Miloslav Cardinal Vlk † Miloslav Cardinal Vlk †
Former Archbishop of Praha, Czechia
Cardinal Priest of S Croce in Gerusalemme
May 17, 1932
Nov 26, 1994
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English Cardinal Vlk joins criticism of Pope over Holocaust denier
Feb 12, 2009

Prague, Feb 7 (CTK) - Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk has joined the critics of Pope Benedict XVI's decision to lift the excommunication of a Holocaust denier, British bishop Richard Williamson, Vlk has written on his website, daily Lidove noviny (LN) reported Saturday.

Prague Archbishop Vlk, primate of the Czech Catholic Church, wrote that Vatican had made an impression of having played down the step.

Vlk recalled that at the beginning he defended the Pope's "gesture of mercy" lifting the excommunication of four schismatic bishops, and tried to stand up against the wave of criticism it had stirred up.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is responsible for relations between the Vatican and the Jews, admitted that the Pope had not consulted his step with him, Vlk wrote.

"No one has apparently taken bishop Williamson's opinions into considerations during this act," Vlk added.

"As a Catholic bishop I definitely condemn any anti-Semitism as it is incongruous with the Catholic Church's doctrine," Vlk wrote.

LN writes that Czech theologist Odilo Stampach is of the view that the stance of Vlk and other church dignitaries is very surprising as the Roman Catholic Church is traditionally considered a strictly hierarchical structure with the Pope on the top having everything in control.

Stampach said the resistence towards the Vatican was a positive signal, proving that the church is opposing the "retreat from the reform course," Lidove noviny writes .

The Vatican decided to lift the 20-year-long excommunications of four traditionalist bishops on January 14. The most controversial of them is Williamson who in an interview denied the existence of gas chambers and the extent of the Holocaust. This is why his rehabilitation leashed stormy criticism.

The Pope condemned Williamson's words and expressed solidarity with the Jews at a general audience on January 28.
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