Pope Benedict XVI's advisers are now taking the blame for the public relations catastrophe that ensued when the pope lifted the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson and three other schismatic bishops, according to the Toronto Star and other sources. Williamson as recently as last month denied the Holocaust, though Vatican officials have argued that the pope was unaware of Williamson's position. Williamson has since lost his post as head of a seminary in Argentina, which trained clergy for the Society of St. Pius X, according the International Herald Tribune.
The Vatican is in the process of trying to mend relations with Judaism, an effort that includes meetings in the coming days and weeks with Jewish leaders. Let us hope those conversations result in a robust restatement of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding Judaism, which affirmed God's enduring covenant with the Jewish people, rejected the view that Jews are guilty in the death of Jesus, and condemned anti-Semitism.
But let us also hope that this current PR disaster teaches the pope a lesson: It's time that the Holy Father surrounded himself with more, and more capable, advisers. No one person can shepherd the church alone.