The Emperor’s New Clothes (TENC) *

You may send this article or the link to any person or Internet list. You may post any TENC article on the Internet as long as you cite Emperor’s Clothes as the source, credit the author(s), and state the URL, which in this case is

To receive Emperor's Clothes articles by email, subscribe to the TENC Newsletter. Just send a blank email with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to  You will receive a confirmation email within a day.  (If you don’t, please check your email filter.) Please reply to that email and add to your personal address book.

Our readers make TENC possible. Please donate!


Papal Bull: Mr. Ratzinger Pretends to Oppose Antisemitism

Research and writing by Jared Israel
Research, translation and editing by Samantha Criscione

[May 21, 2009]


On May 12, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI spoke at Ben Gurion airport:

[Agence France Presse dispatch starts here]

“Sadly anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head in many parts of the world,” Benedict said after he touched down in Israel from Jordan on the latest leg of an eight-day Holy Land pilgrimage.

“This is totally unacceptable. Every effort must be made to combat anti-Semitism wherever it is found, and to promote respect and esteem for the members of every people, tribe, language [sic] and nation across the globe.”

[My emphasis – J.I.]

– “Pope slams anti-Semitism on Israel visit,” by Catherine Jouault, AFP, May 11, 2009;

[Agence France Presse dispatch ends here]

This sounds good, but talk is cheap, so the question is: was the pope sincere? Actions test words. We can’t read the pope’s mind but we can examine his actions during the storm that broke Jan. 24, 2009, when the pope lifted the excommunication of leaders of the Catholic group, the Society of St. Pius X or SSPX, which the media calls ‘traditionalist’ but I call ‘clerical fascist.’

Was the pope being honest when he spoke at Ben Gurion airport, or was he hustling the public with antiracist hype, while in fact fostering a return to what I call ‘political antisemitism,’ the Vatican-created movement based on slandering Jews as all-powerful, evil conspirators, a movement that shamed the Catholic church throughout Europe and the Americas in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th?

Let us examine the facts about the SSPX affair, including some remarkably dishonest media coverage, the better to judge Mr. Raztinger’s sincerity.


A worldwide revolt against Vatican policy


On Jan. 24, 2009 a Vatican spokesman announced the lifting of the excommunications of four bishops from the Society of St. Pius X, the SSPX. Pope John Paul II had excommunicated the four on July 1, 1988 after SSPX founder Marcel Lefebvre ordained them as bishops in defiance of the Vatican. The ordination was not merely “unsanctioned,” as recently reported by The New York Times and others; it was, according to a Vatican statement, “carried out explicitly against the Pope’s will,” thus constituting the offense of ‘schism,’ making it all the more significant when Benedict XVI reversed Pope John Paul II’s ruling of excommunication.

Why the huge protest? Although the media said little about the political views of the SSPX, they did report that one of the bishops, Richard Williamson, had given a Holocaust-denying interview, broadcast on Swedish TV on Jan. 21, 2009.

The media has presented Williamson as an isolated nut, but during the twenty years of his excommunication, he has not been isolated. When he made public statements such as the following–

“‘There was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies,’ he said in a speech in 1989, shortly after he became rector [of the SSPX’s Winona Seminary in Minnesota – J.I.]. ‘The Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new State of Israel ... Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil, and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism.’”

[My emphasis – J.I.]

– 1989 speech by Bishop Williamson at Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes church in Sherbrooke, Canada, quoted in “Holocaust-denying bishop lived at Winona seminary for 15 years,” by Mark Sommerhauser, Winona Daily News, February 08, 2009

–he was speaking as a bishop and as the rector of the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota. During that time, he wrote monthly seminary “Rector’s Letters,” which present him in a deadly light for those who know some history, and which the SSPX distributed internationally as inspirational/educational tools. For example, SSPX Canada published Williamson’s claim, made two weeks after 9-11, that God uses Jews to punish Catholics for faithlessness and that:

“as Catholics have grown over the centuries since then [i.e., since the Middle Ages – J.I.] weaker and weaker in the faith, especially since Vatican II, so the Jews have come closer and closer to fulfilling their substitute-Messianic drive towards world dominion.”

– Bishop Williamson, Letter of October 1, 2001, “World Trade Center – The Scourge of Sin.”
Posted until recently by SSPX Canada at and by the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary at
Now removed from both websites. Archived as posted by SSPX Canada, at

