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Recant! Or Else!

Is a stunning statement by the Vatican Secretariat of State there is an order to Bishop Williamson that if he ever wishes to exercise the ministry of Bishop in the Catholic Church he must recant his loony statements on the Holocaust.

The tone of this unsigned statement is rather shocking for a Vatican Statement and makes clear the non-resolved standing of the SSPX.

The removal of the excommunication released the four Bishops from an extremely grave canonical censure, but has not changed the juridical position of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X which, at the current moment, does not enjoy any canonical recognition by the Catholic Church. Not even the four Bishops, though released from the excommunication, have a canonical function in the Church and they do not exercise licitly a ministry in it.
...
For a future recognition of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, the full recognition of the Second Vatican Council and of the Magisterium of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and of the same Benedict XVI is an indispensable condition
...
The positions of Mons. Williamson on the Shoah are absolutely unacceptable and firmly rejected by the Holy Father, as he himself remarked on the past January 28, when, referring to that brutal genocide, reaffirmed his full and unquestionable solidarity with our Brethren receivers of the First Covenant, and affirmed that the memory of that terrible genocide must lead "mankind to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man", adding that the Shoah remains "for all a warning against forgetfulness, against denial or reductionism, because the violence against a single human being is violence against all".

Bishop Williamson, for an admission to episcopal functions in the Church, will also have to declare, in an absolutely unequivocal and public manner, distance from his positions regarding the Shoah, unknown to the Holy Father in the moment of the remission of the excommunication.
There you have it. This situation is a real problem and this statement reflects the desperation on the part of the Vatican.

Without a doubt, some of the blame for this fiasco falls on the Vatican itself, in particular the Press Office. This disaster was forseeable if anyone was willing to look. Williamson's rantings are widely known and the timing of the lifting of the ex-communications could not have been worse.

With that said, much of the blame for this maelstrom falls on the leadership of the SSPX and in particular Bishop Fellay. Why am I blaming Fellay? Because he was well aware of the absolute stark mad ravings of Williamson and did nothing. Williamson was supposed to be exercising the ministry of Bishop (even if not juridically) within the SSPX for these twenty years. His ranting and conspiracy theories have been well publicized and Bishop Fellay was obviously well aware of them for some time and he did absolutely nothing about it. Nothing.

I have no doubt that some in the SSPX will object to the tone of the above statement. Well, too bad. Blame your leadership. Williamson should have been censured long ago. If he continued to spout off about such things as 9/11 and the Shoah, he should have been given the boot. Instead, it was overlooked and now the entire Society has a black eye and the Pope has been severely embarrassed and his efforts for unity greatly hampered. All this because they didn't do what they should have when they should have. So now the chickens have come home to roost and you have no one to blame but your own leadership.

Even before this entire thing broke before the lifting of the excommunications there was still time to censure Williamson. I wrote days before the announcement on January 22nd 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.
They should have done it then but they must do it now. Do the right thing and you will save the Society, save the Pope, and perhaps even save Williamson. Even if it saves no one, it is the right thing to do. Williamson has no business in any leadership position going forward.

The Pope was reportedly ready to regularize the Society by Candelmas but now has his hands cuffed due to this nonsense. Now the Society is neither all the way in or all the way out. This is and untenable situation. For the sake of the Pope, the Church, and the adherents to the Society, show him the door. Now.

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13 comments:

Deusdonat said...

This really is too bad. But in the end, maybe it will prove once and for all the loyalty of the SSPX to the church. It would appear this is the crossroads.

I'll pray for the best outcome here.

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Would that the Secretariat of State made similar demands of those bishops who dissent from Church teaching, rather than just those who dissent from history.

T. said...

I support pope totally and think he did nothing wrong. I do not think he should worry about PR or what some stupid media is going to say, it's not his fault some bishops have stupid or evil ideas and he should never be pressured to act by forces that hate Catholic Church. As far as I'm concerned his hands are not cuffed at all and if someone doesn't like what he's doing, well, though for him. I think the best thing for a Catholic to do is to pray for our pope and explain to Catholics and others why the pope did the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Alas that so many Catholics, including, apparently, some in government, are anti-semitic.

