Collateral damage

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The news after the rehabilitation of the Lefebrvites keeps getting worse: The chief rabbinate of Israel has broken off ties with the Vatican, despite Pope Benedict's protestations that he does not share Bishop Richard Williamson's denial of the Holocaust, according to the Jerusalem Post. Healing this new rift will indeed take time.

The pope is drawing fire from Catholics as well, notably in France, with essayist Matthieu Grimpret writing that the rehabilitation gives "the despicable impression that it's better for Catholics to be anti-Semitic than divorced." Italian historian of the church Alberto Melloni noted that Benedict's action is causing confusion among Catholics, writing, "the faithful, bishops and cardinals are wondering whether (the conclusions of) Vatican II have become optional," according to AFP.

I think Pope Benedict can be fairly criticized on both Catholic-Jewish grounds and on the grounds of preserving the integrity of Vatican II. Whether he intended to or not, he has spawned a new uproar that was utterly unnecessary. The fact that neither the pope nor the Catholic Church actually share Williamson's position is really beside the point.