Debate over Vatican's rehabilitation of bishop


SEANAD REPORT:UNIVERSITY MEMBERS clashed over the rehabilitation by the Vatican of a bishop embroiled in a Holocaust denial controversy.

Joe O’Toole (Ind) urged that the Minister for Foreign Affairs ask the Irish Ambassador to the Vatican to seek clarification from its secretary of state about the rehabilitation of Bishop Richard Williamson and the view of the “leader of the Vatican” about the denial of the Holocaust.

Mr O’Toole said he had certainly been one of the people who had given the benefit of the doubt to the pope on the question of his being a member of the Hitler Youth, because he felt it would be unfair to make a judgment about what he had done as a young man.

“But I really am horrified at the latest development,” he said.

Ronan Mullen (Ind) said he did not think it was appropriate to have the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See involved in the way suggested, when people who were raising these matters clearly knew very little of what had gone on. This had absolutely nothing to do with Holocaust denial.

David Norris (Ind): “Cardinal Kasper certainly seems to be anxious about it. He ought to know: he’s German and is a cardinal.”

Mr Mullen said that those who believed in the separation of church and state should surely wonder at the leader of the German republic presuming to tell one of her countrymen what he should be doing or saying on behalf of the church.

However, the Seanad was not the forum to explain to the ignorant what had gone on here. “But certainly I would encourage the ignorant to inform themselves before they deliver themselves irresponsibly of certain comments.”

Ivana Bacik (Ind) said she was delighted at Mr Mullen’s expression of support for the separation of church and state. Many Senators had long called for such a separation, particularly in regard to educational and healthcare systems in this country.

Ms Bacik said she took exception to the way in which Mr Mullen lectured anyone who dared to criticise the reported papal decision on Bishop Williamson, who had clearly denied the Holocaust.

“I think it’s appalling and I think that chancellor Angela Merkel is right to make a diplomatic issue of this with the Vatican state,” she added.