Statement by SSPX Superior about Bp. Williamson’s opinions on Jews in WWII

From the SSPX – the NCR translation from the Italian

Statement of His Excellency Bernard Fellay, Superior of the Fraternity of St. Pius X

We have become aware of an interview released by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Fraternity of St. Pius X, to Swedish television. In this interview, he expressed himself on historical questions, [not doctrinal] and in particular on the question of the genocide against the Jews carried out by the Nazis.

It’s clear that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesiastical authority except on questions that regard faith and morals. [even one who is in good standing can’t…] Our Fraternity does not claim any authority on other matters. [The Fraternity doesn’t have any authority apart from Rome.] Its mission is the propagation and restoration of authentic Catholic doctrine, expressed in the dogmas of the faith. It’s for this reason that we are known, accepted [well…] and respected in the entire world.

It’s with great sadness that we recognize the extent to which the violation of this mandate has done damage to our mission. [Fair enough.  And the phrase "great sadness" is welcome.] The affirmations of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any sense the position of our Fraternity. For this reason I have prohibited him, pending any new orders, from taking any public positions on political or historical questions[Finally.]

We ask the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, [a phrase I have been using constantly these last days…] for the dramatic consequences of this act. Because we recognize how ill-advised these declarations were, we can only look with sadness at the way in which they have directly struck our Fraternity, discrediting its mission.

This is something we cannot accept, and we declare that we will continue to preach Catholic doctrine and to administer the sacraments [without permission of the Holy See] of grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Menzingen, January 27, 2009

This is for the most part a very good statement.  It should be graciously accepted at face value, all things considered.


Kommuniqué des Generaloberen der Priesterbruderschaft St. Pius X.

Bischof Bernard Fellay

Wir haben von einem Interview Kenntnis erlangt, das Bischof Richard Williamson, der ein Mitglied unserer Bruderschaft ist, dem schwedischen Fernsehen gab. In diesem Interview äußert er sich auch zu historischen Fragen, insbesondere zum Judenmord der Nationalsozialisten. Es ist offensichtlich, daß ein Bischof nur zu Fragen des Glaubens und der Moral mit religiöser Autorität sprechen kann. Unsere Bruderschaft beansprucht keinerlei Autorität über historische oder andere säkulare Fragen.

Die Mission der Priesterbruderschaft ist die Verbreitung und Wiederherstellung der authentischen katholischen Lehre, wie sie in den Dogmen niedergelegt ist. Dafür sind wir weltweit bekannt, akzeptiert und geschätzt.

Wir sehen mit großer Sorge, wie die Überschreitung dieses Auftrages durch unser Mitglied unserer religiösen Mission schweren Schaden zufügt.
Wir bitten den Heiligen Vater und alle Menschen guten Willens um Entschuldigung für den dadurch hervorgerufenen Ärger.

Dabei muss klar sein, dass diese Äußerungen in keiner Weise die Haltung unserer Gemeinschaft wiedergeben. Deshalb habe ich Bischof Williamson bis auf weiteres jedwede öffentliche Stellungnahme zu politischen oder historischen Fragen untersagt.

Die ständig vorgebrachten Anklagen gegen unsere Bruderschaft dienen offenkundig auch dem Zweck, unsere Mission zu diskreditieren. Das werden wir nicht zulassen, sondern fortfahren, die katholische Lehre zu verkünden und die Sakramente in ihrer altehrwürdigen Form zu spenden .

Menzingen, den 27. Januar 2009

Bischof + Bernard Fellay



«Abbiamo avuto conoscenza di un’intervista rilasciata da Mons. Richard Williamson, membro della nostra Fraternità San Pio X, alla televisione svedese. In questa intervista, egli si esprime su questioni storiche, in particolare sulla questione del genocidio degli ebrei da parte dei nazionalsocialisti. È evidente che un vescovo cattolico non può parlare con autorità ecclesiastica che su questioni che riguardano la fede e la morale. La nostra Fraternità non rivendica alcuna autorità sulle altre questioni. La sua missione è la propagazione e la restaurazione della dottrina cattolica autentica, esposta nei dogmi della fede. È per questo motivo che siamo conosciuti, accettati e apprezzati nel mondo intero. È con grande dolore che costatiamo quanto la trasgressione di questo mandato può far torto alla nostra missione. Le affermazioni di Mons. Williamson non riflettono in nessun caso la posizione della nostra Fraternità. Perciò io gli ho proibito, fino a nuovo ordine, ogni presa di posizione pubblica su questioni politiche o storiche. Noi domandiamo perdono al Sommo Pontefice e a tutti gli uomini di buona volontà, per le conseguenze drammatiche di tale atto. Benché noi riconosciamo l’inopportunità di queste dichiarazioni, noi non possiamo che costatare con tristezza che esse hanno colpito direttamente la nostra Fraternità discreditandone la missione. Questo non possiamo ammetterlo e dichiariamo che continueremo a predicare la dottrina cattolica e di amministrare i sacramenti della grazia di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo.Menzingen, 27 gennaio 2009+ Bernard Fellay, Superiore Generale»


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  1. Houghton G. says:

    I suppose it’s a start. He forbids Williamson to speak publicly on political or historical matters. But the matter will scarcely be laid to rest until Williamson publicly repudiates and apologizes for what he said. Even then the damage is done and the press will not report the retraction at the same decibel level as they reported Williamson’s anti-semitism.

