Excomm’d SSPX Bp. Williamson on Good Friday prayer: good points but calls Benedict XVI anti-semitic

Now, compare and contrast what Jacob Neusner wrote with what the excommunicated SSPX bishop Richard Williamson wrote.

Part of what Williamson writes, below, is rather interesting.  He makes some good points.  However, he steps over the line. 

My emphases and comments:

True Anti-Semitism

Eleison Comments XXXIV

Most people seeing how Pope Benedict XVI has changed the Church’s Good Friday prayer for the Jews will think he has been their friend, because the change was in a direction demanded by spokesmen of theirs, who made themselves heard. However, for any Catholic who has the Catholic Faith, Benedict XVI has been in this not their friend but their enemy. [There it is, folks.]

The difference is quite simply the difference between our brief life here below, and life everlasting: For purposes of this life, lasting for each of us, let us say, 70 years, he has been their friend, because by, for instance, taking out of the 1962 text the references to the Jews’ "blindness", "darkness" and "the veil over their hearts", he has softened the Church’s solemn criticism of their condition.. On the other hand by the same softening he will also have diminished Catholics’ awareness of how especially Jews need the charity of Catholics’ prayers. [I don’t think anyone who actually reads the new Good Friday prayers can come to that conclusion.  Folks, it is important to seek in the text what the text means.  Seek help of interpretation, of course, but read the texts.  Don’t just settle on what I or this exccommunicated bishop says.]

For indeed from Adam to world’s end, faith in the one and only Redeemer, to come or having come, can alone save any soul from eternal damnation, unless that soul lives without serious sin and is honestly ignorant of the Redeemer. But honest ignorance presents a particular difficulty for the Jews who had all the privileges of the Old Testament to prepare them for the coming of their Messiah, Jesus Christ, and who ever since have had to put "the veil over their hearts" in order not to recognize him in the multiple prophecies of their Old Testament, notably Isaiah LIII.  [Take note of what Williamson does: he places great emphasis on the image of the "veil".  He is saying that Jews really sort of know that Jesus is the Messiah, but they purposely blind themselves to the truth.  For Williamson, they are not honest.  I think that what Jews know and believe about Jesus is more complex.  Still, the poetic image of "veil" does indeed get at this tangled issue in a way, arguably, that the newer prayer does not.  The new prayer emphasized a different point.]

Therefore the recent Good Friday liturgy change, by diminishing Catholics’ awareness of that real "veil", etc, has done a disservice to Jews’ eternal salvation. [I don’t think that the Catholic people will necessarily have to remain ignorant of the "veil", if it is properly presented.] In this respect of the Catholic Faith, Benedict XVI has, objectively, shown himself to be against the Jews purely as Jews.  [This strikes me as being over the top.] Is there any other possible true definition of the expression "anti-semite" ?   [Williamson has just called Benedict XVI and "anti-semite".] Sacred Heart of Jesus, between now and world’s end, grant to your Church many martyrs to die for the eternal salvation of your racial kinsmen, beloved by you ! Kyrie eleison.

La Reja, Argentina posted by Bishop Richard Williamson at 11:41 PM

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  1. The SSPX seem to live as if the church was still in the Babylonian captivity of the 1970’s and 1980’s, and where they are the only faithful remnant holding on to orthodoxy and tradition. What they do not seem to realise is that the church have moved on a long way since then, and we are in the pontificate of Benedict XVI, not Paul VI! Ironically they are a mirror image of the aging liberal trendies, who hold the same position of the hermeneutic of rupture rather than continuity. So they are making the most preposterous claims about the Pope for changing the Good Friday prayers, even though we are still clearly praying for the conversion of the Jews!

  2. don Jeffry says:

    “taking out of the 1962 text the references to the Jews’ “blindness”, “darkness” and “the veil over their hearts”

    What Jews attend the TLM anyway?

    don Jeffry

  3. schoolman says:

    “Take note of what Williamson does: he places great emphasis on the image of the “veil”. He is saying that Jews really sort of know that Jesus is the Messiah, but they purposely blind themselves to the truth. For Williamson, they are not honest.”

    Fr. Z, this is where Williamson is wrong insofar as he presumes the ill will and culpable blindness of all Jews. Folks should read what the GSI have said on this point. We need to remember that God imposed the blindness — in part for the salvation of the gentiles. But, once the fulness of the gentiles have entered the Church then God will lift the veil of blindness…

  4. Abe says:

    Okay, another reason to be a big fan of this pope . . . he’s now been called an anti-Semite by a Holocaust denier. How many people can say that?

