Thursday, February 26, 2009

Williamson's limp statement

The Bishop of the SSPX, Richard Williamson issued this statement today:

The Holy Father and my Superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, have requested that I reconsider the remarks I made on Swedish television four months ago, because their consequences have been so heavy.
Observing these consequences 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.
On Swedish television I gave only the opinion (..."I believe"..."I believe"...) of a non-historian, an opinion formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available and rarely expressed in public since. However, the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St. Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused. To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said before God I apologise.
As the Holy Father has said, every act of unjust violence against one man hurts all mankind.
+Richard Williamson

This wretched man has issued a statement, it doesn't say much or repair any of the damage done by him to the memory of those Jews who died under the Nazis, to reputation of the Catholic Church or of the Holy Father or of anyone who is anxious for his Society's reconciliation.
Having seen this man wearing his rediculous baseball cap and dark glasses in the airport in Argentina. I hope the next time he is exposed to the world media he is barefoot in sackcloth and ashes, kneeling and begging for forgiveness.
Am I lacking in mercy? In this instance, firmly Yes!


gemoftheocean said...

Hey, I thought you were feeling sorry for Skippy a while back there for being ganged up on when he was down. Was it the baseball cap or the sunglasses or combination thereof that finally pushed you over the edge?

Inquiring minds want to know!

I can't see wait to see who he's going to get for an agent to book a speaking tour.

Doubtless there are groups wanting to benefit also from his views on "Sound of Music as pornography" and "Why women should be in burqas."

David Lindsay said...

It was, apparently, an outrage that this country did not allow in Geert Wilders, the latest demagogic defender of the drugged-up, whore-ridden land - a sort of George Osborne expressed as a country - into which the Netherlands has been turned without reference to her population at large.

But the equally ludicrous and unpleasant Richard Williamson, understandably kicked out of Argentina, must, apparently, be extradited to Germany. To the best of my knowledge, it is not illegal there or anywhere else to deny, minimise or in any way question Stalin's massacre of the kulaks, or Pol Pot's killing fields, or the disappearances in Pinochet's Chile, or ... well, make your own list. It is simply an error in historical scholarship, to be corrected as such by historians. So is minimising the Holocaust.

No extradition.

Just excoriation and ridicule.

That would hit far, far harder.

But, of course, this is not really about the Holocaust. It is about ensuring that the recognition of Vatican II as in no sense a canonisation of mid-twentieth-century secular humanism (itself now a thing of the past), but instead comprehensible and implementable only by reference to its own specific texts as read within and under the Tradition of two thousand years, cannot come to pass.

It must come to pass if there is to be any reconciliation of the greater part of the Lefebvrist body (though probably not of Williamson). Indeed, it must come to pass anyway, and would have done so at this historical juncture anyway.

But the ageing, dwindling, Wildersite remnant of mid-twentieth-century secular humanism, both within and beyond the Church, is determined to stop it.

It is they who must be stopped.

George said...

'Ouch'! Fr. Ray, that's tough talking, but in this case deserved. Better the Bishop had just kept quiet than issue this 'non statement'.

Of course it's only his opinion as for sure it's NOT HISTORICAL FACT, to which my own family history can attest with stories of terrible suffering under the Nazi onslaught through Poland.

Doesn't he realise that his opininions are ill informed, misguided and unjust. Above all else when expressed in the media these opinions 'I believe... I believe'... hurt all those who still live with the scars of this most dreadful period in human history.

As you say Fr. there doesn't appear to be any sincere remorse for having caused hurt and no prospect of a retraction or even dare I say re-education to learn the truth and make ammends.

We should however pray for our Bishop and for the souls of all those who lost their lives at the hands of the murderous Nazis.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Gem, this statement

Dilly said...

Do you think it is true, (as reported in the Telegraph) that BP W emailed David Irving to find out how to present his views without creating a backlash? If so it shows it is not true repentance, and your comments reflect my own.

Anonymous said...

You usually post such excellent things on your Blog and I have benefited greatly from them. But this time I believe that you are terribly wrong.
Please reconsider.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I understand he has a far right spokeswoman, so anything is possible.

Jane said...

Dear Fr,

My only fear is that this 'limp statement' will fuel further media hatcheting of the Pope. Williamson is de Fellay's responsibility. Benedict asked for a recantation and this has not been forthcoming. I pray that the Pope and bishop will act and speak unequivocally before the beginning of the Lenten Spiritual Exercises begin on Sunday evening.

Anonymous said...

Obviously his words are 'limp' but he is quite happy to make a fist and use physical force against other people if it suits him.

A man not to be trusted I'm afraid.

Telesia said...

Fr. Blake,

You yourself cause scandal to me by the way your address His Lordship Bishop Williamson - you never use his title and today's post "this wretched man" is shameful! He is not "wretched" in any way, but a great bishop, a holy man and I tired of reading all the nonsense written about him.

