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SSPX expels Bishop Williamson

By on Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Bishop Williamson had written an open letter calling for the superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, to resign (Photo: CNS)

Bishop Williamson had written an open letter calling for the superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, to resign (Photo: CNS)

The Society of St Pius X has confirmed that it has expelled the English Bishop Richard Williamson.

Bishop Williamson, 72, one of four men illicitly ordained in 1988 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in Écône, Switzerland, has been a controversial figure, particularly for his views on Jews, who he has called the “enemies of Christ”.

In a statement the society said: “Bishop Richard Williamson, having distanced himself from the management and the government of the SSPX for several years, and refusing to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors, was declared excluded from the SSPX by decision of the superior general and its council on October 4 2012. A final deadline had been granted to him to declare his submission, after which he announced the publication of an ‘open letter’ asking the superior general to resign.

“This painful decision has become necessary by concern for the common good of the Society of Saint Pius X and its good government, according to what Archbishop Lefebvre denounced: ‘This is the destruction of authority. How authority can be exercised if it needs to ask all members to participate in the exercise of authority?’”

Bishop Williamson, who was educated at Winchester, has denied that millions of Jews died in Nazi gas chambers and believes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to be authentic.

A television interview in which Bishop Williamson denied the Holocaust was broadcast in January 2009 on the same day that Pope Benedict XVI lifted the automatic excommunications of the four bishops, causing the Vatican embarrassment. Bishop Williamson apologised to the Pope but did not retract the statement.

Superior general Bishop Bernard Fellay subsequently banned Bishop Williamson from speaking in public.

  • JabbaPapa

    One can hardly rejoice over this outcome, but heretics and schismatics do in fact need to be expelled from our Church.

    In the words of Archbishop Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith : “Williamson is not a Catholic Bishop”.

    La Messe est dite.

  • Benedict Carter

    I am very pleased to hear this news. Bishop Williamson has been a loose cannon for a long time, even without his unusual historical opinions. No religious Order can forever continue to tolerate a man who publicly calls for the overthrow of duly constituted authority. 

    How many will he take with him? Few, whether of Society priests or laymen. 

    If only the Holy Father would do the same with Bishops and Cardinals who thwart him at every turn, even simply ignoring or refusing to obey his instructions! There are many examples of this, many. 

    The SSPX is united and the expulsion of Bishop Williamson is proof of it. 

  • Benedict Carter

    You are extremely confused in your thinking Jabba. He hasn’t been expelled for either heresy or for being a schismatic. He is neither. 

    He has been expelled from the Priestly Society of which he was a member for not adhering to the decisions of that Society’s duly constituted authority. Indeed, he has sought to overturn the authority of the Society.

    As to Muller’s “pronouncement”, as usual with him, there is a total lack of definition. Is Bishop Williamson validly consecrated? Of course, Rome has always accepted this. Does he have any canonical governance in the Church? No, he does not. 

    He is “not a Catholic Bishop” only in the latter sense.

    However, I would certainly like to see the heretics of Nu-Chuch excommunicated. There are so many of them though, where would one start?

  • JabbaPapa

    I am not “confused” — his declarations have been openly schismatic and heretic, in a manner that is entirely inconsistent with the virtue of the SSPX and more fundamentally, the virtues of the Catholic Church.

  • Benedict Carter

    No, I would not agree with that. 

  • JabbaPapa

    I will be frankly surprised if Williamson is not excommunicated in very short order.

  • JabbaPapa

    Fair enough, dear Benedict.

  • No

    This was a sad day for all Catholics.  

  • Benedict Carter

    No, it won’t happen now, why should he be? 

    If he was to consecrate another Bishop – yes, he will be excommunicated automatically of course. The ball’s in his court.

  • Mark

    The Pope should take a cue from Donald Trump and say “You’re fired” to disloyal bishops. Of course Marxists believe in secure employment without basis in merit so they will be against any challenge to their cushy jobs.

  • the irony of it is..

    Glad to see SSPX takes obedience so seriously.  Will they do the same in their own obedience to the Holy Father?  Or will they too be disobedient?  If you take the official statement above and just replace Bishop Williamson with SSPX and read it as if it came from the Vatican…  
    Does SSPX want to find itself in that position?

