Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the pontifical commission charged with reconciling the St. Pius X Society, said on Monday that the lifting of the excommunications from the four Lefebvrist bishops was aimed at healing a schism in the Catholic Church, and was in no way meant to provide any support for the controversial remarks of Bishop Richard Williamson.
Speaking to the Colombian network "Radio Cadena Nacional" (RCN), Cardinal Castrillon, who has been blamed by several Italian media for precipitating the storm that followed the lifting of the excommunication to Bishop Williamson, said that "the Holy Father completely rejects what was done in Germany to the Jewish people. He does not accept any offense aimed at the Jewish people. All we have for them is love. We never forget that Jesus was a Jew, Mary was a Jew and the Apostles were Jews."
Asked if he took into consideration bishop Williamson's theories about the Holocaust into account before bringing the decree to the attention of the Holy Father, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos responded:
"I have always had truth as a norm. The Holy Father knows this. We are moving forward, trying to rebuild the unity of the Church, and put an end completely to this schism."
The Cardinal said that "as a Christian, I completely reject the atrocities of the Holocaust," and said the true Catholic position on the issue of the Shoah is "to always remember, to make sure that humanity never repeats a similar atrocity again."
Nevertheless, he stressed the need to regain focus on what the lifting of the excommunications really means: "the important thing at this time is the fact that the Pope has stopped a schism. The charity that Christ wanted in the Church has been notably re-established and ways of hope have been opened," he said.
It is worth noting that this is the first time Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has publicly described the Lefebvrist movement as a "schism."
Although the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts clearly confirmed on August 24, 1996, that Archbishop Lefebvre's ordination of four bishops constituted a schism, followers of Lefebvre have insisted that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos’ opinion about them not being in schism, which he gave in an interview with the Italian Catholic monthly "30 Giorni," was the "valid" interpretation.
Meanwhile, Bishop Williamson is experiencing the repercussions of his comments denying the extent of the Holocaust. This past Sunday, he was dismissed as director of the SSPX seminary La Reja in Argentina. Bishop Williamson has reportedly said that he will re-examine the evidence surrounding the Holocaust, but that he will need time to do so.