This is the language of fanatical Catholicism, but it is modern fanatical Catholicism, clerical fascism, to which Williamson’s letters-to-the-public are a textbook introduction.  Before the pope lifted the SSPX excommunications, we found Williamson’s collected letters on the websites of SSPX Canada and the SSPX seminary in Winona, Minnesota.  Checking in preparation for this article, we found that SSPX Canada has removed them all. The Winona seminary still has some posted, but others have been deleted there too, including his October 1, 2001 letter, “World Trade Center – The Scourge of Sin,” quoted above, a September 2001 letter, “Girls at University – Emancipation’s Mess of Pottage,” which is an attack on women worthy of the Taliban, a May 2000 letter, “Our Lady of Fatima,” in which he wrote “God puts in men’s hands the ‘Protocols of the Sages of Sion [or Zion - J.I.]’ and the ‘Rakovsky Interview’, if men want to know the truth, but few do,” a May 1999 letter, “What is Happening in Yugoslavia?” in which he wrote that, regarding the 1999 bombing, “the primary motive [is]: the exemplary crushing of the last remains of nationalism by Judeo-masonry’s New World Order internationalism,” and some others. Obviously, this pruning of texts – not refuting them, but removing them as if they had never existed – was a public relations gesture, intended to minimize opposition to the pope’s rehabilitation of the SSPX bishops, and to the pope.  And, obviously, erasure of position-statements under compulsion does not indicate a change of heart.  Quite the contrary, SSPX members are undoubtedly telling each other and anyone else who will listen that the removal of Williamson’s letters just goes to show the secret power of “those Jews.”

Williamson’s ‘Jews-persecute-gentiles-and-seek-world-domination’ theme is not past history. It was put forward in part by top Vatican official Peter Gumpel on Canadian TV on the eve of Pope John Paul II’s March 2000 trip to the Middle East.
[3] It is the underlying accusation of much media coverage of Israel. It is bluntly argued all over the Internet. It is the substance of Croatian rock star Marko Perkovic Thompson‘s song, “Alas My People,” which he sang on his 2007 US tour. [4] To the guaranteed delight of the Vatican, some people have even argued that it was to help Israel that the U.S. intervened against the Bosnian Serbs during the 1990s.

Aware that Williamson is not merely a nut, that his politics are shared by the SSPX
and many outside that group [5], some Jewish leaders and many Christians, especially, to my pleasant surprise, Germans, raised a hurricane of protest immediately the excommunication-lifting was announced Jan. 24, 2009. As late as Feb. 3, Reuters quoted the following from Bild, the most-read German newspaper. Ellipses as in original:

[Excerpt from Reuters dispatch starts here]

“The pope has made a serious mistake. That he is a German pope makes the matter especially bad,” read its editorial.

Pope Benedict XVI is inflicting great damage on Germany ... The pope must correct his mistake, reverse his decision and excuse himself,” it said, in comments echoed by other papers.

[My emphasis – J.I.]

–“German pope becomes an embarrassment in homeland”, Reuters, Feb. 3, 2009, or

[Excerpt from Reuters dispatch ends here]

In response to this storm, on Feb. 4 the Vatican demanded that Williamson publicly reject Holocaust denial, claiming that when the pope lifted the excommunication he was unaware of Williamson’s views.

Was this defense-by-virtue-of-ignorance true? If so, then the pope’s speech at Ben Gurion airport might be sincere. But if the pope knew all along about the Nazi-type antisemitism of Williamson and the SSPX, then the ignorance defense was a lie to lull opponents, and by extension, the Ben Gurion speech was more of the same. And if so we must ask: why did the pope embrace the SSPX, whose return to full involvement can only strengthen antisemitic forces within the Catholic church?


The media’s verdict: not guilty


Reading this, people might ask, “But wasn’t it proven last winter that the pope didn’t know Williamson’s views when he lifted the excommunications?”

No, no shred of evidence was offered, anywhere. A widespread impression of proof was created by a media deluge in March, a deluge chilling not only for its dishonesty but for the similarity of language different media used to promote that dishonesty.

In February, media such as BBC , The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN took a seemingly neutral stance, reporting the substance of the Vatican’s February 4, 2009 statement while avoiding critical comment.

Thus the BBC wrote:

[Excerpt from February 4th BBC report starts here]

A statement said British Bishop Richard Williamson must “unequivocally” distance himself from his statements to serve in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Vatican also said that the Pope had not been aware of the bishop’s views when he lifted excommunications on him and three other bishops last month.

[My emphasis – J.I.]

“‘Holocaust bishop’ told to recant,” BBC , Feb. 4, 2009, 

[Excerpt from February 4th BBC report ends here]

Notice the ambiguity of the phrase “to serve.” For those who read a bit further, the BBC quoted the Vatican text, according to which “to serve” meant “to be admitted to the Episcopal functions of the Church,” but the BBC never explained “Episcopal functions.” This reporting, typical of leading English-language media, was very misleading. Contrary to the impression the media conveyed, Williamson’s excommunication was lifted regardless of whether he changed his stand on the Holocaust. Only his right to legitimately exercise the functions of a bishop (i.e., “Episcopal functions”) was at issue. And, as the media chose not to point out, this meant that if Williamson retracted his Holocaust denial, even if he continued to accuse Jews of conspiring for world conquest, he could legitimately “serve,” i.e., function as a bishop in the church, making him a possible future candidate for Cardinal or even pope.

