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Bishop Fellay Does The Right Thing

In my post of a few days ago on Bishop Williamson's Holocaust denial in advance of the lifting of the excommunications, I expressed my fervent desire that Bishop Fellay would do something about Williamson lest he impugn all adherents to the Society or even all Traditional minded Catholics with his nonsensical rantings. I wrote:

In recognition of all the Pope has done and is trying to do and in the name of all the good people in the society and those who are aligned with it, the SSPX should immediately censure or even expel Richard Williamson. He is a very troubled man in need of our prayers, but he should not be a Bishop or in any leadership position.
I am so pleased to report that Bishop Fellay has done the right thing. He apologized to the Pope and perhaps even more importantly put a gag order on Bishop Williamson.
[NCR] Statement of His Excellency Bernard Fellay, Superior of the Fraternity of St. Pius X

We have become aware of an interview released by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Fraternity of St. Pius X, to Swedish television. In this interview, he expressed himself on historical questions, and in particular on the question of the genocide against the Jews carried out by the Nazis.

It’s clear that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesiastical authority except on questions that regard faith and morals. Our Fraternity does not claim any authority on other matters. Its mission is the propagation and restoration of authentic Catholic doctrine, expressed in the dogmas of the faith. It’s for this reason that we are known, accepted and respected in the entire world.

It’s with great sadness that we recognize the extent to which the violation of this mandate has done damage to our mission. The affirmations of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any sense the position of our Fraternity. For this reason I have prohibited him, pending any new orders, from taking any public positions on political or historical questions.

We ask the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act. Because we recognize how ill-advised these declarations were, we can only look with sadness at the way in which they have directly struck our Fraternity, discrediting its mission.

This is something we cannot accept, and we declare that we will continue to preach Catholic doctrine and to administer the sacraments of grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Menzingen, January 27, 2009
Amen! Amen! The fact that Bishop Fellay has publicly apologized, publicly repudiated the noxious opinions of Williamson, and implemented a long overdue gag order are the best signs yet that the SSPX and its leadership are serious about dialog and reconciliation. My hat is off to Bishop Fellay and my prayers are with you and the society.

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Abigail said...

Hooray!! Good for Fr. Fellay! It is wonderful to see the SSPX responding to the Pope's act of reconciliation in the same spirit.

I would like to hear opinions on whether I'm right, above, to refer to Fellay as "Fr.," and not "Bishop." He was a bishop of his schismatic sect, but now that he's a Roman Catholic again, he's not a "bishop" in any sense of the word. Or am I missing something?

Simcha said...

I thought his ordination, or whatever you call it when someone is made a bishop, was illicit but valid? I don't know if that means that it needs to be somehow fixed or legitimized, but I was under the impression that it was "real," anyway.

I'm very pleased with myself for deciding to trust the Pope that this whole thing was a good idea, when it seemed so ripe for misinterpretation.

Deusdonat said...

Well, Patrick, this answers the question I posed to you on the other thread : P Well done.

I think we are both on the same page here. If the SSPX and its leadership continues on the same path of humility, apology and loyalty to the magesterium, I will not only pray for them but support their return as much as I can. We definitely need more loyal Traditional Catholics. And in the spirit of the Prodigal Son, we must forgive their wrong turns in life.

Br. Tom Forde OFMCap said...

I think its good that Bishop Fellay acknowledges the hurt but I would have preferred a clear apology to the Jewish people. After all it was their relatives whose murders Williamson denied. That denial has only added to difficulties between the Church and the Jews and could even prevent some from recognizing the truth of Christ. I've been to their website and think they have a long way to go yet before they will be in line with Catholic thinking.

Abigail said...

Simcha: Yes, that's got to be right: he has valid consecration through apostolic succession. He can ordain priests. But since he's not the bishop _of_ anything, I don't think the title is appropriate. But it doesn't really matter.

Brother Forde: I've seen so many "mistakes-were-made" and conditional ("if anyone was offended...") kinds of apologies, that "we ask forgiveness" really impressed me. It may not be a perfect apology, but it sure sounded sincere to me.

Br. Tom Forde OFMCap said...

Dear Abigail: I don't doubt their sincerity as regards sorrow for harm done to the Church and their society but if you read the article at http://www.sspx.org/Catholic_FAQs/jews_guilty_of_deicide.htm you might find their position is still one of hostility to Church teaching as presented by the Holy Father. I think when one apologises one ought to particularly apologise to those most offended. Perhaps they will in a future statement.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, God! And thank you, CMR, for letting us know. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, God! And thank you, CMR, for letting us know. :-)

Son of Trypho said...

Great news.

Abigail said...

Brother Forde,

This is a very personal issue for me, because not only am I Jewish, but my family was split by the schism. Some of those on the SSPX side refused to speak to us for ten years (so as to show us how serious our choice to stick with Rome was). So it's especially easy for me to see this trouble for what it is: a family fight.

I have seen a lot of family fights that ended only in death, because neither side would accept any move towards reconciliation unless it was perfect. An apology wasn't enough--it had to be one that fully acknowledged the hurt caused. Or sometimes even a good apology wasn't enough, because apologizing is easy, after all.

I am glad that God forgives us even when our contrition is imperfect. I hope someday the SSPX apologizes to the Jews for its anti-Semitism. Meanwhile, I will settle for reconciliation. Let us rejoice at this first step.

J. said...

"Yes, that's got to be right: he has valid consecration through apostolic succession. He can ordain priests. But since he's not the bishop _of_ anything, I don't think the title is appropriate."

If we can call Eastern Orthodox bishops "bishops," then I see no problem applying the term to the SSPX. The title is not one signifying ecclesiastical authority so much as the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders which grants them the power to ordain.

Deusdonat said...

Abigail, that is a very beautiful, charitable and eloquent post. I'm sorry to hear about the troubles in your family, re: the schism. And yes, I chose to side squarely with the magesterium as well, which caused a lot of rifts in personal relationships along the way. It is easy to feel superior for making the right decision, but that only leads to the sin of pride, of which I am far too guilty to begin with. So, it isn't easy, but I am with you in opting towards reconciliation at this point.

BRTom, the SSPX position on the page you pointed to is very much in keeping with Catholic doctrine. I hope you didn't pick and choose which sentences you wanted to use to support your argument. The website statad very clearly that Jews (specifically the ones in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion as per the gospels) WERE responsible for the death of our Savior. Catholicism says that while this is the case, the Roman authorities were ALSO responsible (that's pretty much all you had back then at that time; Jews and Gentiles. No Vikings, Mayans or Mongols to speak of). This is poignant to us as WE, being HUMANITY, are by extension either part of that Jewish/religious or Roman/secular legacy, and are thus all responsible by extension. But the article goes on specifically to say that the Jews of today are NOT responsible for that sin. If you are saying the SSPX professes that world Jewry is repsonsible for the death of Our Lord, then you are mistaken and indeed guilty of bearing false witness. Please read the article in its entiretly.

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