Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reconcilliation with SSPX

During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity rather than joining the local CofE or Sally Army for unknown hymns and a few long rabbling prayers and rock cakes, Rorate Caeli suggest the today the Holy Father is to lift the excommunications of the four Bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988. They have 700-plus chapels and six seminaries are spread across the globe. The Society counts close to 500 priests and 200 seminarians in over 60 countries.

I am not quite sure what this is going to mean, there are still doctrinal and legal complexities to be dealt with. I doubt somehow my Bishop will be invited to offer Pontifical Mass at the Throne in the SSPX chapel in the neighbouring parish, or that the times of Mass will be in our next diocesan directory. It does not mean instant reconciliation.

What concerns me is the occasionally brilliant but often loony Bishop Williamson. He is an Englishman, received into the Church in 1971, immediately sought to join the London Oratory, after a few days he was asked to leave. He then went to the SSPX seminary at Econe, was ordained priest in 1976 and has spent the rest of his life denying the holocaust and denouncing the Sound of Music, inventing conspiracy theories, slagging off the Pope and appearing on Youtube. I suspect this man, who has increasingly been pedalling a sede vacantist position, will end up leading the rump of the SSPX into a complete break with Rome.


Anonymous said...

I have heard all the other things but why did he denounce "The Sound of Music"?

Anonymous said...


I think you're right about Williamson. Those who deny gas-chambers, etc., would not likely be received back into the bosom of Holy Mother Church.

Anonymous said...

What an extraordinary 'sermon' - I listened for some 4 minutes and then gave up! The words 'lost' and 'marbles' came to mind.

Conspiracy theories abound about 9/11. People do sometimes complain about being in a 'police state' here what with the 'elf n safety' etc. And not everybody enjoyed 'The Sound of Music'. But to deny the Holocaust? Words fail me.

Incidentally I would also be curious to know why 'The Sound of Music' was denounced by this man.

I cannot see how reconcilliation can be possible with the SSPX while
Williamson remains one of their bishops but do await further news with interest.

Anonymous said...


Anecdotedly, I once met an ex-teacher at the SSPX school in east london (?). He told me he thought Williamson was a loon and quite possibly had mental health problems. Apparently he had big staring eyes. It was after he came over for a visit from America and stood at the back of the hall during assembly seemingly staring out the "uncommitted ones" that he decided to get out. Towards the end he thought the school was fast becoming a cult.

In his defence another member of the SSPX who I've met very occasionally, and is very nice and sensible I have to say, told me that Williamson was a very nice man.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Williamson on Sound of Music:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father, for the reference. I had read in several places about Williamson's condemnation of 'The Sound of Music' but had never seen what he actually said.

I saw the film once and found it colourful and entertaining. But I am astonished when I read about people who have seen it umpteen times! Of course nuns are always beautiful in films! And the leading man always has to be handsome. But to paraphrase Michael winner I would say to Williamson 'Calm down - it's only a film!'

His description of the film as being 'virtually pornographic' simply because it depicts 'youth, physical attractiveness, and beauty' as an essence of marriage is frankly rubbish. It is ONLY a film. 'Soul rotting slush?' perhaps but it is ONLY a film.

This brings to mind a joke I heard years ago:-

Q And where did you get the idea for your new book?

A From the film of my previous book!

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the reason why he denounces The Sound of Music is that it shows the Nazis in a bad light.

Anyone interested in sedevacantism can read a cover story I wrote some years ago for the Catholic magazine This Rock (March 2000):

Anonymous said...

It's important to remember that it is Bishop Bernard Fellay, and not Bishop Williamson, who the priests of the FSSPX elected as their Superior in 1994 and again in 2006 for another twelve-year term.

Anonymous said...

You should read what he says about educating women.

As a person with 4 sets of letters after my name from 3 different universities, I can vouch for the fact that on this topic alone the man is a total loon (and that's putting it nicely).

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add that I think it's fairer to label someone like Williamson a conspiracy theorist rather than an anti-semite. He's the type of bloke that would look to masonic plots, lizards (I don't if he is into that but I think you can understand what I mean) and the like to explain the fallout from Vatican II.

It has to be said that this type of explanation has a certain following in traditionalist Catholic circles and though it may be a small group Williamson isn't the only one who thinks like this. Maybe it's better it's out in the open.

Anonymous said...

Cardinal Hoyos is in the process of retiring, correct? Or has he already? I can't remember.

If that is correct, then is this just an attempt to expedite the process before he is out of his office?

I'm not sure I quite agree. I am not very versed on the issue, but it seems that there has been enough reconciliation on behalf of the SSPX. We cannot invite them back into the fulness if they will not accept the Holy Mother Church's teachings!

Adulio said...

