SSPX funeral for Nazi war criminal

The SSPX has a house near Rome at Albano.

I can’t confirm this story, but it’s out there.

HERE

I am working from my phone today. Surely some of you can dig into this.

It is a work of mercy to pray for the dead but this is … strange.

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99 Responses to SSPX funeral for Nazi war criminal

  1. Incaelo says:

    The BBC had it as breaking news yesterday: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24544380

    I’ve seen all kinds of reports of varying degrees of trustworthiness (I’ve even read that the SSPX’s main problem with VII is that the Council was too possitive about the Jewish people…).

  2. Eriugena says:

    The Vicariate of Rome refused a Requiem Mass for war criminal Erich Priebke, who died in Rome the other day. His lawyer arranged with the Society of St Pius X at Albano Laziale and they were going to say his Requiem when the Priory was attacked by a mob. Today’s Italian press and sociology lecturers are jumping on the bandwagon and attacking the Extraordinary Form as being somehow too helpful towards dead nazis.

  3. BBC has it that he died unrepentant. If true, that’s where a major problem lies.

  4. phlogiston says:

    This story says he confessed and was absolved. If that’s true, holding a funeral for such a person, while impolitic, is consistent with Catholic teaching. http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/1.552563

  5. JP Borberg says:

    I’m looking forward to the Pope refusing funerals to unrepentant sinners of the left.

  6. Bev says:

    What is so strange about this? He was a sinner who got to know a SSPX priest who was surely helping guide this poor soul so that he would die a holy death. The world does not forgive but Christians do. Although not permitted to hold a funeral in any church in Rome (probably out of respect for those who still feel the hurt of his evil deeds), no prohibition was issued for churches outside the city, including the suburb of Albano Laziale, where the funeral was held.

  7. COLRE says:

    There is no obligation to bury enemies of the church. Nazism was the greatest persecuter of the Church in the modern era, and it is right that its notorious adherents be kept at arm’s length. Even if he did repent, surely it would have been possible to have a minimalist graveside service and at a later stage a private Mass.

    I ‘m afraid that the SSPX have a blind spot about Nazis. I have personal knowledge of at least 2 SSPX priests that have offered Mass for the repose of the soul of Adolf Hitler.

  8. MikeM says:

    If he did, in fact, confess his sins, SSPX was right and the Vatican was wrong. I have to assume that Haaretz has their explanation a little off, because if the Pope is going around denying Catholic funerals to repentant Catholics on the basis of avoiding “public disturbance,” that’s very upsetting. However horrible someone’s past is, Jesus calls us to welcome them home, should they repent of their sins. Surely Pope Francis wouldn’t suggest that having been a Nazi is a sin beyond Our Lord’s capacity for forgiveness.

  9. Microtouch says:

    The story has been removed from the linked site.

  10. mark says:

    Far from confessing his sins, Priebke gave instructions to his lawyer to release, after his death, his ‘testimony’, which makes clear that he had NOT repented of his war crimes (or sins). In his ‘testimony’, Priebke also takes the opportunity to re-state his denial of the holocaust.
    But a Fr Abrahamowicz seems to be claiming to have given absolution to Priebke. Of course, he may be inventing this detail; but, even if he is not, I wonder if he the necessary authority to hear confessions? Some years ago it was reported that the SSPX had expelled him, for his holocaust denial.
    The SSPX people in Albano Laziale who had hoped to carry out the ceremony may now be thinking better of their decision? Or perhaps they welcome all publicity, even this publicity in which they emerge so poorly, surrounded by so much violence.
    Today is the 70th anniversary of the Nazis’ clearance of the Rome ghetto, which was then followed by over 1000 Jews being sent to the camps in Auschwitz and Birkenau. Only 7 of them returned after the war had ended. Six months later, Priebke of the SS played a very key role in the execution of 355 men and boys at Rome’s Ardeatine Caves.
    I pay my respect today to the victims.

  11. VexillaRegis says:

    “But a Fr Abrahamowicz seems to be claiming to have given absolution to Priebke.” How strange that this particular SSPX priest has a jewish surname!

  12. Henry Belton says:

    They’ve jumped the shark completely.

  13. mamajen says:

    Dr. Peters posted about this on Facebook, and basically Rome was completely right to deny a funeral. Personal repentance, which may or may not have taken place, does not make up for manifest sin. He said it’s clear cut, and I agree.

    We already know how the SSPX feel about Rome and Canon Law, but it’s still rather shocking that they thought this was a good idea.

  14. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    VexillaRegis wrote: “’But a Fr Abrahamowicz seems to be claiming to have given absolution to Priebke.’ How strange that this particular SSPX priest has a jewish surname!”

    It certainly does appear to be a Jewish surname and it certainly does seem remarkable. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were also some Polish families of that name whose Christian origins go back to their founders. (After all, Abrahamowicz would be rendered in English Son of Abraham, and Christian families as well as Jewish ones have bestowed that given name on their sons, for example, that of our sixteenth President.)

    But the name does stand out a bit.

  15. DavidR says:

    “Lord, I thank thee that I am not like other men, like this publican here….”

    I must admit that they do seem to be fond of shooting themselves in the foot lately.

  16. mamajen says:

    To clarify: Personal repentance does not make up for manifest grave sin insofar as funerals are concerned. Obviously no sin is too great for God to forgive. Manifest sin requires manifest repentance. It’s not difficult to understand why.

