “outrage” is no more than hot-air.

    What are Christian-Jewish relations? Surely, if anything, mutual respect based on truth? What good are relations based upon denial of differences?

    Every true Catholic prays, in real charity, that Jews may one day receive the grace of the revelation of Christ’s Truth. No more, no less. Would it not be kinder the let them realise that this is what we wish for them, than to pretend the status quo is fine by us?

    Let’s get this clear, real Catholic/Jewish relationships have NOTHING to do with Bishop Williamson, his views, now his status within the Church.

  6. Bruce says:

    I am dissapointed with Elie Wiesel’s statements, however I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt in that I think his statements are based on ignorance(I have been there) rather than hate. So lets take a deep breath and “think then post”

  7. Just to ad some context, Mr. Weisel has been at this anti-Catholic thing for quite a while.  Here is a story from 2003 by Asia News.

    Embarrassing statements made about Pope by Weisel

    Rome (AsiaNews) ? Fr. David Maria Jaeger, an Israeli Franciscan from the Holy Land, is embittered by statements made about the pope by Elie Wiesel in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera (Nov. 17 2003). He defined them as “embarrassing” and advised Weisel to “seek forgiveness”.

    In his written comment to sent to AsiaNews, the Franciscan priest and spokesman for the Custody of the Holy Land commission said: “The statements against the pope ?attributed to Elie Weisel in today’s Corriere della Sera ?are embarrassing. May he repent and seek forgiveness. Moreover, may she be aware that any anti-Catholic invective must not be any less unacceptable than those aimed at Jews. We, as Catholics and Jews, must join together in combating against prejudice and misinformation, and not one another.”

    In his interview appearing in Corriere della Sera, the chief spokesman for Diaspora Jews, Elie Wiesel, criticized the pope’s words on the barrier dividing Israelis and Palestinians. “I expected something quite different from the spiritual leader of the one of the world’s greatest and most important religions.  Or (at least) a declaration condemning terror and the murdering of innocent people, without mixing in political considerations,” she [sic] said.

    During Sunday’s Angelus, the pope exhorted the making of peace efforts in the Holy Land, recalling that the “construction of a wall between Israelis and Palestinians is seen by many as an obstacle on the road toward living together in peace. Indeed, the Holy Land does not need walls, but bridges!  Without reconciliation of souls, there can be no peace.”

    The pope, after having condemned terrorist attempts in Iraq and Turkey, added: “In such a context, I renew my firm condemnation of any recent terrorist action whatsoever in the Holy Land.”

    Some days ago (Nov. 10) when meeting with a representative of PLO members, the pontiff affirmed: “All forms of terrorism must be condemned. It is not only a betrayal of our common humanity, but absolutely incapable of serving as any political, moral or spiritual basis for the freedom and self-determination of a populace.” (CB)

  8. Baron Korf says:

    It’s sad when people cheapen their legitimate victim-hood by using it as a license to say what they want. I think you bring up a very good point Father: If we are to avoid holocaust deniers for fear of upsetting some, should they not match that by avoiding those who condemn venerable Pius XII?

  9. joy says:

    Nothing is ever easy.
    It seems to me to be like the instructions given when flying: When the oxygen bags drop, secure your own first and then assist those around you. I think the Holy Father is securing his own flock first, in order for it to be effective in reaching out to others. Now that the excommunications have been remitted, +Williamson et al have more incentive to be attentive to HH BXVI than before. It seems to have already been taken care of by +Fellay, anyway.
    Nice of the rabbinate to fax a copy to the press to stir the pot…
    Nothing is ever easy.

  10. LeonG says:

    What a wonderful excuse to accuse the enemy of his enmity.
    Frankly speaking, the evidence of the Holocaust is undeniable. When isolated comments cast doubts on this why all this hubbub? What exactly do we have fear of? It verges on collective paranoia. Why is there not an equal howl of protestation over those who openly advocate & practice selective abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering of the human species and other sinister postmodern tendencies? These too smack of Nazism and the abuse of medical science for which these fascist extremists were noted.

    It certainly was not the best time to put one’s foot in it but we can certainly see clearly the hidden agendas that emerge when an isolated comment such as this is amplified beyond all proportion. And, of course, when the social democrats of Europe are offended by the freedom of speech they used to propagate as a human right, they “deny” that right to others to express those opinions.

