Renegade bishop questions Israel’s legitimacy
PARIS (WJC)–The ultra-traditionalist Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson, whose denial of the extent of the Holocaust created an uproar a year ago, in a French video clip has called the discussions between the Vatican and his Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) a “dialogue of the deaf.”
Williamson is one of the four SSPX bishops whose excommunication was lifted by Pope Benedict only days after his controversial views on the Holocaust were broadcast on Swedish television. In an interview conducted in French and published on the video-sharing website ‘Dailymotion’, Williamson said the two sides had “absolutely irreconcilable” positions.
He discussed a number of issues with Pierre Panet, a man identified by the French Catholic newspaper ‘La Croix’ as a far-right politician. When asked about the negotiations under way with the Vatican to reintegrate the SSPX into the Roman Catholic Church, the British bishop said in fluent French: “I think that will end up as a dialogue of the deaf. The two positions are absolutely irreconcilable… Either the SSPX becomes a traitor, or Rome converts or it is a dialogue of the deaf.”
The SSPX, which rejects the Second Vatican Council and the Catholic Church’s reconciliation with the Jews, broke from Rome in 1988 when Archbishop Lefebvre disobeyed Pope John Paul II and consecrated four bishops, including Williamson. Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications of the four in January 2009 and started negotiations aimed at finding a way to reintegrate the traditionalists into the Catholic Church. Recently, Benedict expressed hope that he would be able to reestablish full communion with the SSPX.
Williamson pointed out that for a real Catholic, only the Catholic faith was true, and all other religions were “more or less true and more or less false” and that hence there could be no agreement between the faiths on a religious level.
When Panet asked for him his views on Israel, Williamson said: “A lot of people think this state is legitimate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.” He also declared that the biblical notion of a “chosen people” had changed with the advent of Jesus Christ and that since then only those who had faith in Jesus were part of the chosen people.
The bishop also called Hamas and other groups in the Middle East “resistance movements” and said that the situation in the Middle East was “particularly difficult since 1947.” In that year, the United Nations adopted a plan to create a Jewish and an Arab state in Palestine.
Meanwhile, a court spokesman in Germany said that the trial of Williamson in the city of Regensburg on charges of incitement and Holocaust denial would not commence before mid-March.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress