Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has given an interview on German television (watch it here on “Kathtube.com” – its fairly easy to follow if you have a little German – the Cardinal speaks very clearly – or read about it here if you have no German) in which he says (HT to
The intention of the Pope is clear. He wants a reconciliation with this group, which 20 years ago separated from the Catholic Church and been living in a schism. What he has done was simply an outstretched hand. Whether this hand will be taken or not, time will tell…
The four bishops have not been rehabilitated. It was a unilateral gesture of reconciliation to lift the excommunication. But they are not yet in office and dignity. They must now show whether they are ready to take the outstretched hand of the Pope to take. The messages, which have been sent so far, are insufficient. For as long as these four bishops do not entirely clearly recognise the 2nd Vatican Council, it is certainly not full reconciliation…
Obviously a mistake has been made here. Someone, who denies the Holocaust, Shoah denies, cannot be restored to an office in the Church . Here there must be also a certain criticism of the Vatican’s criticism of staff practice, which is obviously did not examine the matter carefully or did not examine sufficiently the case in the information that they had.
Meanwhile, The Time’s Ruth Gledhill has published a letter to the Pope from the executive board of the International Council of Christians and Jews. The Times has also published a stinging editorial describing the Pope’s gesture of unity as “crass and damaging”, especially to Jewish Catholic dialogue. Damien Thompson at the Telegraph (“Holy Smoke” blog) reckons Gledhill to be the author of this editorial – and comments:
Ruth Gledhill, the paper’s religion correspondent, is an old friend of mine (and a lovely person), but I can’t understand why she thinks that Christian-Jewish dialogue is so massively important. It’s boring, it’s expensive and it’s not leading anywhere, because it isn’t really a dialogue, more an unending stream of demands for apologies (in one direction only: there’s never any mention of the vile calumnies against Jesus in the Talmud). Yes, Catholics must do everything in their power to silence anti-Semites in their ranks, but otherwise I’m not terribly interested in what Chief Rabbis (or Muslims, or secular politicians) have to say about the theology or internal politics of the Church.
I completely disagree with Thompson on the matter of the importance of Catholic – Jewish dialogue, but I do feel that this whole thing is not just an error on the part of the Vatican Public Relations team, but also the error of the media itself (including Thompson’s original blog on this issue) which has perpetrated the “myth” that the lifting of the excommunications amounted to a papal blessing on the four bishops and the SSPX. Although this mistake has been pointed out repeatedly, the Pope’s gesture for the unity of the Church is continuing to be interpreted in this way.