January 27, 2009
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM STATEMENT CONCERNING VATICAN DECISION ON BISHOP RICHARD WILLIAMSON
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is deeply dismayed by the recent decision of the Vatican regarding the status within the Church of Richard Williamson, a Bishop of the Society of St. Pius X. Bishop Williamson’s statements denying the Holocaust are openly antisemitic and antithetical to the growing spirit of mutual respect that has characterized Catholic-Jewish relations for an entire generation since Vatican II. Holocaust denial is an insult to the victims and an affront to Catholics who rescued Jews. Pope John Paul II, who witnessed firsthand the horrors of the Holocaust in his native Poland, declared, “Antisemitism is a sin against God and humanity.” The recent action of the Vatican appears to lend legitimacy to Bishop Williamson’s opinions, official statements to the contrary notwithstanding.
During his recent visit to the United States, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI accepted as a gift a menorah in memory of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. The Museum calls upon Pope Benedict to make it clear that antisemitism and Holocaust denial have no standing in the Church and to publicly repudiate all forms of Holocaust denial and trivialization, whatever their source.
The Museum will continue to work together with Catholics who are committed to educating about the Holocaust and honoring the memory of its victims.