  17. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    If Fr. Abrahamowicz was responsible for some sort of requiem-related event for Priebke…well, he was expelled from the SSPX some time ago. I think the headline of this post is rather unfortunate; a question mark might have been helpful.

  18. magister63 says:

    Fr. Abrahamowicz is of Jewish ancestry.

  19. Palladio says:

    According to the BBC, “Correction 16 October: An earlier version of this story mentioned Don Floriano Abrahamowicz and inaccurately described him as a St Pius X priest. He has in fact been expelled by the order.”

  20. pmullane says:

    “If he did, in fact, confess his sins, SSPX was right and the Vatican was wrong.”

    If he made a confession to an SSPX priest he made no confession at all, and The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was right and the schismatic SSPX was wrong. Another good reason why the status of the SSPX should be clarified, and why the priests and bishops of the SSPX should hand their heads in shame that they pretend to offer forgiveness of sins invalidly.

  21. pmullane says:

    Palladio:

    “Don Floriano Abrahamowicz and inaccurately described him as a St Pius X priest. He has in fact been expelled by the order.”

    Too perfect.

    Facture begets fracture. Who gets to decide that this priest is beyond the pale? Who is the Pope of ‘Eternal Rome’.

  22. mamajen says:

    After reading through comments, I looked up the priest. Wikipedia, FWIW:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florian_Abrahamowicz

    My next question, then: Who on earth let him use the church?

  23. Palladio says:

    pmullane, yes. I am afraid that that is the sad truth of it. That is why I find the spirit of it protestant, the evidence for which is, to me, quite clear.

    I repeat: for the fullness of the faith in liturgy support FSSP. Become, as I am, a member of its C. S. P. FSSP, always Cum Petro, is growing everywhere, and celebrating 25 years.

  24. Lepidus says:

    And yet Teddy Kennedy, whose love of abortion caused more deaths than both sides + civilians in WWII gets a Catholic funeral.

    Let me rephrase that. “…gets a Catholic funeral by an ARCHBISHOP!”. Not making a statement on whether or not either of the men deserve to be buried from the Church, but in either case if the Church decides that a funeral Mass is appropriate, it should be a quiet affair done by a simple unknown priest in a simple parish. No cameras allowed.

  25. pmullane says:

    Palladio, thank you. The FSSP are, as far as I can gather, a wonderful and faithful organisation, humbling in their work.

  26. APX says:

    If he made a confession to an SSPX priest he made no confession at all, and The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was right and the schismatic SSPX was wrong. Another good reason why the status of the SSPX should be clarified, and why the priests and bishops of the SSPX should hand their heads in shame that they pretend to offer forgiveness of sins invalidly.

    Though, if the guy was dying, SSPX priests can validly absolve. As much as I don’t support the SSPX, let’s not be hasty to decide whether or not one was validly absolved. Arguing over this is ridiculous, as all we can do is speculate, which seems like a pointless waste of time right. God only knows where he is now.

  27. mamajen says:

    Can. 1184 §1 Church funeral rites are to be denied to the following, unless they gave some signs of repentance before death:

    1° notorious apostates, heretics and schismatics;

    2° those who for anti-christian motives chose that their bodies be cremated;

    3° other manifest sinners to whom a Church funeral could not be granted without public scandal to the faithful.

    §2 If any doubt occurs, the local Ordinary is to be consulted and his judgement followed.

  28. jhayes says:

    The SSPX has a press release on its Italian website in which it says that a baptized Catholic who has repented and confessed his sins is entitled to a funeral. It asks journalists not to confuse a pious act with an ideological statement.

    “La Fraternità San Pio X ha ricevuto in queste ore la richiesta da parte dei familiari del signor Erich Priebke di poter celebrare le esequie del controverso ex ufficiale tedesco già condannato dalla giustizia italiana per l’atroce eccidio delle Fosse Ardeatine.

    Un cristiano che è stato battezzato e che ha ricevuto i sacramenti della Confessione e dell’Eucaristia, qualunque siano stati le sue colpe ed i suoi peccati, nella misura in cui muore riconciliato con Dio e con la Chiesa ha diritto alla celebrazione della S. Messa e alle esequie.

    Con la presente ribadiamo il nostro rifiuto di ogni forma di antisemitismo e di odio razziale ma anche dell’odio sotto tutte le sue forme. La religione cattolica è quella della misericordia e del perdono.

    Questo funerale si sarebbe dovuto svolgere in forma privata, senza alcuna enfasi o strumentalizzazione mediatica.

    Nell’augurare un buon lavoro a tutti i signori giornalisti restiamo convinti della necessità di non scambiare un atto di pietà cristiana con un gesto ideologico, la pietà e la misericordia non possono essere intermittenti, ma devono guidare sempre la Chiesa di Cristo.

    Con la presente smentiamo risolutamente qualunque altra presunta dichiarazione di membri della Fraternità raccolte in queste ore dai giornali.

    Il Distretto d’Italia della Fraternità San Pio X”

    http://www.sanpiox.it/public/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1092:comunicato-stampa&catid=53&Itemid=50

  29. Palladio says:

    pmullane, you are more than welcome. Yes, FSSP, semper cum Petro, is fully a part of the Church, and their charism is the traditional liturgy. Join C. S. P.: it’s a matter of praying for FSSP, not of finding their still all-too-rare priests. If they would allow deacons not en route to priesthood, I’d do it! But numbers are growing–as at Norcia, which celebrates both Forms–within tradition, and I am especially hopeful for FSSP.

