Neil Rubin, the editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times, just sent in by way of comment the following quotes from his interview with Cardinal William Keeler, who as Episcopal Moderator for Catholic-Jewish Relations carries the Jewish portfolio for the bishops conference:
“This is completely out of order. It’s just ridiculous that [Bishop Williamson] would make the statements.
“What I hope the Jewish community realizes is that the pope was blindsided in this event. … If he had known of these remarks, it would have been pointed out to him that it was impossible to lift the excommunications for Bishop Williamson.
“I just received a letter from Cardinal Walter Kasper, chair of the Vatican’s Commission for the Religious Relations with the Jews. He wrote in part, `We have had many letters of deep concern from the Jewish side on the implications of the lifting of the excommunications. Now, the Pope himself and our Office will do what is possible in order to limit the damage. The statement of the Pope last Wednesday was helpful, but will not be the last one. We are preparing more. I myself am in direct contact with the Grand Rabbinate in Jerusalem and the Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See. The general position is absolutely clear: To deny the Holocaust is totally unacceptable and a bishop who does it cannot function in the Catholic Church. The four bishops are still suspended and it will take presumably a longer process of dialogue until they finally will be in full communion.’
“What is implied by the lifting of the excommunication is simply that they are free to receive the sacraments, but they are not rehabilitated as bishops or as priests even. They cannot administer any sacrament.”
Neil says, “No one can explain to me why the Vatican can’t suspend Williamson’s lifting of ex-communication.” I think the answer is that disbelieving in the Holocaust is not grounds for excommunication. Now the Vatican could have declined to lift the Williamson’s excommunication until he renounced his views on the Holocaust, but I’m afraid that horse is out of the barn. The real wonder is that the excommunication was lifted without the Lefebvrist bishops accepting all the documents of Vatican II–that really is obligatory.