The Director of L’Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, said this week the lifting of the excommunication of four Lefebvrist bishops was the decision of Pope Benedict XVI who “preferred the medicine of mercy for the for the bishops excommunicated in 1988, in an extreme attempt to end the schism.”
In an interview with the Argentinean daily La Nacion, Vian said the Pope’s intention “was to continue in the spirit of Vatican II. The Pope has preferred the medicine of mercy for the bishops excommunicated in 1988, in an extreme attempt to end the schism. As I wrote in an editorial, it was a gesture by Benedict XVI that would have pleased John XXIII and his successors. And what better occasion than the 50th anniversary of the announcement of the Council?”
Vian also explained that on Saturday, January 24, “the day on which the decree lifting the excommunication was made public, we provided the focus which I have just described, adding at the end that the unacceptable anti-Semitic statements and opinions of persons the L’Osservatore Romano never named, could not obscure the intention of the Pope,” alluding to the statements by Bishop Richard Williamson denying the Holocaust.
Asked about a possible visit to the Holy Land by the Pope in May, Vian said, “This Pope is not an enemy of Judaism, but rather it is the Pope who is taking the most steps towards rapprochement with the Jews. But there is somebody who wants to stop this! I don’t know where but there is…there are people who don’t want it, because it will be a trip of peace, and this trip of peace is going to bother some and it is bothering some.”
Vian admitted the Williamson case has caused much harm “to the entire Catholic Church.”
But Vian added, “there is a passage in the Gospel that says scandals must come. And by this I mean that the case can be positive,” since “this episode will force the traditionalists to confront the problem of anti-Semitism, not only denial of the Holocaust, which is huge in itself, something unthinkable, because it is to deny historical truth.”
He also noted that Bishop Williamson “also denies September 11 and thinks it was caused by the Americans. And it is a belief that is much more widespread than is believed. Anna Foa (a Jewish columnist with the LOR) wrote that denial of the Holocaust is often united with anti-American and anti-Israeli attitudes.”