  • Ian Slade

    Oh Dear JabbaPapa…I’ll think you’ll find ‘Cardinal’ Muller is not a bishop at all, whether Catholic or otherwise, unlike Richard Williamson, who, however odious his views, was ordained in a valid rite by a valid bishop. Like the excommunicate heresiarch priest he serves, Muller was ‘consecrated’ in an invalid heretical rite by a layman.

  • JonathanBurdon

    He’s said a lot of crazy things such as his denial of the Holocaust, acceptance of the authenticity of ‘the Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and belief in various other conspiracy theories, but I can’t remember him saying anything heretical. Having said that there’s no doubt this is a good thing both for the SSPX and the Church as a whole.

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    Williamson denied the existence of gas chambers.

    My suspicion is that the official history of WWII is just another Lance Armstrong/Jimmy Saville scandal waiting to happen. Most historians are too afraid to tell the truth.  

  • JonathanBurdon

    Oh dear. Do you have any evidence for your rather unpleasant theory or is it the fruit of hours of fevered research on some of the wackier sites of the internet?

  • Benedict Carter

    They ARE obedient as far as they feel able to be without compromising on the Faith; but the doctrinal questions need to be sorted out first.

  • the irony of it is..

    Great.  However, if the Holy See tells them that the SSPX understanding of Church doctrine is not in line with that of the Church, will they be obedient to the Church or to their own understanding of what they think true Church teaching is?  
    It would be heroic obedience if they followed the Church, but an obedience that would bring a great blessing for them and for the whole Church.  I am praying for that. 
    We’ve had schisms and disobedience on “the left”. It would be a shame to have one on “the right”.  I’m just afraid that SSPX is unwittingly setting themselves up as a parallel magesterium. I hope I’m wrong. 

  • DFV

    So when did having an opinion be an unpardonable offence to the Catholic Church, especially when he is telling the Truth.  I would have thought dealing with Homosexualy and Peadophilia within the Church was a much higher priority than justifiable opinion ; I can only assume the Church does not believe in free speech and has a political agenda driven by the Illuminate.

    “Judea Declares War on Germany” (Complete).

  • DFV

    JonathanBurdon, Try this for size.

    “Judea Declares War on Germany” (Complete)

  • nbtrap

    I was thinking the exact same thing as I read through the report. It’s hilarious, and ironic, that the SSPX should disparage someone for “refusing to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors”. What a crock.

  • cyrus

    Seriously, it is sad to see discord anywhere in the body of Christ.
    But “refusing to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors”, this coming from the SSPX. Lol.
    Any SSPX priest wishing to cement his place in the history of the salvation of the whole world, should walk across Piazza San Pietro to concelebrate Holy Mass with the Pope, Vicar of Christ and His Church.That priest would be a great hero for his fidelity, humility, and bravery.
    Otherwise he “that does not gatherth with me, scattereth…”

  • JabbaPapa

    It’s unsurprising that a thread like this one will bring out the sedevacantist element.

  • JabbaPapa

    Or just “ordain” a “priest” …

  • Benedict Carter

    The Church cannot say that, as the SSPX position is that of all Catholics up to the Council.

    What Rome CAN do is issue binding statements that don’t just witter on about the Council being in continuity with Tradition but explain exactly HOW the Council’s dodgy elements are in continuity with Tradition.

    Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s ONLY the SSPX that is calling for this: it’s not. There is a growing call for this whole matter to be put to bed once and for all – Polish Catholic intellectuals have written as a group asking for this; a large number of Italian Catholic thinkers have done the same; many clerics want to see it too. 

    The SSPX undoubtedly accept MORE of Vatican II (95%, Bishop Fellay once said) that do the majority of current Bishops, whose “theology” has moved on from Vatican II completely. 

    That’s the true irony for you.

  • scary goat

    Nice move!

  • Name Entered to Comment

    Concelebrate the Holy [Sacrifice of the] Mass in the old liturgy or the new?

  • JonathanBurdon

    It says I can’t see the film in the country I’m in, but I can’t say I’m overly optimistic that a youtube video will provide convincing proof.

  • Alex Richards


    Thank you for your clarifying comments! You above all show that you understand what is really going on here. A great book that many Catholics should read is “The Popes Against Modern Errors.” Also, people seem to forget that Vatican II was a pastoral council, not a dogmatic one. Thus, SSPX members could be said to be holding on to the tradition that is our Catholicism (we are not a sola scriptura institution). Why do you think Pope Benedict XVI wants SSPX back so bad, people? Read “The Ratzinger Report” (An excellent 3 day interview with now Pope Benedict XVI when he was Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith [formerly the Inquisition] [[they changed the name, nbut not the function of this administrative body]]) if you want a startling wake up call as to what has really been going on for the last 50 years.


