The recent media furor over the lifting of the excommunication of “Bishop” Richard Williamson has left me wondering if the mainstream media loves to misrepresent all religion or if they just don’t know or care anything about Christianity in particular. (I say this as a de facto member of the mainstream liberal press conspiracy.)

From today’s news, for example, the release of a letter from Pope Benedict XVI detailing his perspective on the Williamson decision is not an apology for lifting the excommunication, no matter how gleefully the pundits call it one.

In fact, the entire Williamson debacle is an excellent example of taking a ribbon and running with on the part of the media. While Williamson is certainly guilty of trying to play down the Holocaust, that’s not an ecclesiastical crime, nor should it be. It was not why he was excommunicated, even though several reports I have read or heard have implied exactly that. If everyone who was intentionally misinformed or racist was booted from the Church, I daresay it would be significantly smaller.

Williamson was guilty of receiving an illegal — illegal per the Church, not the law — consecration, which automatically made him excommunicate. The fact that those associated with the Society of St. Pius X — ultra-Traditionalist warts and all — were received back into full communion with the church is a good thing. To paraphrase from the Pope’s letter: to allow them to drift further from the Church was not good for anyone.

It’s also important to note that the Vatican has ordered Williamson to apologize for his comments. Williamson’s initial response was lackluster, but the Holy See has told him to get his act together. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m getting pretty darn tired of everyone who is trying to bang the old “the Catholic Church is still anti-Semitic” drum. That’s not what this was about. It was about — and I use the Pope’s word here — “mercy.”