The Vatican is temporarily in disorder as various priests attempt to sort out where the Church is headed after a week of turmoil and disorder brought about by Pope Benedict’s decision to reinstate four conservative priests. Unfortunately, for the Pope, one of the priests he allowed to return to the church gave an interview in which he said that Hitler never killed six million Jews and there was no Holocaust. Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is in charge of the Vatican’s relations with the Jewish community, admitted the decision to lift the ban on a Holocaust denier has created anger and fury. A bishop in German termed the Pope’s move to be “catastrophic” and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed anger at the decision and called upon the Pope to acknowledge his mistake in allowing Holocaust deniers to be reinstated as priests.
British born Robert Williamson, one of those who had been excommunicated and now reinstated, is most probably the most controversial due to his ignorant statements about the Holocaust and denial of massive Jewish deaths in the Holocaust. As Chancellor Merkel put it: “If a decision of the Vatican gives rise to the impression that the Holocaust may be denied, this cannot be left to stand.”
Pope Benedict was attempting to restore to the church conservatives who had been at odds with many decisions of the past few years. However, in reaching out to satisfy their ideas, Pope Benedict may well have alienated many within his own church. Perhaps, it is time to return to the ideas of Pope John XXIII who set the church’s face to the future and captured the imagination of millions of loyal Catholics.