Far be it from me to give the Catholic Church advice on its image--I don't see a downside to the current Pope's influence being diminished--but this decision makes absolutely no sense to me.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI, acceding to the far-right of the Catholic Church, revoked the excommunications of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage....I just don't see any upside to that move. I mean, the church can say all it wants that Williamson's views on the Holocaust and 9/11 aren't approved of by the church, but no one is going to see it that way outside the hardcore people who demanded his reinstatement, and rightly so.
Most contentious was the inclusion of Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers. He has also given interviews saying that the United States government staged the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan.
It's one thing to reinstate schismatics who were excommunicated because they wanted the Church to stay old-school; it's another completely to welcome back a Holocaust-denier. Again, I'm not a Catholic, but if I were a member of an exclusive group that had the power to determine who gets to be a member of the club, guess what? No Holocaust-deniers invited, no matter what other credentials they bring to the table. And if it sounds like I'm suggesting that people of certain belief systems ought to be shunned from polite society, you're right.
I hope there are voices inside the Catholic Church who will stand up to the Pope on this.