    In all my associations with SSPX and its confraternity stretching back to its foundation, this is the first time I have heard anyone raise any doubts about The Holocaust. There maybe members who do but in that they are definitely not alone. I have heard a variety of people cast doubt over the statistics. Is this really a crime? Conspiracy theories abound about many events in history. Is this crime too? Furthermore, concentration camps accounted for millions of Catholics, their priests (27,000 in Dachau alone) Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals and other groups destined for eventual eradication from society. What about howls of protestation about the hijacking of this appalling historical event by one group alone. The entire affair reeks of bias and injustice.

    There can be little doubt that millions of Jews were systematically exterminated in the Second World War. The criminals responsible have been punished. The Jews were not alone in their suffering as 52,000,000 people or more lost their lives in the war. The Chinese and Russians lost more than any other group. The event was not solely about one ethnic group being under threat. In the long term, many other groups were also destined for liquidation or enslavement to an Aryan elite.

    Bishop Fellay has made conciliatory public statements and has silenced the bishop concerned but this will never be enough for those whose agenda is radically anti-Catholic. Nothing will stop those who wish to vilify The Church and even more so those who would like to stigmatise traditional Catholicism with anti-semitism.

    Methinks they do protest too much.

  11. Victor says:

    A conspiracy here?

  12. Dan says:

    Yep…I definitely believe now that Bishop Williamson, actually the entire Church, was, in a sense, setup by the interviewer…the interview was designed for sinister purposes.

    I don’t mean that Bishop Williamson is an innocent victim…he should have kept his mouth closed.

    What I mean is that certain Jewish groups, particularly the ADL, have a history of “intelligence gathering” and a history of attacking the Catholic Church.

    Had not the interview in question taken place, Jewish groups would have referred to the bishop’s years’-old “gas chamber” remarks to attack the Holy Father and the Church.

    What was simply done was to have Bishop Williamson repeat his claims in a more recent forum (I believe the interview occured in November 2008).

    The interview was prepared…and waiting in the wings was the attack against the Pope and Church.

    Let’s not kid ourselves. Bishop Williamson was not setup in the sense that he was tricked to say something that he hadn’t said before…but he was setup in the sense that a decision was made to prepare the attack against the Holy Father and the Church.

  13. r7blue1pink says:

    These comments no longer bother me. I learned firsthand and saw with my own eyes the way my Father was treated, as a “Catholic” Dachau survivor, by the Jews who constantly claim: Let us never forget….

    With all due respect and with charity.. Ive come to the conclusion that No one BUT the Jews matter when it comes to the Holocaust.. They in fact, DID forget…

  14. Dan says:

    Father Z was fooled. Bishop Fellay was fooled. I was fooled. Everybody who couldn’t wait to smash and attack and spew their wrath at Bishop Williamson was fooled.

    We were fooled because we slammed Bishop Williamson as we had believed that he was responsible for the vicious anti-Catholic, anti-Pope Benedict attacks that have come in recent days from certain Jews and their groups.

    Certain Jews were simply waiting in the wings, ready to trash the Pope’s act of mercy toward the SSPX…they just used Bishop Williamson as their excuse to attack the Church.

    We had forgotten that Jews attacked Pope Benedict without mercy over Summorum Pontificum. Jews attacked Pope John Paul II many times.

    Here is proof of my last statement. Here is an article about Elie Wiesel’s many attacks against Pope John Paul II:


    Here is an ADL press release that claimed Pope John Paul II’s Canonization of St. Edith Stein was “a step toward Christianizing the Holocaust and diminishing Christian self-examination about this dark time in history.”


    And here (from the ADL): http://www.adl.org/opinion/edith_stein.asp

    In that last press release, the ADL claimed that “Unfortunately, in a series of steps in recent years, certain Church figures have acted in ways to appropriate the symbols of Jewish suffering to minimize the significance of Catholic anti-Semitism and, by focusing on its own victimization, to deflect examination of the Church’s roll in creating an environment that made possible the Holocaust.”

    I realize that nobody here will agree with me. But there’s a sense in which I, Fr. Z, Bishop Fellay and scores of other people owe Bishop Williamson an apology. [No… I don’t think so.]

    The current attack by Jews against Pope Benedict and the Church is far from being Bishop Williamson’s doing.

  15. Matthew G. Hysell says:

    I think what the press fails to realize is that eccleisal communion is not about expressing agreement or disagreement. It’s about communion, not about being chummy with fellow believers.

    Williamson has been censured by his own superiors, and that is the appropriate venue, not excommunication. Those outside the Church fail to understand that we don’t use excommunication to retaliate but to encourage conversion.

    Why not look at it this way: (1) If Williamson remained an schismatic, then the Holy See would have little authority over him, including to censure him; so, in order to censure him, the Holy See would have to (2) reinstate communion. Its either not censure him by maintaining the schism or in fact censuring him by lifting the excommunication. Seems like simple logic to me.

    Most Holy Father +Benedict XVI, my prayers and support are with you.

  16. Somerset '76 says:

    Dan’s got an excellent point, building on the original post. The last 40-50 years have seen a brazen effort on the part of certain interests identifying themselves as Jewish to browbeat the Church into self-emasculation over everything in the Church’s doctrine and the history of Christendom telling Jews that, yes, the Messias did come and their ancestral leaders chose to have Him crucified.

    It would be a splendid unintended consequence on the part of both Bishop Williamson and the secular news media if the end result of this latest attempt to intimidate His Holiness results in the latter becoming even more firm in his resolve not to kowtow to the unreasonable demands of those who continue to prove, as they have for two millennia, St. Paul’s words to the Romans that “as concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake” [XI.28] — and will remain such until the appointed time St. Paul speaks of in the same place.

  17. Clinton says:

    Bp. Williamson’s was one interview that should have never have been given. Mr. Wiesel’s is another. I don’t see how
    either is helpful — then again, perhaps that is the point?

  18. Son of Trypho says:

    Fr Z

    A few of my own thoughts-

    I can assume that many Jews are concerned about the SSPX and recent events precisely because the SSPX does have a demonstrable problem with anti-Jewish prejudice. You have one of their leadership figures (Williamson) getting up and advocating Holocaust revisionism/denial and peddling anti-Jewish sentiments. He has apparently been doing this for some time.

    If his excommunication was not being lifted then it would not be a news item – most people would have ignored him as some schismatic sect leader with extremist views with no credibility and virtually no influence – I mean how many people outside of the traddie circles would even have known who he was?

    The fact that the Pope is dealing with him in some capacity not unreasonably suggests to some Jews that he is not completely irrelevant, especially if you consider that they most likely don’t understand that lifting the excommunication is not the same as full recommunion – a distinction missed and/or disputed by some life-long Catholics on this blog.

    As to Wiesel, he is entitled to his own views. I respectfully disagree with most of what has been reported as his views in the article and I think that is where my (and others) comments should end.

  19. Brian says:

    I was once with group of young teens. It was not a religious gathering, but somehow the question came up, “What would you say to Jesus if he walked into this room?” A young teen of Jewish descent responded “F— You.” I was startled. Where did he learn such hatred?

  20. Dan says:

    But there’s a sense in which I, Fr. Z, Bishop Fellay and scores of other people owe Bishop Williamson an apology. [No… I don’t think so.]

    Father, we disagree. You are a good and holy man, In this matter, I don’t believe that you are willing to demonstrate humility. You, I…everybody…was fooled initially by the anti-Church, anti-Papal attacks that various Jews (and the news media) delivered.

    You, I and everybody initially heaped the vicious Jewish attacks upon Bishop Williamson’s shoulders. Yes, it was proper to have denounced his gas chamber-related remarks.

    But from there, we — you, I everybody — ran scared and looked to blame Bishop Williamson as the lone source of the current Jewish rage.

    Only now have you (I and everybody) realized that Bishop Williamson is merely the scapegoat, the justification for the Jewish (and news media) attack against the Church, Pope, SSPX…Catholicism in general.

    You, I…everybody…we have realized our mistake…realized that we were fooled and have now lauched our attacks against the Jewish rage.

    You have circled the wagons (we all have). You have noted that past Jewish rage against the Church existed long before Bishop Williamson’s recent “gas chamber” interview.

    The Pope, for example, was trashed for having issued Summorum Pontificum…attacks that didn’t have anything to do with Bishop Williamson’s remarks.

    Yes, I know that I was fooled. You were fooled. We all we fooled.

    In a defensive moment to appease Jewish and news media-related attacks, we all rushed to heap the entire lot of blame upon Bishop Williamson.

