A Reply to the Open Letter of Bishop Richard Williamson
By Wayne Nichols
This is the third part in the series against arguments of the rebellious clerics who have attacked the Society of St. Pius X, and who have had to be expelled in order to protect the faithful from their machinations. These priests and bishop have preferred their interpretation of events, and adherence to opinions contrary to fact, before obedience to their lawful superiors and submission to the rule established by Msgr. Marcel Lefebvre.
In this rebellion against the authority of the Superior General and his Council, Bishop Richard Williamson has played a major role. By Bishop Williamson’s encouragement, the faithful of the Society, some Society priests, some non-Society priests and even some Benedictine monks have been led astray. I have previously demonstrated, in the second part of this series, Bishop Williamson’s long record of questionable acts. It remains then to answer directly the Open Letter which Bishop Williamson sent on 19 October, 2012, to the Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, in an attempt to defy his expulsion from the SSPX.
I have been loath to take up my pen against one whom I long regarded as my mentor and my director. Normally, I prefer to let the Church to correct her own, in this case to let the Society’s hierarchy to discipline her members. But the evidence has accumulated indicating that the situation has gone beyond what is normal, even in our troubled times. Bishop Williamson has preferred to move this argument from the realm of private correspondence with his superior to the public domain. I can therefore no longer remain silent.
1. Bishop Williamson begins:
“Thank you for your letter of October 4
in which, on behalf of the General Council and General Chapter, you let me know
of your ‘recognisance’, ‘declaration’ and ‘decision’ that I no longer belong to
the Society of St Pius X. The reasons given for your decision to exclude your
servant are, you tell me, the following: he has continued to publish the
‘Eleison Comments’; he has attacked the authorities of the Society; he has
exercised an independent apostolate; he has given support to rebellious
colleagues; he has been formally, obstinately and pertinaciously disobedient; he
has separated himself from the Society; he no longer submits to any authority.
”May not all these reasons be summed up in disobedience? No doubt in the course of the last 12 years your servant has said and done things which before God were inappropriate and excessive, but I think it would be enough to point them out one by one for him to make the apology called for in all truth and justice. But we are no doubt agreed that the essential problem is not to be found in these details, that it can be summed up in one word: disobedience.”
The short answer to Bishop Williamson’ rhetorical question is, No. We might normally summarize the repeated thwarting of the will of his superiors by Bishop Williamson as disobedience in a general sort of summary—if he were not a bishop, and if his public words and actions did not involve a very grave scandal to many. But alas, the “devil is in the details,” so these elements of the decision against him by the Superior General should not be summarized, and need to be listed one at a time.
This was an act of disobedience when it was quite simple to obey. Simply cease to write. It was not a command to sin. It was an order demanding simple submission to authority.
Not content with speaking publicly, Bishop Williamson published unfounded accusations of compromise with liberalism against lawful, non-liberal authority, against Bishop Fellay and his representatives in the Society’s hierarchy.
Acting as though the Society does not have any right to delegate its authority, Bishop Williamson took it upon himself to not only preach his own version of the gospel, but also to usurp the place of others and insinuate himself into their work.
We have heard the rants and harangues of rebellious priests whose words echo too closely those of Bishop Williamson and whose actions bear too striking a resemblance to be ignored to His Lordship’s actions.
In other words, repeatedly, and even after canonical admonitions and corrections, and stubbornly adhering to his erroneous opinions, Bishop Williamson persisted in pursuing his own way and not God’s will as manifested by his superiors.
This is the cumulative effect of all the above. It is the sum that must be logically acknowledged from the total of Bishop Williamson’s acts and words.
This is a very damning judgment. One who no longer submits to any authority is unrecognizable as a Catholic. Even Archbishop Lefebvre was submitted to authority, and always showed himself willing to submit, unless commanded to sin. No servant is better than his master.
Bishop Williamson’s statement, after
that catalog of offences, that he would have apologized if he had been corrected
on these points is rather less than truthful. The fact is that he was corrected
on each and all repeatedly, and yet he insisted his own opinions were more
important than the facts.
2. Bishop Williamson continues:
“Then let us at once point out how many more or less disagreeable orders of the Superior General have been unfailingly obeyed by your servant. In 2003 he left behind an important and fruitful apostolate in the United States to go to Argentina. In 2009 he left his post as Seminary Rector and left behind Argentina to moulder in a London attic for three and a half years, with no episcopal functions because they were denied him. All that was left to him by way of ministry was virtually the weekly “Eleison Comments”, the refusal to interrupt which constitutes the large part of the “disobedience” of which he stands accused. And ever since 2009 it has been open season for the Society Superiors to discredit and insult him to their hearts’ content, and Society members all over the world have been encouraged by their example to do the same if they wished. Your servant hardly reacted, preferring silence to scandalous confrontations. One might go so far as to say that he obstinately refused to disobey. But let that go, because that is not the real problem.”
Let us see something of these “disagreeable orders.”
