The Vatican on Friday rejected an apology from a bishop whose denial of the Holocaust caused international uproar between Jews and Catholics, saying it did not meet its demand for a full and public recanting.
Jewish groups praised the Vatican for its tough stand, which Vatican sources said will likely make it harder for the traditionalist bishop to be fully re-admitted into the Church and lead to greater scrutiny of the society to which he belongs.
British Bishop Richard Williamson, who was ordered to leave Argentina and is now in his homeland, issued on Thursday a statement in which he said, "To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize."
Chief Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Williamson's statement "does not seem to respect the conditions" set forth by the Vatican on February 4, when it ordered him to "in an absolutely unequivocal and public way distance himself from his positions" regarding the Holocaust.
PRO-ISRAEL JEWS SAY APOLOGY 'EMPTY'
Pro-Israel Jewish groups praised the Vatican for not accepting Williamson's apology. "The Vatican clearly understands the critical issue here," said David A. Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. "Williamson still refuses to acknowledge the Holocaust as a historical fact. Until he explicitly says otherwise, he remains in the camp of the Holocaust deniers. He is not fooling anyone, least of all the Vatican." "We commend the Vatican for standing firm and not permitting a person who believes that the Nazi Holocaust is a lie to have any role in the Church," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Even before the Vatican rejected Williamson's statement, Jewish groups branded his apology as shallow and empty.
DENY THE HOLOCAUST AND WE’LL INSULT JESUS AND MARY
Amid this pro-Israel uproar, the Vatican seems to be going easy with this week’s scandalous talk show on Israel’s Channel 10 in which Jesus Christ and his holy mother Mary were offended, insulted and laughed at by an Israeli audience for over an hour.
A statement from the Vatican press office said its representative in Israel complained to the government about the show.
The statement said the government quickly assured the Holy See that it would intervene to interrupt the transmission and get the broadcaster to publicly apologize. But it wasn't immediately clear how the government could do so since Channel 10 is a private station and is not subject to government censorship, except in matters of security.
In the show, hosted by Israeli comedian Lior Shlein, Mary is said to have become pregnant at 15, thanks to a schoolmate. It said Jesus could never have walked on water because "he was so fat he was ashamed to leave the house, let alone go to the Sea of Galilee with a bathing suit."
Shlein said he was doing so as a "lesson" to Christians who deny the Holocaust.