No excuse for anti-Semitism

NOT being a Roman Catholic, I had not heard of the ultra-Conservative sect the Society of St Pius X, which celebrates mass in Norwich among other places throughout Britain.

Graham Dines

NOT being a Roman Catholic, I had not heard of the ultra-Conservative sect the Society of St Pius X, which celebrates mass in Norwich among other places throughout Britain.

One of its members is Richard Williamson, a “bishop” who has reopened festering sores by denying the Holocaust. He told a Swedish television network: “I believe there were no gas chambers - I think that two to three hundred thousand Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps but none of them by gas chambers.”

Williamson was excommunicated 20 years' ago by Pope John Paul II on his appointment as a “bishop” by the sect's founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was angered at the Second Vatican Council's reforms on religious freedom and pluralism which Pius X had railed against when he was pope.

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German-born Pope Benedict XVI, who has been unbending in his condemnation of Holocaust deniers, nevertheless has welcomed Williamson and other “bishops” back into the fold. It is a decision which has angered MPs, including junior communities minister Sadiq Khan who said in the Commons that Holocaust denial was an “anti-Semitism masked under a veil of pseudo historical revisionism” and a “gross insult.”

In a debate marking Holocaust Memorial Day, Labour's David Winnick urged the minister to “deplore the fact that a British born bishop, a holocaust denier, obviously pro-Nazi, has been brought back into the fold by the Vatican.

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“And although the Vatican, I accept, has totally disassociated itself from his remark isn't it rather unfortunate this bishop is allowed to be such a senior person in the catholic clergy when he simply denies the gas chambers existed.”

Tory Julian Lewis (New Forest East) said: “I'm sure British Roman Catholics and British Jews and those of no religion whatsoever will be absolutely horrified about what the Pope has done.”

Williamson has apologised to the Pope, but didn't refer to the Holocaust. “Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept my sincere regrets for having caused to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems.”

But just as anger at the terrible events of September 11 2001 never not have been turned into attacks against Muslims worldwide, so protests against the Israelis should not be used as an excuse to celebrate the actions of Hitler or to “drive the Jews into the sea,” which is the avowed aim of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

BUSINESS Secretary Lord Mandelson is backing plans to create a “people's bank” using the Post Office branch network. So what was Giro Bank, which the Tories flogged off to Alliance & Leicester? Yes, it was a proper people's bank, which handled giro payments for those on benefits. It's fair to say that if Giro Bank had not been privatised, benefit payments would still be paid through Royal Mail Giro bank accounts, and loss-making sub-post offices now being closed would have been saved.

Another fine privatisation mess!

READ my tribute on the Day the Music Died at

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