Williamson was not moved on a whim by Bishop Fellay, but only after the faithful
(and no doubt many clergy) had complained about his many public pronouncements
for many years. In reality, Bishop Fellay might have transferred him long
before he actually did. How many sermons and seminary letters about rock songs,
radio-controlled planes, government conspiracies, etcetera ad nauseam, need to
be cataloged before enough is finally enough?
Again, we are supposed to sympathize with His Lordship because the Society was forced to act to protect itself when he created a very public scandal that associated the SSPX with neo-nazi theories about the Holocaust? The government of Argentina expelled Bishop Williamson, so that is one important reason why the Superior General had to move him elsewhere. The televised interview made the work of the Society in Germany impossible and caused the German district to lose chapels and endure government and media attacks. The Society could not allow one man’s personal opinions to be associated with its work and mission by letting things continue as they always had been, as if nothing had happened. This was no arbitrary denial of function: this was the logical and quite lenient result of the bishop’s own outlandish behavior. In the Church’s heyday, Bishop Williamson would have been buried in some obscure monastery and never heard from again.
A “ministry” in the Catholic Church is not self-determined. It is determined by one’s superiors. The idea that we can do pretty much whatever we want is alien to Catholic discipline. And Bishop Williamson knows this very well. It is rather less than honest that he insinuate that his weekly published comments were ever permitted. They were not. They were tolerated in the hope that nothing worse would follow. Unfortunately, the patience of the superiors was abused.
The fact that his superiors did not publicly expose him for continued disobedience is what His Lordship now uses against them. Who among the superiors has discredited him or insulted him? Who has allowed that conduct in their subordinates? The answer is no one. Rather the superiors, constrained to explain this extremely anomalous and awkward situation to the faithful, always shielded Bishop Williamson’s reputation and dignity as much as possible. They spoke no more than they were required by justice. No one among the Society’s hierarchy has even named Bishop Williamson in connection with disciplinary measures until the time of his expulsion—and even then only as much as minimally necessary.
Hardly reacted? Is that why the private correspondence of the bishops of the Society were suddenly made public from the district of Britain? Does this “hardly reacting” include increasing statements contrary to Society policy made in his weekly publications? Does this modest behavior include the open and outrageous statements recorded and published on Youtube? This is all a “refusal to disobey”? Apparently, Bishop Williamson has a rather new definition of obedience. But let that go: he is now turning to the “real problem,” since it was nothing he did!
“Then where is the real problem to be found? By way of reply let the accused be allowed to give a rapid overview of the history of the Society from which he is supposedly separating himself. For indeed the central problem goes a long way back…”
From here, His Lordship gives a completely unnecessary history lesson to his superior which underscores one thing he had perhaps not intended, that his true audience in writing was not the Superior General at all. I will not transcribe the entire lesson here. The bishop does his usual fine job of summarizing nicely the persons and events that he wants to set before us. But it is the use he makes of this summary that is the issue. Let us continue.
4. Bishop Williamson:
“In 2000 a major Jubilee Year pilgrimage
of the Society to Rome shows forth in the basilicas and streets of Rome the
power of the Society. The Romans are impressed, despite themselves. A Cardinal
invites the four Society bishops to a sumptuous luncheon in his apartment. Three
of them accept. Immediately after this most brotherly encounter, contacts
between Rome and the Society which had grown rather cold over the last 12 years,
pick up again, and with them begins a powerful process of seduction, as one
might say, by means of scarlet buttons and marble halls.
”Indeed contacts warm up again so swiftly that by the end of the year many priests and laity of Tradition are already afraid of a reconciliation taking place between Catholic Tradition and the liberal Council. The reconciliation does not come about for the moment, but the language of Society headquarters in Menzingen is beginning to change, and over the 12 years to come, it will show itself ever less hostile to Rome and ever more open to the Newchurch, to its media and their world. And while at the top of the Society the way is being paved for the reconciliation of irreconcilables, so amongst the priests and laity the attitude towards the Conciliar Popes and Church, towards everything worldly and liberal, is becoming more and more favourable. After all, is the modern world that surrounds us really as bad as it is made out to be?”
Now begins the real accusations for which there is not an iota of proof to be found anywhere. I note, at the beginning of the “overtures” from Rome in 2000, that only three of the four Society bishops accepted the invitation of the cardinal to dinner. So His Lordship now insinuates that he knew better. Not only did he know better than Bishop Fellay, but he knew better than all the other Society bishops. So we must believe one against the others, and we must accept that the others were “seduced” by Rome.
”Indeed contacts warm up again so swiftly that by the end of the year many priests and laity of Tradition are already afraid of a reconciliation taking place between Catholic Tradition and the liberal Council. The reconciliation does not come about for the moment, but the language of Society headquarters in Menzingen is beginning to change, and over the 12 years to come, it will show itself ever less hostile to Rome and ever more open to the Newchurch, to its media and their world.”
If this is so, then how does Bishop Fellay say in May, 2001:
“For our part, we have been marginalized by the authorities in Rome, not to say rejected, because of our refusal of Vatican II and the post-Conciliar reforms, for reasons of doctrine” http://www.sspx.org/superior_generals_news/supgen_60.htm.