  2. Brian2 says:

    Nice… it is about time. I particularly like the use of the phrase, “mit grosser Sorge”

  3. I bet there have been some feisty words between the two bishops. Bishop Fellay seems to be the only one (since we’ve not heard from the other two bishops) who has any credibility with the outside world. I hope this letter was not too late.

  4. J. Bennett says:

    What concerns me more then the lifting of the SSPX excommunications is the absence of any censure against the many clergymen and laity in authoritative positions who teach blatant heresy, not to mention the countless others who try to pass off vague mushy theology as doctrine.

    Growing up as a “modern” Catholic, in a Catholic school, I was brought to believe that the Church was nothing more then a charitable organization which got together on Sundays to sing corny songs about Jesus, listen to some Bible stories and have a snack. By the grace of God I now know different. Most who come out of this very common background do not.

    I am confused that while everybody gets so worked up, from every possible angle, over the lifting of the excommunications of a group whom Rome says are not in schism and who pose no threat to the souls of the faithful, we are ignore many other groups and persons who most certainly do pose great threats to the souls of the faithful and yet bask in Rome’s good graces.

    This is no a criticism of the Holy Father, this is a simple question: why was I allowed a faulty education which put my soul in danger, and yet kept away from the traditional Mass and those who support Catholic orthodoxy for so long?

  5. Paul Haley says:

    For those who do not read German my unofficial translation of the original follows:

    Communique of the General Superior of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X

    We attained knowledge of an interview, that bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our fraternity, gave to Swedish television. In this interview, he expresses himself on historic questions, especially to the murder of Jews by the Nazis. It is obvious that a bishop can speak only to questions of the Faith and Morals with religious authority. Our fraternity claims no authority at all over historic or other secular questions.

    The mission of the priestly fraternity is the distribution and restoration of the authentic Catholic teaching and how it is laid down in the dogmas. For that we are well known worldwide, accepted and appreciated.

    We see with great concern how the infringement of this order adds heavy damage by a member of our religious mission. We apologize to the holy father and all persons of good will for the annoyance evoked through it.

    At the same time must be clear that these remarks in no manner represent the views of our fraternity. Therefore I prohibited bishop Williamson until further notice from speaking in public on political or historic questions.

    The proposed accusations against our fraternity serve obviously to discredit our mission. We will not allow that, but rather continue to announce the Catholic teaching and to administer the sacraments in its venerable form.

    Menzingen, the 27th of January 2009

    +Bishop Bernard Fellay
    General Superior

  6. Terth says:

    What does the Kommunique *really* say? (I don’t read German.)

  7. Terth says:

    Thanks, Paul. I was wondering why my comment was taking so long to post!

  8. SamanthaP says:

    J. Bennett, that was a well said. And that was a good question and one well within your right to ask. I can’t imagine an acceptable answer to it.

    I hope and pray that Holy Father and Bishop Fellay win out.

  9. sparksj3 says:

    The French is now available at DICI. Given that Bishop Fellay is the author, I am supposing that this is his original:

    Nous avons eu connaissance d’une interview accordée par Monseigneur Richard Williamson, membre de notre Fraternité Saint-Pie X, à la télévision suédoise. Dans cette interview, celui-ci s’exprime sur des questions historiques, en particulier sur la question du génocide juif par les national-socialistes.

    Il est évident qu’un évêque catholique ne peut parler avec une autorité ecclésiastique que sur des questions concernant la foi et la morale. Notre Fraternité ne revendique aucune autorité sur les autres questions. Sa mission est la propagation et la restauration de la doctrine catholique authentique, exposée dans les dogmes de la foi. C’est pour ce motif que nous sommes connus, acceptés et estimés dans le monde entier.

    C’est avec une grande peine que nous constatons combien la transgression de ce mandat peut porter tort à notre mission. Les affirmations de Mgr Williamson ne reflètent en aucun cas la position de notre société. C’est pourquoi je lui ai interdit, jusqu’à nouvel ordre, toute prise de position publique sur des questions politiques ou historiques.

    Nous demandons pardon au Souverain Pontife, et à tous les hommes de bonne volonté, pour les conséquences dramatiques d’un tel acte. Bien que nous reconnaissions l’inopportunité de ces propos, nous ne pouvons que constater avec tristesse qu’ils atteignent directement notre Fraternité dans le but de discréditer sa mission.

    Cela nous ne pouvons l’admettre et nous déclarons que nous continuerons de prêcher la doctrine catholique et de dispenser les sacrements de la grâce de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ.

    Menzingen, le 27 janvier 2009

    + Bernard Fellay Supérieur Général

  10. RC says:

    That deserves a “well done” for Bp. Fellay.

    Yet there is a certain irony in his speaking about the limits of a bishop’s “ecclesiastical authority”. A bishop consecrated without a pontifical mandate has precisely none.

  11. Brian Walden says:

    This is no a criticism of the Holy Father, this is a simple question: why was I allowed a faulty education which put my soul in danger, and yet kept away from the traditional Mass and those who support Catholic orthodoxy for so long?

    I was 7 when the excommunications happened and often ask myself the flip side of the same question. Where was the SSPX for the ordinary Catholics? They abandoned my generation to the crazy liberal side of the Church, leaving a vacuum in the wake of their excommunications. My hometown has a fairly high Catholic population and none of my friends from my youth are still practicing. Of the friends I got to know in college those who were raised Catholic were all fallen away just as I was. How much greater would the SSPX’s influence have been if they were well within the Church instead of straddling the fence?

