Der Spiegel: SSPX Bp. Williamson’s interesting points to a hostile interviewer

In Der Spiegel, a German weekly, Bp. Williamson, the former rector of the SSPX seminary in Argentina, was interviewed.

Go to the link to read the whole thing, but here are some of the more interesting points.

My emphases and comments.   We jump into the middle…


SPIEGEL: Are you actually aware that you are dividing the Church with your extreme views?

Williamson: Only violation of the dogmas, that is, the infallible principles, destroys faith. The Second Vatican Council declared that it would proclaim no new dogmas. Today the liberal bishops act as though it were some sort of all-encompassing super-dogma, [sound like a familiar phrase?  This is exactly the term I have been using to warn against an improper exaltation of the Council and its "fruits", whatever they may be.] and they use it as justification for a dictatorship of relativism. This contradicts the texts of the Council.

SPIEGEL: Your position on Judaism is consistently anti-Semitic. [There’s a between-your-eyes statement!]

Williamson: St. Paul put it this way: The Jews are beloved for the sake of Our Father, but our enemies for the sake of the gospel.

SPIEGEL: Do you seriously intend to use Catholic tradition and the Bible to justify your anti-Semitism[Does this sound like an objective interviewer?]

Williamson: Anti-Semitism means many things today, for instance, when one criticizes the Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip. The Church has always understood the definition of anti-Semitism to be the rejection of Jews because of their Jewish roots. This is condemned by the Church. Incidentally, this is self-evident in a religion whose founders and all important individuals in its early history were Jews. But it was also clear, because of the large number of Jewish Christians in early Christianity, that all men need Christ for their salvation — all men, including the Jews.

SPIEGEL: Your statements have caused great injury and outrage in the Jewish world. Why don’t you apologize?

Williamson: If I realize that I have made an error, I will apologize. I ask every human being to believe me when I say that I did not deliberately say anything untrue. I was convinced that my comments were accurate, based on my research in the 1980s. Now I must review everything again and look at the evidence.

SPIEGEL: Do you at least recognize universal human rights?  [get that "at least"?]

Williamson: When human rights were declared in France, hundreds of thousands were killed throughout France. Where human rights are considered an objective order for the state to implement, there are constantly anti-Christian policies. [Remember: concern among SSPXers is especially focused on Church-state relations in a pluri-religious environment.] When it comes to preserving the individual’s freedom of conscience against the democratic state, then human rights perform an important function. The individual needs these rights against a country that behaves like a Leviathan. But the Christian concept of the state is a different one, so that the Christian theories of human rights emphasize that freedom is not an end in itself. The point is not freedom from something, but freedom for something. For good.  [There are limits to human freedom.  People are not simply "free" to do as they please and states have the duty to restrain that sort of freedom for the sake of the common good.]

SPIEGEL: Your statements and the lifting of your excommunication have triggered protests worldwide. Can you understand this?  [Does he think W. is stupid?]

Williamson: A single interview on Swedish television has dominated the news for weeks in Germany. Yes, it does surprise me. Is this the case with all violations of the law in Germany? Hardly. [Watch this… perhaps the best point in the interview…] No, I am only the tool here, so that action can be taken against the SSPX and the pope. Apparently Germany’s leftist Catholicism has not yet forgiven Ratzinger for becoming pope[There is it.]

Interview conducted by Peter Wensierski and Steffen Winter

Interview conducted in German and translated into English by Christopher Sultan

Williamson makes an excellent point and I completely agree.

Williamson’s screwy statements are just an excuse to hammer the Pope and to block the reintegration of the SSPX into the fabric of the mainstream Church.

What is at stake is the approach of rupture with the past promoted by the progressivists and the recovery of a proper Catholic identity as promoted by Pope Benedict in what I call his "Marshall Plan".

The leftists understand with virulent desperation that they must keep the ideas represented by the healthy sector of the SSPX out of the Church, even out of discussion.

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  1. Steve K. says:

    I have never particularly liked Bishop Williamson, but I must say he handled that interview very well, which was intended to be a kangaroo court. Those arrogant journalists expected no doubt to reduce him to nothing, to make him look like a cretin before everyone – just see how they talked down to him – and came out of it looking like fools.

    Well done.

  2. RichR says:

    The leftists understand with virulent desperation that they must keep the ideas represented by the healthy sector of the SSPX out of the Church, even out of discussion.

    You’d think if they had confidence in the intellectual support for their ideas, they’d welcome challenges from those who represent “the old way.” The left would never decry counter-ideas as heresy because that would smack of authoritarianism. However, could they defend their own ideas if openly labeled as heresy? IOW, if they are no longer protected by the spirit of the age, the media, and the ignorant laity (thank you JPII for the New Evangelization), then do they have a leg to stand on?

  3. James says:

    What an impressive interview! I love how Bishop Williamson quoted Benedict in his talk of superdogmas and the “dictatorship of relativism.”

    It’s wonderful to see this. I can only think that the SSPX bishops know they can trust Joseph Ratzinger. I’m so hopeful for full reconciliation.

