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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.

  • Bemused

    SSPX expels Bishop Williamson?  Econa locuta est, causa finita est?  The eternal city of Econe  waxes weirder and weirder.

  • Lisa

    There was a 10 day appeal period but it was over on the 23rd. They conditions for staying were to close down his website and issue a public apology. 

  • Benedict Carter

    You’re not just Bemused, you are confused – unnecessarily so.

    Any Order or Congregation has rules. He broke the SSPX’s and wouldn’t retract. So he’s out. 

    What’s difficult about that?

  • Benedict Carter

    And stop issuing his Newsletter. The last one mentioned 9/11 explicitly as an inside job. He’s a Bishop, yes, but obviously a “tired and emotional” one.

  • Benedict Carter

    Rowan Williams is a layman in fancy dress, like all Anglican “ministers”.

  • Benedict Carter

    A last comment before bed.

    My education is as a historian. I had a look at the video linked to by DFV and I advise any reader not to bother. Quite apart from the specious claims specifically made about the nature of the concentration camps (I have also visited Auschwitz DFV) , the historical “analysis” presented there is so facile and lacking in any basic factual knowledge of the First World War or of inter-war Poland that one can only assume that its makers and promoters are simply looking to make some money out of the totally ignorant and the gullible.

    And that’s being kind to them. As a Traditionalist, I refuse to be associated with conspiracy theorists whose true motivation is a great sympathy for the National Socialist Party and its demonically-possessed leader coupled with an unspoken desire to finish the job on “the yids”. 

    Thank God that none of the SSPX people I have ever met, laity or clergy, have ever (not once) given me cause to think anything but good about them. No anti-semites, no Nazis, no lunatics. 

    Archbishop Lefebvre’s own father I believe was killed in Sachenhausen (I stand to be corrected on that).

  • awkwardcustomer

    Archbishop Lefebvre’s father actually died in Sonnenburg concentration camp, after being arrested for his work with British Intelligence and the French Resistance.

  • Godfrey

    Hmmm this reminds me of many stories during the protestant revolution

  • Godfrey

    Hmmm this reminds me of many stories during the protestant revolution

  • sj

    A sad day for Christianity.  Following orders trumping truth telling.  In these times, JC would have been excommunicated from his own church for his Mathew 21:12 actions.

  • Mata_dunia

    It seems, SSPX is a hypocrite organization…

  • Joac

    “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.”

    Like Opus Dei, and its Saint founder, St. Josemaria. If only the SSPX were humble and obedient like SJM and OD… we would have another oasis in the Church.I am praying for that too.

  • Sweetjae

    I’m not a bit surprised at all because Christ said it Himself, disobedience BREEDS disobedience.

    This was not the first, actually there are lots of splinter groups that came from the SSPX to Sedevacantism and Sedeprevationism, the likes of Fr. Dolan, Cedaka and Sanborn and Kelly to SSPV. Aside from the many other ultraTraditionalist sects who shared the same preVII Tradition yet they opposed each other.

    Sadly many from the SSPX thay share with his idea will follow Bishop Williamson to oblivion. Tragic.

  • Sweetjae

    What can you expect from disobedient people in the first place? From the SSPX they came forth splintering offshoots…it breeds the very medicine it has to swallow.

  • Sweetjae

    Then why bother Pope Benedict 16 in the first place? I don’t get you people, if you really believe that the B16 is a modernist and heretic, why don’t you just do your own business and just leave us alone? Why not elect yourself or whomever you wish to the papacy so that your group could do whatever you want and fancy, right? Does it makes sense?

  • Sweetjae

    Bishops can be consecrated without Papal approval? Hmmmm, is that from the canon law of Sedevacantist or conclavist church?

  • Sweetjae

    Pope Benedict wants all separated brethren whether liberals, ultraTrads or protestants to come back to full reconciliation with the Catholic Church as wished by Christ. There is no favoritism here and don’t flatter yourself.

  • Sweetjae

    Conclavist, Sedeprivationsist, Old Catholic or Sedevacantist? Elect your own pope and leave us alone.

  • Sweetjae


  • Sweetjae

    Between the eyes!! Excellent post, Mr. Irony!

