Pope Benedict XVI has recently declared the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) to not be excommunicated. However, around the same time Pope Benedict made his declaration, one of the bishops, Richard Williamson, was seen on an interview on Swedish television discussing his views on what happened during the Holocaust.
Without a moment’s delay, the Jewish leaders, cognizant of Williamson’s interview, were greatly offended that the Pope would declare that the bishop was once again inside of the Church, even though the Pope did not know about Williamson’s interview.
Bishop Williamson has been accused of saying a lot of things. Many of those accusations are probably well-founded. Nonetheless, there are certain things which you cannot accuse him of, namely that he denies the Holocaust and that he is anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, now the traditionalist bishop is facing possible imprisonment in Germany for his comments during the Swedish interview.
Although Williamson’s comments were historically inaccurate, you cannot claim he is anti-Semitic or that he fully denied the Holocaust. On the other hand, he denied aspects of the Holocaust. For example, he believed that there were only 200-300,000 Jews killed, not six million, and that gas chambers were never used. He says that he bases his conclusions on “historical evidence”, and he denies “emotion” playing a factor in his decisions.
He also claims that he made his decisions based off of opinions of those whom he thinks judge by historical evidence. In fact, he states that if they changed their opinions, he would also. He trusts those authors whom he believes are good historians.
These are not the comments of an anti-Semite. After all, the murder of 200-300,000 Jews is not exactly a petty matter. Furthermore, he nowhere claims in the interview that he hates Jews. He is by no means another Adolph Hitler.
As mentioned earlier, Williamson says he based his decisions on those of certain historians and states that he would change his opinion if they changed theirs. In other words, if they decided that there were gas chambers and that six million Jews died in the Holocaust, he would believe them! Does that sound anti-Semitic?
He is not an anti-Semite because he does not hate Jews. He is not a heretic because the Holocaust is not part of Catholic doctrine. He is not a liar, as Monsignor Robert Wister called him, because liars say things which they do not believe, and he clearly seems to believe what he says.
However, he is a conspiracy theorist. Not to mention, many of his facts are wrong. Six million Jews most certainly died in the Holocaust, and many of them died in gas chambers.
Nonetheless, everyone regardless of his decisions or beliefs deserves a fair trial.