Is it better to challenge or ignore Holocaust deniers such as Bishop
Richard Williamson and Iranian President Mahmoud
The embrace by the Vatican of the anti-Semitic Bishop Richard Williamson is an embarrassment to Christians everywhere. It is not surprising, however, as the Roman Catholic Church continues its process designed to beatify Pope Pius XII, who at best turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to Hitler's atrocities and at worst actually facilitated them. It is easier for me to understand Iranian President Amadenijad's outrageous remarks for he makes no pretense about moral leadership.
The Roman Catholic hierarchy's attempt to cover up the crime of priestly child abuse, then promotion of Cardinal Bernard Law to a Vatican position of honor after his blatant encouragement of a cover-up, its election of Cardinal Ratzinger to be pope and now its embrace of people like Bishop Williamson, make its moral leadership so deeply compromised as to be an affront to millions. Even the leader of Germany, Angela Merkel, has condemned those actions of the German pope.
Does it help to confront such behavior? It think it probably does, but the real tragedy is that these ecclesiastical patterns are so persistent and so regular that ultimately the Vatican and other like-minded church leaders will be ignored as Christianity becomes more and more irrelevant and self-serving in the eyes of most people. Actions like these mean that church leaders no longer have any respect and people could care less what the institutional Christian church thinks or says on any subject.
John Shelby Spong
February 11, 2009; 4:22 PM ET
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