So already, this line of reasoning begins to fall apart. And now that the “12 years to come” are at an end, what is the “language of Menzingen”? Now that the discussions with Rome are concluded, here is Bishop Fellay in Econe during November last:
“In all these discussions, I have arrived at the conclusion—and I think that this explains what is happening now—that the pope really, very seriously would like to recognize the Society. However the conditions that he sets are impossible for us. The conditions that are found in his letter are for us quite simply impossible. To say that the Council is traditional! Whereas everything tells us the contrary! Fifty years of Church history say the contrary! To say that the new Mass is good! Here too one only has to open one’s eyes to see the disaster…” http://www.sspx.org/sspx_and_rome/bishop_fellay_econe_sermon_11-9-2012.htm.
So where is this “reconciliation of irreconcilables”? The truth be told, once we have examined the record, there hasn’t been any such change in Menzingen, either in Bishop Fellay himself or in his assistants or in the other superiors of the Society. Nothing has changed. Only Bishop Williamson and other rebellious clerics insist there was and is a change.
5. Again, Bishop Williamson:
advance of liberalism within the Society, noticed by a minority of priests and
laity but apparently not noticed by the great majority, became evident to many
more in the spring of this year when, following on the failure in the spring of
2011 of the Doctrinal Discussions to bring the doctrines of Tradition and the
Council together, the Society’s Catholic policy up till then of “No practical
agreement without a doctrinal agreement” changed overnight into the liberal
policy of “No doctrinal agreement, therefore a practical agreement”. And in
mid-April the Superior General offered to Rome, as basis for a practical
agreement, an ambiguous text, openly favourable to the “hermeneutic of
continuity” which is Benedict XVI’s favourite recipe to reconcile, precisely,
the Council with Tradition ! “We need a new way of thinking,” the Superior
General said in May to a meeting of priests of the Society’s Austrian District.
In other words, the leader of the Society founded in 1970 to resist the
novelties of the Council, was proposing to reconcile it with the Council. Today
the Society is conciliatory. Tomorrow it is to be fully Conciliar!”
a. “This advance of liberalism within the Society, noticed by a minority of priests and laity but apparently not noticed by the great majority, became evident to many more in the spring of this year…”
Now it is certainly odd that only a “minority” of priests—all trained by the same seminaries of the Society—should notice anything amiss over the last twelve years. In fact, given that the theological and philosophical preparation of all the Society’s priests has been on a par far above that of the other priests in the Church today, how is it that only a minority would have suspected something of this magnitude? Do not tell me this happened in the Novus Ordo seminaries, so it could happen to the SSPX’s. Not quite. The destruction of those seminaries took place over many decades of infiltration and abandonment of doctrine. Are we to believe something like that has occurred to the Society’s seminaries? Where is the evidence of that? In fact, the evidence points to the minority taking a position contrary to Tradition in one way or the other. So we have seen over the years the priests who have defected from the Society to form the Society of St. Pius V in 1983, to found the Fraternity of St. Peter after the consecrations of 1988, and other less than edifying removals—all in the minority who each time thought they knew better than the Superior General of the SSPX.
Likewise, the laity have a long experience of watching for creeping modernism. Those of us who extricated ourselves from the Novus Ordo know what to watch for and how to distinguish the signs in clergy or other laity. There has been no such underhanded shift from Menzingen.
Notice how His Lordship suavely tosses this grenade into the crowd as he sashays past. The doctrinal discussions were not held “to bring the doctrines of Tradition and the Council together.” And the fact that Bishop Williamson should take this as a given is proof positive that he neither trusted his superiors to know what they were about, nor did he care to ever check to see that his “facts” were correct. No, his mind was already made up, as his language reveals. He has already judged his superiors and found them wanting. The real reason for the talks never breaks into this picture.
Again, where is the evidence of this? The only people who said, over and over, “personal prelature,” as if this were fixed--that this was what Bishop Fellay and his “gang” were about to sign--was the liberal media and those who believe the liberal media. No one else believes this rubbish. At least, no one till now. The idea that there was some hope of having a practical recognition of the Society by Rome without any doctrinal compromise by the Society in return never seems to dawn on the rebellion.
No, whatever Bishop Fellay offered to Rome was not ambiguous. What he received from the Roman delegates was very probably ambiguous, but not his response to them. We may not have the text of that document to hand, but we have heard enough about subsequent ones:
“And above all, we are asked to accept that “the Council is an integral part of this Tradition.” That means that the Council would be “Tradition”, would be traditional. For forty years now we have been saying the contrary, not just for fun but, in keeping with that hallowed expression that we find so many, many times on the lips of our revered founder: “We are obliged to note”—the facts demonstrate it to us—that this council is an agreed-upon decision to do something new. And this is not a matter of just any innovation, a superficial novelty, but rather a profound innovation that is in opposition to, in contradiction with what the Church had taught; indeed, the Church had even condemned it. It was not just for fun that we have been in this battle for so many, many years, against these innovations, these conciliar reforms that are demolishing the Church and making it a ruin. And here’s what they tell us: the condition is to agree that “the council is an integral part of Tradition”.... (http://www.sspx.org/superior_generals_news/bishop_fellay_sermon_extracts_paris_11-11-2012.htm).
