Bishop Williamson’s Apology

Courtesy (as usual!) of Rorate Caeli:

To His Eminence Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos

Your Eminence,

Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems.

For me, all that matters is the Truth Incarnate, and the interests of His one true Church, through which alone we can save our souls and give eternal glory, in our little way, to Almighty God. So I have only one comment, from the prophet Jonas, I, 12:

“Take me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.”

Please also accept, and convey to the Holy Father, my sincere personal thanks for the document signed last Wednesday and made public on Saturday. Most humbly I will offer a Mass for both of you.

Sincerely yours in Christ

+Richard Williamson

Written to Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on January 28, 2009.

L’Osservatore Romano Editorial

“There are many accounts of it [the Second Vatican Council] which give the impression that, from Vatican II onward, everything has been changed, and that what preceded it has no value or, at best, has value only in the light of Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super-dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.

– Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), July 1988

The Vatican’s daily newspaper ran an unfortunate editorial today, apparently calculated to impose a maximalist interpretation of the Second Vatican Council in the face of a likely reconciliation with the SSPX. According to a summary provided by Catholic News Agency, the editorial makes Vatican-II into precisely the kind of “super dogma” condemned by Cardinal Ratzinger 20 years ago:

“The gesture of lifting the excommunication must be seen in light of the ‘conviction of the Council, an event inspired from on high,’ the editorial stated.  ‘The reform of the Council has not been completely implemented, but it is consolidated in such a way in the Catholic Church that it cannot enter into crisis over a magnanimous gesture of mercy, very much inspired in the new style of the Church desired by the Council that prefers the medicine of mercy to condemnation.’”

“Inspired from on high”? The Second Vatican Council, like every legitimate council of the Church, was protected from teaching heresy by the Holy Ghost. That does not mean it was “inspired from on high” in the sense of being an unqualified blessing to the Church. It may well have been a chastisement “from on high”. Its pastoral decisions could have been prudential mistakes. Its truths could have been poorly or ambiguously communicated.

The editorial states that the Vatican-II reform “is consolidated in such a way in the Catholic Church that it cannot enter into crisis” over the lifting of the excommunications. Those are words of fear. There is fear that the return of the SSPX will trigger a crisis of the “reform”. That fear is not unfounded. The growing presence of traditional Catholicism within the Church could make the folly and instability of the “reform” increasingly difficult to ignore.

“‘While it is true that the Catholic Church was not born at the Council, it is also true that the Church renewed by the Council is not another Church, but is the same Church of Christ, founded upon the Apostles, guaranteed by the successor of Peter and therefore a living part of the tradition.  With the announcement of Pope John, tradition certainly did not disappear, but rather it continues today in the forms characteristic of a ministry and a Magisterium that have been updated by the great Council.’”

The extent to which tradition “continues today” as a result of the conciliar reforms is certainly debatable. There is no question that much of Catholic tradition has been forgotten, neglected, or distorted beyond recognition since the “great Council”. The question is whether this catastrophe is the direct result of the Council or mere historical coincidence. In any case, insisting that “tradition continues today” without any need of revival or restoration is sheer blindness.

Bishop Fellay!

Bishop Bernard Fellay, SSPX Superior General

The Superior General of the SSPX has censured Bishop Richard Williamson:

Communiqué of the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X,

Bishop Bernard Fellay

It has come to our attention that Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Society, granted an interview to a Swedish network. In this interview, he also commented on historical issues, especially on the genocide of Jews by the National-Socialist regime. It is obvious that a bishop speaks with religious authority solely on matters of faith and morals. Our Society claims no authority over historical or other secular matters.

The mission of the Society is the offering and restoration of authentic Catholic teaching, as handed down in the dogmas. We are known, accepted, and appreciated worldwide for this.

We view this matter with great concern, as this exorbitance has caused severe damage to our religious mission. We apologize to the Holy Father and to all people of good will for the trouble it has caused.

It must remain clear that those comments do not reflect in any way the attitude of our community. That is why I have forbidden Bishop Williamson to issue any public opinion on any political or historical matter until further notice.

