A kind reader sent me a translation of the interview Der Spiegel did with SSPX Bp. Fellay, their superior.
My emphases and comments.
Williamson Apology ‘A Step in Right Direction’
Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of Saint Pius X, has told SPIEGEL
that his organization has "clearly distanced itself" from Bishop Richard
Williamson. Nevertheless, he says the bishop’s apology for his Holocaust
denial is a step in the right direction.
SPIEGEL: Bishop, weeks ago you gave your colleague Richard Williamson a book
so that he can read up on the Holocaust. Last week he published an apology
which falls short of the Vatican’s demand that he retract his Holocaust
denial. Does Williamson’s statement suffice in your opinion?
Fellay: It is definitely a first plea for forgiveness and, therefore, an
important step in the right direction. [read: 1) no, or 2) I’m not saying.] One can always hope for better phrasing. [Not better content?] At least the plea for forgiveness is honest, and the withdrawal of his words is genuine. [I think that is reasonable.]
SPIEGEL: That hope seems unfounded. After his arrival in London, Williamson
surrounded himself with people who have openly denied the Holocaust, such as
the historian David Irving. Do you know why? [A fair question.]
Fellay: I have the impression that Bishop Williamson is being used by these
people. Information was deliberately fed to the media here. We’re working
against that as well as we can. I am totally against these connections. [Is Williamson that naive? I would like to think so.]
SPIEGEL: But your influence on Williamson seems to be weak. [Direct! Well done, Spiegel.]
Fellay: We are in contact, he is in a priory of the society in London for
the time being. But he is also a free human being. Sure, he has a superior,
but he is free in his decisions. But he has to bear the consequences for
SPIEGEL: Will he return to his full duties? [Great question.]
Fellay: That is impossible under the current circumstances. He has damaged
us and hurt our reputation. [!] We have very clearly distanced ourselves. He was
not ordained as a bishop for his own personal purpose [? I profoundly hope that it true.] but for the common good of the church, to spread the revealed truth.
SPIEGEL: So why don’t you exclude Williamson from the society? [Again, good question. Though you can hear the hostility within it.]
Fellay: That will happen if he denies the Holocaust again. [!!] It is probably
better for everyone if he stays quiet and stays in a corner somewhere. I
want him to disappear from the public eye for a good while. [Isn’t this EXACTLY what I have been saying all along?]
SPIEGEL: The Vatican could reinstate the excommunication because he has not
made a retraction.
Fellay: I doubt that. [So do I.] Denial of the Holocaust, as serious as it is, isn’t
part of Canon Law — so an excommunication isn’t possible. It isn’t just we
who say that, it is canons, legal experts. The problem is that his comments
have been linked to his office. [Exactly. Some people have a hard time making distinctions, for lack of knowledge or lack of will.]
SPIEGEL: Regensburg’s Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller has denied the German
Pius seminary in Zaitzkofen permission to ordain more priests. Will you
adhere to the ban? [Did they ever have permission from the local bishop? I rather think not. I would like to know for sure. A formal reminder for the sake of a canonical procedure down the line?]
Fellay: That was unnecessary and inappropriate. [Well.. yes, unecessary. "Inappropriate"… a matter of perspective.] All these events definitely
are a setback for us. It throws us back by 10 years. But ordinations will
continue to happen. [grrrr]
SPIEGEL: In Germany politicians fear that schools run by the society don’t
share the values of the German constitution. Are you concerned that there
will be inspections?
Fellay: I’m not worried about that at all. We are normal people. We observe
the rules, and that includes the state order. [The state‘s rules, at least.] Even if one voice said something wrong. It is expressly written in the epistles of the Saint Paul
that we honor authority and pray for it.
SPIEGEL: So Williamson is someone who has gone astray and criticism of the
society is a big misunderstanding?
Fellay: Now we’re the world’s scapegoat, [pretty nearly true!] and every wrong step immediately turns into a scandal. But mistakes that need to be corrected are made all
the time and everywhere.
SPIEGEL: Why did you respond so late to Williamson’s crude theses?
Fellay: I confess that I didn’t take the situation seriously enough.
Interview conducted by Stefan Winter.
A few things.
First, there is a question naïveté. Was Williamson so gullible about whom he chose to meet in London? Was Bp. Fellay really that innocent about the press and about the state of the culture war, especially in Europe.
Second, it seems that, now, Williamson will remain out of the public eye. This is exactly what I hoped he would do. This is exactly what had to happen.
Third, it seems that they really are taking steps to deal with this serious problem. To that extent, what happened may turn out to be positive.
Fourth, I regret that they will simply ordain as usual. Chosing to submit in some way to the local bishop and/or Holy See in ordinations could be very helpful. Other factors will override that, of course.
Fifth, the SSPX has a base which the leadership must check and keep on their side. It these difficult times they will feel the obligation to keep their support, also financial support, close.
I will keep the combox closed, lest the weak find this an occasion of sin and post seriously knuckle-headed comments. You can e-mail me and I will receiew what I receive and post what is worthy of your attention.