Everywhere I’ve gone in recent days, people have asked me about the pope’s decision to lift the excommunication of four “traditionalist” bishops — one of whom says that no Jews were gassed by the Nazis.
People seem to be generally baffled: Who are these bishops? What’s the deal with the Society of St. Pius X, the group to which the bishops belong? Why does the pope care so much about reconciling with these folks? Doesn’t it look like the Vatican somehow endorses their views?
I decided to let someone else answer these questions. So I called Father James Massa, who is basically the point person on ecumenical and interreligious affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. We had a good, long chat last night, which I will write about it my FaithBeat column tomorrow.
Massa told me that he is not surprised by the vast reaction to the pope’s move, given some of the statements made by Bishop Richard Williamson about the Holocaust.
“To deny the Holocaust is an outrageous and offensive statement and is unacceptable,” Massa said.