Saturday, January 31, 2009

Vatican Spokesman slams Holocaust-denial comments

In a strongly-worded statement on Friday, a Vatican spokesman slammed recent comments by members of the an ultra-traditionalist Roman Catholic group denying the World War II Nazi Holocaust or extermination of millions of Jews.

"He who denies the Shoah (Holocaust) knows nothing about the mystery of God or Christ's Cross. It is even worse if the denial comes from the mouth of a priest or a bishop," Vatican spokesperon Federico Lombardi said in a statement, broadcast by Vatican Radio.

"Or... from a Christian minister, regardless of whether he is or isn't affiliated with the Catholic Church," said Lombardi, in an apparent reference to recent comments by reinstated traditionalist bishop Richard Williamson and priest Floriano Abrahamowicz.

Abrahamowicz made headlines on Thursday when he told a local newspaper he was unsure the Nazi gas chambers were used to kill Jews.

"The Shoah causes humanity to reflect on the unforeseeable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man," Lombardi emphasised.

Earlier this week, Pope Benedict XVI expressed the Catholic Church's solidarity with Jews over their World War II mass murder by the Nazi regime.

The pontiff was moving to quell outrage caused by remarks from the recently reinstated ultra-traditionalist bishop, Richard Williamson, denying the Holocaust.

Bishop Richard Williamson, denies the existence of the Nazi gas chambers and claims only 300,000 Jews died in the World War II Holocaust rather than the six million that historians claim.

"The historical evidence is hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler. I believe there were no gas chambers," said Williamson in an interview by Swedish TV done last November and aired on 21 January.

The Vatican last week revoked the 1988 excommunication of Williamson and three other ultra-traditionalist bishops belonging to the St. Pius X Society.

The society was founded in 1970 by a French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, who had refused to adhere to reforms introduced during the 1960s through the Second Vatican Council, including a declaration which prescribes brotherly love with Jews.

The move to reinstate Williamson caused outrage among Jews in Italy and in Israel.

In an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Wednesday, Israel's Ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechai Lewy, said clarity was needed from the Vatican's "highest levels".

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel on Tuesday broke off official ties with the Vatican indefinitely in protest at Williamson's reinstatement.

It also cancelled a meeting scheduled for March 2-4 in Rome with the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported.

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(Source: AKI)