    I know that in all honesty and humility, I, in a sense, owe Bishop Williamson an apology. As do you. As do many people.

    Okay, we disagree on that issue.

    But I continue to pray God grant humility to each of us (particularly yours truly) to apologize for any unwarranted attacks — he certainly deserved some degree of chastisement — that we have delivered against Bishop Williamson.

    Ultimately, I believe that a great deal of good will come from this incident. I believe that we all, including Holy Mother Church and Bishop Williamson will reap great benefits from this situation.

    At the very least we will soon discover who among Jews are truly friends of the Pope and the Church.

    Thank you, Father, for having allowed me to visit, so to speak, your virtual home.

  21. Frank says:

    Has Elie Wiesel ever criticized Hamas or Hizbollah or Fatah or any of the many groups who are actually dedicated to the killing of Jews? Have any of the Jewish organizations that have been so quick to attack the Holy Father over the lifting of the excommunications or the changing of the Good Friday prayer or the issuing of “Summorum Pontificum” ever done so? The greatest threat to the existence of the Jewish people today does not come from the Catholic Church. Indeed, one could make a case that the greatest threat comes from the tendency of Jewish organizations to attack those that wish them well — or at least intend them no harm — while letting off the hook those who demonize the Jewish people and want to “push them into the sea.”

  22. Gary says:

    Elie Wiesel is the classic example of the man to whom Christ said (and I paraphrase), “You hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye before you help your friend get rid of the splinter in his eye.” Wiesel is hypersensitive about the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust, but sees no evil in Israel’s decades-long repression of the Palestinians.

  23. Son of Trypho says:


    I’m not sure why you think Wiesel has to comment on Israel when he is commenting on Williamson’s Holocaust revisionism/denial and the Pope’s dealings with him?

  24. Aaron Traas says:

    I don’t see why we Catholics continue to care what others think. I also don’t see why the Vatican continues to dialog with other faiths without trying to get them to convert. It’s simply pointless. Let the Jews think what they want. I really don’t care any more. It is wise of Benedict to try and reach reconciliation with the schismatics first — both SSPX and the Orthodox — before tending to the heretics, Jews, and heathens.

  25. This illustrates a very common misconception about what excommunication is in the Catholic Church. Contrary to the texts of some famous “excommunications” from the Jewish community where the banished were condemned to starvation or death from exposure, in the Catholic sense it is meant to be therapeutic (and to protect the Faithful).

    The aim is for the salvation of the excommunicated, not to purge the Church of sinners.

  26. TerryC says:

    The Church dialogs with other faiths because we are called to evangelize and dialog, that is talking to other churches, ecclesial communities and religious groups, is part of evagelization.
    I doubt St. Paul ignored the Jews in a town while trying to convert the pagan Greeks. He evangelized to all and caught what he could for Christ, Jew and Gentile.

  27. DanielHF says:

    As a convert from Judaism myself, I find it appalling that some people think that so many Jews are simply “waiting in the wings” to attack the Church. I really can’t blame Mr. Wiesel for how he’s feeling, as I don’t expect him to have as wide a knowledge about the inner-workings of the Church as those who read this blog.

    Wiesel: “…which means that the sensitivity to us as Jews is not what it should be,” he said late Tuesday.”

    Fr. Z: [Yah? And their sensitivity to us as Catholics isn’t either. And, by the by when will the relentless and baseless attacks on Pius XII stop?]

    With all due respect to Fr. Z and others, the above comments are precisely the wrong way to go about engaging in dialogue. I was brought into the faith by Catholics who showed patience and kindness, and not an elitist “you be nice first” attitude.

  28. “the most vulgar aspect of anti-Semitism” by rehabilitating a Holocaust-denying bishop, said Elie Wiesel

    This is very interesting because today, this is more vulgar than inflicting physical harm. Why?

    I don’t want to defend +Williamson on this or any of his crazy pet theories. Nevertheless, I do know that he has spoken eloquently on the sin of anti-Semitism (defined as a form of racism).

  29. DanielHF’s comment is very thoughts provoking. There are always extremists in different religions and cultures, and we shouldn’t juddge the whole group base on the behaviors of some extremists.

    I strongly believe that we shouldn’t give in to human respect, but we should also show love even to our enemies. I think the Holy Father is giving us that wonderful balance example.