    When I finally learned the truth that what I was taught and experienced in my youth wasn’t real (or at least the fullness of) Catholicism I was upset. But I when I realized this I didn’t go off and get myself excommunicated, I repented and returned to the Church with humility. I sit through Mass gritting my teeth at my parish because if everyone who loves orthodoxy and tradition just left, those who want to model the parish in their own image would have free reign.

    When I left the Church, it was because I because I didn’t know what the Church was. The SSPX knew and they participated in illicit ordinations anyway. If the Church really is the Church, if She truly is who She says She is, how could they do what they knew would lead to excommunication? It’s despair.

  12. Wolfram von Duerrenbach says:

    If some of you havent, I encourage you to actually watch the interview and form your own opinions based on what His Excellency said and how he said it, and not to take second-hand information or opinions.

    Here is the URL I used: There might be better ones out there; I dont know.

    Consider that everything you’ve been told might not be true. Why should it be a crime to question historical facts?

    Just last morning, ironically, one of the motivational speakers on of the one of the German radio stations I listen to, used to start the day for commuters, extolled the right of free speech in the west, especially Germany This from a man living in a country where discussions of the historically reality of the ‘holocaust’ are against the law and punishable by stiff prison terms, where home-schooling (a form of free speech and religious freedom) is against the law (and so fervently do they enforce this NWO , and if I may say, fascist law that they recently jailed a Mom, and there is currently a german christian family seeking political asylum in the US).

    — Joe Wood, (African-American author),
    in Berman, Paul. Blacks and Jews: Alliance and Arguments,
    Delacorte Press, NY, 1994, p. 112

    — Israel Shamir

    — George Orwell, 1946

    — Goethe

    — George Orwell

  13. Corleone says:

    Here in Italy, the apology has been announced on all the news stations. It IS news. The SSPX is not only becoming legitimized, but they are now in the spotlight, whereas few outside the traditional circles of Catholicism even knew of them.

    I have never been an SSPX supporter, but I think now I might start, assuming they continue their present course of humility, apology and loyalty. It will take much for me to get over their cowardice all these years on leaving the bark of Peter because the waters became too rough. But forgivness is what our faith is based on. And hopefully we can all work together to correct the misnavigation of the previous decades.

    J. Bennet – you raise a very good point. All I can say is, I expect Godly people to behave as such. From the liberal, heretical nonsense-makers, I don’t expect anything at all. Which is why those who actually proclaim to be speaking for Traditional Catholicism need always to be heald to a higher standard. Yes, it is a double-standard, but no one said being Christian was easy.

  14. RC says:

    By the way, it is very good to see Bp. Fellay using terms such as “Sovereign Pontiff”. I used to have the impression that some SSPX statements didn’t quite affirm that Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI is indeed the legitimate Pope, but now Bp. Fellay is leaving no room for any sedevacantist interpretation of his statement.

  15. wsxyz says:

    Another translation (from the German), reworked from Paul’s :

    Communique of the Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X

    We have become aware of an interview, that Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our fraternity, gave to Swedish television. In this interview, he comments on, among other things, historical questions, in particular on the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis. It is obvious that a bishop can speak only to questions of Faith and Morals with religious authority. Our fraternity claims no authority at all over historical or other secular questions.

    The work of the priestly fraternity is the propagation and restoration of authentic Catholic doctrine, just as it is laid down in the dogmas. It is for this that we are known, accepted and appreciated throughout the world.

    We see with great concern how, by overstepping the bounds of our mission, one of our members has seriously damaged our work. We apologize to the Holy Father and all persons of good will for the trouble caused thereby.

    At the same time it must be clear that these remarks in no manner represent the views of our society. Therefore I have prohibited Bishop Williamson until further notice from making any public comments at all regarding political or historical questions.

    The accusations continuously brought against our fraternity also obviously serve to discredit our mission. We will not permit that, but instead we shall continue to proclaim Catholic doctrine and administer the sacraments in their traditional form.

    Menzingen, the 27th of January 2009
    +Bishop Bernard Fellay
    Superior General

  16. Fr Z,

    Why do you need to insert comments like “without faculties” in the press release? This doesn’t help matters.

  17. wsxyz says:

    It is interesting that the German version shows some significant differences from the French and Italian. Is the German just a bad translation from one of those? The very first sentence of the German struck me as somewhat awkward and perhaps is not from a native speaker.

    (Not that I could do better)

  18. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    Dear Brian Walden, Thanks for your comment, which I like a lot. Your observation on how nearly all the younger Catholics eventually fall away is so devastatingly true. When you look at their parishes, schools, and families, however, you see why. There’s nothing to hold them there; religion comes to seem a weak and unnecessary addition to life, which can be negotiated just as well with a vague spirituality, if anything.

    Here’s something to ponder, however: the fate of the traditionalist teeth gritters at the local parish isn’t so great either. It seems heroic at first but many, probably most, of those people end up either falling away in disbelief and anger, or just giving in and compromising, or ultimately going to the sspx or other traditional parishes (where, if they’re lucky, they forget about what’s going on in the rest of the Church). It takes a special bird to be a very traditional Catholic at St. Bozo’s. Eventually, you want to be part of an actual Christian community.

  19. TJM says:

    Thank God that there is a grown up running SPPX after all. Tom

  20. Tradition says:

    Bishop Fellay should be praised for this document.

