I think it will finish by becoming a dialogue of the deaf, because of two things. One: The two positions in themselves are irreconcilable. For example 2+2=4 and 2+2=5 it’s irreconcilable. Therefore of three things, one: either they say 2+2=4 , enounce reality and say 2+2=5 –that is to say the Fraternity would abandon the truth that God forbids us to do or that those who say that 2+2=5 convert and return to the truth or the two come half-way, that means everyone decides that 2+2=4 ½ . It’s wrong. Therefore, either the Fraternity betrays itself or Rome converts, or it is a dialogue of the deaf.
[Full translation of the interview here.]
The pope set off a firestorm of criticism by lifting the excommunication from four Society of St Pius X bishops last January, among them holocaust-denier Williamson. The pope eventually admitted his handling of the matter was a mistake. Yet controversy over the attempt to reconcile with the historically anti-Semitic SSPX continues to simmer.
In his most recent interview Williamson skates past his Holocaust denial, still without apologizing. Yet his interview is still rich in points of controversy. For example, he does say Christians have been “chased out” of the Holy Land and he defies mainstream Catholicism with the claim that Jews who don’t accept Jesus are no longer the “chosen people.”
Williamson’s comments probably do harm by giving resounding affirmation to negative views of the Vatican’s attempt to reconcile with SSPX. Yet he is not a spokesman for SSPX. Williamson is, in effect, speaking out of turn. His Holocaust denial caused such an uproar early last year that the head of the SSPX, Bishop Bernard Fellay, issued a gag order and Williamson was removed as head of the SSPX seminary in Argentina. Now at home in Britain, he lives in an SSPX home in the Wimbledon section of London in what he called “an unexpected but quite agreeable sabbatical year.”
Do you not wonder if Bishop Fellay will now further define for Williamson the restrictions of that sabbatical?
[H/T: Cathy Lynn Grossman ]
Begun with an explosion of controversy over the de-excommunication of holocaust denying SSPX Bishop Richard Willamson and three others, the discussions toward reconciliation of Rome and SSPX are proceeding with laborious care.
The “conversations” follow a systematic method. First, the topic. Then, the SSPX sends a paper laying out its doubts. The Vatican representatives answer in writing. Then both sides meet to discuss the exchanges.
The meetings will be filmed and recorded by both sides, which may indicate a healthy mutual scepticism but will make for fascinating material for future historians. The conclusions of each discussion are then taken to the Pope and the Superior General of the SSPX.
The frequency of the meetings will depend on whether the topic is a new one or has already been discussed: if the first, the conversations will take place about every three months; if the second, every two. The next meeting is scheduled for mid January.
He estimates three years will be required just to cover topics currently known to be on the table and laments that the recorded proceedings are not being posted for general enlightment on YouTube.
A German court has ruled that Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the an ultra-traditionalist Catholic splinter group Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), has to pay a 12,000 Euros ($16,822) fine for incitement.
Calling into question Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to lift his excommunication and that of three other Lefebvrite bishops, Williamson denied in a televised interview that the Holocaust occurred. The interview was conducted near Regensburg [See the video] shortly before the excommunications were lifted.
He has two weeks to appeal and apparently will, even as the Vatican carries forward unification talks with SSPX.
For shame, sir.
Leaders of the Society of St. Pius X and Vatican experts are to have their first meeting on Oct. 26 at the Vatican, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said Oct. 15.
Little progress is likely and resolution will apparently be a long time in coming. Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of SSPX, reiterated a list of objections to the Second Vatican Council and said in an interview this week he hoped the dialogue deal with “errors” in the church.
The solution to the crisis is a return to the past.
We hope the discussions will allow us to dispel the grave ambiguities that have spread through the Catholic Church since [the Second Vatican Council], as John Paul II himself recognised.
The head-on collision is obvious, since Pope Benedict XVI has listed acceptance of Vatican II as a condition of reconciliation.
Bringing anti-Semitic SSPX with its resistance to religious liberty, ecumenism and collegiality into the mainstream Catholic fold will be a long, delicate process. If it is possible at all.
The anticipated Swedish television broadcast aired discussing who knew what, when, about SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson’s Holocaust denial.
Catholic Culture reports:
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos has heatedly denied a report that he had been informed about the extreme views of Bishop Richard Williamson prior to the January 2009 announcement that the Pope was lifting the excommunications of Williamson and other bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).
In a Swedish television broadcast earlier this week, Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm disclosed that he was aware of Bishop Williamson’s statements questioning the severity of the Holocaust, and had alerted Vatican officials to those statements. But Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos — who, as president of the Ecclesia Dei commission at that time, was primarily responsible for Vatican talks with the SSPX, told the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung that it was “calumny” to say that he had been informed of Williamson’s views.