  30. Martin says:

    And what about the holocaust of the Palestinian people, Mr Wiesel?

  31. Adeodatus says:

    Guess what? Williamson is not the only Anti-Semite pretending to be a Catholic.

    I think the Church needs to CRUSH any Anti-Semites in her ranks. They are traitors. Jesus Christ our God is a Jew.

  32. Denis Crnkovic says:

    For DanielHF

    First and foremost, I reply with all due respect to your Jewish heritage and the faith of Abraham.

    Nor do I blame Mr Weisel for how he feels. Indeed, I blame no one, since it is not to me to judge. Having met Mr Weisel, I find him a profoundly intelligent and humble man. His demeanour and manner remind me of those of my cousin who spent the years of World War II at Buchenwald, surviving Hitler’s persecutions (my cousin was a devout Catholic). My point is that, as you are well aware, while the Shoah (the burnt offering, the “holocaust”) was primarily aimed at sacrificing Jews, it included numerous others who were singled out for their resistence to evil. This is the very point that Mr Weisel seems to miss in his writings and in his speeches: that the Evil One does not care about religious boundaries, he will attack Goodness wherever it exists and divide the purveyors of the Good against themselves as best he can. Mr Weisel’s fate in the 1940’s was horrendous – as was my devoutly Catholic Croatian cousin’s. They were both victims of Satan’s relentless campaign to destroy the work of Charity in the world.

    In this light, Mr. Weisel needs to seek to understand the workings of Charity in the same way that Pope Benedict does. While Eli Weisel’s Night ends in despair and unbelief – from which he never fully recovers in his subsequent writings – Benedict’s survival of Hitler’s nightmarish Germany has led him to the exercise of Charity toward ALL peoples and to the burning desire to see the salvation of all men – dissenters, heretics, schismatics, unbelievers, marginalized, etc., etc.

    While it is possible, in the exercise of Catholic Charity to “understand” Mr Weisel’s position, it is also possible to disagree that it is right.

    And so, oremus et pro…

  33. Martin says:

    With all due charity, Adeodatus, you seem to be missing the point: contemporary (rabbinic) Judaism is not the Judaism of the time of Jesus. Three key elements are missing:
    1. the Temple
    2. the Priests
    2. the Sacrifice

    Contemporary rabbinic Judaism is essentially a leftover of the Pharisees who refused to recognize the Saviour.

    That said, “antisemitism” is one of these modern terms that are so poorly defined while being widely used, thus rendering them almost meaningless. For instance, Arabic is a Semitic language. Would an antisemite be against Arab-speakers (or, ethnic Arabs)? This is essentially meaningless.

    Also, please note that the “antisemitism” rhetoric is often used against those who condemn the criminal policies conducted by the State of Israel. This is cheap rhetoric, but it works in many circles, the media in particular. Remember also that those who –rightfully– denounced the “neo-conservative” (Fr Z: I am using the term in its political sense) ideology which lead the US in the disastrous Iraq war have also often been called “antisemites”.

    I refuse to be silenced by meaningless rhetoric.

  34. Martin says:

    Mr Crnkovic:
    My own Croatian friends told me more about the COMMUNIST crimes in Croatia. Those who killed most Catholics, religious an laity alike, in Croatia, were the Communists, by all accounts.

  35. Martin

    There is no doubt here. The Communist regime was not at all kind to Croats (e.g. Cardinal Stepinac). But the Nazi regime in Croatia was equally bad. This is all, however, off topic. My point concerns persecution of the Good and not particularly persecution of one’s ethnic or religious identity.

  36. Adeodatus says:

    Martin, your comment about the Palestinian ‘holocaust’ tips your hand. The *most moderate* Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, wrote his dissertation in the Soviet Union on how the Holocaust was actually a Zionist plot. Yes, you read that right.

    The grand mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, Mohammad Amin al-Husseini, was in close contact with the Nazis. Hitler even promised to help al-Husseini rid Palestine of Jews. al-Husseini worked closely with Himmler and ultimately helped organize the Bosnian SS Division “Scimitar”. He publically advocated the killing of Jews and suggested that Arabs follow the German example. After the war he fled to Egypt and helped orchestrate the first Arab-Israeli war.

    The entire Palestinian cause, from the moderates to the radicals, is an Anti-Semitic cause and a continuation of the social policies implemented by the Nazi Reich.