The seminary in Econe is not the FSSP but the SSPX. A rather big difference Father...

Williamson is rather a bit of the rails. I suspect that Lefebrve probably regretted consecrating him a bishop towards his death (this is told to me by some associated with the SSPX).

In any case I cannot but see hypocrisy in those who would continue to advocate ecumenism with Jews who continue to hurl defamatory remarks against Pius XII and the Russian Orthodox, who have advocated the persecution of Catholics in the Eastern Block and as well deeming us as "heretics" and yet get all hot under the collar when it comes to reconciliation between Rome and the SSPX.

Anonymous said...

Williamson... I could write a book. I am not sure how well it would sell mind you! Maybe I will when I have finished my PhD.

I was in the Seminary in the USA for a few years when Williamson was still rector there.

Williamson is not mad. I think he enjoys challenging people, he wants people to think... THINK... rather than being swept along on emotions like so many of us are, and accepting of the media and 'facts' which bombard us all daily. He is passionate.

That is what I took from many of his 'rants' about subjects like the sound of music. The same with the Holocaust. His diplomatic tact is perhaps lacking sometimes, but he does raise points that should be discussed. Nothing is beyond discussion, that is being an adult surely.

I was at one conference at Winona when evidence about gas chambers at Auschwitz was questioned (not denied), and the points raised were fair.

As an archaeologist and historian I would ask some of them myself. I do not believe I ever heard him say that no Jews died there, indeed quite the opposite and he was at pains to show that many people died who were not Jewish, something which gets lost sometimes.

I no longer have anything to do with the SSPX but I will always be greatful to Williamson for making me think. Indeed I can say that it is as a result of my time in the Seminary and his influence that I am more careful at accepting things at face value and devour knowledge.


Anonymous said...

a-m - Thanks for pointing to this - I nearly choked on my supper!

chiara said...

I am sure that Novus Ordo Catholics would not like to be regarded as having the same views as the looney Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles (to name but one questionable member of the hierarchy!) I know several wonderful SSPX priests. Please try to follow the Holy Father's Christian spirit of reconciliation. The Traditional communities in full communion with Rome owe their very existence to Archbishop Lefebvre, being as he was the only Bishop who ordained in the Traditional Rite and therefore preserved the Sacred tradition of the Church.
As far as doctrinal issues that have to be cleared up, what about the looney modernist views that we have to put up with from lots of Novus Ordo Cathlics?

chiara said...

'Confiteor' has a great article on:

Anonymous said...


Personally, I'm not actually sure what to think of Confiteor's latest post. I suppose the issue is: assuming full communion is restored, just what do we "do" with rabid bishops, especially if they appear to be going a bit batty?

Anonymous said...

From the bits I have read of his writings, I suspect that if the SSPX ever is fully reconciled (Deo volente) with Rome, Williamson will resign and set up his own splinter group. Therefore loyal Catholics are not likely to have to deal with him.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth the French tv news on France 2 this evening has announced that Pope Benedict has decided to annul the excommunication of the four bishops. Archbishop Lefevbre was, I think, French so news about the SSPX is reported there.

There are a couple of interviews outside St Nicolas du Chardonnet in favour of the news and someone else interviewed who describes it as 'shocking.' Balanced tv reporting! Mention is made of 'one of the bishops' although he is not named denying the Holocaust on Swedish television.

It was stated that the news has not been denied by the Vatican but of course this does not mean either that it has been confirmed. When I last looked on Zenit there was no mention.

Anonymous said...


Thank you! You wrote exactly what I've been thinking. All this concern about Bishop Williamson - I could name at least ten prelates in the USA who are more of a danger to souls than Williamson could ever be.


Adulio said...

USLawStudent: We cannot invite them back into the fulness if they will not accept the Holy Mother Church's teachings!

And precisely what teachings of the Catholic chruch do the SSPX reject?

Anonymous said...

I feel quite sorry for the delusions of Bishop williamson. Perhaps he needs medical help?

Anonymous said...

Ottaviani, it's not so much the teachings of the Church that SSPX rejects. It denies the dogmatic fact that Vatican II was a legitimate Ecumenical Council.

Anonymous said...


Same thing, innit?

Anonymous said...


Vatican II!

Anonymous said...

Surely the immediate reconciliation that is on the horizon must be with the Orthodox Churches. Once that happens, the rest, in my view, will be straightforward, one way or the other.

This unity week thing, though, seems to breed the idea that we are all meant to be One with the churches who have deliberately set themselves up in opposition to Rome. It would be like declaring Middle East Unity week without actually sorting out the root of the problem(s).

Roll on Sunday's Bidding Prayers...... I just can't wait for the sanctimonious bilge..

JARay said...

