The Pope Shakes Hands with Anti-Semitism

It’s carnival season in Germany, and Der Spiegal showed today this float depicting the pope shaking hands with the anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, Bishop Richard Williams. More carnival photos here.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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7 Responses to The Pope Shakes Hands with Anti-Semitism

  1. aunty dawkins says:

    We’ve got the point Santi. I thought Williamson had been ‘excommunicated’ as such anyway. Seems to me ‘Speigal’ is protesting too loudly on behalf of a still guilty and self flagellating German nation. I wonder if suspicion of Papal sentiments would be so strong if we still had that nice Polish guy instead of the’rotweiller’. Just a thought that we need to keep things in perspective but I’m sure you will have an argument to the contrary?

  2. santitafarella says:

    Aunty Dawkins:

    I think that the previous pope (John Paul) would not have brought Bishop Williamson back into the church (and didn’t; he could have).

    As to keeping “things in perspective”, I see anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial as truly bottomless psychological evils, and those who engage with them in a casual way are deadening the soul and our common humanity. It needs to be pushed back against wherever it is being indulged.


  3. aunty dawkins says:

    I think you have read previous posts of mine and my disgreement with denial of, or playing down the importance of the Holocaust. My suggestion that the German press and other media may be overstressing the alleged Roman Catholic embracing of Anti semitism does not alter my view of the Holocaust. Your point about pope JP not allowing Williamson back is interesting though if you are correct.

  4. aunty dawkins says:

    As I understand it Bishop Williamson was originally ‘cast out’of the RC Church along with some others for misdemeanours unassociated with his controversial views on the holocaust. BUT the fact that Benedict has seen fit to reinstate them as a gesture of compassion is giving confusing signals given Williamsson’s stance on the holocaust and given Benedict’s own background. A bit more information and explanation from the Vatican would not go aniss

  5. santitafarella says:

    Aunty Dawkins:

    Bishop Williamson and his fellow SSPX uber-rightists were not excommunicated for “misdemeanors.” They vocally rejected a church council (Vatican II). Church councils are (to Catholics) a very big deal, and concern historic shifts in direction. Think of the Council of Nicea as an example.

    You couldn’t reject the Council of Nicea and still be a Catholic.

    I am a liberal (as I assume that you are) and all for compassion, but I think that, in the third millenium, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial cannot be given quarter to, especially within an institution which bears such a gross and atrocious history and relationship to Judaism, and bears more than a little responsibility for the anti-Semitic climate that made the Holocaust possible.

    See here for more on the SSPX:

  6. aunty dawkins says:

    Ok I’ve read the article and it is informative.I am not as well informed as you on this and have no reason to disbelieve your interpretation. Why then is the Vatican not doing a bit of PR on its own behalf and giving a bit more information and explanation as to why The excommunication has been lifted in view of the frustration the whole affair is causing? It can’t be good for the Catholic Church to bury their heads in the sand can it?
    As to the relationship of the anti semitic Nazi’s and the supposedly anti-semitic Catholic Church in the 1930’s and early 40’s, I always thought that the Nazi’s persecuted the Church as well as the Jews after they came to power? The Nazi’s were essentially a-religious weren’t they? I’m sure you’ll be able to enlighten me:)
    BTW Santi I must say I find this blog interesting and enjoy contributing in my humble way.

  7. santitafarella says:

    Aunty Dawkins:

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog—and also that you have such interesting and thoughtful responses to the posts.

    As for the subject of historic Christian anti-Semitism, I would suggest a book of readings related to this subject titled “A Shadow of Glory: Reading the New Testament After the Holocaust.” It’s edited by Tod Linafelt and is published by a very highly respected academic press (Routledge).

    The Wikipedia article on Christian anti-Semitism is also good, and is here:


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