Terry Nelson said...

Right on Father!

Anagnostis said...

I've never been one of Bishop Williamson's greatest admirers, and think it tragic that Archbishop Lefebvre's work has been so overshadowed in the moment of its vindication by all this ugly and stupid stuff. If only the SSPX leadership had had the sense to nip these tendencies in the bud many years ago, a great deal of suffering and scandal could have been avoided. Bishop Fellay's claim that Williamson's views came as a surprise to him are quite incredible.

Nevertheless, I don't agree with you Father. I think the statement is explicitly contrite and humble. It's practically the first thing I ever read of his that didn't make me wince. As for the baseball cap and so on - isn't it possible that the Bishop was simply attempting to slip past the press in "mufti"?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Quite deliberately do I refer to him without any title, when he shows himself a dutiful son of the Church, I will give him whatever title the Vicar of Christ decides to grant him.
I am glad you are scandalised, you can share in some part the scandal the rest of the Church feels!
At the moment I am only too happy the Holy See allows me to distance myself from him and his vile views.
The damage he has done to the Church is so great, it will take a great deal of time and hard work to repair.
And, Telesia, this man, I tell you, will answer for it before the throne of God, as much as any other wretch who wounds, defiles and brings into disrepute the Body of Christ.
Pray for him, and pray for the repair to the damage he has done. I just pray that he did what he did because he is a fool rather than to derail the talks between the Holy See and the our seperated brothers.

Ches said...

Dear Fr Blake,

I personally believe Bishop Williamson will recant these views given some more time. And I am absolutely certain that he was not attempting to derail SSPX-Vatican negotiations. I think it likely division will come from another quarter all together.

alban said...

Fr Blake, Like some others here, I was rather surprised by your 'lack of mercy'. It is obvious that you are very distressed by the effects of what has happened in this case.

As has been pointed out, although he has apologised for causing distress to the Church and to the SSPX, Bishop Williamson has still not recanted his views on the Shoah as instructed to do so by the Holy See. In this he remains disobedient and continues to cause harm to the Body of Christ, and it is unacceptable.

I used to hold the view that Bishop Williamson was, at times, a might silly in his behaviour; now, I fear that he is quite dangerous. His assault on the annoying reporter was shocking and most unbecoming a member of the clergy regardless of the hassle he was being caused.

Still, I am unable to bring myself to agree with all of the words you have used with regard to him. He needs our sympathy and our prayers. I feel sadness rather than anger towards this man, who is indeed wretched in the true meaning of the word.

Anonymous said...

I really do not know what to make of this whole affair. If he told what he knew to be untruths concerning the Holocaust. If the timing was such to scupper Pope Benedict's efforts and to wound the Church then yes he is an absolute scoundrel of the highest order. There's a lot of if's in the above and I have no way of discerning whether any one of them are true. Personally I don't think any one of them are true. So I think you are too harsh here Father.

I'd be content to say that he is verbally incontinent and should learn to use his tongue with more prudence especially on a subject that is so painful and so sacred to so many.

Anonymous said...

I actually think you have been somewhat restrained, Father.

Religion is about truth, isn't it? Yet here we have a so-called cleric putting himself scandalously on the side of falsehood. I think Williamson is a very evil man and I don't understand all this sympathy for him.

Telesia said...

Fr. Blake,
Thank your for your OPINION of my comments about His Lordship Bishop Williamson. All he did was offer his OPINION last November. If he had been speaking about the evil events over the years in Uganda, Rwanda or Zimbabwe nobody would have said boo to him. But he touched on the 'Shoah' - and as a result, one would think that it now has to be accepted as a 'Dogma of Faith' now in the Catholic Church! The whole world turned on him. It is frightful!

He has issued two apologies already, but still you are not happy.

Of course I do pray for him very much, and I am sure he will not be found wanting when he faces Almighty God - who sees his heart and knows that truth and love for the Catholic Church motivates him more than you know.

Anonymous said...

It is Williamson’s calculating effect on Benedict XVI’s papacy that concerns me, and calculating is exactly the word. This cunning “apology” is designed to do nothing but stir emotions against both Fellay and Benedict, which is exactly what they will do. The secular press may be dumb (sometimes) but they’re not stupid, they’ll know what to do with this, and Williamson knows it. So by his fruits you shall know him.

Adulio said...


Do you not at least think it is significant that this apology was released through the Ecclesia Dei commission on their website and NOT the SSPX. You have omitted this in your post. If they saw fit to release this, then they must be surely satisfied for now?

I hope you express equal indignation for bishops that shun frequent confession, downplay the traditional Roman rite and promote an eco-friendly gospel that bares no resemblance to what Christ says.

tempus putationis said...