  21. Soli Deo Gloria says:

    To J. Bennett & Brian Walden:
    I feel with deep regret your feelings of abandonment to those liberals in charge of catechism classes. I hope you will understand that volunteer catechists of a traditional mindset are not invited back to teach as soon as the parents hear that you mentioned “sin” or “devil” in class. The catechism directors are all paid by the parish and they do not hesitate to “correct” unpaid catechists when they do not conform to their agenda. The current acceptable teaching in this second parish I’m volunteering at is “We are the new heaven” and the pastor do not include “I confess” at the first part of the mass. I might be on the lookout for a third parish after this schoolyear if they found out I deviated from this “we are the new heaven” approach.

  22. Can I ask an unfortunate question of those raised in ignorance…? Where were your parents? Weren’t they raised in the supposed good old days before the 2nd Vatican Council?

  23. JayneK says:

    “It will take much for me to get over their cowardice all these years on leaving the bark of Peter because the waters became too rough.” I do not think it is fair to attribute their actions to cowardice.

  24. Dan says:

    “…will continue to preach Catholic doctrine and to administer the sacraments [without permission of the Holy See] of grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Father Z added, of course, the following comment: “without permission of the Holy See.”

    Then why, with Rome’s permission, have SSPX bishops and priests offered Mass at Roman Basilicas?

    And why, with permission, have SSPX bishops and priests offered Mass at Lourdes and various churches? (Reports have indicated that often times Rome intervened in such matters.)

    Regardless, at least at Rome, the SSPX has been permitted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharistic, and, I believe, Confession.

    Thank you.

  25. Matt of South Kent says:

    I think it was a great apology from Bishop Felley.

    I especially like the use of the plural we.

    Anyone can relate to how they would feel if his boss had to apologize for his actions.

    Everyone should be looking forward with hope and pray.

    Things have changed and changed for the better! 07-07-07

    We have all been blessed.

  26. Dan says:

    What amazes me is that various Jewish groups and individuals who participate in Vatican-Jewish “dialogues” reject the Catholic Church’s historical statements regarding Jesus Christ and His One True Church, yet are praised to the hilt by Rome.

    Various Jews disbelieve the Church’s historical documents that prove that Pope Pius XII is not the Nazi supporter that various Jews insist that he is…yet those very deniers are not reviled by the news media.

    Why is Bishop Willaimson a monster for having disbelieved certain historical claims, while others who disbelieve historical facts that support Catholic claims are hailed as well respected men and women?

  27. Michael J says:

    Michael Tinkler,

    I suspect you are not a parent yourself, are you?

  28. Michael Tinkler: Where were your parents? Weren’t they raised in the supposed good old days before the 2nd Vatican Council?

    On the chance that this is not merely a snide question undeserving of serious answer, let me mention that when everything a child’s parents tell him about the Church is contradicted by what he sees with his own eyes in the local parish — both in religious education and at worship — it all too frequently becomes a case of “seeing is not believing”.

  29. Dan says:

    Just one additional post, please, Father to this thread.

    Okay, fine. Let Catholics, including the SSPX, condemn and silence Bishop Williamson regarding gas chamber remarks.

    But in turn, it’s time for Catholics and Jews “of good will” to once and for all condemn and demand the silence of the great many Jewish groups and leading individuals who insist…

    1. That Pope Pius XII was, in effect, a Nazi.
    2. That the Catholic Church is at the root of Nazism anti-Semitism.

    Let us recall that Cardinal Cassidy declared that regarding Pope Pius XII, that “Monstrous calumnies… have gradually become accepted facts especially within the Jewish community.”

    Let us have once-and-for-all tit-for-tat condemnations and calls for silence for Bishop Williamson’s historical reading of the gas chamber issue and for the historical reading among Jews of Pope Pius XII and the Church in regarding to Nazism/anti-Semitism.

    For some reason, I believe that only the Catholic side will follow suit.
    But I hope that I’m wrong.

  30. Mike says:

    Great statement from bp. Fellay. He is really navigating this situation very well. And good that he didn’t ask bp. Williamson to issue an apology or anything. While it was imprudent that he said it publicly he has all the right to believe what he said is truth. Jewish groups can’t impose a one, official version of history by force and denounce anyone who questions it as if it was dogma of faith. The outcry is as if he said Jesus Christ didn’t raise from the dead or something comparable. Shouldn’t we get some cold prospective on this thought-terrorism being used by the liberal media and some Jewish groups?

  31. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    Tinkler (I’ll assume this is your real name and not, like your question, a risibility), The matter of how and when the Church fell apart – whether families went first, or the institution, or all together – is not implicated in Walden’s point. The point is that there is a Catholic tradition that is lost for the youth of today. They don’t even know of it. There’s no reason why someone who sees that has to view the days before Vatican II as ideal.

  32. David says:

    Has anyone ever considered a link between Bishop Williamson’s extreme views on Jews, his location in Argentina and the strong presence of former Nazis in South America?

    Its no excuse, but it could explain what is feeding Bishop Williamson’s mind…

  33. Paul says:

    Good to see the statement was issued on Holocaust Memorial Day.

  34. torontonian says:

    I think the conduct of Bishop Fellay throughout this whole process has been generally very praiseworthy.

  35. TJB says:

    What I find ironic, or maybe hypocritical, is that the SSPX is constantly critical of the Vatican for being slow and reluctant in disciplining the liberal dissenting Bishops throughout the world, and yet Bp Fellay takes his good ‘ole time in disciplining his own wacko Bishop.