  30. Random Friar says:

    As much as I hate the “irregular” situation of the SSPX, on a deathbed, and in this case a rogue priest, ecclesia supplet.

    His Wiki is fascinating. He has two other siblings who are Catholic priests in good standing, including:

    One of them, Dom Johannes Paul Abrahamowicz, was prior (under-abbot) of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Paul Outside the Walls from 2005 to 2009. He was webmaster of the ATLAS of the Benedictine Order OSB-International website until January 2008. At Saint Paul outside the Walls he composed the official hymn of the Pauline Year,[6] and gave interviews on ecumenical aspects of the Year.[7][8] In December 2009 he returned to his monastery in Austria.

  31. msc says:

    No surprise here: Lefevre was anti-semitic (abundant evidence easily enough found through reliable web sites), Fellay in anti-semitic, and SSPX “Bishop” Richard Williamson is an unrepentant Holocaust denier. Anti-semitism seems to be disproportionately present in the SSPX, although to be fair there was an unacceptable amount of it in the Church throughout the twentieth century, making Nostra Aetate necessary.

  32. pmullane says:

    APX & Random Friar are, of course, correct. The point stands however, that the Society offer invalid confessions and if, say, a former Nazi Death Camp Commandant converts and decides to make his peace with God in confession and chooses his local SSPX priest to confess to he makes no confession at all. All the more reason to clarify their position.

  33. Robbie says:

    I guess this move by an expelled SSPX priest is somewhat comparable with the Catholic Church allowing a funeral Mass to be said for someone who murdered another and promoted abortion at any cost. I’ve forgotten, where there protests and mobs outside the funeral of Ted Kennedy?

  34. robtbrown says:

    Lepidus

    The Kennedy funeral mass was not said by the archbishop–although he was present.

  35. Robbie says:

    This is a bit astray of the topic, but SSPX confessions are invalid. Starting with that, what happens to a person who decides, at the end of his or her life, to make a full confession to an SSPX priest but has no idea the priest is SSPX or that there are serious differences between the SSPX and Rome? For that matter, the person has never heard of the SSPX. As far as the person is concerned, a priest is a priest. Does God not accept that confession?

  36. robtbrown says:

    It is true that the SSPX does not have faculties (unless supplied privately by the pope)–but that is not the same ss saying we know their absolutions are invalid

  37. Stranger and stranger: The NCReporter’s on-line site has a short piece in favor of giving the Nazi a Church funeral. Go far enough out and the fringes meet.

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/bury-dead-0

  38. Papabile says:

    Manifest public sinner…. Rome made the right decision here with respect to Priebke.

    It would have been helpful if the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston had done the same for Kennedy. Because unlike this, scandal did occur as a result of his inaction.

    Be that as it may, on one’s deathbed, even a laicized Priest who molested children can validly absolve – or an orthodox or Coptic Priest for that matter. If he received absolution from a former SSPX Priest on his deathbed, the presumption is it’s valid as canon law specifically extends jurisdiction for those types of absolutions.

    Ecclesia supplet.

  39. robtbrown says:

    Robbie

    See above: Even a laicized priest can give valid absolution in danger of death.

  40. bdouglass says:

    Does anyone know for sure if the Cardinal Vicar is the proper authority to forbid a funeral for this man? And, that would just be for public funerals as I understand it, not the private type that seems to have been planned and disrupted by a crass mob.

  41. pmullane says:

    RobtBrown –

    But it is an opinion held by learned men, including our host, that absolutions by SSPX priests lack validity. Leaving that rabbit hole aside, however, can we agree that this type of situation is exactly why the position of the SSPX needs to be clarified, and if the Holy Father decides that there is a formal schism, that is a prudent judgement by a proper authority, not an unfair ‘smack down’?

  42. Nan says:

    I’d read about the refused funeral before. And Argentina doesn’t want to bury him with his wife, which is sad.

    When I clicked the link I saw nothing that made sense because I was pretty sure that Fr. wasn’t worried about Kylie Minogue and her boyfriend breaking up.

  43. robtbrown says:

    Pmullane,

    1. A late friend, former dean of the faculty of canon law at the Angelicum, didn’t think the SSPX absolutions were invalid.

    2. In so far, as I have the STB, STL, and STD, why do you exclude me from your “learned men” category?

    3. Validity of Absolution from the point of view of:

    a. Faculties
    b. Danger of Death
    c. Ecclesia Supplet.

    There is little doubt that the SSPX lacks A (unless given privately by the pope). B is obviously relevant only in certain situations and is expressly given by the pope in canon law.

    C is used by the SSPX to insist they absolve validly acc to cc 144. IMHO, it should be used to say that validity is certainly a possibility. I realize there are some who trictly interpret the text to exclude the SSPX situation, but IMHO this contradicts the reason the text exists.

  44. pmullane says:

    RobtBrown,

    Sorry you misunderstand me, the nature of whether their absolutions is, at best, open to debate. Thus the need for a clarification. Im sure that your friend at the Angelicum and Fr Zuhlsdorf could have an interesting discussion over cigars on the topic. I am convinced by one argument, you seem to be by another. Its not the topic of the post and its a hare I’m not willing to chase on this forum.