Dear Father Ray,
Bishop Williamson is terribly wrong and when he fully realises what he has done, he will suffer terribly.
The YouTube video 'A letter to Bishop Williamson' is eloquent about Auschwitz and ends by saying, 'To hate is to let Hitler win'.
I think we need to stick to the truth but to do so in charity and, as we move into the first Friday of Lent, with as much patience as we can muster.

Anonymous said...

Father, thank you for taking the time to discuss this with those of us whose clergy either don't know or don't care. I share your distress over the situation, your concern about the damage that is being done to the Church and the jeopardy in which this places the revival of tradition. I really do feel that the Bishop is being played by Irving and his ilk - they see his pride and have capitalized upon it, and they haven't the slightest concern for his soul. If the Bishop does speak in London as I've heard is the plan, it's bound to be a circus. Lord God deliver us...

Fr Ray Blake said...

I was embarrassed that ED was the "source" of this document.

Anonymous said...

This seems to be an apology by a man consumed by personal pride and whoever in ED approved its publication is compounding the previous communications error. Another case of naivete in The Vatican? On the face of it, it is a straightforward and contrite admission, but in what else this man has said and in the way he has behaved, this apology appears hollow, as if he held his nose while writing it.
I really believe he doesn’t have a clue what harm he is causing the Pope and the Catholic Church and that makes him a dangerous loose cannon.
I was once sent to a meeting where Enoch Powell spoke. I was incredibly young and what struck me was that he was so convinced he was right that he didn’t need an audience. He was quite mesmerising and very charming. But he could have stood in an empty room and made his speech and it would have been all the same to him. And here I see parallels of personality with Richard Williamson
Yes, it would have been gratifying indeed to have heard Richard Williamson standing up for his fellow Catholics beleaguered in Zimbabwe and in Iraq and Pakistan.
He may well be a highly intelligent man and faithful to the traditional teaching of the Church, but that does not make him a wise one. Cardinal Hume summed it up brilliantly when he said that at the end of the 20th century we might well be considered clever, but were we wise?
I still don’t know whether this man can properly be given the title bishop. There has been some suggestion that he was raised without first being ordained a priest, but I don’t know what canon law has to say about this. What we do know is he is suspended from ministry and the best thing he can do is keep his mouth shut.
The fuss will die down in the end and the caravan will move on because the subject will simply become boring and recognised for the side issue that it actually is. But he is in danger of becoming marginalised by his own actions with a future as a public oddball and a laughing stock. He certainly needs our prayers because his greatest enemy is himself.

Anonymous said...

Well said Fr Blake. Willians is a wretched man, and the photo of him looking like an aged rocker and clenching his fist at a journalist will surely haunt him to the grave. One would expect such behaviour of Elton John, not a successor of the apostles! His so called apology will just add fuel to the fire as it falls far short of what is required. I was surprised to hear on the BBC that our bishops have said he was never a Roman Catholic bishop - is that true? Certainly he must be a huge boil for the bishops of England and Wales to endure.

Anonymous said...

Just found the bishops' conference statement on Williamson: “Richard Williamson is not and never has been a Roman Catholic Bishop, despite media reports to the contrary. He is not able to celebrate any sacraments in a Catholic Church, including mass, nor is he able to preach.

“He is a member of the Society of Saint Pius X which is not in full communion with the Catholic Church. His Episcopal ordination was illicit and is not recognised by the Catholic Church.

“Furthermore the Catholic Church has condemned his stated views on the holocaust. Those views are not only offensive and unacceptable, but they have no place in the Church and run contrary to Catholic teaching.”
I wonder whether this is correct? any canon lawyers?

Anonymous said...

I take the mental health angle on this one. I've seen mental health problems in my own family and when people have lost the plot they really don't know what they are doing. It all seems so real to them - but it's just an imaginary world. Conspiracy thinking is just like being in a cult and anyone who has seen +Willamson's videos on youtube, seen his views on 9/11 or read his letters can see where he's at. Global elites, illuminati, global police states you name it he believes it. His holocaust denial is the 1/10th of the iceberg that is visible, the 9/10th of everything else he believes is below the surface. Hence all these seemingly strange statements about the Sound of Music etc.

I think there is also a spiritual warfare element here too. This whole holocaust denial and conspiracy thinking thing was the devil's insurance card. If the orthodox ever got the upper hand he was going to pull it out and blacken everyone's name with it. Foolishly people like +Williamson and others have fallen for it and jumped down a rabbit hole of the devil's making. I reckon +Williamson will only get better once he realises this. Hopefully he will be man enough to do this but I would think it will be a minimum of 5 years (if ever).

Although +Williamson has caused a lot of damage I think a lot of it is internal. Most of the people I know at work (80%) don't know about it and those that do just assume he's off his rocker.

