One man Pope Benedict will be keen to avoid on his UK visit next year is Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson, whose views embarrassed the Vatican earlier this year.
Booted out of Argentina, the errant priest returned to Britain in February, under orders to recant. When I asked about him at the London branch of SSPX, the maverick sect to which he belongs, a secretary did not know of his whereabouts.
But SSPX has its own issues with Jews, it seems. In a newsletter, the sect’s British chief, Father Paul Morgan, cites a recent interview with SSPX international head, Bishop Bernard Fellay, who — in Morgan’s words — believes the Vatican to be “overly sensitive to the Jewish lobby”, which exerts “undue influence” on Catholic affairs.
In a previous newsletter, Father Morgan also criticised the Church of England’s refusal to sell a disused chapel in Manchester to his sect. A Jewish opponent of the sale, he said, had claimed that the Jewish community felt threatened because SSPX rejected the Vatican reforms absolving the Jews of deicide. An indignant Morgan reported his protest at these “inflammatory words which smacked of that same language of persecution which the Jews themselves denounce so wholeheartedly when it concerns them”.
And who helped influence those Vatican reforms? “The powerful Jewish lobby,” he wrote.