    You can rest assured, in all sincerity (and I know that its difficult to sound sincere in writing without sounding condescending) that having read your thought on this blog I consider you far more learned than I.

  45. mark says:

    To bdlouglass:-
    By “crass mob”, I suppose you must intend Priebke’s family, his lawyer and the SSPX seminary? After all, it was they who planned the private funeral. But do you mean that they also arranged the disruption? For further publicity? I must say it hadn’t occurred to me. But you may be right.

  46. Supertradmum says:

    Why are we throwing stones at the SSPX when our own Cardinal O”Malley gave a state huge funeral to Ted Kennedy, one of the worst public sinners in recent times and unrepentant? The holocaust of millions of dead babies in the States from abortion rivals that horrible holocaust of the Jews.

  47. Cosmos says:

    It seems to me that if you are going to talk about God’s radical mercy shaking us out of our comfort zones, then you need to bury the guy and pray for his soul if he repented. You could certainly explain why you were doing it: i.e., God’s radical mercy.

    Wait, are we suddenly worried about being misunderstood? About making a mess?

    In all honesty, I have no idea how to judge this story.

  48. SpittleFleckedNutty says:

    Holy lio!

  49. inexcels says:

    Supertradmum said (and others expressed similar sentiments):
    Why are we throwing stones at the SSPX when our own Cardinal O”Malley gave a state huge funeral to Ted Kennedy, one of the worst public sinners in recent times and unrepentant?

    Because two wrongs don’t make a right? This is one of the most basic logical fallacies out there. When Party X does something bad, it isn’t suddenly OK, or even less bad, just because Party Y did it too. Not to mention, this post isn’t about Ted Kennedy. If you think the SSPX’s actions are defensible then stick to defending them instead of trying to deflect attention away from the topic at hand.

  50. Several points:

    1. As shocking as it sounds, there’s no rule against praying for the salvation of any human being, living or deceased. While a Mass for the repose of the soul of Hitler/Stalin/Mao/ Robespierre/Dahmer/fill-in-the-blank may be shocking–and perhaps a bad idea to announce–I am not aware of any prohibition against offering Mass for the repose of the soul of anyone. I welcome a citation to the contrary.

    2. Canon Law is clear the “ordinary” gets to decide whether a funeral can be held for a manifest sinner. The SSPX was wrong to defy the pope on this one. I’ll bet real money the old code had similar provisions. Again, a citation is welcome.

    3. Whether the man confessed is supremely important for his immortal soul, but not relevant to this question. Because…it isn’t. Because of the question of public scandal. My guess is that had he made a very public abjuration or confession or whatever you want to call it, then the question would be different.

    4. Whatever else can be said about the appalling tendency to deny the Holocaust, I’m not sure one can immediately call it a sin. Obviously there are sins that attach to it–but to be crystal clear, those are the sins–not denying a manifest fact of history. The underlying motive for denying a fact of history is probably where the sin lies. This may seem a quibble, but if we’re going to talk about sins that imperil people’s souls, we should be clear. It’s not a sin to be wrong about history, but it is a sin to lie, and to hate people, and to give approval to vicious crimes, etc.

  51. mamajen says:

    Supertradmum,

    I’m surprised you’re resorting to that defense–the left uses it all the time.

  52. Geoffrey says:

    Aside from was the confession/absolution valid or not, etc., I think the issue here is Priebke’s Holocaust-denying beliefs. Did he repent of that? Going to Confession means nothing in this regard; surely SSPX Bishop Williamson goes to Confession, and yet maintains his Holocaust-denying views.

  53. robtbrown says:

    Inexels

    It is not really a matter of two wrongs but rather of inconsistent use of authority.

  54. robtbrown says:

    Make that inconsistent and unjust use

  55. robtbrown says:

    Geoffrey

    I recommend comment #4 by Fr Fox

  56. Shane says:

    @Supertradmum

    We are throwing stones at them because they (or the priest/congregation in question) are in the wrong. Bringing up O’Malley…what’s the point? Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  57. inexcels says:

    robtbrown:
    It is not really a matter of two wrongs but rather of inconsistent use of authority.

    Everyone here (or most of us, anyway) know there is inconsistent and unjust use of authority in the Church today. No argument there. But, that still doesn’t make it relevant to whether the SSPX’s actions are defensible or not.

    Lest anyone put words in my mouth, I don’t have an opinion on this matter. It sounds like a complicated situation and I lack the facts to make a sound judgment. But if the SSPX has wronged, trying to deflect attention from it is pretty underhanded, and as mamajen pointed out, a favorite tactic of the Left.

  58. Paul M. says:

    “Does anyone know for sure if the Cardinal Vicar is the proper authority to forbid a funeral for this man?”

    I think that’s a definite yes. The man was domiciled in Rome at death. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24493079. Per Canon 1177, funerals take place in the parish church where the person died unless the family chooses a different church with the consent of the relevant pastors. The Cardinal Vicar has ordinary vicarious jurisdiction over the Diocese of Rome. Per Canon 1184, the Cardinal Vicar, as a local ordinary, would make the decision in doubtful cases about holding the funeral in the parish church of the decedent or any other church in the Diocese of Rome.