I'll be praying that God can give this whole story an unexpected twist and bring some good out of it and I'll especially be praying for +Williamson and any other traditionalist Catholics who've fallen into the same trap to snap out of it and start living in reality again.

St. Peter, pray for us, and pray especially for +Williamson and other people with a similar problem.

Tim in McKean said...

"This wretched man has issued a statement" I will admit that His Excellancy should have been more prudent in making any statements about the holocaust. But to call him "wretched" because he holds a personal view about which even historians question as to the numbers, is down right sinister on your part. In your capacity as a priest, you could have done much for the cause by imploring prayers for the healing of this episode. Instead, you continue to stir the pot.

David Lindsay said...

At the end of the day, it is simply more important to reconcile to full visible communion with the See of Peter those who believe every word of the Apostles' Creed, every word of the Nicene Creed (including the filioque clause), every word of the Athanasian Creed and every word of the Creed of Saint Pius V, than it is to maintain cordial relations with those who deny that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.

In a clip broadcast this week, a twenty years younger Richard Williamson was shown saying that if there are two religions of which one says that Jesus Christ is God and the other says that Jesus Christ is not God, then if you say that they are both good (not the people, the religions), then "you don't have a mind".

Precisely so.

And what a scandal that it takes him to remind us of it.

Anonymous said...

Well at least he has admitted that he is no historian and on such a matter should not be taken seriously. The "evidence" to which he refers has not been expressed in public since to do so would invite public ridicule from researchers in the field.

As for Fr Blake not treating him with respect - what degree of respect should be accorded to an illicitly ordained cleric with preposterous opinions likely to bring into disrepute the church to which he belongs?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Tim in McKean,
Name one reputable historian who would share Williamson's estimate of the number of Jewish Nazi victims.
If he wishes to ally himself with cranks and anti-Semites, then he judged alonside them, so will the SSPX, the Church and the Vicar of Christ.

Simon Platt said...

Dear Riccardo,

Wondering whether the statement from the Catholic Communications Network was correct ...

It seems to me that "he is not able" should be "he is not permitted" and also that "his stated views on the holocaust ... run contrary to Catholic teaching" is stretching things a bit too far.

How I wish they would take more care over their work!

Anonymous said...

I have wondered as to how Williamson could have got the figure of 300,000 as the total of Jewish victims of the Nazis. Perhaps it is from the total Jewish population of Germany in 1939 which was about 300,000. It overlooks the millions of Jews in he rest of Europe who found themselves subject to Nazi rule, with consequent transportation to death camps. I wonder if he could wittingly have made such an elementary error.

Like Fr Blake I can think of no historian at a good university who would regard seriously the views of Williamson.There is no dispute among historians about the reality and extent of the Shoah. It is disputed only by Neo-Nazis, Anti-Semites, and some Muslims.

Listen to Williamson perhaps on Shakespeare, he has a first degree in English Literature from Cambridge , but as a historian he has no credibility. Now that he has admitted that, perhaps the way is open for him to pursue serious study under direction. There are plenty of people, serious scholars who have spent a lifetime on the subject who could enlighten him.

Had he, like my daughter, tried to trace ancestors through the death camps of Europe he would not have peddled such nonsense as serious thought.

roydosan said...

I hope that given time to research his erroneous views Williamson will offer a full apology and repudiation of what he has said. However it would be wrong on his part to recant if he does not honestly believe that what he said was wrong.

Far better for him to delay, study the evidence and only then offer a full apology and recognition that the Shoah did take place. This might also help refute the opinions of others who would deny or diminish the scale of the Shoah; since here would be a man who believed the work of revisionists like Leuchter and then saw that not only were they wrong but why they were wrong.

Such an apology would be far more effective than a hasty recantation of his views which everyone would merely put down to the great amount of media pressure, etc. A rushed apology would be easy for people to dismiss and say 'oh well he says sorry but he doesn't really mean it or believe that Jews were gassed, he's still an anti-semite at heart'. A delayed and measured apology and people might believe that he has understood that he really understands how wrong he was.

On an aside Williamson's views do raise questions about the simplification of the Shoah which make it easier for revisionists to question the numbers. Yes nearly 6 million Jews died but less than 1 million were gassed at Auschwitz. Far more were gassed at Treblinka, Sobibor, Chelmno, Maidanek and Belzec. To which one might add the 1 million plus Jews killed by shooting in Eastern Europe and the large numbers of Jews worked to death in the various concentration camps. The reality is far more horrific than the simplified totem of Auschwitz (as evil as it was) implies and to minimise it to Auschitz and Zyklon B undermines the true scale of what happened.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Alan F,
You are probably right, however your reference in the last sentence, though probably accurate, cannot appear here.

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