Does this sound at all like the language of compromise? Or does this rather sound like Bishop Fellay has been continuing without interruption the fight for the preservation and handing down of Tradition?
“’We need a new way of thinking,’ the Superior General said in May to a meeting of priests of the Society’s Austrian District. In other words, the leader of the Society founded in 1970 to resist the novelties of the Council, was proposing to reconcile it with the Council….”
This clause, taken by itself, can mean anything, and very probably had a very different meaning from that given it by Bishop Williamson. Oh but it must mean that Bishop Fellay intends to “reconcile with the Council,” since that is the meaning which fits into Bishop Williamson’s schema. No other meaning--such as how the Society must deal with new attacks by the media in the wake of Bishop Williamson’s imprudent pronouncements—can ever be allowed in this equation.
Very neat parallelism. Too bad there isn’t any substance behind the beautiful language.
6. Now Bishop Williamson:
“It is difficult to believe that Archbishop Lefebvre’s foundation can have been led to bracket out the principles on which it was founded, but such is the seductive power of the fantasies of our godless world, modernist and liberal. Notwithstanding, reality does not give way to fantasies, and it forms part of reality that one cannot undo the principles of a founder without undoing his foundation. A founder has special graces that none of his successors have. As Padre Pio cried out when the Superiors of his Congregation were starting to ‘renew’ his Congregation in accordance with the new way of thinking of the Council, just closed: ‘What are you doing with the Founder?’ The Society’s Superior General, General Council and General Chapter may keep Archbishop Lefebvre on hand as a mascot, but that will not help if they all share in a new way of thinking that by-passes the crucial reasons for which he founded the Society. Therefore however good their intentions, they are leading the Society to its ruin by a betrayal parallel in all respects to that of Vatican II…”
We shall see who has the richer fantasy life. Who in fact has relegated the Founder, Msgr. Lefebvre, to some “mascot” position and has implemented policies at variance with the Archbishop’s core principles? If Bishop Fellay has done so, there are plenty of priests and laity to call him out on it. But instead, we have the majority understanding that nothing of the sort has occurred. Not only is this majority overwhelming in numbers, but it is overwhelming in authority. For these priests of the Society who do not see a rupture in Bishop Fellay’s talks with Rome include a former Superior General, Fr. Franz Schmidberger.
Father Schmidberger served as Vicar General while the Archbishop was yet living, and so learned directly from His Grace how to govern the Society and how to deal with Rome. I might also add, he also learned how to deal with internal problems posed by individuals who assume they know better, who seem to believe that following Tradition means having no authority in charge with power to maintain order. Following that period, Father Schmidberger became Superior General, and continued with steady hand the work the Archbishop had begun. Regarding the talks with Rome, Father Schmidberger stated:
“The third use of the talks: They
have shown us some weaknesses in our own ranks. We humbly have to admit that. So
we have also experienced a process of clarification on the inside. We do not
agree with those completely rejecting any talks with Rome. I would put it
this way: The society never has worked for itself; has never seen itself as an
end in itself, but it has always desired to serve the church, to serve the
“This is what Archbishop Lefebvre has always said. We want to be available to the bishops, to the pope, we want to serve them, and we want to help them lead the church out of its crisis, to renew the church in all its beauty, its holiness. But of course this can only happen without any compromise, without any false compromise. That is of great importance to us. We did indeed try – this is all we wanted – to officially re-establish this treasure in the church, to give it back its rights, and maybe we even achieved that to some degree” (http://www.dici.org/en/documents/an-interview-with-father-schmidberger-about-the-relations-between-the-society-of-st-pius-x-with-rome/, emphasis mine).
So very plainly, Father points out two errors which the Society avoids: not talking with Rome at all, and compromising on Tradition. If the Society had refused the first, it would drift into sedevacantism. If it refused the second, it would devolve into liberalism. In avoiding both, the Society under Bishop Fellay, just as under its Founder, takes the true path of Tradition.
7. To continue:
“But let us
be just, let us not exaggerate. Since the beginning of this slow collapse of the
Society, there have always been priests and laity who saw clear and did their
best to resist. In the spring of this year their resistance became more weighty
and numerous, so that the General Chapter of last July did place an obstacle in
the way of a false Rome-SSPX agreement. But will that obstacle hold up? One may
fear not. In front of some 40 Society priests on retreat in Écône in September,
the Superior General, referring to his policy with regard to Rome, admitted: ‘I
was wrong,’ but whose fault was it ? – ‘The Romans deceived me.’ Likewise from
the whole springtime crisis he said that there had arisen ‘a great distrust
within the Society’ which would need to be healed ‘by acts and not just by
words,’ but whose fault was it? Judging by his acts since September, which
includes this letter of October 4, he is blaming the priests and laity who
failed to put their trust in him as their leader. After the Chapter as before,
it seems as though he can brook no opposition to his conciliatory and Conciliar
If His Lordship wants to “be just (and) not exaggerate,” he has failed abysmally here.