  36. Henry Edwards,

    Are you longing for the day when the daily Mass you attend is in the Extraordinary form? I dream of having a parish entirely dedicated to and centered around the EF!

  37. Brian Walden says:

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    I don’t know that I have personal feelings of resentment and abandonment, it’s more of a confusion. I come from a generation where if you believe the Church is full of it – especially a church who claims to inerrantly teach faith and morals – you do the logical thing and leave. So I still don’t understand why so many people who think the Church is wrong want to not only belong to it but to hold positions in it where they can influence others. I realize that the baby boomers who were responsible for passing on the faith to my generation had already been scandalized during their formative years – but I can’t really tell where all the craziness came from. I lack the historical perspective to really understand it.

    I also wonder why me? Why did I eventually realize that the felt-covered, guitar-strumming straw man I was told was the Church was only an effigy when so many never even realize they’ve been scammed.


    I’m not old enough to know the Church as it was before Vatican II. In my lifetime what’s commonly presented as Catholicism in America is actually a demonic implementation of the council and many (most?) Catholics dissent from Church teaching and disciplines – I’ve never known it any other way. I came back to the Church knowing that things are not as they should be, but also having hope because we seemed to have survived the worst of it. In that sense, I think I’ve got it easier than older generations. I can’t imagine what it was like for my parents or their parents and can certainly understand why they’ve been scandalized. I sympathize with those who find refuge in the SSPX, the point of my post was not to criticize the faithful who participate in their sacraments. I understand that part even if I don’t endorse it.

    But I don’t understand the ordinations. If the SSPX believed they were right and that the Church is the Church why was it necessary for the illicit ordinations? It seems to be a position of despair, that if they didn’t illicitly ordain bishops the truth of the Church would be lost forever. How can any Catholic believe that? But again, I lack the historical perspective to really understand everything that was going on. I don’t know what it’s like to go though watching the walls of the church you grow up with crumble because vandals used the fact that it needed some minor maintenance to tear the whole thing apart – I only know a torn down church needing to be rebuilt.

  38. Mark says:

    Excellent statement. The discipline of silence will give Bishop Williamson some much needed time for reflection.

  39. prof. basto says:

    Excellent. Well said. The part in which he asks forgiveness is indeed impressive, and a huge improvement.

    I’m really warming to Bishop Fellay. He seems to be on the right track now. Maybe that’s the effect of the graces he is receiving now that he is in closer communion with the Vicar of Christ.

    Let us pray for Bishop Fellay and for the SSPX!

  40. Aelric says:

    I find it somewhat ironic that bishop Fellay expects obedience from bishop Williamson.

  41. Jon K says:

    wsxyz (27 January 2009 @ 2:31 pm)very aptly pointed out that there seems to differences between the different versions of Bishop Fellay´s statement. Now, having translated the communiqué in Swedish, I can assure wsxyz that this is not simply a matter of different translations. It is the French text itself that exists in two different versions:

    The version put out by Radio Vatican: “Bien que nous reconnaissions l’inopportunité de ces propos, nous ne pouvons que constater avec tristesse qu’ils atteignent directement notre Fraternité dans le but de discréditer sa mission.”

    The version presently (23.40 in Stockholm) found on the site of DICI: “Bien que nous reconnaissions l’inopportunité de ces propos, nous ne pouvons que constater avec tristesse que les accusations continuelles à l’encontre de notre Fraternité ont aussi manifestement pour but de la discréditer.”

    This is taken from the second last paragraph. As everyone can see, these are two differerent versions. The Vatican version seems to incriminiate Bishop Williamson somewhat more sharply and directly for the harm now felt by the Society.

    At least two versions exist in German as well:

    This one: “Mit Trauer stellen wir fest, dass diese unangebrachten Aussagen unsere Bruderschaft in direkter Weise berühren, weil sie die Aufgabe unserer Gemeinschaft in Verruf bringen.”

    And this one: “Die ständig vorgebrachten Anklagen gegen unsere Bruderschaft dienen offenkundig auch dem Zweck, unsere Mission zu diskreditieren.”

    Think of this when you disseminate the declaration. Also, it would be good if the Society could clarify this minor problem.

  42. Brian Walden says:

    Can I ask an unfortunate question of those raised in ignorance…? Where were your parents? Weren’t they raised in the supposed good old days before the 2nd Vatican Council?

    We were raised like all good Catholic children in the 80’s – to be exactly like any other American only we spent an hour on Sunday morning at the Catholic church instead of one of the Protestant churches a few blocks away. My mom’s beliefs are your standard PC ideas rather than Catholic ones – she doesn’t have an agenda pushing for the Church to change, she just believes what the culture around her believes. My dad wasn’t raised Catholic, he converted when we young, but he fits the mold described above. I admire his intent, I know he did it for us kids but I almost wonder if he’d have be better off not converting. My mom was 15 when the council ended and 20 in 1970 when the new Mass was implemented. Her mom (my grandmother) went to Mass every day for as long as her health allowed and she still prays the rosary every day.

    Somehow there was a disconnect between those two generations. I think the baby boomers get a lot of the blame, but realistically they were too young. They wouldn’t have been in the positions of power necessary to run away with the implementation of the Council like what happened in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I think they just inherited the spirit of disobedience that was handed on to them. I don’t know why. In the 60’s the whole world apparently went crazy and at the same time Catholics were finally being accepted as part of mainstream America. The combination of those two happening at the same time probably had something to do with it. I think that while my grandmother’s generation is pious in practice, there may have been some cracks underneath the surface when it came to their basic understanding of theology.

