Posts Tagged “bishop richard williamson”

FILE PHOTO OF TRADITIONALIST BISHOP RICHARD WILLIAMSON / CNS NEWS SERVICEI’ve blogged a number of times about the ultra-conservative Roman Catholic order known as the Society of St Pius X (or SSPX). Among other things, this crew is so whacked, that they cling to the delusion that the geocentric model of the solar system is correct. Even so, SSPX’s insane wingnuttery wasn’t enough to prevent the Vatican from reaching an accord with them and bringing them back into the Catholic fold.

But it turns out there was a wrench in the works. And that was Bishop Richard Williamson, who’s denied the Holocaust on the grounds that it turned every Jew into an “ersatz savior.” The Catholic News Service reports that Williamson has tested the patience of even the SSPX and has been tossed out (WebCite cached article):

The leadership of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X has expelled British Bishop Richard Williamson from the society, saying he distanced himself from them and refused “to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors.” …

Bishop Williamson had been a harsh critic of the group’s engagement in doctrinal discussions with the Vatican, which were aimed at bringing the society back into full communion with the Catholic Church. …

The Vatican knew Williamson would be trouble, right from the start of the reconciliation effort:

Even as the Vatican negotiated with the SSPX, Vatican officials said separate discussions would be required with Bishop Williamson, who not only criticized the dialogue, but has publicly denied the extent of the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews.

The bishop’s Holocaust denials were included in an interview aired by a Swedish TV network on the same day in 2009 that the Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI had lifted the excommunication of Bishop Williamson and three other of the society’s bishops, ordained without papal permission in 1988.

Williamson’s caterwauling derailed the reconciliation, and the chaos he fostered might prevent it from coming to fruition — even in spite of his ouster:

In an early October interview with a German radio station, Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, confirmed that the talks with the SSPX had broken down and that no further discussions had been scheduled.

I have to congratulate the Vatican and the SSPX. Their tap-dancing around the feelings of a crazed Holocaust-denier managed to ruin everything for them. Well done, fellows. Well done!

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

Photo credit: CNS News Service.

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St. Peter's Square, 1992Readers of my blog shouldn’t be strangers to the odd semi-schismatic Catholic organization known as the Society of St Pius X (or SSPX). It was founded at the turn of the 1970s as a reaction against the reforms of II Vatican. Relations between the organization and the Vatican were never cordial, and SSPX was excommunicated in the late 80s after its founder and leader consecrated some bishops against papal orders.

Most of the time since, SSPX has continued its (ostensibly) renegade ways, railing against the modernization of the Church, even as the Vatican has tried to keep in touch with them and has worked to bring them back into the Catholic fold. The two lurched closer together in January 2009 when the Vatican lifted the excommunication on the remaining illicitly-elevated SSPX bishops.

Their reconciliation has continued over the last 3 years. Der Spiegel reports that a full reconciliation between the Vatican and SSPX is on its way (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict XVI may reach a decision by the end of May to allow the ultraconservative Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) to rejoin the Catholic church, SPIEGEL has learned.

At a meeting this coming Wednesday, the four cardinals of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees Catholic Church doctrine, plan to agree a proposal for reuniting the society with the Catholic Church, and will submit it to the pope.

Despite the appearance of amiability and conciliation here, the SSPX is hardly uniform in wanting to go back into the Church proper, as Der Spiegel explains:

… [A] fierce row has broken out among the four bishops of the SSPX over the planned agreement. British bishop Richard Williamson, who caused outrage in 2009 by denying the scale of the Holocaust, has taken an uncompromising stance toward the Vatican and wants to prevent SSPX from returning to its fold.

But the majority of SSPX supports the policy of its head, or superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, who has just written a letter urging Williamson and all SSPX bishops to end their isolation, accept the pope’s offer, and abandon a stance that is dividing the Church.

I’ve blogged a few times about the malcontent Williamson, who has yet to obey the Pope’s instructions and alter his beliefs about the Holocaust — which, as I’ve blogged, he believes was a vicious lie cooked up in order to make every Jew on earth into an “ersatz savior.”

But Williamson and his Holocaust-denying is hardly the only weird belief running around in the SSPX camp. I blogged a while ago about the SSPX protesting the heliocentric model of the solar system, claiming that by confirming Copernicus’ model, Galileo had destroyed the Church’s supremacy over humanity.

The SSPX’s militant opposition to the Second Vatican reforms — and its other assorted crankish notions — leads me to wonder how the group and the Vatican could ever reach any kind of rational accord. I expect what will happen is they’ll both sign off on some kind of carefully-worded, loose compromise of some sort, which allows both parties to move along but not really concede anything of substance to the other.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Cosmological Models: Disquisitiones MathematicaeIt’s now the 21st century, and by now people are well-acquainted with the fact that our solar system is heliocentric (i.e. the sun, not the earth, is at its center). Of course, the Catholic Church, in the 16th and 17th centuries, attempted to prevent the world from understanding this. The Vatican ultimately lost its war on science, even if men like Galileo Galilei paid the price for having dared speak up for the heliocentric principle.

