VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2009 (Zenit.org).- It is a morally grave matter when a priest or bishop, in communion or not with the Church, denies the Holocaust and the extermination of millions of Jews at the hands of the Nazis, says the Vatican spokesman.
In an editorial for “Octava Dies,” a weekly program of the Vatican Television Center, Jesuit Federico Lombardi criticized statements made by Bishop Richard Williamson in which he denied the extent of the Holocaust and the use of gas chambers to kill millions of Jews during World War II.
Bishop Williamson was one of four prelates of the Society of St. Pius X who were illicitly ordained to the episcopate by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988. Last Saturday, Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication for the four bishops, which caused an uproar among Jewish leaders.
Father Lombardi, quoting the Pontiff’s statement Wednesday after his weekly catechesis, said he hoped “the memory of the Shoah moves humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the human heart.”
According to the director of the Vatican Television Center, the Pope “not only condemned all form of forgetting or denying the tragedy of exterminating six million Jews, but remembered the dramatic questions that the events plant in the conscience of every person and believer.”
“This appalling manifestation of the power of evil challenges faith in the existence of God,” he said, quoting the address Benedict XVI gave in 2006 when he visited Auschwitz. In that address the Pontiff posed the radical questions of the psalmists to a God who appeared silent and absent.
Father Lombardi continued: “Before this double mystery — of the horrible power of evil and the apparent absence of God — the only response of the Christian faith is the passion of the Son of God.
“These are the most profound and decisive questions of man and of the believer before the world and history. We can’t, and shouldn’t avoid them, and much less deny them. On the contrary, our faith would become deceitful and empty.
“Those who deny the Holocaust don’t know anything about the mystery of God, nor of the cross of Christ. It’s even more grave when the denial comes from the mouth of a priest or bishop, that is, from a Christian minister, be that he is united or not to the Catholic Church.”