Mack

Anonymous said...

how could the pope not have known?
hard to believe.

Mike said...

Clearly your media-induced emotions are getting in the way of your clear reasoning. Since when Pope should bow to the demands of the liberal media, lay politicians (re. Merkel - does Canossa ring a bell?) and some rabbis? Since when a catholic bishop should be held accountable on not upholding lay dogmas imposed by lay media? Since when Pope should make a bishop recant things that not only are not contrary to but even have nothing to do with catholic dogma or teching?

And - did you even *see* that interview? He just said that based on the evidence he has seen and for technical reasons he doubts the buildings in Auschwitz presented as gas chambers were indeed gas chambers. And that thinks number of Jews murdered was far smaller, not 6 million. Now, since when a person can't have an opinion on historical events?

Aren't you, a catholic, ashamed of being part of the mob that shouts "crucify him, crucify him"?

Deusdonat said...

Mike - I agree that I don't think this matter should have continued on as it has. It's almost as if the secular and liberal elite are intentionally dragging this out. At the same time, I can't also help but feel the Vatican is now feeling pressure from Israel (which essentially has the Vatican by the gonads on several issues concerning the Holy Land). So, maybe this is why the Vatican has bothered to dignify these responses.

I don't know. I'm just waiting for the day I wake up and this has all blown over. I'm totally not supporting Willamson, but at the same time, I don't like other powers dictating to my church. Smacks of communism and the days of the cold war, which thank God are now over. But apparently, not entirely.

Christopher Michael said...

Wow. This is actually the first post on this blog that is totally inappropriate. I'm disappointed. You are way out of line here, Patrick. What could you possibly be thinking? Not only does Bishop Williamson's remarks on the Holocaust have nothing whatsoever to do with his suitability to exercise ministry in Church (granted, I'm wouldn't appoint him to any position involving ecumenism with Jews), but, assuming that it does, he has apologized and yet you offer him no chance of redemption. You insist that Fellay throw him under the bus and he can do nothing to redeem himself in your eyes.

It was imprudent on his part to say what he did, but he apologized and that ought to satisfy the Vatican. Sadly, however, they are caving to political pressure from Jews and hypocritical liberal Catholics who, all the while bemoaning Williamson's comments on the Holocaust, nevertheless feel free to throw modern Israel to the lions of Hamas.

Eccentric, divisive, or even extreme political positions or historical opinions never disqualify a cleric from the exercise of his ministry (it may, however, forfeit his right to exercise it publicly) so long as he denies no article of the Faith. The Catholic Church is not a society of historical scholarship; it is the Ark of Salvation. I, for one, am more than willing to forgive (hey, I'm Catholic, I have no choice) Bishop Williamson his minor imprudent transgression and wish him well in his ministry, which is direly needed in the Church.

~cmpt

matthew archbold said...

Cmpt: "Wow. This is actually the first post on this blog that is totally inappropriate."

Nah, we've been much more inappropriate in the past.

Anonymous said...

First off: Williamson has said things he must recant, period.

second: Rome, because it acted to reverse the excommunications, had to formally and narrowly restrict herself to reversing the excommunications on the grounds they were originally made. The world, including secularist German Chancellors and numbed leftist "theologians" has since then insisted -without any authority- on further conditions and reprisals - recantings of specific sayings on William's part and calls for His Holiness to "resign". But with respect to the excommunications, Williamson's absurdities and the resulting charges and demands had nothing to do with the excommunications themselves. These arguments are not germaine.

third:
now that these 4 men are within the Church - they need to act like it.
1)Fellay has done so - see http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/ under the feb 2 heading; also see rumored breaking news that Fellay will demand a specific apology from Williamson.
2)Tissier de Mallerais' aggressivley confined comments on his own reinstatement can be seen in the same spot by scrolling down further;
3)Williamson has sent a letter to Cardinal Castrillon de Hoyos (read it here: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2009/01/apology-letter-of-bishop-richard.html) that, while poetic in parts, just does not cut the mustard.
4) I haven't seen anything from the other guy.

