Southern Religion

Should the Pope step down? [Updated]

An eminent theologian and an expert in religious history suggest that solution to damage done by Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial revocation of excommunications and other disruptive actions.

Reports the Globe & Mail:

Criticism following the pope’s January 24 announcement has been particularly cutting in Germany, where denying the Holocaust is a crime punishable with a jail sentence.

“If the pope wants to do some good for the church, he should leave his job,” eminent liberal Catholic theologian Hermann Haering told the German daily Tageszeitung.

The case of Richard Williamson, an English bishop who is on record as denying that six million Jews were gassed by the Nazis during World War II, has drawn the most criticism. CBS reported:

The internal damage is profound also, it seems:

“A pardon that tastes of poison,” wrote Franco Garelli, an expert in religious history, in Italy’s daily La Stampa on Monday.

“The trouble caused by this complicated affair is evident not only outside the church but within it,” wrote the academic, who spoke of the “profound discomfort stirred up by the lifting of the excommunication in numerous Catholic circles”.

If the pope were to step down that “would not be a scandal,” Haering said, for “a bishop has to relinquish his position at 75 years, a cardinal loses his rights at 80 years.”


According to Reuters today, top-selling German daily Bild said in a front-page editorial:

Pope Benedict XVI is inflicting great damage on Germany . . . The pope must correct his mistake, reverse his decision and excuse himself.

Agence France Presse reported today:

“Now every far-right extremist will be able to say: Pope Benedict XVI has welcomed back into the church a Holocaust denier,” Salomon Korn, vice-president of Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Spiegel weekly in an interview. “By taking [Williamson] back into the church, the pope has made a Holocaust denier socially acceptable and sent a disastrous message,” Korn said. “What Benedict has done is unforgivable.”

German legal and political issues further complicate the matter. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany. State prosecutors in the southern city of Regensburg are investigating Williamson for incitement. German neo-Nazi websites and blogs have published contributions supporting Williamson’s stand.

Four years after the election of this German pope brought fourth a burst of national pride, general dismay over his missteps is, the evidence suggests, now growing.

According to the Associated Press, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the pope today to make a “very clear” rejection of Williamson’s Holocaust denials. In a decidedly rare demand she said she “does not believe” there has been adequate clarification by the German-born pope.

Late Tuesday, the Vatican rejected Merkel’s demand.

Deutsche Welle says “outrage” over the pope’s actions “is showing no signs of abating in the pontiff’s native Germany.”

February 3, 2009 - Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | ,


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