While in February leading English-language media took a low-key approach, avoiding both incisive criticism and open defense of the pope, in March they aggressively defended and even lied for the pope. Reporting about a March 10 papal letter to bishops on the excommunications affair these media:

A) Falsely framed the bishops letter as a “disarmingly human” admission of fault, leading the public to believe that the pope had humbled himself in order to woo those who criticized him in January and February. In fact the March letter was a fierce attack on critics and an endorsement of the SSPX.

B) These media also reopened discussion of the Vatican’s Feb. 4th ‘pope-didn’t-know’ postulation, discovering that miraculously it had become established fact.

Both these themes are manifest in a BBC article of March 12th. Framing the pope’s letter to bishops as a serious self-criticism, the BBC headlined its piece, “Pope admits Holocaust row errors.” (My emphasis.)

On February 4, the BBC had reported:

The Vatican also said that the Pope had not been aware of the bishop’s views when he lifted excommunications on him and three other bishops last month.”
[My emphasis – J.I.]

But on March 12, the BBC reported:

“In January, the Pope lifted the excommunication imposed 20 years earlier on Bishop Williamson and three other bishops, unaware of his controversial remarks.”
[My emphasis – J.I.]
– “Pope admits Holocaust row errors,” BBC , March 12, 2009,

So whereas in February the BBC wrote “The Vatican also said that the Pope had not been aware,” now the BBC removed the phrase “the Vatican also said,” presenting the pope’s alleged unawareness as a known fact. In fact no proof had been offered and none was offered now. This was revealed truth. A modern miracle.

In the March 12 piece, the BBC went so far as to frame the pope’s self-justification in his March 10 letter to bishops as an admission:

“In the letter, which was published on Thursday, the Pope acknowledges that the Vatican must in future pay more attention to the internet as a source of information.”
[My emphasis – J.I.]

Similarly, The New York Times story had the headline:

“Pope Admits Online News Can Provide Infallible Aid”
[My emphasis – J.I.]
– “Pope Admits Online News Can Provide Infallible Aid,” by Rachel Donadio, The New York Times, March 12, 2009

The word ‘admits’ connotes a confession of fault. But what did the pope “admit” in the bishops letter? Presenting his effort to reconcile with the SSPX as a “discreet gesture of mercy” (if he did say so himself), the pope wrote:

[Excerpt from pope’s letter starts here]

“An unforeseen mishap for me was the fact that the Williamson case came on top of the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards four Bishops ordained validly but not legitimately [regarding this confusing but politically revealing distinction, see footnote
[6] – J.I.] suddenly appeared as something completely different: as the repudiation of reconciliation between Christians and Jews.

“I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on. I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.”

[My emphasis – J.I.]

– “Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
to the Bishops of the Catholic Church,” March 10, 2009

[Excerpt from pope’s letter ends here]

That’s it. In the March letter, the pope criticized neither Williamson nor himself. Rather, he lamented an ‘appearance,’ i.e., the way millions of people perceived his actions. And he now claimed that, due to a failure to consult the Internet, he was unaware, “early on,” not of Williamson’s views (which he never discussed) but of the fact that people were terribly angry over the lifting of the excommunications.

This was not an admission; it was a preposterous lie. First, there is no reason to believe the Vatican was Internet-illiterate.  For example, on Jan. 18, 2009, six days before the Vatican announced the SSPX rehabilitation, the Vatican-related news service Zenit announced that:

“Google, a symbol of the seemingly endless possibilities of the Internet, will team up with the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio in a joint venture to give Benedict XVI his own YouTube channel.”
– “Google to Team Up With Vatican,” Zenit, January 18, 2009,

Granting for the sake of argument that despite organizing joint projects with Google and YouTube, the pope and all the members of his vast state and media support apparatus were incapable of reading news on the Internet, remember that every newspaper and every broadcast media blared the news of the worldwide protest against the pope’s decision immediately the excommunications were publicly lifted. Are we supposed to believe that neither the pope nor any of his staff ever look at any media?

Instead of making these points, the once-great The New York Times presented the pope’s letter as an ‘admission,’ which the Times found to be “disarmingly human.”

The London Times apparently consulted a thesaurus, for instead of having the pope ‘admit’ his “disarmingly human” innocence, according to that austere journal:

“In a strikingly humble letter to Catholic bishops, he [that would be the pope – J.I.] conceded that the Vatican should have been aware of the views of Richard Williamson, the English bishop at the centre of the row.”
[My emphasis – J.I.]
– “Pope embraces internet in apology over Holocaust bishop,” by Richard Owen and Ruth Gledhill, The Times (London), March 12, 2009

Here the London Times explicitly stated what other leading media implied: that in his letter to Bishops, the pope apologized for Williamson’s violent antisemitism.

That is a lie.

Despite the pope’s statement at Ben Gurion airport that all must “combat anti-Semitism wherever it is found,” his March letter contains no reference, let alone opposition, to violent attacks on Jews by Williamson and the SSPX. He criticizes the SSPX members for “arrogance and presumptuousness, an obsession with one-sided positions” – all criticisms of their resistance to Vatican control, not for being wrong, let alone for fomenting hate. He praises them as “touching” and “warm hearted” and presents them and himself as the real victims of hate.