a. “Since the beginning of this slow collapse of the Society, there have always been priests and laity who saw clear and did their best to resist…”
So unjust statement number 1: The Society is in “slow collapse.” He has not produced a single piece of evidence to prove this, but he now places it in the subordinate clause as if it is clearly understood as the given background to what follows. Even the idea of the “priests and laity” who are resisting this supposed state of affairs is exaggerated here.
b. “In the spring of this year their resistance became more weighty and numerous, so that the General Chapter of last July did place an obstacle in the way of a false Rome-SSPX agreement. But will that obstacle hold up? One may fear not…”
Exaggeration number 2: These “resisters” were (according to Bishop Williamson) the cause of the General Chapter taking measures to guarantee any future practical agreement with Rome. No, not at all. Rather, the General Chapter, after hearing the full story of the talks with Rome from Bishop Fellay and his liaisons to Rome, came to the conclusion that the stipulations the Society has always understood, and which from time to time it has enumerated, needed to be formally documented for posterity. There was no “false Rome-SSPX agreement,” since there was never any “agreement” in the sense of a doctrinal agreement at any time. As I explained in the first part of this series, that kind of “agreement” existed only in the fevered minds of the media talking heads and, apparently, in the gullible clerics and laity who believed those talking heads. And it is this all-too-credulous belief that makes His Lordship and the other rebellious clerics to border on paranoia in their fear that Bishop Fellay is going to betray us yet--just wait and see!
c. “In front of some 40 Society priests on retreat in Écône in September, the Superior General, referring to his policy with regard to Rome, admitted: ‘I was wrong,’ but whose fault was it? – ‘The Romans deceived me.’ Likewise from the whole springtime crisis he said that there had arisen ‘a great distrust within the Society’ which would need to be healed ‘by acts and not just by words,’ but whose fault was it?...”
We do not know everything that happened at the General Chapter, since those meetings are under a canonical secret. But very probably what Bishop Williamson is complaining about here is the same summary of events the Superior General has given in several places since the talks began in 2009, and especially during this last year. Take this one example of many:
“After these discussions—and for us this was a cause for great astonishment and surprise—the Holy See nevertheless proposes a canonical resolution. At the same time, on the one hand, through the official channel of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Ecclesia Dei Commission, we are given documents to sign or to discuss, and on the other hand we receive through persons who work in those same places, in Ecclesia Dei, or through a cardinal, a message different from the official line. More or less like this: “The Pope will recognize the Society as he did in the case of the excommunications, without demanding anything in return from the Society.” Such a situation cannot fail to pose major problems, because this message does not say the same thing as the document that has been received. These same persons will acknowledge this: “These documents that are being proposed to you do not correspond to what the Pope wants.” And for months this doublespeak would go on. To the official messages—since they ask us to accept what we did not accept in the discussions—our response is no. We cannot. But while we are getting these official responses, the benevolent messages continue, and it is impossible to call their source into question. And the source is at the highest level. I quote for you some of these sentences: “Let the Society know that resolving the problems of the Society is at the heart of my concerns,” or even “is a priority of my pontificate.” These things are said with the intention of resolving the problem.
“As for the intermediaries, we hear other statements of this sort: “There are enemies in Rome who are sabotaging all the Pope’s initiatives in favor of a restoration.” Or others like this: “Let Bishop Fellay not worry; after the recognition he will be able to continue to attack all those points as before.” Or even more forcefully:
“The Pope is above the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. If the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith makes a decision against the Society, the Pope will intervene to rescind that decision.
“Can we totally ignore this second line? It was absolutely necessary to verify it, to verify its authenticity, its veracity. But it was strictly impossible to say it, to communicate it. For to speak about it would have complicated matters further” (http://sspx.org/superior_generals_news/bishop_fellay_sermon_extracts_paris_11-11-2012.htm).
This summary of events is confirmed by Bishop de Galarreta, who was part of the Society’s delegation to Rome:
“Then, before the General Chapter, our Superior General had written to the pope to find out whether it was really his response, since a large part of the problem that we experienced was due to the fact that there were mixed messages from Rome.
“Some authorities told us: the response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is official, they are doing their job, but don’t pay attention to it, just file it; in any case we want an agreement, we want to recognize you as you are…” (http://sspx.org/sspx_and_rome/bishop_de_galarreta_conference_10-13-2012.htm).
