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Published:January 24th, 2009 15:12 EST
Pope Benedict

Pontiff Welcomes Anti-Semitic Bishop Back To The Fold

By Robert Paul Reyes

"Pope Benedict Saturday rehabilitated a traditionalist bishop who denies the Holocaust, despite warnings from Jewish leaders that it would seriously harm Catholic-Jewish relations and foment anti-Semitism.

The Vatican said the pope issued a decree lifting the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops who were thrown out of the Roman Catholic Church in 1988 for being ordained without Vatican permission."

Pope Benedict Reuters

It should be noted that Richard Williamson, the traditionalist bishop, was excommunicated for being ordained without Vatican permission and not for his anti-Semitic rants. The pontiff views anti-Semitism as a peccadillo, but any challenge to his authority is a mortal offense.

Churches within the Baptist denomination enjoy a great deal of autonomy, and if a pastor of a Southern Baptist congregation in Memphis declares that Barack Obama is the anti-Christ it`s understood that he`s speaking only for himself. Nobody is going to accuse the Souther Baptist leadership of calling Obama a devil.

But the Roman Catholic Church is an authoritarian institution that doesn`t tolerate any dissent, any priest or bishop that dares contradict the Vatican will be harshly disciplined. If the Roman Catholic Church welcomes an anti-Semite back to the fold, it means that the Vatican doesn`t find bigotry against Jews very troubling.