Another mess around SSPX Bp. Williamson. Timed to harm the upcoming talks?

Once more controversy is stirred around SSPX Bp. Williamson and the Holy See’s Press Office.  What did X, Y, Z know and when did they know it?

Check Rorate and the Italian site Fides et Forma here and here and here. [UPDATE: one of the Fides et Forma articles in now in English.]

In a nutshell, a very messy and nasty nutshell, the Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden, H.E. Anders Arborelius, said on Swedish TV what the Holy See knew about Bp. Williamson before the excommunications of the SSPX bishops were lifted last January.

You will recall that Bp. Williamson was interviewed on Swedish TV.  That was when he revealed his thoughts about the Holocaust, to the amazement of many (not all).

According to the new claims, Bp. Arborelius and the Nuncio in Sweden sent the information about the Swedish TV interview with Bp. Williamson to the Holy See in November 2008 saying that the program would be aired on 21 January 2009, the very day that Pope Benedict signed the document which lifted the excommunications.

Remember: The excommunications of the SSPX had nothing to do with the opinions any of them had about the Holocaust.  They were excommunicated because of the illicit consecrations in 1988.

In the meantime, here is an English text of a letter issued by the Press Office’s director Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ to a Turkish journalist Ali Fegan who was behind the Swedish TV interview:

Dear Mr Fegan,

the only thing I can say is that I did not have any knowledge about your interview with Bishop Williamson before It was broadcasted.

After that I was informed about it by journalists and Swedish colleagues of Vatican Radio.

Card. Castrillon said me no word about it before the interview was broadcasted.

I did not know that an information was sent about Williamson to the Vatican, and I do not know who has received it and red it. No one said me any word about it.

The Pope has said that he was not informed as he approved the lifting of the excommunications. I am sure that the Pope tells the truth.

As I informed my Superiors about your interview with Williamson, I saw that the decision about the lifting of the excommunications was already done.

Therefore the only thing I could do, was to distinguish strongly between the sense and the intention of the decision of lifting the excommunication by the Pope, and the absolute inacceptability of the negationism of Williamson as his personal position which was not connected in any manner with the origin of the excommunication. This is what I have repeated many times in those sad days.

I hope that this answer is clear.

Thank you for your attention. Best regards.

F.Lombardi 

What a mess.

Apparently La Repubblica (Il vescovo svedese rivela "Il Papa sapeva di Williamson".) and La Stampa («Williamson, Il Papa sapeva») now have headlines saying that – because of all this – the Pope knew about Williamson before he lifted the excommunications.

It seems to me that this stems from dislike of the SSPX and dread that somehow they may be reintegrated in the Church.   Furthermore, those of the "the enemy of my enemy" school are taking advantage of this to undermine respect for the Church in the public square.

Now that the talks will be starting between the Holy See and the SSPX, many people are going to make problems for an eventual reunification, yes.  But more will simply use this as a handy whip with which to flog the Church.  If not with this, then with something else.  This is a handy whip and some who should have known better put it in their hands.

We have to pray that the talks between the SSPX and the Holy See commence properly and fruitfully continue.

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26 Responses to Another mess around SSPX Bp. Williamson. Timed to harm the upcoming talks?

  1. Gabriella says:

    Yes, Fr. Z., we must all pray that the talks commence properly and fruitfully continue and that they result in the wonderful SSPX returning to the fold.

    It’s disgusting and disturbing to see how the media is working on that information – one newspaper’s headline was: The Pope is lying! :( and it is so disheartening to pick up the ‘enjoyment’ behing the lines or craftily hidden in the talk shows on this subject.

    It’s quite obvious that the ‘horned one’ is hard at work.

  2. Sixupman says:

    This is a work against both the forthcoming ‘negotiations’, and, BXVI personally. The Northern European hierarchies are imbude with a very strong streak of Protestantism and BXVI is likely to upset their cosy lifestyle by his ‘brick by brick’ restoration of normalcy.

    On the extended Swedish broadcast, Fr. Paul Morgan SSPX states that the journalist concerned has done great damage to the SSPX cause. I accept that, but did not +Williamson carry the real blame, or, is he blameless in evrything he does.

    Part of the broadcast also shows people called to Mass at Zaitkofen, one dressed in a windcheater and slacks – that form of dress would not be allowed in many SSPX congregations within the +Williamson/American clique including Fr. Morgan, et al, SPX Superior in the UK.

  3. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    Well, in London we can say, thank God for the other news today, whatever reason there was for leaking it, it could not have been better timed.

    See here: POPE TO VISIT BRITAIN!

  4. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    I am pretty sure this has to do with internal Church-state politics in Italy, than it does with the upcoming talks.

    Il Giornale is a Berlusconi fiefdom, and they recently had a pretty nasty back and forth with Avvenire, which began with the latter calling the Cav “senza classe” or something to that effect. Il Giornale shot back with unflattering things about the Avvenire editore in chief (who has since resigned). The battibecco involving the CEI, the Presidenza and their quotidian proxies, generated more sales in a week for these last than they had had YTD.

    Best,
    C.

  5. That last should read: I am pretty sure this has to do with internal Church-state politics in Italy and good old-fashioned yellow journalism than it does…etc.

    Sorry.

    C.

  6. cheekypinkgirl says:

    People making problems for SSPX reunification with Rome? But Fellay himself said there will be no reunificaiton if they are forced to accept the validity of V2. Sounds like to me the SSPX are their own stumbling block and don’t need any “help.”

