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SSPX threatens to expel Williamson over extremist lawyer

By on Monday, 22 November 2010

Bishop Fellay greets worshippers as he arrives for an ordination Mass in Econe, Switzerland (Photo: PA)

Bishop Fellay greets worshippers as he arrives for an ordination Mass in Econe, Switzerland (Photo: PA)

The Society of St Pius X has threatened to expel traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson if he retained an extremist lawyer with neo-Nazi ties to defend him in a German court.

The head of the traditionalist society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, “has formally ordered Bishop Williamson to abandon this decision and not allow himself to be manipulated by political ideas that are completely unrelated to his mission as a Catholic bishop serving the Society of St Pius X”, according to a statement.

“To disobey this order would result in Bishop Williamson being excluded from the Priestly Fraternity of St Pius X,” said the statement by the society’s secretary general, Fr Christian Thouvenot.

The society expressed its concern that the English bishop had hired a lawyer “who is openly affiliated to the so-called neo-Nazi movement in Germany and other such groups”.

The British-born bishop is appealing a fine stemming from charges by a German court last year for Holocaust denial, which is illegal in Germany. According to German media, the lawyer, Wolfram Nahrath, is a member of the far-right National Democratic Party and had led a neo-Nazi youth organisation that was eventually banned in 1994.

Bishop Williamson was one of four of the society’s bishops who were excommunicated for being ordained against papal orders in 1988; Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications in 2009.

The Vatican said it was unaware that days before the excommunications were lifted, Bishop Williamson had said in a televised interview that the Holocaust was exaggerated and that no Jews died in Nazi gas chambers.

In a new book, Pope Benedict said that if he had been aware of the bishop’s views on the Holocaust, then “the first step would have been to separate the Williamson case from the others”.

“Unfortunately, though, none of us went on the internet to find out what sort of person we were dealing with,” he said in a book-length interview entitled Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times. The book by Peter Seewald was scheduled for worldwide release on Wednesday.

Soon after the excommunications were lifted, the Vatican published a statement saying that Bishop Williamson would not be welcomed into full communion with the Church unless he disavowed his remarks about the Holocaust and publicly apologised.

Though the bishop later issued a statement of regret for the scandal caused by his remarks, the Vatican said the statement did not meet its demand that he publicly and unequivocally recant his position.

  • Ratbag

    Why didn't someone at the Vatican – especially those close to the Holy Father – scour the internet, make discreet enquiries and analyse what has been written, broadcast and said by this personage? Then, when everything has been through a fine tooth comb, bring the damning evidence regarding “bishop” Williamson to Pope Benedict's attention in the first place?


    Surely there was enough evidence about this poor, misguided (and dangerous) person to view before the decision to lift his excommunication?

    Judging by his choice of a neo-Nazi lawyer, Williamson is unrepentent about his remarks about the Holocaust. Can the Holy Father reinstate that excommunication?

    The Pope has been let down badly by those who have taken their eye off the ball for more than a split second.

  • DBMcGinnity

    The problem is not Bishop Williamson, or what he said. The problem is making it illegal to deny the Holocaust. I have been to several concentration camps and talked with survivors and I am in no doubt whatsoever about what happened. The answer however is not to attack him or prosecute him, but to enlighten him by presenting him with the evidence.

    If Bishop Williamson is not amenable to accept the Holocaust or change his opinion in the light of logical evidence or show compassion and understanding inasmuch that God loves everyone and everyone deserves to be loved, then he is not fit to hold any public office where vulnerable and impressionable people are subject to his influence, regardless of the religious denomination.

    We should have learned by now that whenever an organisation, movement, or ideology is proscribed, it tends to attract, attention seekers, self publicists and a variety of cranks. Also, as soon as something is made illegal, there is a lot of money to be made by lawyers.

  • Tomcan

    What has been forgotten in this condemnation of the Winchester and Cambridge educated Bishop Williamson is the fact that he rendered an opinon based on his studies of some 20 years ago on this subject and the fact that SOME jewish organisations – after years of study have reduced the total of deaths at one camp from 4 million to 1.5 million – so here is a great deal of concern on these findings.

    Now the Bishop realising that is was unlawful to critcise the Holocaust in Germany – asked the TV presenter if it was to be shown in Germany and was assured that it would only be shown in Sweden – at that point he made his personal secular opinon. This was indeed only shown in Sweden to the Churches which had been accomodating the SSPX in an attempt by the Swedish Hierarchy who were upset by the effect of the British SSPX Mission to Scandinavia – to halt that mission – they were NOT successful inasmuch as we have since then ordained two Swedish men one of whom was a Lutheran pastor.

    This TV interview was held in the November – BUT – not shown in Germany and the internet until the following January – strangely – the evening before the invalid ex-communications were lifted from the four SSPX Bishops – and this is where we find the “dirty tricks dept” of the anti defamation league headed by one Abraham Foxman.

    A word about this man (sic) – Abe Foxman – as a child he was adopted by a young German couple who had him baptised and brought up as a Catholic – thus saving him from the Holocaust – and this is how he repays that trust – with an undying hatred of all things Catholic.

    The truly sad thing about this whole episode that here is a man who has been found guilty of having an opinion – who will be next and with what opinion…..

  • Marty B

    Bishops are Successors of the Apostles. Since our hope for the Second Coming depends on the conversion of all Israel (CCC 674), we do not need a Holocaust denying bishop as shepherd of a major flock. I would encourage the Holy Father to transfer him to the Vatican’s Latinitas Foundation, which promotes the study and use of the Latin language. Since that post requires excellent Latin scholarship, probably the bishop would need some time off for intensive study of the language. I would hope that his superior would give him as much time as he needs to reach that very high level of fluency.

  • Marty B

    Bishop Williamson appears to be a hard-core Holocaust denier. Since the Second Coming depends on the conversion of all Israel (CCC 674), we do not need a Holocaust-denying Successor of the Apostles as shepherd of a major flock. Perhaps the Holy Father might transfer him to the Vatican’s Latinitas Foundation, which promotes use of the Latin language. Since Latinitas requires a very high level of Latin scholarship, the bishop may need considerable time off for intensive study of the language, and that should be granted until he reaches the requisite level of scholarship.

  • Lajos

    Hi  Marty, you are really great talking bullshit, aren’t you….

  • Brian A Cook
  • Pageantevo

    How interesting that in this modern world of free speech everyone is asked and demanded to accept everyone else and to respect their ideas and opinions whether they conform with one’s own or not… Yet.. The whole world attacks a bishop over his personal views and opinions regarding an event from the past.

    Luckily excommunion is only given where matters of Catholic faith are involved and the Jewish holocaust is no wait a matter of Catholic faith and so completely unrelated. 

    Do you need to see an optician because your tooth hurts? No, then what makes people believe a bishop is to be excommunicated from the Catholic church regarding his personal opinion on a non Catholic related event?

    As sorry as we may be for the victims there, everyone is entitled to their opinion regardless of what it may be, let’s start here and now, shall we? 

    So this bishop has expressed a view that most disagree with… if you don’t like it, if you feel he is wrong, there is no need to go and belittle him or anyone else over it, simply ignore. If you feel so compelled to speak up, you express your own personal opinion and leave everyone else’s names out of it. Where is the maturity of this world gone?

  • Ww4449

    yes he denies that many died. But his interview on where he approaches the topic in a scientific and rational way is quite convincing (for him) anyway