US Catholic bishops speak out on anti-Semitism and religious bigotry

Just as Commonweal’s David Gibson was observing a “perceived Catholic ‘silence’ over Benedict XVI’s fiasco with the SSPX was raised earlier, with a focus on the relative absence of strong American voices”, the US Catholic House of Bishops has issued a fairly strong statement.

But, first, back to Gibson. In his post today he writes:

[O]verseas, at least, and from the Pope’s native Germany in particular, objections are being raised as the furor grows among both Catholic and Jewish communities.

The latest comes from the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German like Ratzinger, but considered a much more pastoral figure. According to this Reuters write-up, Kasper told Vatican Radio’s German-language program that he was not consulted on the pontiff’s decision to rehabilitate the schismatic Traditionalist bishops–one an overt Holocaust denier, the rest associated with dodgy statements on Jews.

“There wasn’t enough talking with each other in the Vatican and there are no longer checks to see where problems could arise,” said Cardinal Walter Kasper in a blunt interview with Vatican Radio’s German program, broadcast on Monday night……Vatican sources and officials had said privately the decision was taken without wide consultation.

Read it all for more evidence of the “growing furor.”

Now back to the US Catholic Bishops. Michael Paulson writes:

In the most pointed statement yet from a high-ranking Catholic official, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, today is sharply criticizing the Holocaust denial by a traditionalist bishop whose excommunication was lifted last month by Pope Benedict XVI. George, clearly alarmed by the brewing controversy and the damage to Catholic-Jewish relations, called the statements by Bishop Richard Williamson “deeply offensive and utterly false” and called the outrage from Jews and Catholics “understandable.”

Signficantly, George also asserts that full reconciliation between the Vatican and the four un-excommunicated bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X, including Williamson, will require “their assent to all that the Church professes, including the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.” That is important because the Second Vatican Council resulted in the church’s renunciation of anti-Semitism and led to a historic warming of relations between Catholics and Jews.

Read it all; George’s statement is at the end of Paulson’s post.

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