Do you think I am exaggerating? Discussing the public reaction to his “discreet gesture of mercy” towards the SSPX, in an outrageous – indeed, beyond outrageous – passage, the pope writes:

“At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.”

[My emphasis – J.I.]

– “Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
to the Bishops of the Catholic Church,” March 10, 2009

In this, the most important statement in the March letter, the pope says that those who dared criticize his “gesture of mercy” are the real bigots, while he and the SSPX members are the victims of hatred “without misgiving or restraint.”

The seriousness of the pope’s letter and of the media falsification cannot be overstated. The pope did not write a letter of contrition, intended to woo his critics. He wrote a letter of counter-attack against his Gentile critics. And although some Jewish leaders, perhaps suffering hallucination, praised the pope for some imaginary change of heart, the letter is a deadly attack on Jews. Because, after all, Jews are the people, first and foremost, against whom the SSPX incites.

The Washington Post took the same tack as the London Times, using “concedes” instead of “admits,” and misleading readers to believe that in the bishops letter the pope presented Williamson’s statements as offensive; they implied that he would not have rescinded Williamson’s excommunication had he known about those statements. Thus:

“Benedict reiterated [in the bishops letter – J.I.] that he had not known about Williamson’s offending Holocaust statements before he lifted the excommunication on him and three other bishops in January.”

[My emphasis – J.I.]

– “Pope Concedes ‘Mistakes’ in Bishop Controversy,” by Mary Jordan, The Washington Post, March 13, 2009

But once again, in the March letter the pope never said he was unaware of Williamson’s Holocaust denial. He never referred to Williamson’s views as “offending.” Indeed, he never mentioned Holocaust denial or spoke of Williamson’s views. He only wrote that he was unaware of the popular reaction to his rescinding of the excommunications, which, in “an unforeseen mishap for me” came at the same time as “the Williamson case.”

The Post also stated:

“The pope said he wanted to ‘clarify’ that the breakaway group would not be allowed to rejoin the church unless it clearly accepted the modernizing Vatican II reforms of the 1960s, which include a repudiation of anti-Semitism.”

In fact, the pope never used “clarify” in this context, never set conditions for the SSPX to “rejoin the church” and never mentioned antisemitism. He made no demand that the SSPX endorse Vatican II, and indeed said:

“But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the [Vatican II – J.I.] Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.”
– “Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
to the Bishops of the Catholic Church,” March 10, 2009

Rather than attacking the SSPX, the pope attacked those who defended Vatican II.

The London Times and The Washington Post lied by omission (failing to quote the pope’s claim that he and the SSPX were the true victims of hateful scapegoating) and by commission (falsely claiming that the pope had apologized for Williamson’s views, that he called those views ‘offensive,’ that his letter was an ultimatum to the SSPX, and so on). They presented as news reports what were in fact editorials endorsing the Vatican, and misrepresented the pope’s self-defense, his attack on critics and his warm embrace of the SSPX, as a concession to those opposing the SSPX.

Is it any wonder if people falsely concluded that the pope had taken strong action against antisemitism?

The editors at the London Times should get a special award for double-think-in-the-face-of-absurdity, because their March 12 article mentioned several times that on Jan. 23 (one day before the Vatican announced the lifting of the excommunications) The Times published a piece headlined:

“Pope could welcome Holocaust denier back into the fold”
– by Ruth Gledhill, The Times (London), January 23, 2009


The Vatican is not only an absolutist religious/ideological leadership. It is also a state (by decision of the Fascist, Mussolini). It has a Secretariat of State (like the British foreign ministry, but more disciplined). It has an intelligence apparatus. It has a worldwide media network, including Vatican radio (two hundred reporters), plus the staffs of newspapers and magazines, all operating as the voice and ears of the Vatican.

The London Times is a world-class newspaper, not one that diplomats, intelligence ops and the staffs of Vatican media would ignore, least of all when the Times was predicting:

“If Benedict XVI goes ahead with lifting the excommunication in spite of Bishop Williamson’s comments, that will in turn wreak havoc on more than 40 years of attempts to rebuild relations with the Jewish community after nearly two millennia of Christian anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust.”
The Times (London), January 23, 2009, ibid.

Yet the London Times wanted us to believe that a) even though it had exposed Williamson’s Holocaust denial and predicted a storm of protest one day before the Vatican announced the excommunication-lifting, nevertheless b) the Vatican could have been unaware of Williamson’s statements and the widespread protest that exploded immediately following the lifting.

The Times and Post invented a papal letter to bishops designed to soothe public opinion, thus defining themselves as spin-masters for the hierarchy of the church. Congratulations!

CNN followed The Washington Post, promulgating the lie that the pope attacked Williamson as a “holocaust bishop,” with the headline:

“Pope: We should have Googled Holocaust bishop,” March 14, 2009

As noted, in the letter the pope never mentions googling Williamson, never calls him a “Holocaust bishop,” and indeed never mentions the words ‘Holocaust,’ ‘Shoah,’ ‘genocide,’ or ‘antisemitism.’