    It’s obvious that there were problems in the “good old days before the 2nd Vatican Council.” I don’t know how else things could have changed so fast. In many ways the implementation of the council may not have been so much the cause of the problems of the past few decades as it was the symptomatic of problems that were already there in hiding. So that’s where my parents were. They raised me as they knew best and I’m blessed to have them as parents. But they didn’t even have the knowledge to know that things weren’t right when it came to our religious upbringing – it seems that somehow Catholic Faith and Culture did not get passed on to many in their generation.

  43. IvoDeNorthfield says:

    “We ask the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act.”

    Wow. This is dramatic stuff: the SSPX Superior is apologizing to the Pope; a first, I’m sure. Something intriguing to consider: why did they distance themselves from Bp. Wiilliamson now? Clearly they’ve been under pressure to do something, and I bet that the pressure came from the the Vatican, where the phone must have been ringing off the hook all weekend. If so, then they obeyed a request from the Supreme Pontiff, or someone representing him; they showed obedience, at least on this matter. That, too is a first, I bet, and that, too, is dramatic. But maybe I’m just looking at things with rose-colored glasses…

  44. Son of Trypho says:

    Great news and appropriate.

  45. Mark says:

    Mrs. Deborah Lipstadt’s reaction to the SSPX/Williamson scandal:

  46. Calleva says:

    This is extremely good news and Fellay’s statement has more of the humility we were looking for. He was the only one who could deal with Williamson and he has done it – proving he is a real leader.

    The Pope has shown great courage and compassion in this matter – he has risked ire and opprobium from the rest of the world to show good faith towards the SSPX. As someone commented somewhere on this blog – he has shown he trusts the SSPX. Fellay’s response shows that he understands and appreciates this. Reconciliation is a two-way affair, the SSPX must show they trust the Holy Father.

    I think citing the case of liberal catechesis and the terrible wreckage in the church is a bit of a rabbit hole. However shocking the last 40 years have been, this does not give any group the right to take itself off….. sorry, rabbit hole beckons. But let’s just give thanks and continue to pray for reconciliation, for sure the SSPX can do far more good fully within the Church. Thank God for Benedict XVI!!!!!!!

  47. John says:

    Good Job Bishop Fellay!

  48. Brian: It’s obvious that there were problems in the “good old days before the 2nd Vatican Council.” I don’t know how else things could have changed so fast.

    An assumption as seemingly plausible as it is oft repeated, but nevertheless fundamentally incorrect, I believe. I was there in the 1960’s, an aware and active parish member — and a liturgy leader, in fact, with an inside view in the experimental parish of my archbishop who was the U.S. member of the famous Concilium that constructed the Novus Ordo.

    After a half-century of thought and reflection, I still believe that the pre-Council Church (in the U.S., at least) was pretty much as seen in seemingly rose-colored glasses. Indeed, it’s plain from his pre-conciliar statements that good Pope John XXIII called the council not to correct any problems he saw in the Church, but rather to proclaim its glory by opening the windows to let the Church to go in its strength to triumphantly proclaim the Gospel to a world that needed it desperately.

    So what happened? Into the perfect socio-cultural and political storm of the 1960’s (largely an outgrowth of one disillusioning war after another, I believe) came a generation of Catholics immersed in Church and Faith — having a spirit of complete obedience in matters of doctrine and liturgy that was grounded in an unquestioning confidence that the Church — speaking to them through their priests and religious — could never mislead the faithful in such matters.

    Their priests and religious — equally obedient and trusting — followed the leadership of networks of committees and experts to whom, as Cardinal Ratzinger has explained, the bishops lost control of the implementation of Vatican II. Throughout this period when the Council’s documents were not available to simple priests and laymen as they are now, we had no choice but to accept what we were told they said — for instance, we were told unequivocally that Vatican II required the Mass in the vernacular and the altar turned around — by cadres of “experts” who swarmed the country with, as is now evident, quite different agenda than anything the bishops at the Council had envisioned. Many of our bishops shared our doubts but, amazingly, were equally powerless to stem the apparent tide of history in their own dioceses.

    Thus, ironically, the obedience and trust that had seemed pillars pre-conciliar strength in the Church became the seeds of its deconstruction as a community of shared fullness of faith.

  49. Dear Nicknackpaddywhack – “Michael Tinkler” is my name. The link goes to a blog that links to the real me. Please visit and look around.

    I’m a convert. I read myself into the Church in my mid 20s. Maybe because of that I’m always a little bewildered by meeting people who couldn’t keep themselves in the Church by reading, but that’s probably a personality flaw of mine. Mr. Edwards, I agree strongly (though only based on reading, since I was born in 1962) that perceptions of the Church in America before the 2nd Vatican Council are very rose-colored – the whole 20th Century in America was a strange time. Priestly demographics are one example only that a lot of people tracing collapses since V2 are off about.

    Michael J – I’m not a parent, but I taught high school for 9 years and am now a college professor. I am all too familiar with people who don’t listen the teacher side of things.

  50. schoolman says:

    I am confident that God will bring a greater good out of this crisis within the SSPX.

  51. Oh my – I’m guilty of a misreading.

    Mr. Edwards you have decided that it WAS pretty rosy.