  • DFV

    I assume you live in Germany,
     that says allot for freedom of speech.

  • DFV

    He is not the only one, please see the video below , unless you are in Germany; then it will be suppressed.

    “Judea Declares War on Germany” (Complete)…

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Why are we calling this guy ‘Bishop’? The Holy Father didn’t make him a bishop, so he shouldn’t be called Bishop!

  • DFV

    I can only assume that you are not prepared to consider scientific, mathematical realities and details of achieve documents written at the time by those that were there  with an open mind .

    The video looks at evidence from YOUR point of view to tries and prove that the this event  took place talking to experts in their various fields and comparing them with inmates assertions as to what happened on a daily bases.

    Many decades ago people were classed as  heretics because they said the world was round; we all know  now that their assertions were correct.

  • Andrew

    Müller was consecrated by Cardinal Friedrich Wetter who was himself ordained a priest in 1953 (obviously under the Tridentine rite) and a bishop in 1968 (obviously also under the Tridentine rite). Cardinal Wetter was most definitely not a layman, no matter what you may think about the Novus Ordo. (Or do you claim that Cardinal Wetter was canonically reduced to the lay state after his ordination and consecration? And who would have executed such a laicization?)

    Likewise, Pope Benedict XVI (I’m assuming this is who you mean by “the excommunicate heresiarch priest he serves”) was consecrated by Bishop Josef Stangl who was himself ordained a priest in 1930 and a bishop in 1957 (again, both obviously having been performed under the valid Tridentine rite). So Bishop Stangl was also most definitely not a layman, despite your perfidious implication. (Again, unless you claim that Bishop Stangl was reduced to the lay state some time between 1957 and 1977, when he consecrated Ratzinger.)Next time, why don’t you try doing some fact-checking before spouting off derisive comments that slander true Catholic bishops?

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    I haven’t watched the video. The reality is that history is written by the winners (or in the case of the Spanish Civil War – the losers):

    “The myth of Winston Churchill is dangerous. Was it a sensible strategy in 1944 and 1945 to bomb Germany to bits? It was very bad realpolitik, whatever its moral purpose. It was a war against tyranny which ended up with Europe under worse tyranny than Hitler’s. Something went wrong. Britain got a privileged existence out of the war while the Continent was wrecked. Let us not fall for this smug veneration of Churchill. Yes, there was a moment in 1945, but the rest – I’ve got my doubts.” (Norman Stone Historian and professor at Bilkent University, Ankara).

    Stone never dared say this in public before moving to Turkey. Even here he is not telling the whole truth. The phrase “war against tyranny” is Orwellian. George learnt his trade of course, working at the BBC.

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    Nor did the Holy Father make Rowan Williams a bishop.

  • rjt1

    My understanding is that, though consecrated illicitly, his consecration (subject to applicable conditions such as the intentions of the consecrating bishop; I do not know the precise circumstances) was valid, so that would mean he is a bishop – even though in an irregular position vis a vis the Catholic Church.

  • the irony of it is..

    The point is that at the end of the day, the Church discerns  what is and is not Catholic doctrine, not SSPX.  SSPX can participate in that discernment but is not, as it’s own entity, infallible.  I hope they recognize that. If they are obedient, then that obedience will save them even if their judgment is wrong concerning an issue of doctrine.

  • Paul Phar

    I am pleased to hear this new since it makes it clear that the SSPX is now contrary to what its founder meant it to be. Bishop Fellay is probably a Vatican mole, who in consort with the present incumbent on the Vatican throne wished to split and thus destroy the largest resistance to the attempt to make what was once the Catholic Church into a modernist sect. 

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Yes, I know that! Duh!

    And your point is?

  • Benedict Carter

    The precise circumstances were that he was consecrated a Bishop by an Archbishop (who had been the boss of the 30,000 strong Holy Ghost Fathers and had been a key member of the Preparatory Commission for Vatican II), and a Bishop, both of them Fathers at the Second Vatican Council. 

