Catholic lawmakers press pope on Williamson

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Fifty Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives pressed Pope Benedict XVI to fully repudiate the views of a Holocaust-denying bishop.

"Your Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, As Catholic Members of Congress, we are writing to express our deep concerns with your decision to reinstate Bishop Richard Williamson to communion with the Catholic Church at the same time that Bishop Williamson publicly denies that the Holocaust occurred or that such was the policy under Adolf Hitler," they wrote in a letter sent last month after Williamson’s reinstatement was announced. "We do not question your reasons for revoking the excommunication of Bishop Williamson or your right to do so, but we fail to understand why the revocation was not accompanied by an emphatic public rejection of his denial of the Holocaust."

Williamson was excommunicated in 1988 by the late Pope John Paul II for defying the teachings of the 1965 Second Vatican Council, which removed from the Jewish people the guilt of deicide.

The letter was spearheaded by U.S. Reps William Delahunt (D-Mass.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who is married to Stanley Greenberg, a leading Democratic pollster who is active in pro-Israel circles.

Subdequent to sending the letter, the Vatican called on Williamson to take back his Holocaust denials. In a short statement, DeLauro and Delahunt welcomed the call but added, "In its initial offer to reinstate Bishop Williamson to communion, the Church’s silence on his view that the Holocaust never existed was deeply troubling."

DeLauro is part of a congressional delegation led by U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House speaker, visiting Italy this week. During the tour, Pelosi and her husband met alone with the pope.

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