Meanwhile, CNN followed the BBC and The New York Times by using “admits” rather than “concedes”:

“The pope admits in his letter that the affair had taken him by surprise, with something that was meant to be a gesture of Christian unity becoming misrepresented.”
[My emphasis – J.I.]

I highlighted the ubiquitous ‘admits’ in the first part of the sentence, but the second part is also worthy of attention. There CNN built on the general media claim that the pope had ‘admitted’ the truth of what was in fact a lie – ‘I am innocent-by-ignorance! May the heavens fall: I cannot pretend otherwise!’ – adding that the pope had also ‘admitted’ that his opponents took advantage of his ‘admittedly’ well-intentioned gesture towards the SSPX in order to slander him!

What will the pope admit next? Heaven trembles at the possibilities.


What have we proven so far?


Earlier in this article I argued that to test the pope’s sincerity we need to answer the question:

‘Was the Vatican telling the truth on February 4th when it claimed that, when he rehabilitated Bishop Richard Williamson, the pope was unaware of Williamson’s views?’

We have not yet answered that question, but we have discovered that the underlying message of the Feb. 4th statement, that the pope was horrified at Williamson’s bigotry, is a lie.  We know that because, if the pope were truly horrified by Williamson’s views on Feb. 4th, when the storm of protest over the excommunications was at its peak, why did he not even mention Williamson’s views in his internal church letter of March 10th, when the protest had died down, and he was dictating how Catholic bishops should discuss the excommunications? Why, on March 10th, rather than attacking or even mentioning Williamson’s incitement against Jews, did the pope laud Williamson’s SSPX as the martyred victim of bigotry?

It is precisely because the pope’s endorsement of the SSPX on March 10th reveals the hypocrisy of the Vatican statement of February 4th that English language media, led by the London Times, the Washington Post and CNN, presented the public with a hoax-version of the March 10th letter, in which an improved model of the pope did attack Williamson.
So I have proven bad faith (on the part of the pope) and a protective cover-up (by the press.)  But I have not proven that the claim made Feb. 4th by Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, that the pope was unaware of bishop Williamson’s views when he rehabilitated the SSPX bishops, is a lie. 

So then, let me proceed to do so.  


Bertone’s gamble


On February 4, 2009, Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone stated that when the pope lifted the excommunications of four bishops from the Society of St. Pius X, or SSPX, he didn’t know that one of them, Richard Williamson, was a Holocaust denier. In making this claim, Bertone – meaning the Vatican – was taking a risk.

Why? Because the Vatican was implicitly conceding that it would be damning if the pope had known Williamson’s views. If it were subsequently shown that the pope did know, it would follow that, in denying this knowledge, the Vatican betrayed consciousness of guilt, revealing that it had something so important to hide that it was worth the danger of being caught in a major lie.

If we prove that Bertone lied, not only will we have good reason to disbelieve subsequent Vatican claims that it opposes antisemitic propaganda
, but we will have sufficient reason to suspect that, in lifting the excommunications, the pope was up to no good.

Earlier I wrote that, in its initial coverage of the Vatican’s ‘pope-didn’t-know’ claim, the English-language media:

“adopted a seemingly neutral stance, reporting the substance of the Vatican’s February 4, 2009 statement while avoiding critical comment.”

This is true, but it is not the whole story. By reporting but not questioning the Feb. 4th statement, the media was falsifying the news by omission. Applying simple logic to a routine examination of recent Vatican statements, the media could easily have shown that the Vatican was lying.


Slow learner?


The Vatican announced the rehabilitation of the four SSPX bishops on January 24. Vatican Secretary of State Bertone issued his ‘pope-didn’t-know’ statement on February 4.

The first question the media should have asked (but didn’t) was: why the ten days delay?

Even if the pope was ignorant about Williamson’s anti-Jewish statements when he lifted the excommunications on Jan. 24th, why, with millions outraged over the rehabilitation, did the Vatican wait ten days to report the pope’s supposed ignorance, and demand Williamson reject his views?

If the media had raised this question, what could the Vatican have replied? We don’t have to guess, because the pope essentially gave that reply in his letter to bishops of March 10. He wrote that, due to ignorance of the Internet, he was initially unaware that people were upset about what he called “the Williamson case.” So, based on the March 10 apologia, the pope first had to find out that people were upset, after which he could rectify his other problem, that he was ignorant of Williamson’s views.

I have already discussed the March 10 excuse; it has not improved with age. As noted, a) there is no reason to believe that on January 24 the Vatican was unable to follow events as reported on the Internet and b) even without the Internet, the pope had at his disposal the information-gathering resources of any absolute monarch (a foreign ministry, an intelligence apparatus, and media organizations with a few hundred reporters, all under his unchecked control) plus more: an army of trained archivists, plus the entire Jesuit organization, plus the members of Opus Dei, and on and on, these latter unavailable to your ordinary dictator. The claim, that despite these vast information-gathering resources, the pope was not informed of a vast protest, that was being reported in every newspaper and on every TV news program, is simply unbelievable.