    I apologize for misinterpreting you.

    I disagree with you.

    Those are indeed different things.

    You lived through it, I’ve only read about it, but I stand by my reading about the demographics of education in the Roman Catholic Church between World War I and 1965 – lots of men and women entered priesthood and the religious life out of all sorts of ambitions, one of the important versions of which was intellectual striving beyond the education offered in their families or neighborhoods.

    A problem of the religious life can be seen in the huge booms of monks, especially, who entered in the aftermath of WWI and WWII – this movement is remarkably parallel to the huge growth of the monastery of the Cluniac movement in the 11th and 12th Centuries; expiation of personal guilt for killing may be enough to send men into a monastery, but it’s a good question about whether it is the same as a vocation.

    There are lots of other issues about which specialists, like Thomas Day in “Why Catholics Can’t Sing” speak both from anecdote and knowledge about problems in the pre-Council decades.

    I’m sure there were many, many excellent, stable, and obedient parishes. But there were a lot of problems out there, too.

  52. Mr. Tinkler: I’m sure there were many, many excellent, stable, and obedient parishes.

    This was my sole point in suggesting a rosy pre-conciliar picture of dynamic and healthy Catholic parish life on the ground.

    This picture — of how things looked to the ordinary layman — is little affected by your observations of defects in clerical and religious ranks, problems which had been peripheral to everyday parish life before the Council, but were central to the failure of clerics and religious to provide leadership in the chaos that followed the council.

  53. meg says:

    Brian et al,

    Most of my friends have fallen away from the Faith, too. It’s heartbreaking. I made my communion in the mid-sixties and soon after was tapping my feet at a guitar Mass in bell bottoms. My mother and I have gone over this tirelessly, trying to figure out how so many Catholics let so much go (herself included). She would agree with Henry Edwards’ comment that they…

    “…ha[d] a spirit of complete obedience in matters of doctrine and liturgy that was grounded in an unquestioning confidence that the Church—speaking to them through their priests and religious—could never mislead the faithful in such matters.”

    I believe what she says – they had a level of trust and innocence that maybe we can only imagine, being raised in a time when “question authority” bumper stickers were de riguer.

    Having said that: the 50’s were quite rosy for many Catholics, but you can easily see the culture slipping just by watching the movies put out at that time. There were chinks in the armor.

    Brian, don’t be too hard on the SSPX. Because of the built-in level of obedience and preoccupation with cultural shifts, there was no talking to the “ordinary Catholics” back then, 99.9% of them just rolled over. The FSSP (I currently attend their Masses) stepped in in place of the SSPX, but the biggest problem was from the Vatican – they said the TLM was suppressed so Catholics listened and did what they were told – they went to NO Masses.

    My mother was an “ordinary Catholic” who rolled over back then, and now attends SSPX Masses exclusively. Makes for interesting “discussions”!

  54. Verity says:

    Henry Edwards and Meg you have, in my opinion, got it right re how things looked to the ordinary lay person back then. I was 16 when VII concluded and so can remember the Latin Mass and how, overnight, the changes came in. The changes were accepted because as both you and Meg’s mum said it would never occur to us to question what our parish priest told us. The parish priest was the Church to us. Despite receiving a rock solid genuinely Catholic education I drifted away from the Church once the liturgy started to resemble a party. The last religious ceremony I attended was my niece’s confirmation when the MC had, shout over the noise, to tell everyone what to do. I remember thinking how different this was to the Mass I had grown up with. I returned to the Church 5 years ago after a 30 year absence. The only way I can compare the difference in the Mass is to say that one was like a symphony played by a famous orchestra and the other was the same symphony played by a high school band.

  55. Verity says:

    I was reading the biography (written before his death) of Msgr William Smith who died today and in part this is what he had to say about the time before Vatican II.

    The home, the school, and the Church,” the three basic sources of his personal growth, “were all playing the same tune, resonating the same values, confirming and reconfirming the same direction.”

    When William graduated from high school in 1957, the Church, under Pope Pius XII, reflected deeply the solidarity of all her members. This reflection formed the whole of William’s boyhood experience and solidified his vocation; the Church in his early life seemed to be one large team, “some people were guards and some were ends, but there was no question where that goal line was.”

    [After Vatican II] It was as if the team were breaking apart and the players running all over the field.

  56. Martin says:


    About demographics and VII, an unquestionable fact immediately comes to mind:
    1964: 5.2 million Catholic school pupils in the US
    1990s: down to ~2.2 millions, where we still are now

  57. I know my grade school is closed down, so they could fix a highway that is quite frankly still broke (those of you from my area, it was Mt Providence)

    I think catholic school attendance is down for a couple reasons. You have nothing special about it in a lot of cases. Theology is tought poorly at best. Also, economically, I think they are hit by the downturn in vocations of the communities that supported alot of them. When one has people that take a vow of poverty working for them, one has a very solid bottom line.

    Some of the more “progressive” orders that just so happened to be heavily involved in the school system, are suffering from lack of vocations. And its the same reason people dont send their children to catholic schools. There isnt anything special or particularly “Catholic” about either, sadly.

    Granted there are some great, holy, modernized orders, but they are few and far between.

    If there is ONE thing we can take away from the SSPX, (and yes, the original superior defied the pope… hear my thought out) is that they fought without yield to preserve those things that you identify with the Roman Rite. They could have been like some of the other goofy groups that sprung up (Palmarians anyone?) , but they didnt.

