New York, NY, January 29, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed Pope Benedict XVI's condemnation of Holocaust denial and expression of solidarity with the Jewish people.
"We are heartened that the Pope heard our deep concern about the future of Catholic-Jewish relations," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "He responded to our anguish over the virulent Holocaust denial by Bishop Richard Williamson, but also to the deeper question of the continuing authority and significance of the Second Vatican Council."
Mr. Foxman added, "We hope that the Society of St. Pius X will take heed of the Pope's words and that Bishop Williamson will publicly apologize and recant his Holocaust denial, a virulent form of anti-Semitism, by acknowledging the historical truth of the Shoah."
Looking toward the future, Mr. Foxman said, "What remains for us is to find mutually agreed structures so that we do not continue to experience the damaging blow-ups in our dialogue as a result of misunderstanding, misinformation and failures to communicate."
The Pope's remarks were made on January 28 and were his first public response to the controversy over his decision to rehabilitate excommunicated bishops who belong to a Catholic breakaway sect that rejects the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. One of the excommunicated bishops, Richard Williamson, denies the Holocaust and that Jews were killed in gas chambers. They all belong to a schismatic sect called the Society of St. Pius X(SSPX).
Pope Benedict XVI noted that he had repeatedly visited Auschwitz, the location of the "brutal massacre of millions of Jews, innocent victims of blind racial and religious hatred," and said that the Holocaust "should be a warning for everyone against forgetting, denying or diminishing its significance."
Significantly, the Pope stated that he hoped his decision to revoke excommunication would be met "by a commitment on their part to fulfill the further steps necessary to realize full communion with the church," including "recognizing the magisterium and authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council."