A German appeals court has levied a fine of nearly $9,000 against Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X for public statements denying the gravity of the Holocaust.
During an interview in 2008, Williamson said, “Historical evidence massively contradicts the theory that 6 million Jews died” in the Nazi concentration camps. He was subsequently fined $14,000 by a German court, but the July 11 order reduced it to just over $9,000.
The interview was re-broadcast in January of 2009, just as Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication against four Lefebvrist bishops, including Williamson. Analysts saw it as an obvious attempt to smear the Pope for his decision to lift the canonical penalty imposed on the bishops.
The other three bishops include the current leader of the Society of St. Pius X Bernard Fellay, Tissier de Mallerais and Alfonso de Galarreta.
The decision by Pope Benedict opened the door for talks with the Holy See, which demanded that the society accept the Second Vatican Council and the teachings of all the Popes since Pius XII as conditions for reunion with the Church.
In a statement issued on Feb. 4, 2009, the Holy See explained that the Society of St. Pius X “does not enjoy any canonical recognition by the Catholic Church. The four bishops, even though they have been released from excommunication, have no canonical function in the Church and do not licitly exercise any ministry within it.”
“The positions of Bishop Williamson with regard to the Shoah are absolutely unacceptable and firmly rejected by the Holy Father, as he himself remarked on 28 January 2009,” during the general audience of that day, the statement indicated.
“In order to be admitted to function as a bishop within the Church,” the Holy See said, “Bishop Williamson must also distance himself in an absolutely unequivocal and public way from his positions regarding the Shoah, which were unknown to the Holy Father at the time of the remission of the excommunication.”