  7. TNCath says:

    It’s the same old story over and over again: those at the top having no idea what the troops are doing. While I have no doubt the Holy Father isn’t lying, whether or not “the Vatican” was informed or not, one thing remains embarrassingly apparent: the Holy Father needs better informants. For instance, I wonder if there isn’t somebody in the Holy Father’s office whose sole responsibility is to monitor what goes on in the Church via the Internet? Had there been someone doing this at the time, we might have avoided this mess. Moreover, perhaps the Holy Father would be better informed about what his bishops (and the SSPX) are saying and doing.

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    So everyone in the world with an internet connection has long known what a foolish old man Bp. Williamson is. So what? Is it clear what any of these issues have to do with his excommunication?

    The Church is full of fools and knaves in good standing and, indeed, it seems entirely possible that he’s not the only one of these who enjoys the fullness of holy orders.

  9. TNCath says:

    Henry wrote: “So everyone in the world with an internet connection has long known what a foolish old man Bp. Williamson is. So what? Is it clear what any of these issues have to do with his excommunication? The Church is full of fools and knaves in good standing and, indeed, it seems entirely possible that he’s not the only one of these who enjoys the fullness of holy orders.”

    What you say is true, however, perhaps before the excommunications took place, somebody could have told Bishop Williamson to close his mouth.
    As for the “fools and knaves in good standing,” that’s precisely why somebody needs to monitor on the Internet what’s going on so that the Holy Father knows, on a daily basis, what these folks are up to.

  10. TNCath says:

    Correction: “Before the LIFTING of the excommunications took place.” Sorry, the brain is not working this early in the morning.

  11. ssoldie says:

    His thoughts, his ‘opinion’, and like nose’s everybody has one. I believe the Swedish Bishop stirs the pot, and has an agenda, such has been so, for the so many years, ah! yes, those progressive agenda’s.

  12. haleype says:

    Prayers that the talks will be successful in spite of the attempts by some to see them scutlled are being offered daily. This is an important time for Holy Mother Church and all Catholics of good need to avoid concentrating on the private views of one bishop. Having said that, Bishop Williamson has apologized aand has more or less retreated into silence and reflection. Would that his critics would do likewise.

  13. mattwcu says:

    I heard this on the radio yesterday in regards to something else, but I believe it applies to the Holy Father and the Church as well.

    “The tree with the best apples gets the worst clubbing.”

  14. haleype says:

    Previouos post – should have read: …all Catholics of good will… “and” vs “aand” in the 3rd line.

  15. Brian2 says:

    As much as I would like to blame the media and third party interlopers looking to derail the talks… it seems to me that this IS a story, and even if the reporting is a bit sensational, well, all reporting these days is. To my mind the blame for this mess falls squarely with Bishop Williamson, he is the sine qua non of this whole mess. He had no reason to sound off on the Holocaust, especially in a televized interview, it is neither called for in his duties as bishop nor as seminary rector. He should have remembered that one is slave to what one says and king of what one doesn’t say. When SSPX is regularized, you can bet we will have another round of this. His words are going to hurt the Church again and again. And while it is a noble thing for the Church to suffer for the sake of the truth of the faith, Williamson’s words are neither true nor do they involve the faith

  16. Brian2 says:

    As soon as I hit enter, I realized that my above comments were too harsh and a bit disrespectful. My apologies for the tone.

  17. JayneK says:

    Brian2,
    As I understand what happened, there was an element of entrapment involved in Bp. Williamson’s comments. He was told the interview was about matters well within his duties. The topic was thrown at him without warning and he told the truth about his views.

    While I don’t agree with his thoughts on the Holocaust, I find much to admire in his behaviour throughout these media-manufactured messes.

  18. Brian2 says:

    JayneK: as I said, I was too harsh.

  19. Oleksander says:

    “The Northern European hierarchies are imbude with a very strong streak of Protestantism and BXVI is likely to upset their cosy lifestyle by his ‘brick by brick’ restoration of normalcy.”

    What makes you have such a judgment? Is it because they celebrate the Ordinary Form? Well the Pope celebrates the Ordinary Form every public Mass.

    I have heard nothing but good things about the bishops in Scandinavia, I find your comment that they are imbued with protestantism to be very offensive because of their struggles and the dedication of their lives to rebuild the Church in Scandinavia.

  20. JoAnna says:

    Prayers are definitely in order. I would love to see the SSPX back in full communion with the Church, but sometimes I fear it will take a miracle. St. Pius X, pray for us!

  21. GOR says:

    TNCath: “For instance, I wonder if there isn’t somebody in the Holy Father’s office whose sole responsibility is to monitor what goes on in the Church via the Internet?”

    According to Paolo Rodari, on his blog Palazzo Apostolico, there is now!

    He says the Vatican has contracted with Meltwater, a group based in Oslo, to “Follow the Internet and refer to the Vatican Press office who on the Web is talking about Vatican matters and how…”

    I’m not familiar with Meltwater, but it sounds like one of those companies that businesses contract with to scour the media for any references to their particular business. Not a bad idea!

    So they’re probably reading WDTPRS right now…:)

  22. Sid says:

    It seems to me that this stems from dislike of the SSPX and dread that somehow they may be reintegrated in the Church. Furthermore, those of the “the enemy of my enemy” school are taking advantage of this to undermine respect for the Church in the public square.

    Exactly

  23. MichaelJ says:

    I wonder. Had the Holy Father explicitly known of Bishop Williamson’s views regarding the holocaust, should he (the Holy Father) have refused to lift the excommunication? Is anyone here suggesting that? I am not sure.

  24. Jordanes says:

    cheekypinkgirl claimed: But Fellay himself said there will be no reunificaiton if they are forced to accept the validity of V2.

    No, he has never said that.

  25. irishgirl says:

    Curiouser and curiouser…what a mess this is…

    Something’s got to done to rein in some of the loose lips in the Vatican Press Office-everytime they open their mouths, the foot goes in further and further!