  • Dan

     I wonder if Bishop Williamson will appeal, and if so, to whom?Canon 700 – A decree of dismissal has no effect unless it is confirmed by the Holy See, to whom the decree and all the acts are to be forwarded. If the matter concerns an institute of diocesan right, the confirmation belongs to the Bishop in whose diocese is located the house to which the religious belongs. For validity the decree must indicate the right of the person dismissed to have recourse to the competent authority within ten days of receiving notification of the decree. The recourse has a suspensive effect.

  • Benedict Carter

    Yes, that book is excellent. Thanks for kind comments.

  • Dan

    Bishop Williamson was validly consecrated bishop by Archbishop Lefebvre.

    Though this was an illicit act it, was a valid one since all Catholic Bishops can validly consecrate other bishops even if they do not have Papal mandate.

  • Dan

    In the words of Archbishop Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith : “Williamson is not a Catholic Bishop”.

    Then what denomination is he?
    Jehovahs Witness?

    No, HE is a Catholic Bishop.
    That makes it all the more worse.

  • Parasum

    There are hundreds, even thousands, of bishops who have not been consecrated/ordained to the episcopate with Papal permission. The pontifical mandate is not necessary to the sacrament, except as permission for it, for the sake of good order. The sacrament is unaffected by it. Most Catholic bishops have been consecrated/ordained without Papal mandate. If it is necessary to the sacrament, then the Church has had no bishops for the best part of 1900 years. So the consecrations of 1988 might be illicit – that does not make them unfruitful. Bishop Williamson is as genuinely a bishop as the Pope.

    Unless the matter of the sacrament was invalid, or the form used, or the intention of the consecrator was defective in some way, or the ordinand/consecrand put an obstacle to the efficacy of the sacrament, the sacrament was valid, not invalid or fictitious. Since the grace of the sacrament can revive after being unworthily received, a consecrand who receives it unworthily by putting up an obstacle to its efficacy can, when the obstacle is removed, receive the grace of the sacrament. Which makes him a bishop in fact as well as in seeming.

    Since the consecrator is presumed to “intend to do what the Church intends”, & since this has been defined over the centuries so to be falsified only when the ordainer has a positive & active counter-intention, of *not* “doing what the Church intends to do”; & since the consecrator went to a lot of trouble to make his positive intentions clear, he at least cannot be reasonably supposed to have had such a counter-intention. Which leaves his intention in the clear. He was using a valid sacramental form, which was sufficient for the destination of the intended grace, that of the sacramental conferral of the fullness of the Catholic priesthood; the matter was valid; & and any defect in the recipient’s intention – & what evidence is there that he intended not to receive the fullness of the priesthood, or placed any other obstacle to its reception ? – will have been cleared up since; because for someone not wanting to be a Catholic bishop, or morally unfit to be, he has given  too many contra-indications.

    If we are to apply Catholic sacramental theology & doctrine to his ordination, the *onus probandi* is on those who deny he was consecrated a bishop. Not being a nice man doesn’t cut it; neither do his comments on the Shoah.  Neither the Shoah nor anything about it is in any way Catholic belief. What a man thinks about it is as relevant as the habits of leprechauns to whether or not he is a validly ordained bishop.

  • Howard

    Correct.  The Arians could always say that they were willing to accept everything up to Nicea — for example, the Council of Jerusalem and the Apostle’s Creed.  And the monophysites accepted everything up to Chalcedon, and the Old Catholics accepted everything up to Vatican I.  I don’t think it’s QUITE true that some group has split off from the Catholic Church with each ecumenical council — the first several were all dealing with mostly just one group, the Arians — but it’s probably not too far from the truth, either.  After all, ecumenical councils are not held just for fun.

  • Benedict Carter

    This kind of paranoid pro-Bishop Williamson raving doesn’t get anyone anywhere, does it?

  • Benedict Carter

    My father has met him, and like many others, says he is a very charming man. Your post is an excellent summary Parasum, but where do you get the ” … Most Catholic bishops have been consecrated/ordained without Papal mandate. If it is necessary to the sacrament, then the Church has had no bishops for the best part of 1900 years” from?

  • Benedict Carter

    They do recognise that of course. And any that might be tempted not to (a very small minority) will perhaps join Bishop Williamson elsewhere. 

  • Benedict Carter

    That’s not an act that leads to automatic excommunication Jabba. There is a list and that ain’t on it.