The NY Times reports that in 1989 a Vichy war criminal, Paul Touvier, was found hiding in a monastery run by the founder of the group, Archbishop Lefebvre, and arrested. He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity.
Two things bother me about the Papal reaction. One, it is, not surprisingly, couched in an outreach to Jews. While this is understandable and makes perfect sense, it obfuscates the heart of the issue which is that Williamson is speaking complete lies and nonsense and is making claims that are totally anti-historical.
Simply put, this is not just an insult to Jews. It is an insult to truth and memory. It is an insult to intellect [something Pope Benedict values greatly]. It is an insult to rational thought.
The second thing -- and this is something which certain Catholic clerics with whom I am friendly have pointed out to me -- in his frequent condemnations of antisemitism, Pope Benedict always speaks of it as growing out of a pagan force. He completely fails to link it to Christian theology and history.
For example, at World Youth Day when he spoke at a synagogue in Cologne. He said the following [I have highlighted the seminal phrase]:
And in the 20th century, in the darkest period of German and European history, an insane racist ideology, born of neo-paganism, gave rise to the attempt, planned and systematically carried out by the regime, to exterminate European Jewry. The result has passed into history as the Shoah.At best it is a form of historical obfuscation. At its worst it too is a form of denial.