  • Sweetjae

    There had been hundred of loose canons in the SSPX it lost to the Sedevacantism and Sedeprivationalism.

    Thank God for the humble ones like FSSP, Christ the King, Papa Stronsay Monastery and more that came back to the Church.

  • Sweetjae

    The death of the father doesn’t necessarily mean the son believes the same way as the father.

  • ICXC

    Why is half the article about his views on the Holocaust? Is that even relevant to why he was expelled, or does every article feel like it deserves an honorable [non-sequitur] mention?

    Anyway, Bishop Williamson should come home to Orthodoxy.

  • Allan

     Your heart is in the right place, but you are ignorant of the facts. One cannot accept the thinking of the hierarchy if they are wrong. One can determine whether they are right or wrong by judging the issues in relation to past declarations by the popes and councils.

    As you must know, three popes have stated that there was nothing infallibly defined by Vatican II. On subjects like, for example, ecumenism and the need to belong to the Catholic Church to gain salvation, there are infallible documents that state that membership in the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation.

    The SSPX had merely asked for a clarification of those issues. That clarification was never offered. You must be careful when discerning the things that came out of Vatican II. It was a council unlike all the rest. When it’s teachings differ from those of previous councils that did define infallibly, one must go with truth, not blind obedience.

  • Sir Louis

     Please cite evidence — any at all — to support the statement that anyone was ever declared heretic because he said the world was round. It is a foolishness of the “Enlightenment” to claim that any thinking person in the last couple of thousand years thought the world to be flat.

  • Benedict Carter

    The poster above you Awkward really is a nasty, vicious piece of work isn’t he?

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    It all comes down to Godwin’s Law:

     “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler Approaches 1.”

  • Matthys

    I was unaware that doubting the holocaust, holding negative views of the Jews or believing in the authenticity of the Protocols were part of Catholic dogma. If not, then I cannot understand why Bishop Williamson’s comments on these issues are continually brought up. With rare exceptions all the Goolge news flashes today refer to Williamson as “holocaust denying Bishop”, implying without ambiguity that his views on the holocaust are the real issue, which, btw. as we all know, IS the case, even though no one will say so openly.

    The article states: “Bishop Williamson, … has denied that millions of Jews died in Nazi gas chambers …” This reminds me of the question, “Is it true that you still beat up your wide on Saturday nights?”. All Williamson did (like all revisionists of whom many have been heavily fined, put in jail, beaten up or even killed) was to ask for documented and forensic proof – where’s the crime? The Catholic Church is in bed with the Jews and so too is the SSPX under Fellay and that is why Williamson had to be removed.

    Have the courage to call a spade a digging implement for once!

  • JabbaPapa

    My first exposure to the SSPX was seeing some SSPX supporters selling their extreme right-wing hate literature and neo-Nazi pamphlets in front of Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet in Paris, during the Sunday Mass. Well, every Sunday, that is.

    Talking to others like yourself online has helped to clarify that these are just a minority faction inside the traditionalist group, but they do exist, though you have been fortunate enough not to have any dealings with them…

  • JabbaPapa

    I agree.

  • JabbaPapa

    Williamson can of course appeal to the “competent authority”, but whether that would be the Bishop of Sion or the Commission Ecclesia Dei, it would seem unrealistic to expect the success of such a legal manoeuvre..

  • JabbaPapa

    The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently declared “Williamson is not a Catholic Bishop” — now that he is an “independent”, I personally have no difficulty not providing him with that honorific — though I’d grudgingly recognise him as a priest.

    Sadly, I think it’s only a matter of time before he’s excommunicated again — not for any of his past actions, but because I think it inevitable that he will commit some sort of excommunicable offense in the future.

    The only question, in my opinion, is if he will go so far in his actions as to get himself defrocked…

  • Cjkeeffe

    Here Here, we have a homosexual special mass in the Archdiocese of Westminster, where no attempt is made to teach the church teachings on same sex attraction. yet every opportunity is taken promote gay pride and other contradictory ideals.

  • JabbaPapa

    Williamson’s direct superiors are now Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, and the various competent Dicasteries and Commissions at the Holy See, and the Holy Father.

