I don't know whether this is bad luck or bad judgement on the part of the Holy Father, but Bishop Williamson appeared this week on Swedish television, denying the existence of the gas chambers. So much for Jewish-Catholic relations then.
The Holy Father appears to have a precise legalistic mind, in which there is no logical connection between the original reasons for Bishop Williamson's excommunication and his extreme views on the second world war. If the excommunication no longer serves a valid purpose, it must be cancelled; you cannot keep someone in a state of mortal peril just because you disagree with, or even disapprove of, his opinions.
Many will be offended by the pardon for Bishop Williamson and his SSPX friends, interpreting it as a further sign of an anti-Semitic turn at the Vatican. However, His Holiness doesn't seem to worry much about offending people.
Meanwhile, the Society of St. Pius V (SSPV), an organization that split from SSPX in 1983, holds that the papal seat is currently vacant ("sedevacantism"), as all the popes since 1958 (or perhaps 1963) are excessively modernist and therefore heretical. Perhaps Benedict XVI is trying to win their approval and acceptance.
- Pope 'to lift SSPX excommunications' just as Bishop Williamson denies Nazi gas chambers (Telegraph, 22 January 2009)
- Pope could welcome Holocaust denier back into the fold (Times Online, 23 January 2009)
- Bishop faces probe for Holocaust outburst (Independent Online South Africa, 23 January 2009)
- Pope move ignites Holocaust row(BBC News, 24 January 2009)
- Bishop Richard Williamson, Holocaust Denier, Reinstated By Pope (Huffington Post, 24 January 2009)
- Pope lifts SSPX excommunications (Ruth Gledhill, 24 January 2009)
- Benedict and the SSPX: the backlash begins (Telegraph, 22 January 2009)