There is one statement made by Bishop Williamson which I can vouch for because he made it in my hearing.
It goes as follows:-
"Unless Almighty God does something about this world, and does it soon, then He is going to have to start apologising to Sodom and Gomorrah for what He did to them"
I must say that I rather agreed with fact, I still do agree with him. The culture of death has just been unleashed in America.
How long, O Lord. How long?


Anonymous said...

Mark, it's not the same thing.

A divine teaching (dogma) or law is a rule.

A dogmatic fact is a fact which you apply a rule to to elicit a judgment.

It's a bit like a fact you bring to court to prove a case, only here you apply a law to what is called a juridical fact.

Anonymous said...


I see what you mean. Indeed, as someone who works with laws I ought to better know the distinction...

I suppose what I was meaning, though, was: if someone accepts the teachings of the Church (her teaching authority), then it is illogical form them to deny her juridical authority. They come from the same source afterall.

(Mind you, I'm not very well right now, so I might be misunderstanding nuances; easily done!)

Adulio said...


The SSPX have never denied the fact that the Vatican II is a valid council, convoked with the authority of John XXIII.

The fact is that Vatican II was entirely pastoral in nature and did not declare any new dogmas. It was the first council of its kind to not be endowed with any note of papal infallibility

The Council's General Secretary, Cardinal Felici, Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office, issued the "theological note" of the council, i.e., the level of theological authority of the particular council:

"We have to distinguish according to the schemata and the chapters those which have already been the subject of dogmatic definitions in the past; as for the declarations that have a novel character, we have to make reservations."

The subsequent Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office (Doctrine of the Faith) later confirmed this theological note:

"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" (Cardinal Ratzinger, El Mercurio, July 17 1988).

To therefore say that the SSPX reject the "teachings" of Vatican II is rather oxymoron. There are no new teachings to reject - but novelties or new interpretations maybe... that would be something for this present Holy Father to decide.

Auricularius said...

I love it when people say that Vatican II was "only" a "pastoral" Council. What they mean of course is that they don't like something it says and want to be able to reject it with a good conscience.

But if Vatican II was a "pastoral" or a "merely pastoral" Council, what exactly is the status of the teaching contained in Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum. Am I free to reject it or not? Of course I have to understand what they say and interpret them in the light of Scripture and Tradition. And I am not obliged to accept some of the tendentious "interpretations" of Vatican II (still less the "Spirit of Vatican II") that have been put forward. But I can't simply say that Vatican II was "pastoral" Council and therefore I am entitled to take whatever attitude I like to it.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Williamson may deny the Shoah or at least significant aspects of it, and this indeed would be unfortunate or worse, but a historical judgment of this type is not important for whether one moves from a canonically irregular situation to a canonically regular one in Holy Mother Church. With regard to doctrine, there may be some problems, and if so, they need to be corrected, but to note, not to justify, there are at least 100s of Catholic bishops currently who exercise jurisdiction who hold or have held, without repudiating their former views, publically positions that are either heretical or proximate to heresy or temerarious and dangers to the Faith etc. They may be far worse than any Bishop Williamson in regard to the salvation of souls.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Robert Selinger,
If you can supply figures from a legitimate source I will publish your comment, but not until...

Anonymous said...

Note: On the question of a "Pastoal Council" - PJXXIII, PPVI and Cardinal Lienhart, the Council Moderator, all declared at the start and at the end of VCI, that "No" doctrinal or infallible declarations or definitions were made by the Council, that it was Pastoral in nature. Meaning, that you are obligated by faith to believe only that what the Church has previously defined for belief.
Furthermore it was defined and declared by Vatican Council I that the Pope has no authority to invent or present any doctrines or beliefs contrary to what the Church has alread taught but only can transmit "what he has been given". God does not change his mind or teachings according to the Political or Social atmosphere or charactor of the times. Truth is eternal, not changing or evolving.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Other!


Anonymous said...

Father this post is arresting. If this proved true it would be tremendous news.
However much of the teaching of Vat. II will still need clarifying. On the other hand it is a great comfort to some of us to know that the documents of that Council (VII) are not essential to ones salvation. One does not have to believe them to obtain eternal life and thus enjoy the beatific vision. And one does not sin in not accepting them.
If ever an accommodation is achieved between Rome and the FSSPX it is a real fear that the good Bishop Williamson will lead a concrete schism and even sadder for us in the UK is the likelihood of FSSPX District Superior of Great Britain following Bishop Williamson.

Anonymous said...

Fr: See for example the site -Georgia Harkness - but even Roman publications have published SSPX statistics as near 500 priests, over 200 seminarians with many religious, many catholic religious that work with the SSPX, and the 1 to 2 million attendees to their masses is Rome's guestimate. In Christ thru Mary. God bless FR. P.S. Excuse my spelling previously.

