This is important to understand when reading articles in which ignorant, if not anti-Catholic reporters write about the “rehabilitation” of the four “bishops.” At this juncture, the rehabilitation of the men doesn’t involve making them officers of the Church with official functions; it simply refers to the lifting of their excommunications. Moreover, the Vatican has made clear that Williamson will never be able to assume ecclesiastical duties unless he completely renounces his claims regarding the Holocaust.
Yet critics are still incensed. “Why would the Pope lift the excommunication of a man holding such outrageous views?” they ask. Others, such as Einar Koch writing at Bild.com, are befuddled. He wonders, “...does the Vatican really know the extent of Williamson's outrageous beliefs?” (Note: It has now been revealed that the Pope did not know.)
While that is a fair question, this is nevertheless where I lose a bit of patience. I would have to ask Koch and the rest of the media, “Do you really know to any extent what you’re caterwauling about?” For while the secular world talks sanctimoniously about how the Church has to work toward “understanding,” it seems to forget that understanding must go both ways.
I can sum up the Church’s critics’ position very simply: A bad man said some bad things, and lifting an excommunication is a good thing to do for someone. And only a bad man would do a good thing for a bad man. This little Dick-and-Jane explanation seems simplistic, but it’s accurate, as most of the critics are long on didacticism but short on depth.
In reality, they’re acting like a lynch mob angry that the authorities aren’t meting out its version of justice. This isn’t surprising coming from people who seem to believe that, oh, for instance, a legislative body can ignore constitutional dictates and do whatever its majority decides, but the Church is governed by laws, not whims. I’ll illustrate the point with an analogy.
Imagine that the death penalty is administered for the murder of a child. Now let’s say a man commits this crime and is thus sentenced. Subsequently, however, exculpatory evidence is presented and the man is pardoned. All right, now imagine it comes to light that the man made some vile anti-Catholic statements, and outraged Catholics demand that the sentence be carried out anyway. Would this be reasonable? Besides the fact that such a punishment would be disproportionate, I think the secular world’s reply would be that its law isn’t there to do the Church’s bidding.