The constant accusations against the Society have also apparently served the purpose of discrediting our mission. We will not allow this, but will continue to preach Catholic doctrine and to offer the Sacraments in the ancient rite.

Menzingen, January 27, 2009

+ Bishop Bernard Fellay

Superior General


Those of us who are sympathetic to the SSPX and praying for a speedy reconciliation can now breathe a huge sigh of relief!

Confirmed: Excommunications Lifted!

From the indispensible Rorate Caeli:

“Based on the faculties expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time.”

We have a truly courageous pope.

Much needed doctrinal talks will follow this Decree.  Let us hope the SSPX leadership, while preserving undefiled the Catholic Faith they have received, puts away all suspicion and mistrust with respect to the Holy Father’s intentions.

Now for a bit of controversy

Many of you are aware of the recent interview with Bishop Richard Williamson on Swedish television. Suffice it to say that the bishop’s remarks represent the worst of thought and culture sometimes found in SSPX circles. I do not believe such ideas are common among those who attend SSPX chapels, but considering Williamson’s influence in the seminaries, they are not exactly marginal either.

Bishop Williamson is a brilliant man, but like many brilliant men he is slightly off his rocker. Bishop Fellay, on the other hand, has always seemed much more level-headed, balanced and thoughtful. Hence, I am disappointed in Bishop Fellay’s response to the interview:

If it is “shameful to use an interview on religious matters to introduce secular and controversial issues”, is it not equally shameful for Bishop Williamson to use religious contexts to do the same? Bishop Williamson has been using religious events, sermons, confirmations, etc., to promote his opinions about secular and controversial issues for a long time.

I don’t understand how the interviewer or the television station can be faulted here. The bishop did all of the talking, freely and without coercion, knowing the context very well. He could simply have stated that his views on the holocaust are not relevent to his religious mission in Sweden and he doesn’t want to discuss them. However, I think his views are indeed relevant, as they give insight into the kind of thinking that the SSPX tolerates and perhaps even encourages.

I don’t know much about the holocaust beyond what I was taught in grade school. But it does not seem possible for a propaganda campaign to deceive virtually all of Europe and America into believing that 6,000,000 Jews perished rather than 300,000, and that none were killed in gas chambers when there is obviously no shortage of witnesses. That’s some conspiracy. It is likely, in my opinion, that believing in such a conspiracy is not possible without grave moral fault – fault in denying the truth of human nature, and fault in imputing the worst possible motives to vast numbers of witnesses, survivors, and historians. The moral character of a Catholic bishop is not unimportant. The interviewer was right, in my opinion, to ask the bishop to clarify his views so as to more clearly ascertain the bishop’s character, and to avoid rash judgment based on statements made elsewhere.

What should be done about the economy?

Paul Craig Roberts is making sense:

“A compassionate government would handle the crisis in this way:

The trillions of dollars in credit default swaps (CDS) should be declared null and void. These “swaps” are simply bets that financial instruments and companies will fail, and the bulk of the bets are made by people and institutions that do not hold the financial instruments or shares in the companies. The ideology that financial markets were self-regulating allowed illegal gambling free rein. There is no reason under the sun for taxpayers to bail out gamblers.

The bailout money, instead of being given to favored financial institutions to finance their acquisition of other institutions, should be used to refinance the defaulting mortgages. This would slow, if not stop, the growing inventory of foreclosed properties that is driving down home prices.

The mark-to-market rule should be suspended until the real values of the troubled properties and instruments can be determined. Suspension of the rule would prevent the failure of sound institutions and lessen the need for a bailout.

Interest rates have to be raised in order to encourage saving and to provide incomes to retirees.

To preserve the dollar’s status as reserve currency, a credible policy of reducing both budget and trade deficits must be announced. In the near term the budget deficit can be reduced by $500 billion by withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan and by cutting a bloated defense budget that represents the now unattainable goal of US world hegemony.

The trade deficit can be significantly reduced by bringing offshored jobs back to America. One way to do this is to tax corporations according to the value added to their output that occurs in the US. Corporations that produce their products for US markets abroad would have high tax rates; those that produce domestically would have low tax rates.”