Adulio said...

Auricularis - you seem to conveniently ignore the last paragraph of my last post. I quite simply stated what is held by every Orthodox prelate in Rome: that is Vatican II taught no new doctrine and anyone who says it does, has completely misrepresented it. I wrote this in response to an earlier post which asserted the baseless claim that the SSPX rejects the Magesterium of the church.

Fr. Ray - you may be interested (or not) in the latest release of Bishop Fellay concerning Williamson interview here. Maybe you could post this?

Auricularius said...

What then is relationship between the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of 18 November 1965 and the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of 18 July 1870; or between the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of 21 November 1964 and the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of 24 April 1870?

Isn’t the answer that transmitting “what has been given” doesn’t exclude what Vatican I called a “closer definition and more fruitful exposition” of the truth contained in Scripture and Tradition?

As Newman said, “to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often”.

Auricularius said...

I don't think the fact that Vatican II defined now new dogma means that you can simply take what attitude you like to it, or what it says. That, it seems to me, is what the SSPX seem to want to do. Their fundamental problem is that, like the wacky liberals whom we all (I hope) deplore, they accept the "hermeneutic of discontinuity" and believe that Vatican II was intended to represent a radical break with the past. As Pope Benedict is demonstrating, the reality is very different.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Vatican II was a pastoral not teaching council those who imply otherwise are in grave error.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Auricularius said...
I love it when people say that Vatican II was "only" a "pastoral" Council. What they mean of course is that they don't like something it says and want to be able to reject it with a good conscience.

Auri, are you saying that John XXIII was wrong to call it a "pastoral council"? He is the Pope, if he doesn't want a council to define new dogma then he is at liberty to do say as much. If wacky liberals "in good conscience" choose to impose their own post-conciliar solutions on the documents which emerged from said council they too are free to do so.

Some claim that the council was a failure or the results "disappointing" (to quote Benedict XVI). In truth, the council and its aftermath was a triumph for the "wacky liberals". In my UK diocese they are still in control and, unrepentant, continue to impose their "triumphant" model.

You imply that these "wacky groups" are a minority group with the majority of the "good guys" in some unspecified middle. That is simply not my experience these last 40 years.

Fr Ray Blake said...

How to interpret the Second Vatican Council is really what the present crisis in the Church is all about.
This is what the Pontificate of BXVI is about, this is what all his talk about the hermeneutic of "rupture" and "continuity" are about.
This is why itis important to kill off the infernal "Spirit of" Vatican II, and to return to the actual texts.
VII did not introduce new doctrine, no Council can do that, but it raised the weight and defined existing doctrine e.g. Dei Verbum's clarification of the process of scriptural inspiration.

Sadie Vacantist said...

If "wacky liberal" experience no consequences for their actions they are not going to change. If they need more money for yet another one of their "renewal" initiatives, all the local ordinary need do is sell off another Church, write the cheque and away the project managers go.

I see no change for another 30 years at least. By then, the money will have gone, the project managers together with their backers will all be dead, and then, and only then, the Church may consider resorting to the Catholic option.

Auricularius said...

No. I am not saying that Bl John XXIII was wrong to call it a "pastoral council". I am saying that what he meant by this term is often different from the SSPX et al mean. Too often, I'm afraid, "Pastoral" is set in distinction to "dogmatic" and becomes a synonym for "something I can ignore".

As Fr Ray says, we have to return to the actual texts of Vatican II and interpret them in the light of the hermeneutic of continuity.

Part of the problem with Vatican II is that we're still too close to it. It might be a disappointing Council like Lateran V, whose work needed to be completed by Trent, or it might be like Trent itself, which was preceded, accompanied and followed by huge arguments, and whose beneficial effects took time to bear fruit. That is something only time will tell.

Pablo the Mexican said...

How dare you call a Bishop of Holy Mother Church a loon.
When you are done measuring everyone according to your personal virtue, go to the web site
and have a listen to the Sermons there. Why our sins deserve eternal damnation is a good start.
I know Bishop Williamson; I have met all the Bishops of the SSPX.
At the moment he is under attack. This attack comes from the declared enemies of Christ and from the 'Holy People'who never tire of finding evil in everyone they meet, except in themselves or others of their ilk.

Priests of the SSPX know that when the day of persecution comes, it will be the 'Holy People' who hand them over to the authorities, all the while believing they are doing God's work.

In fairness to Bishop Williamson, you need to spend your time and money looking at the work product of this Bishop.

You will owe him an apology.

May God our Lord in his infinite and supreme goodness be pleased to give us his abundant grace, that we may know his most holy will, and entirely fulfill it.

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