Also, it is a lie, which leading English-language media knew full well since they publicized two Vatican statements that proved it.


Vatican Statement #1: Press Spokesman Federico Lombardi, Jan. 24, 2009


On Tuesday, January 27, 2009, The New York Times paraphrased a January 24 statement by Vatican press spokesman Federico Lombardi concerning Bishop Richard Williamson’s Holocaust denial:

“The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Saturday [that would be the previous Saturday, January 24 – J.I.] that the bishop’s comments had nothing to do with the pope’s decision, and that the Vatican did not ‘share in any way’ his views.”

[My emphasis - J.I.]

– “Group Says It Doesn’t Share Views of Holocaust Denier,” by Rachel Donadio, The New York Times, January 27, 2009

On January 24, the Associated Press (AP) had sent out a dispatch directly quoting Lombardi. AP dispatches go to all leading media. In this one, posted, for example, on the website of top US TV network ABC, the Vatican press spokesman is quoted discussing Bishop Williamson’s Holocaust-denying views:

“They are his personal ideas ... that we certainly don’t share but they have nothing to do with the issue of the excommunication and the removal of the excommunication,” Lombardi told AP Television News. [Ellipsis as in original]

– “Pope lifts excommunications of 4 bishops, including bishop who denied the Holocaust,” by Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer, Vatican City, January 24, 2009 (AP)

So the day it announced the excommunication-lifting, the Vatican not only indicated full knowledge of Williamson’s views, but demonstrated that the pope and his advisors had made contingency plans prior to the announcement. This was why, reacting to the surprisingly intense public outrage over the lifting of Williamson’s excommunication, Vatican spokesman Lombardi was able immediately to respond with an official Vatican statement, according to which:

A) Williamson’s Holocaust denial constituted “his personal ideas,” meaning the pope refused to exercise his authority under Catholic law to demand that a bishop retract undesired political statements, and

B) Williamson’s statements “have nothing to do with the issue of the excommunication and the removal of the excommunication,” meaning the pope was not going to give in to protests about “the Williamson case,” and reverse the rehabilitation.

(That there was little or no delay between the rehabilitation announcement and Lombardi’s statement about Williamson is indicated by the fact that MSNBC reported both in their January 24th story, headlined “Pope lifts excommunications of 4 bishops; Holocaust denier is included as Benedict attempts to mollify traditionalists.” [7])


Vatican Statement #2: Secretary of State Bertone, Feb. 2, 2009


The Vatican’s refusal to take action against Williamson, as bluntly communicated by press spokesman Lombardi, poured oil on the fire. For over a week, opposition spread and intensified, and still the Vatican refused to budge. On Feb. 2, Agence France Presse reported:

[Excerpt from AFP dispatch, “Call for pope to step down,” starts here]

Attacks on Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to lift the excommunication of a Holocaust denier escalated Monday, with one theologian calling on him to step down as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Criticism following the pope’s January 24 announcement has been particularly cutting in Germany, where denying the Holocaust is a crime punishable with a jail sentence.

“If the pope wants to do some good for the Church, he should leave his job,” eminent liberal Catholic theologian Hermann Haering told the German daily Tageszeitung.

– “Call for pope to step down over Holocaust denier,” Agence France Presse, Feb. 2, 2009 

[Excerpt from AFP dispatch “Call for pope to step down” ends here]

Also on February 2, the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire interviewed Vatican Secretary of State Bertone about the conflict. Omitting mention of the widespread Catholic rebellion, Avvenire focused only on Jewish reactions:

[Excerpt from Avvenire starts here]

[Note: the excerpt is abridged but accurately presents Bertone’s views – S.C.]

Avvenire: The common perception in the mass media is that the relationship between the Catholic church and the Jewish world has deteriorated not a little. [...] The recent revocation of the excommunication of the Lefebvrist [SSPX] bishops, one of whom has made some ‘negationist’ statements, has stirred up polemics.

Bertone: The [SSPX] clemency measure, promoted by the Pope and signed by Cardinal Re, has nothing to do with the wretched assertions of the prelate in question. [...] [Saying that the pope had spoken clearly, Bertone concludes:] The question, it seems to me, can be considered closed.

– “Intervista – Bertone: Chiesa, le sfide dell’unità
e i drammi del mondo,” Gianni Cardinale, Avvenire,  3 Febbraio 2009

[Excerpt from Avvenire ends here]

So, on Feb. 2, Bertone made clear, again, that the Vatican was fully aware of Williamson’s views and ruled that the matter was closed.

The media certainly knew about Bertone’s Avvenire interview, which was reported by CNN, by Germany’s world-wide governmental news service, Deutsche-Welle,  and by others.

The next day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out.