Fellay and the SSPX have worked tirelessly over the past several years to set things right for the SSPX and for the Church (for him they are not separate) Be sure that he will not allow Williamson's past and current imbecillities to wreck it all now.

Fourth. As for Fellay being asleep at the wheel as Archbold strongly suggests - I offer an alternate and opposing theory:
The SSPX in exile elected every several years its superior general from among its 4 Bishops. This condition of leadership likely necesitated a certain degree of autonomy among the 4. (Imagine being led by a Bishop Superior General that you had disciplined only a few years prior!) Consider this in conjunction with their and Lefebvre's outspoken opposition to leadership-by-collegiality amongst the Church's Bishops (This is one of the SSPX's 4 themes of Vat II criticism after all) and you get a condition where Fellay -for example- is a reticent censore and appears to, as Archbold puts it, do "absolutely nothing about it. Nothing."

It is likely that the lifting of the excommunications along with Williamson's outspoken idiocies will provide the political neccesity and political ability for Fellay to make demands on Williamson that he previously could not make. Look for that to happen real soon.

Archbold predicts "I have no doubt that some in the SSPX will object to the tone of the above statement." I do object to the tone, but I am not of the SSPX.

What Archbold and others like him have failed to include in their quickwork of the SSPX is the role of Heaven in the matter. Not that Heaven's role can be known, but it can certainly be expected. Fellay presented to His Holiness a spiritual bouquet of 1 million seven hundred thousand and then some Rosaries -not Hail Mary's mind you - Rosaries - all said over the short period from late October 2008 to December 25th 2008 (!) by priests and people all over the world and all dedicated to the same 2 intentions: For His Holiness and for the lifting of the excommunications. Not all of those rosaries were the prayers of SSPX members. The question remains what is Heaven's role in this? That we cannot know the answer is the very reason to have faith that Heaven does have a role in this and is the very reason that the Faithful must make allowance for heaven's role.

As an exercise, place yourself in Benedict's soul while he read that spiritual bouquet and then, in the face of all those prayers to Heaven, YOU send the SSPX packing. Good luck with that.

In this crucial matter - in this great test for the Church that will not soon be over -I beg editorial patience and equanimity.

Patrick Archbold said...

Christopher,
Please read more carefully. My post about Williamson fitness to function in the role of Bishop. He is unfit.

This is not about redemption. That is between him and God. He is not fit to lead. He apologized for his "imprudence." That is like saying I am very sorry you are offended. It is no apology.

"Eccentric, divisive, or even extreme political positions or historical opinions never disqualify a cleric from the exercise of his ministry"

Yes they can and in this case they should.

Anonymous said...

VERY well said, Patrick. Why can't we all use common sense and admit that Williamson is a crackpot who should have been shut up long ago? I don't care that his statements regarded matters historical rather than matters of faith - they were and are unacceptable.

And this nonsense whining about the Vatican not making "similar demands" of all bishops is a sophomoric smoke screen. Let's not lose sight of the issue here: the public (even emphatic) denial of the holocaust (as well as the constant support of conspiracy theories about 9/11) is ridiculous and, for someone in the heirarchy of the Catholic Church, absolutely unacceptable. Period.

Tony said...

in an absolutely unequivocal and public manner, distance from his positions regarding the Shoah, unknown to the Holy Father in the moment of the remission of the excommunication.

The implication here is had the Holy Father known about Williamson's silly views, he would have not lifted the excommunication.

If I remember correctly, the excommunication was placed for disobedience to a direct order of the currently reigning pontiff. The Bishops were involved in an illicit episcopal ordination.

This has nothing to do with the views of any or all of the Bishops.

People really need to get a grip. Bishop Williamson is now simply a Catholic able to receive the sacraments. And there are all kinds of Catholics who hold views contrary to Catholic teaching (Nancy Pelosi, anyone?) who have not been excommunicated.

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