Posts Tagged “bishop williamson”

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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The Pope recently made something of a public confession (if not a sacramental one) over the Williamson affair that I’ve blogged about a time or two already. CBS News reports on this unusual moment of papal candor:

Pope Benedict XVI has made an unusual public acknowledgment of Vatican mistakes and turmoil in his church over an outreach to ultraconservatives that led to his lifting the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop.

In an attempt to end one of the most serious crises of his papacy, he said in a letter released Thursday that the Vatican must make greater use of the Internet to prevent other controversies. …

The Vatican has said that Benedict did not now know that British-born Bishop Richard Williamson was a Holocaust denier when he lifted his excommunication on Jan. 24.

Benedict, in an implicit criticism of aides, said that not searching the Internet for information before lifting the excommunications Jan. 24 was an “unforeseen mishap” that caused tensions between Christians and Jews.

What the Pope clearly implies here, even if he doesn’t say it in so many words, is that his own aides — who no doubt had been working on reaching an accord with the Society of St Pius X for a long time now — had failed to vet the Society’s members.

Now all that remains is for Benedict to re-excommunicate Williamson for having defied his order to immediately recant his claim that no one died in gas chambers in Nazi Germany (so far Williamson has not changed his position). We’ll see if he gets around to it someday.

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