  5. TNCath says:

    Frankly, I am wary of our even acknowledging anything this guy says as significant. Having researched this Williamson fellow a bit and reading his stance on issues other than this one, I am more convinced than ever that any type of full reconciliation with the SSPX just isn’t going to happen because they (Williamson, Fellay, etc.) don’t want it to happen. Moreover, given the downright bizarre statements Williamson has made over the years (How about this pearl of wisdom: “Almost no girl should go to any university”), I’m not sure I would want him to be identified with the Church. As we say in the South, I think we need to “get shed of these folks” and move on. If SSPX’ers want to come back to the Church, fine and dandy. If not, goodbye and good luck with whatever it is you are looking for in a “church.”

  6. Deborah: I removed your comments. Don’t cut and paste other people’s material into multiple comments. That’s not much better than spam. Give a precis of the arguments. And be sure that what you post is really germane to the topic.

  7. Deborah says:

    Okay Father Z, perhaps that post was too long. I will shorten it.

    The Jews do not believe Jesus is the Messiah because:

    1) [Fr. Z adds: Jews claim that] Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies.

    2) [Jews claim that] Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah.

    3) [Jews claim that] Biblical verses “referring” to Jesus are mistranslations.

    4) Jewish belief is based on national revelation.


    Out of respect for dialogue between Jews and Christians Father, I hope you will allow this post to stand.  [I fail to see why this would be a matter of “respect” for “dialogue”.]

    Thank you.

  8. Integer Vitae says:

    Sooner or later, I imagine, someone will bring up the “Williamson doesn’t speak for the SSPX” canard, ignoring the fact that the SSPX freely publishes his stuff on their websites. But why, I wonder, does the society put up with his rantings? Holocaust denial, 9/11 conspiracies (he claims the US bombed the WTC and hit the Penatgon with a guided missile, in order to justify war with Iraq), the already-quoted proscription against higher education for women (although he makes an exception for thos who wish to attend St Mary’s in Kansas, the SSPX’s unaccredited 2-year college)– where is the outrage over what an albatross he is for traditionalism?

    Unless, of course, followers of the SSPX don’t object because they agree with him. And if the society knows anything, it knows what sells to those who have drunk the Kool-ade.

  9. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    With regard to the reason why the SSPX keeps the good bishop around: this is the same reason the Church keeps bad bishops around, they do not want someone with valid episcopal orders running around loose consecrating bishops willy nilly. This has always been the pastoral reaction of the Church to bad bishops. Do you really think the world would be better, with Bishop Williamson starting his own society of priests?!

    With regard to the statement about women in university, I would have to know the context. I remember Kimberly Hahn giving a talk in Steubenville, basically saying how wrong it is for girls to go to university to learn some practical skill, finding a husband, graduating and saddling her husband with a negative dowry of some $40000 in student loans. My own daughter is 18 and is going to college to be a nurse. She knows that we must pay as she goes, and there will be no dating/courting until after graduation. She chose nursing, just in case her husband/family runs into a hardship, she will be able to help the family by picking up a few shifts. She wants to be a stay at home mom. I remember a friend that graduated from Steubenville with a degree in communications and $60000 in loans. Of course she married out of college and immediately insisted that they could not think of having children until her loans were paid off, which would require her to work. This degree contributed little to her betterment as a human person (unlike a liberal arts degree) and guaranteed that her new family would suffer for her imprudent decision. Kimberly Hahn took quite a bit of flak about this, but she has witnessed first hand the insane idea that every woman should go to college and incur great debts for a degree they never will want to use, since most of the girls want to give their lives to the vocation of motherhood. But I guess I am just one of those people that have drunk too much of the “Kool-ade.”

  10. Jamie says:

    Father – is there a reason you felt the need to add “Excomm’d” to the title? I had the impression from other posts that you did not necessarily consider the society Bishops excommunicated. Thanks to the SSPX i am Catholic now. Before I met the SSPX I was pro-abortion, pro women-priests, and anti-tradition. It pains me to see such a public priest speak against the society. Why do you not say similar things about the Bishops in the novus ordo who have acted in such a way that they are excommunicated ipso facto?

    Bishop Williamson confirmed me – he is one of the holiest men I have met. It truly pains me to see a supposed traditional priest such as you subtly adding digs against the society in your posts. Your position has become abundantly clear this week. For the first time I am beginning to regret subscribing to a conservative Catholic blog instead of a traditional-only blog.

    For the record, I am a parishioner of the London Oratory – not a regular SSPX parishioner. you will exclude many people from your site if you continue to attack the Society of Saint Pius X – no matter how subtly you try to do so.

  11. Nick says:

    Has anyone stopped to thing who really has the veil covering their eyes and heart here? Williamson and other SSPX perhaps?

    I say that partly as a joke, but there is some truth to it. The real question is will the SSPX ever be happy, or is this “never satisfied” mentality of constant protest the same fire that kept the Reformation going?

    There is attempt going on to slowly demonize B16, the Williamson mentality is anything B16 does “wrong” proves B16 is “not one of us true Catholics,” and anything he does “right” is simply proving “us true Catholics were right all along and God is slowly vindicating us persecuted folk”…this mindset is ridiculous and un-Catholic.

