MELBOURNE, Australia, APRIL 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Melbourne is correcting a journalist’s misrepresentation of Benedict XVI, explaining the truth of the Pontiff’s compassion toward Holocaust victims and his efforts to promote dialogue with all.
Archbishop Denis Hart wrote this today in a letter to the Herald Sun, responding to an article published Monday by Alan Howe.
The archbishop asserted that Howe’s article, titled “The Pope Betrays Us All,” is “erroneous” and “offends well-informed Catholics.”
Howe claimed that Benedict XVI “has seen fit to reinstate the poisonous Bishop Richard Williamson” regardless of the latter’s denial of facts about the Holocaust.
Archbishop Hart clarified that the Pontiff, “in a paternal gesture to the four bishops, 491 priests, 215 seminarians and thousands of faithful of the Society of St. Pius X — known as the Lefebvrists — removed the excommunication of the four bishops, who still remain outside the full communion of the Church.”
He added: “They do not exercise any canonical function and do not licitly exercise any ministry within it. They are not ‘reinstated’ as Mr. Howe suggests.”
The prelate affirmed that “Pope Benedict earnestly desires to work for reunion of such a significant group with the Church, and encourages bishops and priests to do likewise.”
He noted the Holy Father’s words that “Bishop Williamson must distance himself in an absolutely unequivocal and public way from his positions regarding the Holocaust, which were unknown at the time of the remission of the excommunication.”
The prelate named several moments when the Pontiff “spoke of his compassion for all involved in the Holocaust,” which was, in his words, “a crime against God and humanity.”
Archbishop Hart said that he wrote to members of the Jewish community in Melbourne along these same lines, “expressing solidarity and support.” He added, “The enormity of the Holocaust is one of the great tragedies of the story of the whole human race.”
Responding to Howe’s accusations that the Pope, “who has too few qualities” has “divided Catholics,” the prelate described Benedict XVI’s efforts to reach out to bishops worldwide with a letter clarifying the events surrounding the Lefebvrite bishops.
Archbishop Hart reported that the Pontiff explained “the motive behind his compassionate gesture to begin dialogue, and the coincidence with Bishop Williamson’s hateful statements, reiterating his love for the Jewish people and the readiness to work with people of all faiths as he has shown in his pontificate.”
The prelate concluded: “Pope Benedict is a great teacher and theologian and a man of God. He cannot be dismissed as one ‘who has too few qualities.’
“Rather, it is those who do not know him who are not open to his towering gifts as theologian, teacher and pastor, dedicated to the service of all humanity.”