The Roman Catholic church has never been averse to taking reactionary positions on a whole range of political issues.
But even critics of the church will have been taken aback by Pope Benedict’s latest move – revoking the excommunication of four bishops associated with the Society of St Pius X (SSPX).
The SSPX is a breakaway hardline Catholic organisation that opposed the Vatican II church reforms of the 1960s. It was founded by Marcel Lefebvre, a fascist sympathiser.
One of the four bishops welcomed back is Richard Williamson, an unrepentant Holocaust denier who recently told a Swedish television reporter that “there were no gas chambers”.
The pope’s decision – coming in the same week as Holocaust Memorial Day – compounds the Catholic church’s already shameful record of antisemitism.