    Regarding the Diocese of Albano, it appears that the bishop there, too, forbid the funeral from taking place there. See http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1304352.htm. And he certainly has the authority to do so. Canon 1177 § 2; Canon 1184 § 2.

    So, it appears that the appropriate authorities have made their decisions.

    “And, that would just be for public funerals as I understand it . . . .”

    I don’t think so. Canons 1184 and 1185, which require the denial of funerals to manifest unrepentant sinners, provides no distinction between public or “private” funerals but instead applies to “ecclesiastical funerals” without restriction and the “funeral Mass.” If you have authority, though, for “private” ecclesiastical funerals being outside the remit of the local ordinary, please provide it.

  59. Robbie says:

    Isn’t it important to note this Mass was said by a priest who has been expelled from the SSPX? I think so. If that’s the case, then this has ZERO to do with the SSPX. And by the way, O’Malley certainly wasn’t expelled from anything when he attended Kennedy’s funeral.

  60. cajuncath says:

    msc,

    Collective anti-Jewish hatred is a serious charge, and it is calumny to charge it against somebody who is not guilty of such matters. I have yet to see any hard evidence that either Marcel Lefebrve or Bernard Fellay are guilty of sinful anti-Jewish hatred. How about providing some real evidence?

    And if we’re going to tackle this issue, why don’t you evaluate the various comments of Ambrose, Augustine, and Chrysostom regarding Jews? Are these renowned saints and doctors of the Church also guilty?

    Then we have Pope Paul IV’s official magisterial teaching in Cum Nimis Absurdum. Is he guilty also?

  61. mamajen says:

    I’m interested to know the timing of the official statement from the SSPX in Italy, which was posted to their website the same day as the funeral. The Catholic News article that Paul M. linked to above lays it out pretty clearly–Rome said no public funeral. Rome did not prohibit private prayers for the dead. The article says “After agreeing to host the funeral, the Italian district of the Society of St. Pius X issued a statement…” I can understand if they issued the statement in an attempt to explain themselves after it was discovered, but if they themselves created the scandal by making it public, that’s particularly inexcusable.

  62. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I agree that this should not be laid at the feet of the SSPX. This priest was expelled. But it is a horrible scandal to provide public obsequies to a man who presided over the Ardeatine massacre. Even Nazi soldiers vomited while having to watch such wanton slaughter of even teenagers being shot for no reason. This atrocity is still very raw to the Romans, and the priest who was shot among the men and left to rot in the caves with no Mass or burial is considered a saint. It is also clear from Priebke’s will that he showed no repentance.

  63. mamajen says:

    Isn’t it important to note this Mass was said by a priest who has been expelled from the SSPX? I think so. If that’s the case, then this has ZERO to do with the SSPX.

    I haven’t found anything stating he was part of the funeral. The funeral (attempt) was in an SSPX chapel and they issued an official statement on their website defending the decision. If they worked with a priest they expelled in order to make this happen, then it’s even stranger yet.

  64. MarkG says:

    There is a lot of conflicting information about this event on the new wires and at this point most of it unconfirmed or contradictory. So, in this case, it’s probably best to wait until all the dust settles and confirmed facts are brought forward by reputable news agencies.

    However, I am aware that there are those in the SSPX (or expelled from the SSPX) that are very anti-Semitic to the point of Holocaust denial. Hopefully they will change their opinions and recant, or leave the SSPX, or be expelled.

    It’s sad that the TLM movement has to be scarred by anti-Semitism.

  65. rbbadger says:

    I have heard that the SSPX had celebrated public requiem Masses for the repose of the soul of Marshal Philippe Petain, leader of Vichy France at its parish of Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet in Paris.

    Anti-Semitism has long been a problem for the SSPX. When Bishop Williamson was rector of its seminary in America, a prospective seminarian named Daniel Oppenheimer visited. Bishop Williamson told him that “if you come to this seminary, keep in mind there’s always the potential of an oven waiting for you by the lake”. Fr Daniel Oppenheimer was eventually ordained a priest of the SSPX, though happily he is with the FSSP now.

    I have never been fully comfortable with the SSPX. I’m grateful there are so many places where one can encounter the TLM in all its glory without having to deal with the extremist politics of the SSPX.

  66. Geoffrey says:

    robtbrown:

    In regards to Fr Fox’s comment #4… I recall His Holiness the Pope Emeritus saying that had he known of SSPX Bishop Williamson’s Holocaust-denying beliefs, his excommunication would not have been lifted. Whether or not denying Nazi atrocities is a sin is not for me to say; but it would seem that Holy Mother Church has no tolerance for it.

  67. John of Chicago says:

    “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” (The Tempest, Act II Scene II)
    but it seems in this instance, not so strange at all.

  68. magister63 says:

    rbbadger- Daniel Oppenheimer arrived at Econe on a motorcycle, not Winona, and was not ordained a priest by the SSPX. His departure from the Society was not for reasons of ancestry. One of the spiritual fathers of the Society is Venerable Francis Libermann, who was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family. He eventually converted and became a priest. He founded a small community which eventually was joined to the Holy Ghost Fathers, Archbishop Lefebvre’s community. His spirit is in the rule and constitutions of the SSPX, and he was much admired and his works studied, appreciated, and beautifully commented on by the Archbishop and Bishop Williamson. Anti semitism is only a problem for the Society as homosexuality is a problem for the Church- individual priests may be infected, but not the institution itself. Please check your facts before commenting.