Francesco Colafemmina writes that Cardinal Castrillon said that prior to the lifting of SSPX Bishop’s excommunication “none of us knew nothing about Bishop Williamson’s statements. None of us! And no one had the duty to know it!”
Thus ends the finger-pointing, for a while.
The director of the Holy See’s press office, Father Federico Lombardi, denied again today that Pope Benedict knew Bishop Richard Williamson held Holocaust diminishing beliefs before the Pontiff lifted the excommunication of the Pius X Society bishop. Such charges only “lead to creating confusion for no reason,” he said.
Addendum: Surprise! Sensationalistic Italian press joins the fray
Apparently La Repubblica (Il vescovo svedese rivela “Il Papa sapeva di Williamson“.) and La Stampa («Williamson, Il Papa sapeva») now have headlines saying that – because of all this – the Pope knew about Williamson before he lifted the excommunications.
It seems to me that this stems from dislike of the SSPX and dread that somehow they may be reintegrated in the Church. Furthermore, those of the “the enemy of my enemy” school are taking advantage of this to undermine respect for the Church in the public square.
Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) head Bishop Bernard Fellay has declared that Bishop Richard Williamson would be excluded from the order if he reiterated his holocaust-denial.
While Bishop Williamson’s recent apology for his Holocaust denial (which he failed to recant) is an “important step,” Bishop Fellay said, Bishop Williamson should probably stay quiet and “in a corner somewhere.”
Williamson is the only Holocaust-denier among four Catholic bishops whose excommunication was lifted by the Vatican on Jan. 21 as a first step toward healing a division between the church and SSPX. All four are members of the Lefebvre movement, whose long, troubled relationship with Judiasm was documented by the National Catholic Reporter.
Bishop Fellay’s declaration suggests that SSPX strongly wishes to proceed with restoration, and will cast out Bishop Williamson to do so if it must.
Debate over church statistics and assignment of theological blame, is not unique to the Southern Baptist Convention, as we may see from the Vatican statistical yearbook delivered to the Pope last week. It says, reports BBC, “that the number of priests has increased by several hundred each year since 2000, after two decades of decline.” And the “percentage of Catholics worldwide remains stable, at about 17.3% of the global population.”
Turnaround accomplished, it seems.
Today Bishop Bernard Fellay of the rightist Society of Saint Pius X employed undocumented statistics to explain why SSPX, which he heads, is not ready to meet the Feb. 4 Vatican requirement that “a full recognition of the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI himself is an indispensable condition for any future recognition of the Society of Saint Pius X.”
In an interview with a Swiss newspaper he said:
The aftermath of the [Second Vatican] Council has been to empty seminaries, nunneries and churches. Thousands of priests have left their orders and millions of faithful have stopped being practicing Catholics and have joined sects. If these are the fruits of the Council, they’re strange indeed.
You may recall that Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of Bishop Fellay and three other bishops, who were ordained against papal orders in 1988, as a step toward dialogue and reconciliation. One of the four is Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson, whose disingenuous apology and failure to recant was well-rejected by the Vatican last week.
Williamson wants more time to consider whether the Holocaust occurred and Fellay says that if the Vatican requirement is met, it will be the after “doctrinal discussions” with his society. As if the Holocaust were really in doubt and rollback of Vatican II were actually on the block.
We wonder if there is a decidedly unhopeful SSPX pattern here?
Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson’s disingenuous apology was well-rejected by the Vatican. It is unclear whether the Society of St Pius X can withstand careful scrutiny today, but Williamson is a creature of the radical, racist right. The London Times’ Damian Thompson writes:
Trawling through Williamson’s sermons is a sad experience. There’s an intense piety there, powerful faith, but it’s poisoned by anger, hatred and an all-consuming paranoia. This troubled man has links to the political Far Right, and has written about Hitler “liberating” Germany from the control of Jewish money.
Even more bizarre than his frequently expressed view that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were not carried out by terrorists, all of those assertions were in public view well before his excommunication was lifted.
We need not play that reprehensible game, “Kick the Pope,” to wonder where this is going and exactly why Pope Benedict XVI put matters on this path, making the radical right more bold and the Catholic Church’s position of moral authority less powerful.
Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson apologized today, after being booted out of Argentina, where on Feb. 9 he was dismissed as director of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) seminary in La Reja.
“I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them,” Williamson said, according to the website of Zenit, a Catholic news agency. . . .
“To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologise,” he said. . . .
He did not say in his apology whether he had changed his views.
Lest anyone be confused about where we stand: “Never again.”