    He owes obedience to his diocesan Bishop, particularly given the fact that he is an Archbishop, and acts of disobedience to these Authorities carry penalties — I’m *not* suggesting that the act of ordination itself is an offense !!! I was suggesting that the relative clemency of the Holy See towards ordinations performed by SSPX Bishops can no longer be expected by Williamson as an “independent”.

  • JabbaPapa

    I can’t remember him saying anything heretical

    People continue to forget that it is heretical to deny the validity of an Ecumenical Council of the Church, simply due to the relative leniency of the Holy See towards the SSPX.

    But it is.

  • JonathanBurdon

    You assume wrongly.

  • oompaul

    You write “because Christ said it Himself, disobedience BREEDS disobedience”. As Orthodox Christian I need to point out – disobedience to God, not disobedience to man.

  • Benedict Carter

    Were these people outside in the street or inside the Church? if the latter, I would be truly shocked. 

  • Benedict Carter

    He has been validly consecrated Jabba. He is a Bishop, though clearly in a canonically irregular position. 

    It’s a pity that he’s gone a bit off the rails: some of his written and spoken work has been magnificent in the past. 

    He remains far, far more Catholic than some other other Bishops in full communion, that is a certainty. 

  • Benedict Carter

    I would think that Ecclesia Dei in the first instance is his superior.

  • Benedict Carter

    Surely he does not deny the validity of the non-controversial elements of Vatican II? Your brush paints too broadly.

  • guest1

    Once again there is no such thing as a pastoral council. No such thing exists. Vatican II was a General or Ecumenical council. A general council is one to which all the bishops of the world are invited to attend. It is promulgated or approved by the Pope and is thus protected by the Holy Spirit in its final pronouncements. Vatican council II issued two doctrinal statements that reiterate and in a few cases develop the doctrine of the church Dei Verbum and Lumen Gentium. These documents proclaim infallible dogma and doctrine and are approved by the popes.

  • oompaul

    Regardles of the SSPX’s disobedience claim, Bishop Williamson was removed for denying the holocaust.

    From the WJC: “The head of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Ronald S. Lauder, has
    welcomed the expulsion of Bishop Richard Williamson from the Catholic
    breakaway group Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) but said it should have
    been done years ago and “it does nothing to restore the credibility of
    this organization”.

    Why, I ask, should the  WJC care about disobedience within the SSPX? Evidently there’s more at stake.

  • Charles Martel

     Not so simple. In many ways it could be argued that it is Rome that does not accept the SSPX rather than the other way around. The SSPX wants to be regularised ‘as they are’, but the Vatican insists on a vague full acceptance of Vatican II, which really they have no business doing, as that council was pastoral, and no two churchmen seem to agree on what it meant anyway. The Vatican does have a right to demand total acceptance of the Catholic Faith and the authority of the Pope, etc., but this doesn’t seem quite enough for them. This all raises the awkward question of how the Vatican can demand full acceptance by the SSPX of a Council that virtually the entire worldwide hierarchy is in disobedience to! I mean, does Gregorian chant take pride of place in our liturgies? It’s all utter nonsense.

  • Charles Martel

    You’ve missed the point. You can’t as a Catholic reject the councils’ infallible definitions or anathemas. Vatican was a totally new kind of council and, in a sense, was held ‘just for fun’. It certainly gave no dogmatic definitions or issued any anathemas.

  • Charles Martel

     Read this and then never again repeat the silly thing you wrote above:
    Rome recognises all of them as bishops and uses the title ‘His Excellency’ for all of them.

  • Charles Martel

     “The Archlayman of Canterbury” is his traditional title among right-minded English Catholics.

  • nbtrap

    You conflate the material failure to conform to liturgical norms with formal disobedience to the Holy Father. Remember, this is the organization that has the audacity to dictate terms to Rome. That is simply not on a par with liturgical abuses, except perhaps in very extreme circumstances.

  • Benedict Carter

    Total nonsense Charles, quite correct.

  • rjt1

    “One cannot accept the thinking of the hierarchy if they are wrong. One can determine whether they are right or wrong by judging the issues in relation to past declarations by the popes and councils.”

    This is a re-introduction of the false principle of private judgement. You assume that you, as an individual or in some self-appointed group, can authoritatively interpret the past teaching of the Church.