 Merkel’s remarkable statement


Chancellor Merkel by no means made the strongest statement on the SSPX affair (see Catholic theologian Hermann Haering, quoted earlier) but she made the most important. First of all, Merkel was speaking not as a private citizen but as chancellor. (As of May 21, 2009, her statement remains posted on the German federal government website.)

And secondly, she praised Catholics for standing up to the pope!

Apparently replying to Vatican Secretary of State Bertone, Merkel told reporters that, regarding the necessity of making clear that Holocaust denial is unacceptable, the question was not closed:

“I do not consider that this has yet been made sufficiently clear.”

Here is part of her official statement:

[Chancellor Merkel statement excerpt starts here]

It is not generally my place to appraise or comment on internal matters of the Church…[But] I believe that it is an issue of fundamental importance if a decision of the Vatican gives the impression that it could be possible to deny that the Holocaust happened…


As a Protestant and a Christian I must, however, say how encouraging I find it that so many voices within the Catholic Church are demanding an unambiguous clarification of this point, in whatever form. I find this very heartening.”

– “Angela Merkel calls on the Vatican to clarify its position,” Feb. 4, 2009, Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung.
Merkel’s statement is posted on the federal government website, with a strong commentary, at or

[Chancellor Merkel statement excerpt ends here]

A German chancellor praising Catholics for protesting against the pope’s embrace of an anti-Jewish propagandist? Remarkable.

(Alas, there is another side to the story. On March 27, 2009, German Cardinal Joachim Meisner demanded that Merkel apologize for having criticized the pope.  To her credit, Merkel refused.  But twelve days later she staged a public appearance with Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader during which she lavished praise on Croatia and enthusiastically -- and gratuitously -- plugged its entry into the EU.[8] As I have shown, Croatia stands for clerical fascism in general and Holocaust denial in particular -- that is, it is the national embodiment of the politics of the SSPX.[9The Croatian parliament has ruled that only some 2,238 died in Jasenovac, the World War II Croatian Ustasha death camp; the government controlled museum at Jasenovac puts the figure around 70,000. In fact more than 700,000 were murdered. The Croatian museum trivializes Jasenovac as a labor camp, rather than a death camp, and its exhibits use Ustasha jargon and write insultingly about the inmates.  Did Merkel stage the public endorsement of Croatia to appease the Vatican, which is secessionist Croatia's godfather and which sees Croatia as its most devoted voice in a future EU?  Whether she did or whether the joint appearance was not planned with the Vatican in mind, the fact remains: what Merkel called “the impression that it could be possible to deny that the Holocaust happened” has by no means been ‘unambiguously clarified’ in Germany. 

For links to my critique of the planned ‘forgetfulness’ about the Jasenovac genocide, and to the critique of Croatia’s Jasenovac museum by Julija Kos, a member of the committee that planned the exhibition, see footnote [10])

The day after Merkel praised Catholic opponents of the pope's action, the Vatican carried out a hurried retreat.  Secretary of State Bertone informed the world that:

“In order to be admitted to function as a Bishop within the Church, Bishop Williamson must also distance himself in an absolutely unequivocal and public way from his positions regarding the Shoah, which were unknown to the Holy Father at the time of the remission of the excommunication.”

– “Note From The Secretariat Of State Concerning The Four Prelates Of The Society Of Saint Pius X,” February 4, 2009 or 

Regarding this February 4th statement, we can say two things:

1) Secretary of State Bertone’s demand that Williamson unequivocally distance himself from Holocaust denial constituted a reversal of the Vatican stance enunciated by press spokesman Lombardi on January 24 and Bertone himself on February 2.

2) Regarding the claim that Williamson’s views were unknown to the pope when he lifted the excommunications, and the subsequent (March 10th) claim that due to unfamiliarity with the Internet, the pope didn’t even know that people were upset about Williamson, it is clear from the Vatican’s immediate and confident response to the protests over Williamson’s rehabilitation on January 24th that these claims are lies.

So the media is guilty of a multi-faceted cover-up: falsely presenting the March 10th papal letter to bishops as a concession to critics and an attack on political antisemitism and failing to carry out routine news analysis, which would have exposed the Vatican as lying about the ignorance claims made in the statement of February 4th and the letter of March 10th. By means of this cover-up, the media indoctrinated people with the misperception that the pope would not have lifted the excommunications had he known Williamson’s views.

Jared Israel
Emperor’s Clothes


Footnotes and Further Reading


[1]  What do I mean by ‘political antisemitism’? Starting in the mid-19th century, wishing to combat the increasing political strength of democrats and socialists, the Vatican organized a competing movement. Playing on the fear and hatred of Jewish people taught to Christians for 2000 years, this movement mobilized the masses against a mythical enemy, Jews, who a) were supposedly driven by a desire to oppress Gentiles and who b) supposedly controlled Gentile society and at the same time were supposedly continually trying to take control of it.  This is what I call ‘political antisemitism’ – not only bigotry against Jews, but political mobilization based on fomenting fear and hatred of Jews. Contrary to popular belief, this movement was launched several decades before the publication of the hoax-book, the “Protocols of Zion.” The role of the Vatican in fomenting this movement that made possible clerical fascism and Nazism is discussed in David Kertzer’s book, “The Popes Against the Jews.”