So we have before us the spectacle of Bishop Williamson, willing as always to believe in the latest conspiracy (as he himself has said), quite willing to believe that Bishop Fellay is conspiring to betray the legacy of Msgr. Lefebvre, despite there being no evidence to support this contention. At the same time, here is quite a lot of evidence to support a conspiracy going on in the Vatican, with liberal prelates thwarting the will of the Holy Father, confirmed by both the Superior General’s statements and Bishop de Galarreta’s testimony. Yet His Lordship cannot bring himself to believe it.
d. “Judging by his acts since September, which includes this letter of October 4, he is blaming the priests and laity who failed to put their trust in him as their leader. After the Chapter as before, it seems as though he can brook no opposition to his conciliatory and Conciliar policy…”
Bishop de Galarreta had some very interesting words about the Chapter and about the “opposition” within the Society:
“We took all the time necessary to debate and we compared points of view, as is fitting among members of the same congregation, of the same army. That causes no problem; the Society is not a girls’ school, right? Then if from time to time there are debates among us, one should not make a big thing out of it either. Read Cardinal Pie when he supports public debate with the bishops, in France, in the nineteenth century. He justifies them, he explains why, he says that it is a combat, and so there you have it! That is to say, one should not make a tragedy out of it either. The tragedy would be to abandon the Faith, but it is normal that there are debates on questions of prudential judgment about one thing or another. There are different aspects, there are temperaments, there are situations.... It is extremely complicated, and one cannot draw a sword to cut the Gordian knot by saying: ‘There, I resolve the question in one fell swoop.’ No!...” (http://sspx.org/sspx_and_rome/bishop_de_galarreta_conference_10-13-2012.htm, bold mine).
Here Bishop de Galarreta seems to answer almost directly Bishop Williamson who would solve the differences within the Society all “in one feel swoop.” Debate is a normal thing, explains Bishop de Galarreta. This means that the release of the private correspondence of the bishops did not have the significance in reality that it was intended to have.
As far as Bishop Fellay “brook(ing) no opposition” by expelling all who disagree with him, when was it ever allowed in the Society (or any institute of Mother Church) that subordinates would publicly calumniate and assassinate the character of their superiors and not be expelled for it? It is absurd to maintain that these tactics have no consequences.
8. Bishop Williamson goes on:
“And that is
the real reason why the Superior General has given several times the formal
order to close down “Eleison Comments”. Indeed the “Comments” have repeatedly
criticized the Society authorities’ conciliatory policy towards Rome, thereby
attacking them implicitly. Now if in this criticism and these attacks there has
sometimes been a failure to observe the respect normally due to the office or
persons of the Society authorities, I readily beg forgiveness of anyone
concerned, but I think that anybody actually reading the particular “Comments”
implicated will recognize that the criticism and attacks usually abstracted from
the persons, because the issues at stake are far more than just personal.
”And if we do come to the great problem far surpassing mere persons, let us call to mind the immense confusion presently reigning in the Church, and placing in peril the eternal salvation of souls without number. Is it not the duty of a bishop to uncover the true roots of this confusion and to denounce them in public? How many bishops in the whole wide world see clear as Archbishop Lefebvre saw clear, and how many are teaching accordingly? How many of them are still teaching Catholic doctrine at all? Surely very few. Then is now the moment to be trying to silence a bishop who is doing so, if one is to judge by the number of souls that hang on to the “Comments” as they would to a lifebelt? How in particular can another bishop be wanting to shut them down when he himself has just had to admit to his priests that he let himself be deceived for many a long year on the same great questions?”
There isn’t any “conciliatory policy,” if that means “compromising policy.” And since there isn’t any such policy, and since the Society is not “collapsing from within,” there is no justification for Bishop Williamson’s disobedience in publishing “Eleison Comments.” His criticisms, as Bishop de Galarreta has indicated, should be discussed with his superior. As His Lordship knows full well, there can be only one excuse for deliberate and prolonged disobedience—that the order is contrary to faith and commands one to sin by obedience. We have no such command in question. Bishop Williamson gives us to understand that since the other bishops of the Society are not with him, and since all the Novus Ordo bishops are useless, then he alone is the only voice of sanity left to the Church. As such, of course, he must continue to publish and spread his opinions, since so many depend on them. Was not this Father Kelly’s argument in 1983? Never mind that so many depend on his words because, up to recently, His Lordship had been a Society bishop, and the faithful had always trusted him to know what he is doing and to speak the truth. The faithful may not have had reason till now to suspect that the good bishop would prefer his own will for less than significant reasons.
But when Bishop Williamson can say
“How in particular can another bishop be wanting to shut them down when he himself has just had to admit to his priests that he let himself be deceived for many a long year on the same great questions?”
then the faithful should pause to wonder about him. For it is not just “another bishop” who has ordered him to cease publication in order to cease publicly criticizing the Society’s work of preaching at the Vatican. It is the Superior General who has been given the jurisdiction within the Society to so order, and nothing short of a breach of faith can justify disobedience. And let us remind ourselves: Even if, per impossibile, Bishop Fellay had, according to Bishop Williamson, “let himself be deceived for many a long year…” that is not a breach of faith, that is not a compromise with the forces of modernism. At the most, that would have been a prudential error and, since nothing indicates the contrary, it would have been corrected by a cautious insistence on essentials. In reality, Bishop Fellay did not “let himself be deceived” at all. The Vatican is divided into two camps. Just because the Superior General heard two voices does not make him the naïve or deceptive, since there were indeed two voices.
“Likewise, if the rebellious bishop took upon himself – for the first time in nigh on four years – an independent apostolate, how can he be blamed for having accepted an invitation, coming from outside the Society, to give the sacrament of Confirmation and to preach the word of truth? Is that not the very function of a bishop? And if he is accused of having preached what was a word of “confusion”, there is always the same answer: what he said in Brazil was confusing only for people who follow the line confessed to be an error, as evoked above.”