    An enemy of the Jews is an enemy of Christ and should be treated accordingly.

  37. Martin says:


    I am sorry to read again these old, tired, “reductio ad Hitlerum” lines. They do not work. They do not operate, I am sorry to tell you, on anyone who knows a little more about the history of the “Middle East” than the what the US media complacently says, as nauseam. You must certainly not have heard of the ethnic cleansing committed by the Israelis on Palestinian civilians–Christians included, and I am therefore not going to waste my time debating with someone who essentially denies historical facts.

  38. Martin says:

    Mr Crnkovic

    The nazi regime was bad, I am not denying this, in fact it was absolutely evil. But, in the case of Croatia, the communist crimes were not EQUAL to the nazi ones: they were worse, far worse as it seems.

  39. Michael UK says:

    Basil: you are talking about the “impartial” BBC which when dealing with matters Catholic wheels out ex priests, The Tablet and NCR to give an unbiased flavour to the report – some hope!

  40. Michael UK says:

    Perhaps +Williamson, Weisel and that ADL guy, name evades me, should be locked in a room together for a month on a diet of bread and water!

  41. Clinton says:

    From the Pope’s remarks at yesterday’s Wednesday Audience: “… only the tiresome paths of listening
    and dialogue, of love and forgiveness lead the peoples, the cultures, and the religions of the world to
    the hoped-for goal of fraternity and peace in truth.” Amen and amen.

    As Mr. Crnovic noted in his fine post above, the Holy Father’s charity extends to all people and he
    desires to see the salvation of all men — the SSPX, our elder brothers in faith the Jews, Bp. Williamson,
    Mr. Wiesel, and even me. The Pope’s response to comments such as Mr. Wiesel’s would only be reasoned,
    courteous, and humble. Of course, that is also the only sort of response that would yield lasting, positive
    results. Not incidentally, that is also the only sort of response that would yield lasting, positive results
    in the comments section of this excellent blog.

  42. jarhead462 says:

    “Yah? And their sensitivity to us as Catholics isn’t either. And, by the by when will the relentless and baseless attacks on Pius XII stop?”

    You got that right Father. Many people like Mr. Wiesel have become Victicrats of the highest order. They attack ANYTHING and anyone who dares to challenge their world view.
    Very unfortunate indeed.

    Semper Fi!

  43. TomG says:

    Elie Wiesel is a great man, but as William Manchester, biographer of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, once said about his subject, “great men are [frequently] greatly flawed.”

  44. Geoffrey says:

    Is there a way to contact Eli Wiesel and cordially explain the situation?

  45. RBrown says:

    The entire Palestinian cause, from the moderates to the radicals, is an Anti-Semitic cause and a continuation of the social policies implemented by the Nazi Reich.

    Are you saying that it is anti-Semitic for Palestinians to want their own nation?

    An enemy of the Jews is an enemy of Christ and should be treated accordingly.
    Comment by Adeodatus

    That seems like Dispensationalism.

  46. Romulus says:

    to give credence to a man

    Mr. Wiesel has credibility problems of his own to be worrying about. Though the truth of his past is somewhat murky and spotted, he has allowed himself to be packaged and sold as a walking saint. Now that his foundation has been bankrupted by the Bernie Madoff fraud, he may be tempted to further reckless statements in a bid to stay relevant. Perhaps a return engagement on Oprah is in the offing.

  47. Athanasius says:

    Before 2004, the year Mel Gibon’s Passion was released, I pretty much had a neutral attitude toward the Jews and probably would have listened with an open mind to what they had to say. These days, however, I don’t pay any attention to them. I started to tune them out when they attacked Mel Gibson without mercy for simply making a historically based movie based on the Gospel’s, then came the Good Friday prayer fiasco, and now the Bishop Williamson affair. Remember how Charlie Brown’s teacher sounded? That’s what I hear when Abe Foxman, Wiesel et all start their bloviating.

    Bishop Williamson has irritated me on other issues in the past, but having listened to his recent interview on Youtube, the only way I can understand this reaction from the Jews and the media is in the context of some other agenda being at work. Bishop Williamson said based on the evidence and conclusion of “experts” (so he was using faulty sources)he formed an opinion. He also said that if these “experts” revised their conclusions he would likely do the same. He is a man in search of the truth and employed a scientific method by proxy to arrive at a conclusion. How would a Nobel Prize winner not understand this? He does not want to understand it because he has a predetermined conclusion. Drawing a conclusion without studying the evidence to support the conclusion doesn’t sound like the work of an intelligent man to me. Since this man is supposedly intelligent, I can only conclude that there is something else at work here.