    Nothing good can come from mocking the Pope, it is sinful by the very fact Williamson is poisoning the hearts and minds of those below him. It is also un-Christian in that he refuses to give B16 even the benefit of the doubt.

    Talk like this shows me that the SSPX dont really want to be reconciled. Willamson mentioned that “unless that soul lives without serious sin and is honestly ignorant of the Redeemer”, yet I would rephrase the last few words to say “ignorant of who sits in St Peter’s Chair”.

  12. Nick says:

    Christopher Sarsfield,

    I have nothing against you, but the SPECIFIC problem with your comments is not women going to college, but the racking up of massive debts ($40k & $60k).

    Going to a local community college ($1,500 full time tuition per term) and/or a local university ($2,000 full time per term) doesn’t break the bank.

    Three terms per year at a community college for two years is $9k total. Transferring to a local university for the other two years (also three terms per year) would be $12,000 total. The total for a four year college degree would be about $20-25k for tuition and textbooks and such. It is true this involves sacrifices such as living at home and such, but that is simply being responsible. Anyone who is racking up $40k and $60k is simply being irresponsible (not necessarily their fault), and part of the blame goes to those lenders allowing the students to get those loans.

  13. schoolman says:

    “Has anyone stopped to thing who really has the veil covering their eyes and heart here? Williamson and other SSPX perhaps? ”

    Nick, I made a similar observance elsewhere and it is curious. In fact, not all Jews are culpably “blinded” to the reality of Jesus and some are even of good-will and among the elect! Can we say the same for some traditionalists who ought to know better?

  14. Neal says:

    Wow, some of these ad hominem attacks make really great counterarguments…not. Seriously, is somebody (other than Schoolman) going to take issue with what he says here?

    I’m no theologian, but in my experience most people obstinately choose darkness over light. I don’t see why this doesn’t apply to the Jews, and more so to them because of the “head start” of the Messianic prophecies.

    If the issue is with the words “anti-Semitism”, an argument should start with a definition. My dictionary has it as “Prejudice against Jews.” Now, I think it is reasonable to suggest that the Jews don’t deserve the same treatment as everyone else in this case because the Jews are not their equals, because they are the Chosen People of the Old Testament. To treat them as equals is to treat them with prejudice, and to treat them with prejudice is to be anti-Semitic.

    Now, I doubt this argument is airtight and I welcome anyone to point them out in charity. (For example, you could say that they still get their own prayer, etc.) But please, let’s dispense with the ad hominem attacks which benefit no one.


  15. Neal says:

    Schoolman, is there a document from the IGS that you can provide a link to?

    Thanks in advance,

  16. Deborah says:

    Perhaps you should read the above reasons I stated and the link as to why Jews do not accept Jesus as the Messiah. We have no “chosen” darkness. We read the Torah. We know the prophecies.

    for more information http://www.jewsforjudaism.com


  17. TNCath says:

    From Pope John Paul II’s Motu Proprio ECCLESIA DEI, 2 July 1988:

    “Hence such disobedience – which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy – constitutes a schismatic act.(3) In performing such an act, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on 17 June last, Mons. Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law.(4)”

    So, yes, Fr. Z. is correct to refer to him as “Excomm’d SSPX Bp. Williamson.”

    Secondly, Christopher Sarsfield’s comparison of the opinions of Kimberly Hahn to the statements of Richard Williamson is simply not valid. Mrs. Hahn’s rather narrow comments, upsetting (or at least amusing) as they might be to many, may have some merit. Obviously not everyone (men or women) who is graduated from high school should go to college. However, Williamson’s beliefs that women should not go to college or wear pants, that the one, true Church founded by Christ subsists only in the SSPX, that the Pope is a heretic, that the Holocaust never occurred, that September 11, 2001 was initiated by the United States, and, that the musical The Sound of Music is latent pornography, are far more seriously flawed, especially coming from someone who calls himself a Catholic bishop.

    Finally, regarding Jamie’s sorrow over criticism over Excomm’d SSPX Bishop Williamson, all I can say is that I am happy to know that you are no longer attending SSPX ceremonies and are now at London Oratory.

  18. Br. Anthony says:

    May His Excellency be elected pope.

    Long live Bishop Richard Williamson!

    [To which Fr. Z responds: “That’s just plain wacky.”]

  19. Matt says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Thank you for this wonderful letter from a leader of SSPX. I am so glad that everyone who reads your blog knows what excommunicated Bishop Williamson thinks. It is an excellant example of SSPX thought.

    I normally object to SSPX postings but this was a gem.

    Maybe Bishop Rowan Williams will be kind to give us his thoughts. It should be equally intellectual.