This is a rather novel was of looking at the events just preceding the bishop’s exit from the Society. How can he say “if the rebellious bishop took upon himself – for the first time in nigh on four years – an independent apostolate,” when he had been publishing “Eleison Comments” all along? Is not that very publication an apostolate? If not, what is it, and why would he continue to justify doing it? In other words, his trip to Brazil was hardly the first time he had set aside the hierarchy of the Society and decided to do what he thought best. It was rather an established habit by that time. So
“(H)ow can he be blamed for having accepted an invitation, coming from outside the Society, to give the sacrament of Confirmation and to preach the word of truth? Is that not the very function of a bishop?”
Well, how is it that the faithful who were scheduled to receive a confirmation visit from another Society bishop would have asked for Bishop Williamson instead? Who put the notion into their heads that they can pick and choose which bishop confers the sacrament, when the bishops are at the command of the Superior General, “as his auxiliaries”—in the words of Archbishop Lefebvre? Who put out the idea, accepted somehow by Dom Tomas Aquino and his abbey, that Bishop Williamson alone of all the Society bishops was the one “to preach the word of truth”?
“And if he is accused of having preached what was a word of ‘confusion,’ there is always the same answer: what he said in Brazil was confusing only for people who follow the line confessed to be an error, as evoked above.”
But there is no proven “line confessed to be an error” in the sense of breach of faith, as Bishop Williamson would have us believe. There was no reason to preach a different line at all to these Brazilian faithful. He did indeed cause confusion because he was preaching, not merely on behalf of Tradition, but against the Society which upholds and has always upheld that very Tradition.
10. Again, Bishop Williamson:
“So if he
does seem for years to have been separating himself from the Society, the truth
is that he has been distancing himself from the conciliatory Society, and not
from that of the Archbishop. And if he seems insubordinate to any exercise of
authority on the part of Society leaders, the truth is that that applies only to
orders running counter to the purposes for which the Society was founded. In
fact how many other orders are there at all, besides the order to close down the
“Comments”, which he can be blamed for having disobeyed in a “formal, obstinate
and pertinacious” manner? Is there even one other such order? Since Archbishop
Lefebvre refused to obey only acts of authority of Church leaders which were of
a nature to destroy the Church, his disobedience was more apparent than real.
Likewise refusing to close down the “Comments” is a disobedience more apparent
”For indeed history repeats itself, and the Devil keeps coming back. Just as yesterday Vatican II wished to reconcile the Catholic Church with the modern world, so today one could say that Benedict XVI and the Society’s Superior General both wish to reconcile Catholic Tradition and the Council; so again tomorrow, unless God intervenes between now and then, the leaders of the Catholic Resistance will be trying to reconcile it with Tradition henceforth Conciliar….”
Since there is no “conciliatory Society,” and no “orders running counter to the purposes for which the Society was founded,” then Bishop Williamson has not merely “seemed” to separate himself from the Society. He really has done so. It is “formal,” because he was instructed clearly on what he was to do and shown that it was for the good of the Church and the Society. It was “obstinate and pertinacious”--canonical terms—because His Lordship continued in willful disobedience after repeated warnings and failed attempts to bring him to understand the reality of his situation.
Then Bishop Williamson has the audacity to compare what he has done to what His Grace did:
“Since Archbishop Lefebvre refused to obey only acts of authority of Church leaders which were of a nature to destroy the Church, his disobedience was more apparent than real. Likewise refusing to close down the ‘Comments’ is a disobedience more apparent than real.”
How dare he compare himself to the champion sent by God and foretold by Our Lady of Good Fortune. Is he now in the place of Archbishop Lefebvre, defending us from modernism? Or is he rather in the place of Fathers Kelly, Sanborn, et al., adhering to a line of argument that ultimately stands on disobedience to the pope when he is not commanding us to sin?
“Just as yesterday Vatican II wished to reconcile the Catholic Church with the modern world, so today one could say that Benedict XVI and the Society’s Superior General both wish to reconcile Catholic Tradition and the Council; so again tomorrow, unless God intervenes between now and then, the leaders of the Catholic Resistance will be trying to reconcile it with Tradition henceforth Conciliar….”
