The Pope Forgives Traditionalist Bishops
The Vatican presented the excommunication decree as a peace gesture to promote unity within the Catholic Church. The decision was criticized by some Jewish leaders because Richard Williamson, one of the four bishops, denied facts about the Holocaust. The Vatican denounced the comments in the newspaper L?Osservatore Romano, calling them unacceptable and that they violate Church teaching. Also, the Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi stressed that the bishop?s views have nothing to do with the decree. Bernard Fellay, who is the leader of the bishops, said the comments only reflected the personal opinions of one of its members and not the rest of the movement. The bishops belong to a fraternity officially known as the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X. This is a traditionalist Catholic institution that rejected some of the findings of Vatican II, such as the abandonment of the Mass in Latin and ecumenism. The excommunication does not mean that other supporters have returned in full communion with the Catholic Church. However, that could be the next step. An important step because the traditionalist fraternity has approximately 1 million followers worldwide.