  20. Angelo says:

    I recommend a book,”The Kingship of Christ & The Conversion of the Jewish Nation” by the late Rev. Denis Fahey, C.S.s.p, Professor of
    Philosophy, Holy Ghost Missinary College, Kimmage, Dublin,
    (pub. 1953). In this book, Fr Fahey treats at length of the
    Naturalism of the Jewish nation, that is, of the opposition of
    the Jews as a nation to the true Supernatural Messias, our
    Lord Jesus Christ. The Church’s teaching on anti-Semitism is
    lucidly set forth and the writings of the distingushed Jewish
    convert-priests, the Fathers Lemann (who founded the great missionary
    order of The Holy Ghost Fathers) who labored so hard for the
    conversion of their nation are utilized. Father Fahey combines insistence onthe Supernatural Rights of Christ the King with charity towards those in error and touches in depth on the 4 points you raise.
    Again, in the spirit of Christian charity, I strongly recommend
    this book to you.

    I highly recommend this book to you.

  21. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    Those who admire the “holy” excommunicated bishop Williamson would do well to check out Gerald Augustinus’s summaries of his thinking, here and here.

    Here’s a little excerpt, from one of Williamson’s 2005 letters.

    St Paul would never have dreamt of denying or wiping out the inequality of human differences before men. As to the inequality in this life between Jew and Greek, see Romans and Galatians; between bond and free, see Philemon; between man and woman, see Ephesians and Colossians. The will of God for men on earth is that Catholic save Jew, that the man free look after the bondsman and that the man be head of the woman. So when the white men give up on saving Jews, looking after other races and leading their womenfolk, it is altogether normal for them to be punished respectively by the domination of Jewish finance, by the refusal to follow of the non-white races and by rampant feminism.

    One of the best examples of res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself) that I have seen in a long, long time.

  22. jacobus says:

    “He makes some good points. However, he steps over the line.”

    The perfect summation of the Bishop’s oeuvre in one line!

  23. Antiquarian says:

    Another res that ipsa loquitor, accompanied by fawning praise from SSPX followers–


  24. Deborah says:


    I thank you for your post. I was unaware of who Fr. Fahey was but it only took inserting his name into Google to learn more than I wanted to know. Apparently he is considered a conspiracy theorist. Even fellow Catholics have said so in a magazine, which from what I could gather, is Catholic. Crisis Magazine.


    He also seems to be rathered beloved by the same organization as the bishop who wrote the letter above, the SSPX. An organization that is questionable in so far as ligitimacy even to many Catholics or so it would appear.
    In summation, I don’t believe this Fr. Fahey is a good argument against Judaism.

  25. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    When I saw this title on Fr. Z.’s post, I figured that Bishop Williamson must have a good sense of humour, or else he is testing to see if we have one.

    I just love the way he has turned this around. First, he himself has been accused many times of being an anti-semite. Secondly, he notes the reaction of the Jews to the new prayer (they hate it almost as much as I do). Third, he concludes that the Pope must be an anti-semite.

    This is black humour, I think, because some have accused the Pope of being a pro-semite so as to compensate for his German background.

    Frankly, I am beginning to wonder if Bishop W. simply has a jolly good sense of humour and can’t resist this sort of talk. But it is not such a good idea to say such things if you just happen to be a bishop negotiating for reconciliation with the Pope!

    I would advise bloggers here not to take all of this too seriously. I’m not convinced that Williamson does.


  26. Antiquarian says:

    I would tend to agree that Williamson doesn’t always actually believe what he says– he’s playing to his audience. Some might call that a sense of humor. Some might call it hypocrisy.

  27. vox borealis says:


    Trust me, I don’t take anything that Williamson & Co. says very seriously at all.

  28. FranzJosf says:

    First of all, ad hominem attacks say exactly nothing about Bishop Williamson’s argument in this matter.

    Second, the fact that he’s wrong on some other issue does not prove that he’s wrong here or that some people whose emotions have the best of them are actually reading the meaning of the words he wrote.

    Third, many who fail to make important distinctions, jump to conclusions.

    Does he call the Holy Father anti-semitic?

    Let’s take an example and see What His Words Actually Say.

    “Benedict XVI has been IN THIS not their friend but their enemy.” [emphasis mine]

    He is not saying that the Holy Father is always and everywhere their enemy with his whole being. It appears as if he is saying that, taking in consideration the law of unintended consequences, this particular act is not friendly.

    In other words, calling an act anti-semitic is not calling the man anti-semitic.

    Someone may unintentionally utter an heretical remark; that doesn’t make him a heretic.

    Another example: someone may commit a schismatic act, but that does not mean that he’s actually in schism.

  29. Edward the Lesser says:

    Could someone please tell me why, in view of what is quoted at the link below, anyone takes this man seriously?


  30. Time to close the combox, it seems.

Comments are closed.