The New York Times is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI reinstated an excommunicated bishop and three other bishops who were ex-communicated 20 years ago because they made bishops in unsanctioned consecrations by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a staunch opponent of the church's attempts to modernize. Lefebvre was also excommunicated at the time by Pope John Paul II. The Vatican has been trying to mend the schism between Lefebvrists and the Catholic Church for many years.
Benedict has made some concessions to the Society of St. Pius X, which Lefebvre founded, such as allowing the broader celebration of the Latin Mass, which was made optional in the 1960s.
The bishop who has made headlines is Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who said in an interview last week he did not believe that 6 million Jews died in Nazi gas chambers during World War II.
John L. Allen Jr., probably the most prominent journalist covering the church today, wrote in a story in the National Catholic Reporter Web site that the papal reconciliation move will anger progressive Catholics and Jews.
I wouldn't be surprised if it's more than the progressive wing of the Catholic Church that wonders about this attempt at reconciliation. I doubt mainline Catholics will protest in the streets, but most understand the history of the Holocaust and what it meant for Europe's Jews.
This recording of Bishop Williamson's comments about Sept. 11, 2001, may also raise eyebrows.