[2] On Jan. 24, 2009, The New York Times reported that:

“Archbishop Lefebvre made the [four – J.I.] men bishops in unsanctioned consecrations in Switzerland in 1988, prompting the immediate excommunication of all five by Pope John Paul II.”
[My emphasis – J.I.]
– “Pope Reinstates Four Excommunicated Bishops,” by Rachel Donadio, The New York Times, January 24, 2009

But according to the Vatican in 1988, the ordinations were not just unsanctioned; they were explicitly forbidden:

“According to Canon 1013, the consecration of bishops on June 30 by Monsignor Lefebvre, in spite of the admonition on June 17, has been carried out explicitly against the Pope’s will; this is a formally schismatic act according to Canon 751, inasmuch as he openly refused submission to the Holy Father and communion with the members of the church under his jurisdiction.”
[My emphasis - J.I.]
– “Text of Vatican Statement,” The New York Times, from Associated Press, Friday, July 1, 1988

Did the N. Y. Times wish to lessen the extent of the SSPX bishops’ conflict with John Paul II, thereby lessening the significance of Benedict XVI’s reversal of John Paul II’s action?

[3] Top Vatican adviser Gumpel invented an unnamed  professor whom he claimed told him that Jews “of course” want to kill Gentiles. See “Canadian Jews outraged by priest’s comments,” at 

[4] See “Two English translations of Croatian rock star Thompson’s ‘Alas my people’/‘E moj narode,’ with commentary,” by Jared Israel at  and “Oppose Fascist Rock Star’s US Tour with the Truth – Part 1,” at 

[5] Example: SSPX founder Lefebvre wrote to Pope John Paul II that: “All the reforms carried out over twenty years within the Church to please heretics, schismatics, false religions and declared enemies of the Church, such as the Jews, the Communists and the Freemasons” flow from a “poisoned spring.” See, “A LETTER TO POPE JOHN PAUL II,” 

[6] Pope Benedict XVI wrote that Williamson and the others are ‘valid’ bishops because, as an Archbishop, SSPX leader Marcel Lefebvre had the clerical right to ordain them, but since they were ordained without papal approval (as he describes it), they could not ‘legitimately’ function as bishops until he approved the ordinations. Whether or not this would be true according to church law, why did the pope stress this point? The obvious answer: he was trying to soften attitudes toward the four and the SSPX. Similarly, while the Vatican (meaning at that time Pope John Paul II) stated one day after the ordination that “the consecration” of the four bishops “has been carried out explicitly against the Pope’s will; this is a formally schismatic act,” in his letter to bishops the current pope rewrote history by presenting the ordination as “an episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate [that] raises the danger of a schism.” (My emphasis – J.I.)  So: an act that Pope John Paul II described as being “against the pope’s will” (and really, wouldn’t he know?) has been trivialized to one that is “lacking a pontifical mandate,” and John Paul II’s ruling that the ordination was a “formally schismatic act” has become the “danger of a schism.” Alles klar, oder?

[7] “Pope lifts excommunications of 4 bishops; Holocaust denier is included as Benedict attempts to mollify traditionalists,” Associated Press, updated 11:26 p.m. ET Jan. 24, 2009

[8] Merkel unterstützt Kroatiens Beitritt zur EU, 08.04.2009 

[9] See ‘Slightly Fascist’? The New York Times Prods Croatia. Gently, at
How the New York Times Doctored its Count of Croatia's W.W.II Victims, at

[10] For Jared Israel’s paper charging that there is a campaign to deny the Holocaust in Croatia, a campaign supported by some who are widely considered opponents of Holocaust denial, such as Efraim Zuroff, see page 95 of  “The Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Jasenovac,” at

For Julija Kos
s critique of the exhibits at Croatia's Jasenovac exhibition, see “Concentration Camp Jasenovac Today:
History Rewritten,” at


Emperor’s Clothes Needs Your Donation!


Our work depends on donations. If you find Emperor’s Clothes useful, please help us to pay website, research and technical expenses. Every donation helps, big or small!

Our best is yet to come!

Here’s how to make a donation:

* At our secure server

* Using PayPal

* Mail a check to:
Emperor’s Clothes
P.O. Box 610-321
Newton, MA 02461-0321

* Or, call us at
1 617 858-0944
If you get the voice mailbox, please leave your phone
number and we will call you back.

Thank you!


You may send this article or the link to any person or Internet list. You may post any TENC article on the Internet as long as you cite Emperor’s Clothes as the source, credit the author(s), and state the URL, which in this case is

To receive Emperor's Clothes articles by email, subscribe to the TENC Newsletter. Just send a blank email with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to  You will receive a confirmation email within a day.  (If you don’t, please check your email filter.) Please reply to that email and add to your personal address book.

Our readers make TENC possible. Please donate!

The Emperor’s New Clothes (TENC) *