  69. jhayes says:

    Mamajen wrote I’m interested to know the timing of the official statement from the SSPX in Italy, which was posted to their website the same day as the funeral

    The press release on the SSPX website (see Italian text in my 8:12 am post) doesn’t have a timestamp but speaks of the Mass in the past tense:

    “si sarebbe dovuto svolgere” means “was to take place” [in private form, without any magniloquence or media exploitation]

  70. LA says:

    Oh, the irony! Didn’t Pope Francis want people to “make a mess”, to shake up the rules, to show God’s love to the outcasts of society? Yet his own diocese forbade a funeral to a man who was practicing his faith in his later years, and the SSPX had to step in to give the man what he had a right to: a Catholic funeral Mass. As Fr. Z. often says: there’s no sin too big to be forgiven. I support the SSPX’s decision to give this man a Christian funeral. God bless the SSPX.

  71. LA:

    You have provided new information: that the Nazi who died was “practicing his faith in his later years.” That seems to contradict the claim that he was unrepentant. Would you be so kind as to provide some attestation for this information? That is to say, where you read or heard it–unless, of course, you know it first hand? Thanks!

  72. LA says:

    Fr. Fox,
    Thank you for asking.
    “Giachini has said he merely wanted a Catholic funeral for his client, whom he said had confessed his sins and been absolved.”
    http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/1.552563

  73. Imrahil says:

    A note:

    For all we know, the SSPX did not, in fact, disobey the local ordinary with holding the funeral at all, because the Cardinal Vicar’s decision (whether or not upon consulting the Pope) was given in the capacity of local ordinary of Rome. The funeral, however, took place in Albano.

  74. LA says:

    Also,
    “The house arrest conditions in which Priebke spent his last years raised the ire of Jewish groups in Italy. Three years ago they protested the court’s decision to allow the Nazi criminal to go shopping and attend church services. Though Priebke was sentenced to life, this was commuted to full house arrest due to his medical condition.”
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4439459,00.html

  75. LA:

    Thank you for the citation. But I must say, what you cite is not the same thing as saying he was “practicing his faith in his later years.” There is a huge difference between saying that, and saying the man went to confession and was absolved–that may have taken place the day of his death, and even minutes before his death.

    As I said above, as wonderful as it is that he would confess and be absolved, that’s not sufficient to address the question of public scandal.

  76. Michael_Thoma says:

    For anyone interested, Dom Augustine (Oppenheimer), CRNJ:
    http://catholicforum.fisheaters.com/index.php?topic=3324794.0;wap2

  77. LA says:

    Fr. Fox,
    I had a feeling you’d reply saying that, so I provided the second reference that said he was attending “church services” 3 years ago. I think given all reports, the circumstantial evidence indicates that he was a practicing Catholic, at least in his last years. Perhaps even for many years.

  78. mamajen says:

    jhayes,

    Thank you–that seems to clear things up then.

  79. ladytatslace says:

    LA says:
    16 October 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Fr. Fox,
    I had a feeling you’d reply saying that, so I provided the second reference that said he was attending “church services” 3 years ago. I think given all reports, the circumstantial evidence indicates that he was a practicing Catholic, at least in his last years. Perhaps even for many years.

    Just because someone attends “church services” does not make them a practicing Catholic. There are many examples of that here in the USA.

  80. jhayes says:

    Imrahil wrote: For all we know, the SSPX did not, in fact, disobey the local ordinary with holding the funeral at all

    I believe SSPX churches and clergy are not subject to the local ordinary. I believe that is generally true of religious order and personal prelature churches – with some exceptions if religious order clergy are asked to staff existing diocesan churches.

  81. msc says:

    cajuncath: If you haven’t seen any evidence for Lefevre and Fellay, you’re not looking very hard. I don’t believe in loading down the comments sections of this or any blog with footnotes.

    Yes, Augustine, Jerome, et al. were guilty of anti-semitism. But given the historical context, it is somewhat different in effect. Cum nimis absurdum was also. There were Church fathers who were also deeply misogynistic. That doesn’t devalue of invalidate all their teachings, but one cannot deny that they fell into these errors. The point is that the Church has come to realize the error of anti-semitism, the fact that the Jews are our elder brothers in faith, and that anti-semitism is actually deeply non-Christian. The faith and our understanding of it grows and changes over time. That’s why there are still theologians, Popes issuing encyclicals etc. Nostra aetate supercedes Cum nimis absurdum. Today there is not the anti-semitism in the Church that there once was, but it looks like it is more widespread in SSPX.

  82. Cordelio says:

    I am an SSPX supporter (which I state for the benefit of mamajen, to be acquitted of any charge of “sneakiness”). While a lot of potentially relevant information on this topic is still unknown (at least to me), what I have been able to find out leaves me concerned that the Italian District acted imprudently here, at the very least.

    The official statement indicates, essentially, that it was an injustice to deny Priebke a Catholic funeral. I fully credit this as the true motive of the Italian District, and have seen nothing to make me believe that some sort of SSPX pro-nazism or antisemitism was involved in any way. Given that expressing Catholic doctrine, such as the necessity of conversion for the Jews or the revocation of the Mosaic covenant, is considered antisemitism by the modern media, Catholics should be especially wary of throwing these titles around on the media’s word.