  4. TJM says:

    The bishop handled the interview with a very, very hostile interviewer quite well. He also made a legitimate point when referring to the French
    Revolution. It’s unfortunate that Bishop Williamson made the statement he did because it did distract from an otherwise extremely positive event. Tom

  5. “Comment by Steve K. — 9 February 2009 @ 2:33 pm”

    Yeah, what Steve said.

  6. QC says:

    Impressive responses to some rather unimpressive questions.

  7. Choirmaster says:

    I have to repeat myself here: Williamson is certainly becoming more and more impressive in his discourse and rhetorical positioning. He sounds more and more Catholic each time something fresh is published.

    This type of thing should be a very good indicator of significant success behind the scenes. Look how he explicitly defends the Pope against–while implicitly grouping himself with the Holy Father in sustaining–the attack of the media.

  8. Jeffrey says:

    Of course the lefties will use this as an attempt to browbeat the pope.
    But I think God may use this as a chance to cool the pride of some in the SSPX who may have resisted Rome’s advances originally. It is easier to unite when a common enemy represents itself.
    Pope Benedict is getting a chance to find out who his real friends are.

  9. tertullian says:

    “Apparently Germany’s leftist Catholicism has not yet forgiven Ratzinger for becoming pope.”

    Strike “Germany’s” from this sentence and you’ll find the reason behind a great deal of the whining.

  10. I have to admit ignorance as to the motives of “left-leaning German Catholics” who have “not forgiven Ratzinger for becoming Pope.” I simply do not know enough of who is behind the scenes to make an educated statement.

    However, I find it a bit suspicious to whittle down the entire discussion to just that–liberals attacking the Pope.

    The fact is, Williamson made a ridiculous statement that contradicts known history. The burden of proof is upon him and until he makes an iron-clad, irrefutable argument in support of his position, what he said publicly is rightfully attacked.

    I agree with Rabbi Irwin when he called the Jewish response “disproportionate”. They instantaneously attacked him with idiotic and foolish statements, completely uneducated (see the Elie Wiesel interview for proof of that). They shot first and asked questions later. We know as Catholics that this is a completely wrong approach as well.

    Is their reaction because of liberals? I want to see the proof and challenge anyone to provide it.

    I have also heard conflicting reports. One source says the Pope knew of the remarks beforehand. Another says he did not (The Vatican, I read, has stated the latter). Someone missed the memo and that was the Vatican’s oversight. In short: poor timing and poor catechetical instruction/media relations.

    Again, however, I must cast my vote in favor of caution when making statements about the situation being about, or in part, liberals attacking the Pope. Yes, it’s a golden opportunity but let us also not forget that the Vatican is not spotless in the matter either.

    I would like to take this opportunity to also point out the Vatican’s role in world affairs. Imagine how much an ad-intra Church affair means to the world and its media? The Vatican can anger Jews, Muslims, Protestants and even fellow Catholics with so much as one word. I think a number of things can be indicated by this fact, some good, some bad. I would very much like to see a study of this in the future.

    And yes, SPIEGEL does think Williamson is stupid. That he would even question documented history is beyond rational and SPIEGEL needed to verify (perhaps for their own peace of mind than anything else) that he understood the effects of his actions. The man has so imbibed conspiracy theories that he can’t see past the light of day. I have experience with these people and I can honestly tell you, when someone goes ahead full-throttle into conspiracy theories, they lose sight of reality. They become so wrapped-up in the world created by the theories that common sense gets thrown right out the window. I’ve seen it, over and over and over again with those who “play the Masonic card” as Cardinal Bertone put it.

    I would like to point out an interesting fact. No one, not one is picking on the fact that Williamson questioned 9/11. They are only focusing on his remarks about the Holocaust.


    I will get off my soapbox now. Peace to all.

  11. mike says:

    This interview is spectacular. I think that Williamson should be credited for not being cowed into cowering. He speaks powerful truth in this interview, regardless if he has some strange holocaust ideas. He gets it (at least the media vs. the Church & the liberal ecclesiastics part); we need such clever minds among the faithful.

    This is also a prime example of media bias in action. He took that interviewer to the cleaners; I was amazed at the questions that followed… how desperate the left is.

  12. chironomo says:

    “However, I find it a bit suspicious to whittle down the entire discussion to just that—liberals attacking the Pope.”

    The motives of the Left-leaning German Bishops are pretty much the same as the motives of Left-leaning Bishops across the boeard. And there is nothing suspicious about it.

    Summorum Pontificum – opposed by liberal Bishops. The lifting of the SSPX excommunications- opposed by liberal Bishops. Reconciliation with the TAC – opposed by liberal Bishops. A re-examination of the teachings of Vatican II – opposed by liberal Bishops.

