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Pope "Suffered" Over Bishop's Row

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« on: March 14, 2009, 08:07:11 am »

                                            Pope 'suffered' over bishop's row

                                  Benedict's letter an 'unusual' document, Vatican says

- Vatican City,
March 12, 2009

- A personal letter from Pope Benedict XVI to the world's Catholic bishops shows how the pontiff has ''suffered'' over a row following the rehabilitation of a Holocaust denier and three other ultra-traditionalist bishops, Vatican Spokesman Federico Lombardi said Thursday.

The Vatican on Thursday officially released the four-page letter in six languages, confirming leaks of the text published in the Italian media Wednesday.

The text focuses on the tensions within the Catholic Church, rather than with Jews, caused by the affair, and Benedict thanks his ''Jewish friends'' who he says ''quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust''.

In the letter Benedict admits to ''mistakes'' over the handling of the affair, including the Holy See's failure to learn that British bishop Richard Williamson was a Holocaust denier by not checking the Internet, where the information was posted.

The pope also expresses ''regret'' for not having explained the ramifications of the rehabilitation of the four bishops, who belong to the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) which broke with Rome over the liberal reforms fo the Second Vatican Council.

Benedict says that as a result of the breakaway bishops' rehabilitation he was ''openly accused'' of ''wanting to turn back the clock to before the Council'' and speaks of an ''avalanche of protests''.

The pope stressed that the rehabilitation of the bishops in January was a gesture towards reconciliation but did not mean that SSPX now possesses canonical status in the Church nor that its ministers can legitimately work within the Church.

Benedict defends his decision to rehabilitate the bishops within a context of Christian unity in a world where ''God is disappearing from the human horizon'' but stresses that SSPX will not be recognised until it accepts the Second Vatican Council reforms. The pope hits out at other Catholics for his treatment over the affair, saying that he felt his attempts to reach out to the breakaway group resulted in him ''losing any right to tolerance'' and being ''treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint''.
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2009, 08:08:53 am »


Father Lombardi said Thursday that there should be ''no doubt that the letter is (Benedict's) from the first word to the last'', describing it as ''personal and intense''.

''It's a very unusual document and worthy of the greatest attention,'' Lombardi said, adding that it revealed the pope's ''clear participation and suffering'' in the affair.

He stresses that the pope ''does not want to block dialogue within the church'', but wants this to go ahead ''in a respectful manner''.

''Saying that the pope wants to go back on the Council is not something to be taken lightly,'' he said.

The Second Vatican Council of 1962-65 tried to equip the Church for life in the modern world and introduced reforms in liturgy, ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue and religious liberty.

Among the changes was the shift from the 'Tridentine' or Latin Mass towards ceremonies held in modern languages.

Benedict, then Joseph Ratzinger, has been working to reunite SSPX with the Catholic Church since 1988. The German-born pope is himself an admirer of the traditional rites in Latin and his initiative to allow its return - as an option alongside the modern mass - had been expected almost since he was elected in April 2005.

SSPX is the only group to break away from the 1.1-billion strong Roman Catholic Church since the reforms of the early 1960s.
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