  48. Alan F. says:

    “What the intention was, I don’t know.”

    Then why is he talking about it? He obviously has no idea about the history of the SSPX, that this is about unity with them rather than +Williamsons strange views. He probably doesn’t even know there were also 3 other bishops having excommunications lifted.
    Silly man, these jews need to get over their paranoia that everyone’s out to attack them.

  49. Steven says:

    In Free-Europe, bishop Williamsson could be jailed for what he said. Many have been jailed. Even if those anti-anti-semites do not agree with the socalled “anti-semites”, they should at the very least agree with the right to think, write and speak freely. Well, they don’t agree and they will lock you up if they can.

    Now, why would somebody lie, if he runs the risk of being jailed? What benefit does bishop Williamson gain from saying this? The answer is obvious.

    It is said that the Jewish state was created as a compensation for the holocaust. This is a lie.

    The “national home” for the jewish people was established by the “Balfour Declaration” in 1917.

    By that time the British were on the brink of collapse. They would have lost the war. Only after the “Balfour Declaration”, the USA joined the war. Without the involvement of the USA the war would have ended in 1917. The Germans would have won. There is clearly a link between the “Balfour Declaration” and the involvement of the USA.

    After WWI, the “zionists” (read the declaration) had their pseudo-state. But the European jews did not want to live in Israel.

    Remember: The German jews were Germans. Now, from 1933 to 1939 many jews left Germany. They saw what was coming. So, Hitler in fact populated Palestine. In this sense; Hitler was a zionist agent, because he fulfilled the zionist agenda.

  50. Steven says:

    The enemies of the Catholic Church exploit the holocaust to attack the Church and Pope Pius XII.


    Nazi anti-Semitism and the holocaust were not caused by religious differences between Catholics and Jews, or anti-Jewish outbursts during the First Crusade.

    Hitler did not approach the world with a mode of thinking and belief rooted in the 1,900 years of Western civilization. Rather, he was rooted in the 150 years of elitist and racist thought that had abandoned the Judeo-Christian roots of Western civilization. Eg. Malthus, Darwin, Huxley etc.

    Hitler was a satanist. Hitler specifically rejected the Catholic Church, as well as Christianity in general. He described himself as “a complete pagan”.

    World War II and the holocaust were created by those who created modernity!

    Genocide was the aim, modernity the method.

    Hitler not only killed jews, but millions of Germans as well.

    The “Germans” were not the Arians. Hitler wanted to create the Arian Race. This was the Lebensborn-project. This was his eugenics agenda.

  51. Martin says:


    This is a very interesting angle indeed. I have never made this connection (between the declaration of war and the Balfour Declaration), but I have always thought that the “Lusitania sinking” was a mere pretext to cover some more subtle interests. However, there are 2 obstacles to this theory:

    1. chronology: US Declaration of War is in April, the Balfour Declaration in November. Therefore your statement:

    Only after the “Balfour Declaration”, the USA joined the war.

    is not correct. Your theory would imply that a “hidden Balfour declaration” would have been in the works, and that would have somehow be known by the US government at that time. That seems like a stretch to me, the burden of the proof is on your side.

    2. I am not convinced that the UK have collapsed in 1917. At least France was not on the verge of collapsing (they were in the spring of 1918, after the Lundendorff offensives) in 1917–the situation was essentially a draw. However in the case of Britain, are you referring to the U-boot blockade and so forth?

    Please elaborate if you can. Thank you

  52. Martin says:

    Steven dixit:

    World War II and the holocaust were created by those who created modernity!

    Yes, very true. In fact we can trace the roots of this, all the way back to the so-called “Lumières”.
    By the way, you may also add Voltaire and Nietzsche to your list.

  53. Steven says:

    Sinking of the Lusitania: 7 May 1915

    The British felt that the Americans had to declare war on Germany. However, US President Wilson refused to “over-react”. Nothing happened.

    President Wilson got reelected (1916) on keeping the country out of the war.

    After his reelection, Wilson called for war on Germany, which the U.S. Congress declared on 6 April 1917.

