Fire Damages the Chicago cathedral
Chicago (Feb 4) - Crews have extinguished fire at Holy Name Cathedral, a 134-year-old Chicago landmark, the seat of Cardinal Francis George. Flames shot through the church's blackened roof for about an hour before they were replaced by plumes of white smoke.
The Associated Press broke the story on Chicago's cathedral fire the same day the Vatican was reporting a readmitted "bishop" could not be let back into the church, not unless he disavowed his view the Holocaust was not an official act of the Nazi regime.
Nothing was said about the same man's claim the United States had staged the 9/11 deaths in order to justify invading Afghanistan.
Given other interpretations of Divine vengeance, it could be said the burning church was revenge for the pope's recent sins, especially ignorance. In a statement issued Tuesday, the day before the Holy Name Cathedral burned, Benedict XVI purported he had no idea of the anti-Semitism displayed on several broadcasts by Briton Richard Williamson. The calumny against the White House went unnoted.
To set the record straight, Mr. Williamson, and the three gentlemen welcomed back into the Vatican fold, were never appointed bishops by Rome. They were awarded rings and miters by a prelate considered at the time by John Paul II a heretic.
Retired French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre pronounced that he would not accept the changes that came out of Vatican II. He founded instead a society named for Pius X, as protest against the councils' positions that reached for modernism (aggiornomiento). The society wanted the church turned back into what it was under the pontiff who preached restoration for a world rapidly changing. Pius X was an ecclesiastical Luddite, and so was the society named for him.
People knowing even a little about the former Cardinal Josef Ratzinger cannot be surprised: John Paul II's former watchdog attempted conciliation with Archbishop Lefebvre while the popular Polish pontiff still reigned. Operating chiefly behind closed doors – but not entirely – Benedict XVI finished the task of eliminating liberals in important posts. He was powerfully assisted by the Vatican bureaucracy, the Curia, which fostered his engineering to become pope.
Gathering conservatives while ousting those who disagree, he's building a smaller church made up of "reliable" followers. The four not-legal "bishops" fill the bill so well that in recent days the Vatican radio and press office have given them the title. That seems from here an outrageous reward for coming back into the fold.
Other duly consecrated real prelates were forced out by the curia for accepting Vatican II's reforms; I have in mind Minneapolis' auxiliary bishop whom I knew: he was press spokesman for an annual U.S. bishops' conference, in Washington. The last thing I heard about him: he laicized and married.
As for the still offensive Mr. Williamson, he reportedly contacted the papal offices after he was let in from the ecclesiastical "cold." At no point apparently was he asked to make amends for his outrageous comments about the Holocaust; his lies about America have not been raised publicly since he made them.
When approached by the media, the head of an Argentinean Lefebvre seminary became invisible. Mr. Williamson refused to apologize for his assertion in several media: Hitler and his minions had nothing officially to do with the wholesale murders of Jews. He asserted forcefully there were no concentration camp gas ovens to burn bodies. Furthermore, he made clear he didn't believe the numbers. He reduced the six million victims to no more than several hundred thousand.
The alleged "bishop" in essence agreed with the overall horrors but quibbled about the numbers. He also differed with non-Jewish historians that a wartime conference at Berlin's Lake Wannsee called for the extermination of all Jews.
Now the readmitted "heretic," as labeled by John Paul II, can be expected to sing a different tune, reminiscent of a French king. Renouncing his life-long Protestantism, Henri IV proclaimed: "Paris is worth the price of a mass." He became Catholic to wear the crown legally. By denying his many anti-Semitic assertions, Richard Williamson may wear a bishop's miter legally. And the world's Jewish organizations can be expected to go along.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the papal secretariat of state admonished, "the pope asked the clergy and all the faithful support the very delicate and weighty mission of the successor of the Apostle Peter, who is custodian of the unity of the church."
There was absolutely no mention of the public outrage from his native Germany that caused Benedict XVI to alter his position, among those outraged were cardinals and the prime minister of a country where denying the Holocaust has long been a crime.
Similarly, Washington's silence permits the Vatican to ignore the serious charge against the United States. Not even George W. Bush's political enemies have accused the ex-president of causing 2,752 Americans' death to justify any Middle East incursion. Mr. Williamson said 9/11 was staged to get support for the invasion of Afghanistan.
Obviously "the very delicate and weighty mission of the successor of the Apostle Peter" condones the lie in order to get on with his business of tightening control over the Roman Catholic Church, once described as "the fairest daughter of Christianity."
Under Benedict XVI, however, that boast has become a lie; a divine lie, maybe. But still a lie.