    You want people in the church, and in schools, give them a reason to be there. Dont let yourself get sold out, to try to be like everyone else. We have to show why we are the Church that Jesus Christ himself left to the apostles. why try to act protestant, lets act Catholic. It worked pretty good for the first 1930 years.

  58. Rob says:

    Yes, we too send greetings to you Msgr.Fellay from here in heaven!

    and us ALSO Bishop, We send thanks and greetings!


  59. Rob says:

    “yes, your Excellency, we too say thank you! Do not forget us and the others!” Say many rosaries, your Excellency!

  60. Martin says:

    Patrick Finley:
    Yes indeed, it worked pretty well. And your description of the causes of the collapse in Catholic school attendance is, I believe, entirely exact. Some of my children still attend a (diocesan) Catholic school, which is not bad, but clearly not what I would think a Catholic school ought to be.

  61. Martin says:

    It may also be useful to remember that not all victims of the nazis were Jewish. For instance,
    Mgr Lefebvre’s own father was one of these.

  62. Aine says:

    Brian, I believe it happened so fast because it was deliberately pre-planned. The younger teaching nuns, in the early sixties, were told by their Mother General to attend (brainwashing) classes on the new VII rules and liturgy at the local University. In so doing, the Mother General went over the head of all the Mother Superiors who had objected, in fact, she told the nuns not to discuss what they learned with others. It all began with disobedience, deception, and betrayal.

    This specific nun does liturgical dancing at her Church. She tried to convince me how beautiful it was and when I told her it was a distraction she said all the parishioners loved it. I asked her to do a poll but apparently she did and they really, really do love her dance. She’s a nice person but very far left in her views.

  63. Shzilio says:

    Regarding what happened within the Church in the 60s to 80s. There is a book by an Irishman named Sheridan. I think James Sheridan. The book is called “The Hungry Sheep” kind of difficult to find but you can get it from an out of print bookstore. He has a chapter in the book, “The Treason of the Clerics”. I think the title says it all.

    I have a friend who is 69 and he’s still bitter about the post-Vatican II “initiatives”. He is fond of saying that his Church left him. I keep trying to tell him that things are/will get better, but he’s approaching what will probably be his last 7 years. He is excited about the lifting of the excommunication, but he feels there are many bishops and priests who failed the laity. Of course, the laity seemed all too willing to comply so it works both ways. If only we could have this sort of honest dialogue about other historical events.

  64. Rob says:

    Dear Martin:

  65. David Palm says:

    Uh Rob, Bishop Fellay apologized on behalf of the Society for the statements and silenced Bishop Williamson. Did you miss that part before your multiple postings?

  66. Fr. Aidan Logan, OCso says:

    Herewith an email I sent this morning to a rabbi friend:

    In light of of our conversation yesterday, I thought you might be interested in the following statement by the leader of the ultra-conservative splinter group (Fraternity of St. Pius the Tenth)repudiating Bishop Williamson.

    (Text of Statement)

    This statement is remarkable when one realizes just how conservative these people are. They have never appologized for anything! It only serves to convince me that Williamson is trying to derail the healing of this schism and positioning himself as the leader of a rump group of the hardest of the hard core traditionalists who will continue reject Pope Benedict’s authority and every aspect of Vatican II.

    A further complication is that the Catholic hard left is also eager to scuttle this process of reconciliation. They are all over the media denouncing the lifting of the excommunications as a rejection of all the progress of the last 40 years — this despite Benedict’s repeated and strong re-affirmation of Vatican II, including the Decree on the Jews.

    What a tragedy that this family squabble should foul the wells of Catholic Jewish relations!

    Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

  67. Rob says:

    In Bishop Fellay’s press release regading this matter he writes:

    “We ask forgiveness of the Sovereign Pontiff and of all people of good will for the dramatic consequences of such an act. While we recognize how ill-advised these declarations were, we can only observe with sadness that the purpose behind the incessant accusations against the Society is obviously also to discredit it.”

    I do not think the statement: ” the purpose behind the incessant accusations….is obviously to discredit it, ” is honest.

    When you run an organization and one of your staff makes a terrible mistake which causes pain to others and sullies the good name of your organization, you make a public apology and leave it at that. You don’t try to deflect public anger by pointing your finger back at the public and tell them ‘ you are saying these things about us because you want to discredit us.’ You make a mistake, you apologize and move forward, unless you are really not sorry and don’t like the public telling you how to behave and what to say especially if you don’t like authority and are not used to it because you have been going about things in your own way and reject authority, even claiming that it doesn’t exist where its’ supposed to exist: in Rome. This is a real problem in SSPX and has to do with remorse and humility. Perhaps Fellay is changing but he has been one of the nastiest critics of John Paul II and Benedict XVI for many many years. He has had no shame in the past to say awful things about the popes in public setting himself up as the authority. This is the disease of the SSPX. One step forward and two steps backward. When he sends out a communique to all his SSPX priests and fellow SSPX Bishops and to the general public that he will not tolerate chastisements ( sins against Charity) of the Pope in SSPX confessionals, from the SSPX pulpits, in the SSPX seminaries, in private SSPX meetings,in SSPX conferences, in SSPX literature, then he will have acted as a genuine Bishop and a gentleman and a grand step in resolving differences and ending public outcries will have taken place.

  68. Shzilio says:

    Fr. Aiden, what response did you receive? I’d be interested to hear what your friend had to say.

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