    26 June 1917: the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops land in France at the port of Saint Nazaire. However, the American troops, were “untrained”, “ill-equipped”, and “far from ready” for the difficulties of fighting along the Western Front.

    The Balfour Declaration of 1917 (dated 2 November 1917). The letter reflected the position of the British Cabinet, as agreed upon in a meeting on 31 October 1917.

    A “hidden Balfour declaration” would have been in the works – or “negotiations” in London?

    On October 21, the first Americans “entered” combat when units from the U.S. Army’s First Division were assigned to Allied trenches in the Luneville sector near Nancy, France. Each American unit was attached to a corresponding French unit.

    Two days later (October 23), Corporal Robert Bralet of the Sixth Artillery became the first U.S. soldier to fire “a shot” in the war when he discharged a French 75mm gun into a German trench a half mile away.

    On November 2, Corporal James Gresham and privates Thomas Enright and Merle Hay of the 16th Infantry became the first American soldiers to die when Germans raided their trenches near Bathelemont, France.

    November 2: This is the date of the “Balfour Declaration”. At least two days after the decision was taken by the British government, the first two American soldiers died. Was this a coincidence?

  54. Martin says:


    Thank you. Very much to the point. I did not know about this “coincidence”. Please let me do some fact checking (I trust but also like to verify). But I think that you have just opened unforeseen (to me) perspectives, as indeed it would not be reasonable to assume that the Nov. 2 “coincidence” was only a coincidence.

    By the way, what you wrote also touches on one of the questions I have been wondering about for ever: why did the American troops remain essentially idle for more than 6 months, while some of the fiercest battles of the entire conflict (e.g., Champagne, Chemin des Dames) were raging?

    Now, regarding the imminent collapse of the UK in 1917: can you please elaborate? It was certainly not the case of France–although the mutinies had done some harm.

    Thank you

  55. Kazimer says:

    The statements by Bishop Williamson (SSPX) about the Holocaust are not to be dismissed ,downplayed or spun in attempt to relegate them inconsequential as to the recent development between the SSPX and Pope Benedict XVI.

    The recognition of Williamson’s inflammatory, ill-advised and divisive comments was evidenced by Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the Society of St. Pius X in his statement:

    ” The affirmations of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any sense the position of our Fraternity. For this reason I have prohibited him, pending any new orders, from taking any public positions on political or historical questions…

    We ask the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act. Because we recognize how ill-advised these declarations were, we can only look with sadness at the way in which they have directly struck our Fraternity, discrediting its mission.”

    In addition, the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI have addressed this situation as well.

    ” Holocaust denial by traditionalist bishop is unacceptable, says Vatican”

    Link to complete article in Catholic News Service http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0900394.htm

  56. Der Pope says:

    Hitler was born, baptized, and died a Catholic. He was doing God’s work. He said so!

    The Catholic Church is responsible for spreading the hatred of Jews for 2000 years before Hitler. Anti-semitism was spread by the church way before Hitler. 2000 years of Catholic anti semitism led to the Holocaust and Catholics have to come to terms with what they’ve done! They created a Hitler.

    The Church set pogroms on Jews, persecuted them, forced them to convert, and kill them. Now this bishop wants to deny that it wasn’t so bad. Yeah the Jews were all taking a trip to the seaside in cattle cars! JPII is rolling in his grave after all of the hard work he did with improving Catholic/Jewish relations.

  57. Jacqui says:

    First of all, please don’t generalize about Jews and then don’t generalize about Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, etc. Each person is unique and stands on its own. If you ever encounter a person who you don’t like, remember not to generalize that feeling to others. As a jew, I know antisemitism has always been about generalizing traits in every member of a group.
    I read the controversy about the minister and saw that SSPX had postings decrying the jews as deicides and forever cursed as a result of the crucifixion of Jesus. How can you teach people about love and forgiveness if you believe this? I think that hatred disqualifies you as a preacher of love and G-d. If the pope wants people to follow the example of Christ, he shouldn’t favor people who preach these concepts.
    As a jew, it hurts to see that there are still those who claim to love G-d and yet, incite hatred for the jews. Do you remember Jesus was a jew? and his disciples too? How could you then turn around and preach hatred?
    If you are a christian follow your religion and fill your heart with love for your fellow man. Judaism believes that too. If you are full of hatred, don’t misrepresent yourself as a man or woman of G-d. You are not!

Comments are closed.