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Catholic Members of Congress Express Concern to Pope Benedict XVI over Bishop Williamson’s Denial of the Holocaust

January 30, 2009
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Nearly 50 Catholic Members of Congress wrote to Pope Benedict XVI to urge his direct repudiation of Bishop Richard Williamson’s public denial that the Holocaust occurred.

Below is the text of the letter.

January 29, 2009

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI Apostolic Palace 00120, Vatican City State, Europe

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. 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. As such, we seek clarification on this important matter.

Bishop Williamson has said as recently as this past November that, “historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy by Adolf Hitler.” Yet, the Holocaust is a verifiable fact and as people of good will would agree, one of the darkest chapters in our history as a human family. There are still thousands of people amongst us – Jews and non-Jews – who can attest through eye-witness accounts to the horrors of the Holocaust. Bishop Williamson’s comments regarding the Holocaust echo those of neo-Nazis, Islamist extremists, racists and others who choose hatred and violence over peaceful co-existence among peoples of all races and ethnicities.

We understand that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has said that this issue is unrelated to the reinstatement of Bishop Williamson and that you do not share in his views. And we welcome your recent statement expressing "full and indisputable solidarity" with the Jewish people. But this is too sensitive an issue to be handled without a direct repudiation of Bishop Williamson’s views. As a spiritual leader and the head of the Catholic Church, we believe it is vital that you publicly state your unequivocal position on this matter so that it is clear where the Church stands on one of the most consequential events of the 20th century. To neglect to do so is to allow others to portray it as they wish and impede the progress made over so many years toward harmony and reconciliation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully,

ROSA L. DeLAURO

WILLIAM DELAHUNT

ANNA ESHOO JAMES L. OBERSTAR BART STUPAK

BILL PASCRELL

CHRISTOPHER P. CARNEY

GERALD E. CONNOLLY MAURICE D. HINCHEY

JIM COSTA

PHIL HARE

JOSEPH CROWLEY

PETER DEFAZIO

PATRICK J. KENNEDY

DENNIS J. KUCINICH JAMES P. MORAN

WM. LACY CLAY

RICHARD E. NEAL

ALBIO SIRES

PETER WELCH

TIM RYAN

TOM PERRIELLO LINDA SÁNCHEZ

LUIS V. GUTIERREZ

CAROL SHEA-PORTER

MICHAEL F. DOYLE

DENNIS A. CARDOZA

JOHN LARSON

XAVIER BECERRA

GEORGE MILLER

FRANK PALLONE

BETTY McCOLLUM

JAMES A. McGOVERN

JACKIE SPEIER

CAROLYN McCARTHY

EDWARD J. MARKEY

NYDIA VELAZQUEZ

STEPHEN F. LYNCH

JOSE E. SERRAMO

SILVESTRE REYES

RAUL GRIJALVA

JOE BACA

BRIAN HIGGINS

MIKE THOMPSON

JERRY F. COSTELLO

DIANE WATSON

JOHN A BOCCIERI

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For more information contact:

Adriana Surfas, DeLauro, 202-225-3661

Rory Sheehan, Delahunt, 202-225-3111

Danielle Lee, Eshoo, 202-225-8104

John Schadl, Oberstar, 202-225-6211

Nick Choate, Stupak, 202-225-4735

Caley Gray, Pascrell, 973-523-5152

Rebecca Gale, Carney, 202-225-3731

George Burke, Connolly, 202-225-1492

Jeff Lieberson, Hinchey, 202-225-6335

Bret Rumbeck, Costa, 202-225-3341

Tim Schlittner, Hare, 202-225-5905

Angela Barranco, Crowley, 202-225-3965

Ron Kreskey, DeFazio, 202-225-6416

Molly Simmons, DeFazio, 202-225-6416

Kerrie Bennett, Kennedy, 202-225-4911

Nathaniel White, Kucinich, 202-225-5871

Austin Durrer, Jim Moran, 202-225-4376

Steven Engelhardt, Clay, 202-225-2406

William Tranghese, Neal, 202-225-5601

Erica Daughtrey, Sires, 202-225-7919

Paul Heintz, Welch, 202-225-4115

Brad Bauman, Tim Ryan, 202-225-5261

Jessica Barba, Perriello, 202-225-4711

Marsha Catron, Linda Sánchez, 202-225-6676

Rebecca Dreilinger, Gutierrez, 202-225-8203

Jamie Radice, Shea-Porter, 202-225-5456

Matt Dinkel, Doyle, 202-225-2135

Mike Jensen, Cardoza, 202-225-6131

Emily Barocas, Larson, 202-225-2265

Fabiola Rodriguez, Becerra, 202-225-6235

Amy Peake, Miller, 202-225-2095

Tali Israeli, Pallone, 202-225-4671

Cleve Mesidor, McCollum, 202-225-6631

Michael Mershon, McGovern, 202-225-6101

Mike Larsen, Speier, 202-225-3531

Phil Putter, Carolyn McCarthy, 202-225-5516

Dan Reilly, Markey, 202-225-2836

Gail O’Connor, Velazquez, 202-225-2361

Meaghan Maher, Lynch, 202-225-8273

Philip Schmidt, Serrano, 202-225-4361

Vincent Perez, Reyes, 202-225-4831

Natalie Luna, Grijalva, 202-225-2435

John Lowrey, Baca, 202-225-6161

Caitlin Wolf, Higgins, 202-225-3306

Laurel Brown, M. Thompson, 202-225-3311

David Gillies, J. Costello, 202-225-5661

Paula Negrete, Loretta Sanchez, 202-225-2965

Dorinda White, Watson, 202-225-7084

Jessica Kershaw, Boccieri, 202-225-3876