There is ample proof that the Holy Father’s mind is divided. For although he wishes to do good to the Society, he does not understand how the lex orandi since the Council has affected the lex credendi of the entire Church. This problem is common to all the popes since the Council. But there is no proof, not a single scintilla of hard evidence, to show that Bishop Fellay has any desire to “reconcile Catholic Tradition and the Council.” Rather, there is abundant proof to the contrary:
“This is our history, the story of the Society, and of our founder. And this history, by dear brothers, continues. I would even say that, in comparison with this sublime reality, talking about whether or not to reach an agreement with Rome is something trivial. To defend the faith, to keep the faith, to die in the faith, this is the essential thing! We get the impression that the Roman authorities do not understand us, because they have not understood that we are ready to lose everything in order to keep this Catholic faith. We absolutely do not want to let this faith go. Now unfortunately (and this is a fact that we can observe every day), with the Council, through the Council, and in the Council, some poisons were introduced that are harmful to the faith; they lead souls into error and no longer defend them, no longer defend them in their faith. We denounce this fact, and this is why they condemn us. Even today, the condition that they want to impose on us in order to recognize us with the title “Catholic” is to accept those very same things that demolish the faith. But we cannot, and that is all, quite simply. In no case do we agree to diminish what is absolutely essential in order to go to Heaven: the faith, with all its consequences…” (http://www.sspx.org/superior_generals_news/a_priest_must_be_a_man_of_faith_bishop_fellay_sermon_extracts_2-1-2013.htm).
So this “reconciliation” of Catholic Tradition and the Council is in Bishop Williamson’s imagination. His statement insisting that there is such a “reconciliation” in the works goes a long way to prove a mindset in constant paranoid fear that everyone will betray the faith. And pardon me, but this is not the way a Catholic bishop ought to sound.
your Excellency, you may now go ahead and exclude me, because the arguments
above are not likely to persuade you, but the exclusion will be more apparent
than real. I have been a member of the Archbishop’s Society ever since my
perpetual engagement. I have been one of its priests for 36 years. I have been
one of its bishops, like yourself, for nearly a quarter of a century. That is
not all to be wiped out with one stroke of a pen. Member of the Archbishop’s
Society I therefore remain, and I wait.
”Had you remained faithful to the Archbishop’s heritage, and had I myself been notably unfaithful, gladly I would recognize your right to exclude me. But things being as they are, I hope I shall not be lacking in the respect due to your office if I suggest that for the glory of God, for the salvation of souls, for the internal peace of the Society and for your own eternal salvation, you would do better yourself to resign as Superior General than to exclude myself. May the good Lord give you the grace, the light and the strength to perform such an outstanding act of humility and of devotion to the common good of everybody.”
In other words, according to Bishop Williamson, since he has been a priest and bishop in the Society for 36 years, there is nothing he can do which would exclude him from membership. I beg to differ. There were priests who had been with the Archbishop before Mr. Williamson came along, and these priests are now gone, some to the “right,” many to the “left.” There is no such thing as someone too senior to be removed if his conduct is such that he warrants removal. It is not “one stroke of a pen” which expelled Bishop Williamson. It is his years of misconduct which would have excluded other Society members much sooner.
Then this gem:
”Had you remained faithful to the Archbishop’s heritage, and had I myself been notably unfaithful, gladly I would recognize your right to exclude me.”
How magnanimous. Since the Superior General has remained faithful, then His Lordship is in reality excluded. But that is not the end of this cheek:
“But things being as they are, I hope I shall not be lacking in the respect due to your office if I suggest that for the glory of God, for the salvation of souls, for the internal peace of the Society and for your own eternal salvation, you would do better yourself to resign as Superior General than to exclude myself.”
First, Bishop Williamson is lacking in respect, and he knows it. He is stating this by using its opposite for effect. Second, it was “for the glory of God, for the salvation of souls, for the internal peace of the Society and for (his) own eternal salvation” that Bishop Williamson was excluded. From outside the Society, he cannot give “advice,” since it was his ill-chosen words in large measure that got him where his is now. This is rather like an insurgent claiming that the ruler of his country does not have the right to put him out, and calling on that ruler to resign so that the insurgent can remain where he was comfortable. As such a ruler cannot neglect his duty without making the country to suffer, so Bishop Fellay cannot neglect his duty to the whole Society by allowing Bishop Williamson to continue his charade of being a faithful Society bishop.
As I have said, Bishop Williamson was allowed to continue as long as he had when others would not have been suffered with such patience. Let me put this more directly: Bishop Fellay is indeed faithful to the Archbishop’s legacy, and that is why he has had to finally expel this intransigent brother bishop. But for those who think he has been too high-handed with this penalty, I will say further: Bishop Fellay has been more lenient than the Archbishop would have been. If God had spared His Grace to govern the Society into the new millennium, Bishop Williamson would have been excluded years ago. His Grace would not have tolerated the outlandish statements made by one who was chosen to assist the Superior General in the mission of the Society but instead has done serious damage to that mission.
By his insistence on his own theories and opinions, it is His Lordship who has been unfaithful to his mission as a Society bishop, unfaithful to the mandate laid upon him by Archbishop Lefebvre when he was chosen for the episcopate, unfaithful to the Church and unfaithful to Tradition. He is now a major instrument in spreading calumnies against the Society by means of Internet gossip which has replaced in large measure any semblance of scholarship amongst the rebellious.
Let us pray Our Lady that Bishop
Williamson may yet turn back from this erroneous path he has taken. May the
Queen and Destroyer of All Heresies, destroy also the errors which have led
astray this bishop and his clerical confreres. May the Immaculate Heart triumph
in these hearts through our Rosaries so that the grace of conversion is not
refused and that all the rebellious turn back in humility to their real home in
the Society of St. Pius X.