    I do not think that Holocaust denial, of itself, can justly be grounds for denial of a Catholic funeral or burial. However, it is not clear to me that this was the grounds on which Cardinal Vallini’s prohibition (whatever its exact scope) was based.

    Priebke seems to indeed have been unrepentant (at least publicly) for his role in the Ardeatine Caves massacre. Perhaps this was the basis? I am not competent to say whether that suffices to make one a manifest sinner. The massacre was not committed publicly, I suppose – hence the selection of the caves in the first place. Also, I am not under the impression that Priebke was a regular SSPX “parishioner.” If he regularly attended a Roman parish, confessed, and was never required to publicly repent or threatened with denial of a regular Catholic funeral, it would seem unjust to suddenly deny him one after he died.

    Having explained reasons why the Italian District might have acted morally, under some circumstances, my biggest problem concerns the following news report from earlier in the week:

    Rome’s archdiocese made it official Monday, saying it had told Giachini to have the funeral at home “in strict privacy” and that Pope Francis’ vicar for Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, had prohibited any Rome church from celebrating it.

    But Giachini refused, pressing instead for a private church Mass. The archdiocese responded by reminding all Roman priests that they must abide by Vallini’s decision.” CBS News Story

    Was Priebke not actually denied a Catholic funeral, but merely one celebrated in a church? It sounds like a funeral could have been celebrated at home in “strict privacy,” which given the public disturbance seems like a more prudent course of action, anyway. Perhaps the news report is misleading, or I am not considering an important detail. Maybe I am underestimating the spiritual significance of having a funeral celebrated in a church, but the option of having a private funeral, at home, seems like a prudential and considerate indulgence – even if Priebke was rightfully entitled to a funeral in a church.

  83. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Cordelio, thank you for your comment!

    I disagree on one matter:

    I do not think that Holocaust denial, of itself, can justly be grounds for denial of a Catholic funeral or burial.

    I think it can.

    It constitutes adherence to an untruth, and while this specific truth is not one of the faith region, it is adhering to an untruth nonetheless – an untruth which to hold has been by the responsible states excepted from freedom of opinion and declared criminal.

  84. mark says:

    Two indications have been put forward (above) that Priebke may have confessed to a priest, possibly close to his death. However, the first indication comes in a statement from the lawyer Giachini, who seems to have played (and, indeed, to be still playing) an odd and controversial role throughout this saga; while the second indication comes in a statement from an ex-SSPX priest, who seems to have an axe of his own to grind. I don’t see why we should take either of these statements as being particularly credible?
    And then LA (above) has found a further suggestion, that Priebke might have gone to church, if only his house-arrest hadn’t been enforced. But then that, I suppose, is the point of house arrest. Can LA tell us if Priebke used to participate in the Mass by means of television? It’s how my grandmother used to join in the Mass; she couldn’t get out much either.
    So much for the speculation in support of the possibility that Priebke may have been a practicing Catholic in his later years (or, at least, close to his death).
    However, and set against all this speculation, we have the simple fact of Priebke’s seven page ‘testimony’, which he gave on his 100th birthday in an interview, and which the lawyer Giachini published to the world on Priebke’s death. We must assume he did so on Priebke’s request.
    In Priebke’s ‘testimony’ he tells us, and with some pride, that he has nothing to repent in his past; that the Jews deserved their persecution; that there were no gas chambers in the concentration camps; that the idea of gas chambers was invented by the allies (who even built one at Dachau, to support their lie); and so on and so on in the same vein. Seven pages of holocaust denial. He doesn’t even bother to mention the atrocity for which he was finally tracked down: the massacre of 335 men and women in Rome’s Ardeatine Caves.
    What Priebke evidently wanted, at his end, was firstly to tell us (yet again) his monstrous lie of holocaust denial; and secondly to engineer a ‘send off’ in high publicity with his followers fighting for his ‘honor’ in the streets of Rome.
    Others may consider this a Christian end to a Christian life, but I remain doubtful of it.

  85. mamajen says:

    From a Canon Law standpoint, it doesn’t matter whether the confession was valid, invalid or took place at all…just as it wouldn’t matter if Nancy Pelosi went to confession right before receiving communion if the last impression she left the public with was that she supports abortion.

    That the SSPX in Italy apparently disagrees with that is very puzzling. That they would go ahead after the issues they’ve had with antisemitism among their ranks is even moreso.

  86. LA:

    I’m sorry, but let’s stick to what the sources you cited actually say. The article says a court gave permission for him to go shopping and attend church services. That is pretty routine with house arrest. There’s absolutely nothing in the article you cited that says this was anything other than a routine exception; or that he ever actually attended.

    Look, the man was in the freaking SS! Finding evidence of repentance and a change of heart shouldn’t be this difficult. How about a public statement in which he admitted his terrible errors and crimes, and asks for forgiveness?

    Instead, we have a court order permitting church attendance and his lawyer saying he confessed (most likely on his deathbed). I certainly hope he did. But as proof he was a changed man? Very thin gruel.

  87. Paul M. says:

    Imrahil said, “For all we know, the SSPX did not, in fact, disobey the local ordinary with holding the funeral at all, because the Cardinal Vicar’s decision (whether or not upon consulting the Pope) was given in the capacity of local ordinary of Rome. The funeral, however, took place in Albano.”