While today one might assume the Catholic Church would prefer to move on and fight new battles against rationality, one would be very, very wrong to think so. Oh no. The Catholic battle against the heliocentric model has by no means been ended. The Chicago Tribune reports on a Catholic organization which teaches that the heliocentric model is a wicked, vile conspiracy, cooked up and propagated solely to undermine the Catholic Church’s authority (WebCite cached article):

A small group of conservative Roman Catholics is pointing to a dozen biblical verses and the Church’s original teaching as proof that the Earth is the center of the universe, the view that prompted Galileo Galilei’s clash with the Church four centuries ago.

The relatively obscure movement has gained a following among a few Chicago-area Catholics who find comfort in knowing there are still staunch defenders of original Church doctrine.

This parish belongs to a Catholic organization called the Society of St Pius X (or SSPX). They’re a paranoid bunch:

Indeed, those promoting geocentrism argue that heliocentrism, or the centuries-old consensus among scientists that the Earth revolves around the sun, is nothing more than a conspiracy theory to squelch the church’s influence.

“Heliocentrism becomes ‘dangerous’ if it is being propped up as the true system when, in fact, it is a false system,” said Robert Sungenis, leader of a budding movement to get scientists to reconsider. “False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions — thus the state of the world today. … Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world; and governments and academia were subservient to her.”

That rotten, stinking, horrible Galileo! He ruined everything!!! All by himself, he destroyed the “command of the world” which the Roman Catholic Church once enjoyed. How awful it must be for the poor, downtrodden Church not to run the show any more!

Boo fucking hoo hoo.

Some of their “proof” that the earth is the center of the universe is offered in the story:

There is proof in Scripture that the Earth is the center of the universe, Sungenis said. Among many verses, he cites Joshua 10:12-14 as definitive proof: “And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, while the nation took vengeance on its foe. … The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course.”

While it once had been a schismatic group, four of its bishops have been readmitted to the Church (cached article), so one would assume its teachings to be considered authoritative by the wider Church. Therefore this can’t be taken as the word of just a few screwy “fringe” Catholics with strange and deviant ideas.

Note that one of the aforementioned four un-excommunicated bishops, Richard Williamson, is — like the rest of his organization, apparently — a paranoid thinker. He’s denied the Holocaust on the grounds that it’s an attempt to elevate each Jew in the world to the status of messiah, as I’ve blogged previously. Yeah, SSPX is a really nice crew.

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

Photo credit: Vicious Bits.

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I’ve blogged before on Bishop Richard Williamson, who — along with the rest of his cohorts in the formerly schismatic Society of St Pius X — had reentered the fold of Roman Catholicism. It was about a year ago that the Vatican came under fire for having readmitted him (along with the rest of the SSPX), without realizing he was a Holocaust denier. Ultimately the Vatican chose to order him to take back his Holocaust denials. But, as Der Spiegel reports, even a year later, he has not yet done so (WebCite cached article):

Bishop Williamson Unrepentent in Holocaust Denial

Controversial Bishop Richard Williamson continues in his denial of the Holocaust, embarrassing both the Society of St. Pius to which he belongs and the Vatican. But the SSPX is becoming increasingly powerful despite the controversy and is attracting more and more supporters. …

The world has become a smaller place for the notorious bishop. Since he denied the existence of the Holocaust on television more than a year ago, causing serious problems for Pope Benedict XVI and almost triggering a revolt against Rome by the Catholic faithful, the ultra-conservative SSPX has kept him in virtual quarantine at its Wimbledon headquarters. Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the SSPX, likens Williamson to uranium: “It’s dangerous when you have it,” he says, but you can’t “simply leave it by the side of the road.”

Fellay knows what he is talking about. Williamson has no intention of revising his views on the gas chambers. When Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld sent him a book about the history of the Holocaust last year, he set it aside, unread. “The fact is that the 6 million people who were supposedly gassed represent a huge lie,” he wrote recently to his fellow members of the SSPX, noting that “a completely new world order was built” on this “fact.” The Jews, he added, “became ersatz saviors thanks to the concentration camps.”

Note carefully this last sentence, which reveals the theological source of Williamson’s denials: “The Jews became ersatz saviors thanks to the concentration camps.” (Emphasis mine) Obviously Williamson thinks that Jesus’ exclusive status as “savior” will be compromised by admitting the Holocaust occurred.

Folks, this is scary stuff. Really scary. However, the cat is now out of the bag … we can see, now, why there are Christians in the occidental world who so vehemently object to admitting the Holocaust occurred. (Of course, this does nothing to explain Holocaust denialism in the Islamic world … but that’s another matter entirely.)

One final question remains, which is why the Roman Catholic Church has yet to discipline Williamson for his disobedience (i.e. not taking back his Holocaust denials, after he was ordered to do so). That they have done nothing about this shows their lack of integrity as an organization, at best. If they wish to present themselves as a beacon of morality in the world, they’re going to have to do a better job of it than they have, and since we all know that “charity begins at home,” they need to start by forcing their own to behave morally.

Hat tip: Rogues Gallery blog at the New England Skeptical Society.

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