    The Bishop of Albano, Msgr. Marcello Semeraro, said, “the crime was public and notorious, the lack of conversion was public and notorious, and the scandal it would have raised in the Christian community was public and notorious.” http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1304352.htm

    Sounds to me like he agrees with the Cardinal Vicar regarding the inappropriateness of holding the funeral.

  88. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says:
    I disagree on one matter:

    I do not think that Holocaust denial, of itself, can justly be grounds for denial of a Catholic funeral or burial.

    I think it can.

    It constitutes adherence to an untruth, and while this specific truth is not one of the faith region, it is adhering to an untruth nonetheless – an untruth which to hold has been by the responsible states excepted from freedom of opinion and declared criminal.

    German law has no relevance in the matter of a Christian burial.

  89. robtbrown says:

    Paul M says,

    The Bishop of Albano, Msgr. Marcello Semeraro, said, “the crime was public and notorious, the lack of conversion was public and notorious, and the scandal it would have raised in the Christian community was public and notorious.”

    Completely agree. And it should be applied to “Catholics” pushing abortion and homosexual “marriage”.

  90. robtbrown says:

    msc says:

    No surprise here: Lefevre was anti-semitic (abundant evidence easily enough found through reliable web sites), Fellay in anti-semitic, and SSPX “Bishop” Richard Williamson is an unrepentant Holocaust denier. Anti-semitism seems to be disproportionately present in the SSPX, although to be fair there was an unacceptable amount of it in the Church throughout the twentieth century, making Nostra Aetate necessary.

    French anti-semitism is a bit unique. The French Catholics associate being French with being Catholic. Jews are not Catholic, therefore, they are not French. Ditto the Arabs, who of course have now replaced the Jews in the French psyche.

    That notwithstanding, I have told traditionalist friends that I don’t understand their pre-occupation with blaming Jews for everything. Karl Rahner wasn’t a Jew, neither was Schillebeeckx nor Kueng.

  91. pmullane says:

    “The Bishop of Albano, Msgr. Marcello Semeraro, said, “the crime was public and notorious, the lack of conversion was public and notorious, and the scandal it would have raised in the Christian community was public and notorious.”

    Completely agree. And it should be applied to “Catholics” pushing abortion and homosexual “marriage”.”

    These words are true.

  92. LA says:

    For the record, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s father died in a Nazi concentration camp. Which makes the SSPX’s mercy towards the dead SS Officer even more amazing.

    Fr. Fox,

    I realize that there is not much to go on in the media reports. Even if he only went to confession on his deathbed, he should still get a funeral Mass. When it comes to God’s mercy, He gives it to us even when we have the thinnest of contrition… imperfect contrition. We give God the “thin gruel” you mention, yet He absolves and washes our souls completely with His Precious Blood.

  93. LA says:

    Another thought – how many times have American soldiers have been ordered by their commanding officers to shoot or bomb civilians? Those soldiers who obey, even those unjust orders, should they be refused Catholic burials, too?

    Someone who sincerely doesn’t believe the Holocaust number of 6,000,000, or doesn’t believe there were gas chambers in the concentration camps, is not committing a sin. He or she might just have the wrong historical facts. This is no reason to refuse someone a Catholic funeral!

  94. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown,

    thanks for the reminder. I was referring not to German, but to what I presumed to be Italian law (along the lines of “all over Europe the same”). Interestingly I was in the mainline wrong about that, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say Holocaust denial is legal under Italian law. You’d have to get an Italian lawyer for the details.

    Anyway, neither is the American interpretation of freedom-of-opinion relevant here.

    Can it be said – as the dear @L.A. does – that the existence of the Holocaust, the magnitude of the number of its victims (it is well-known that the reported six millions might also have been 5,5), the existence and functioning of gas chambers in Auschwitz, Treblinka etc. (not Dachau), is a matter of free historical inquiry?

  95. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says:

    Anyway, neither is the American interpretation of freedom-of-opinion relevant here.

    Exactly. Whether he receives a Catholic funeral is a matter for the Church, not for the Italian, German, or US govts.

    Of course, it is a matter of free historical inquiry, and Jews were not the only victims.

  96. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown,

    thank you for your answer.

    When I said – and I write this mainly to not be wrongly interpreted by anyone who might possibly read over this – “can it be said” etc., I was speaking rhethorically and am of the opinion “really not”. I will not go into it not to get off topic, but I saw I was misinterpretable on re-reading and wish to precisate my statement.

    Jews were not the only victims, but Jews do take a great percentage of the actual victims, and were one of only two populaces where the Nazi regime attempted actual extermination (the other being the Gypsies).

  97. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil

    I do not mean to minimize the holocaust or those Jewish victims. Ánd I think people like Bp Williamson actually produce the opposite effect they intend
    .

  98. Marie-Christine says:

    In a conversation with a traditionalist Catholic (SSPX) regarding the funeral of Priebke, I said I would pray for his victims and their families. The traditionalist immediately rounded on me saying that they deduced from my statement that I “wished Priebke in hell” and insisted on my reassuring them that I would pray for Priebke’s soul and that it was a “grave sin” not to. Priebke’s actions and those of the whole evil Nazi regime have always horrified me and my sympathies were always with their victims. However, as a Catholic, am I duty bound to pray for the soul of this Nazi murderer? [Duty bound? Perhaps it is better to say that it is a work of mercy to pray for the dead. Praying for the souls of those who in life had been great sinners wouldn’t be a waste of time.]