    What’s so hard to understand? Williamson’s remarks are reprehensible, there is NO argument about that. But what does that have to do with the SSPX returning to full communion with Rome? It has NOTHING to do with it. I have remarked before(too many times it seems!) that if Williamson had not uttered those words, the issue would be the views of the SSPX regarding women. Williamson’s remarks were, although unfortunate, nothing more than an excuse to oppose. The same commentators that are holding up the Jews as victims of Catholic oppression with one hand are holding up the Palestinians as victims of Jewish oppression with the other. To them this is consistent, because hands are meant for holding tools…

  13. Gregor says:

    The term “super-dogma” was actually coined by Cardinal Ratzinger in his famous address to the Chilean bishops in 1988.

  14. Michael J says:


    Can you think of any other time in which “documented history” has been proven to be incorrect? Honestly, I do not agree with Bishop Williamson about this but he did say:

    “If I realize that I have made an error, I will apologize. I ask every human being to believe me when I say that I did not deliberately say anything untrue. I was convinced that my comments were accurate, based on my research in the 1980s. Now I must review everything again and look at the evidence.”

    What more do you want?

  15. Steven says:

    Well, I think that Bishop Williamson has become one of the most interesting and curious human beings of our time.

    You can watch him on YouTube. Very interesting.

    SPIEGEL: “Do you at least recognize universal human rights?”

    It is very remarkable that these reporters exactly know where the shoe hurts.

    The socalled human rights are indeed problematic.

    Universal Declaration (United Nations)

    Article 2.

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.


    Race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status ARE very important. These characteristics make “people” individuals.

    The declaration is not interested in these things. Although these are the most important things in life.

    Eg. the declaration says: “Property is NOT an issue.” Wrong! If you are poor property IS an issue.

    People can be proud of their race, colour, sex, language, religion etc.

    If you declare that these things are not important, then you say that the essence of the individual is not important.

    These are no rights, they are completely the opposite.

    Article 2 states: I don’t care who or what your are!

    This is highly problematic.

    Most of the other articles are problematic as well.

    The United Nations give you these rights. So they can strip you of these rights.

    On the other hand, when an individual is created by God, that person doesn’t need these socalled rights, because as a human, as an individual created by God, God will guarantee your rights.

  16. Gregor: A smart man, Papa Ratzinger. I assume you thought WDTPRS was trying to take credit for coining that phrase. No. I merely have used it often here in the last couple weeks. It is very useful to convey the impact some people give to the “spirit” of V2.

  17. Ready……Aim……FIRE,
    “I am only the tool here, so that action can be taken against the SSPX and the Pope. Apparently Germany’s leftist Catholicism has not yet forgiven Ratzinger for becoming pope”.

    Bulls eye.

    Yes W is a bit of a fruitcake, but he hit that one right out of the park

  18. JayneK says:

    Well I am definitely a fan of Bishop Williamson now.

  19. de trinitate says:

    Thanks to Fr. Zuhlzdorf for the good and balanced reporting and it is good to. It is good to hear some voices of clarity and soundness in the comments in the face of some outlandish ridiculous anti- truth and anti-Catholic statements.

    Thanks be to the grace of Christ, it seems a very good interview on Williamson’s part and it seems clear that Bishop Williamson is realizing his error and own isolation about limited and partial 1980 Holocaust theories about the gas chambers and murders of Jews and how poorly researched and untested opinions can be used to damage the society and the church. He is obviously very intelligent and right about certain main points. It is a pity that he weakens his presentations by clinging to some theories that have clearly been proved wrong, or else are unbalanced and not provable or immature. Probably some of the Bishops other isolated views have not been corrected in part because of his own isolation in the past years, but I do not understand why the Society has not corrected him before on some of these issues.

    I would also agree with Father Z. and Williamson, liberals in the media uproar wish to hold onto their schisms against the church. It is these people who are often tied to much graver sins and much greater schisms and denials of faith, moral and dogma- they have been using the paltry unsophisticated outdated view of Bishop Williamson on the Holocaust as a tool to get back at Pope Benedict and to discredit traditional catholicism, the Society of Pius X and catholicism as a whole.

    Several news items that I have read called all “traditional Catholics” ‘pathological anti-semites’. They also try to scandolously attribute various unintelligbilities to all catholics, to Pope Benedict and to the Church as a whole especially to the Church before Vatican II. The presentations have been outlandishly ignorant and scandalous.

  20. Steven says:

    Bishop Williamson is extremely intelligent. That is why he always gets into trouble. He likes to challenge conventional wisdom.

    It is always the same. For instance, students at university are almost forced to have their OWN opinion. When they dare to express that opinion, they will always get into trouble. Because there are always professors who don’t agree.

    So, the easiest thing to do is to keep your mouth shut or tell a few lies. But, that is exactly what intelligent people can’t do.

  21. Woody Jones says:

    One of the more interesting things about this episode to me is that I had always understood Bishop Williamson to be adamantly opposed to a reunion (or regularization, or whatever) with Rome, but he is consistently sounding rather more conciliatory these days than before. Father Z is to be commended for publishing this piece, as a further service to the internal reconciliation that the Holy Father so much wants.

    On human rights, His Excellency would very likely find much to agree with in the views of the new Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia on that subject, as, e.g., at this site:
    Any Google for Kirill and “human rights” will turn up other examples.

    A start at a corresponding interpretation of Gaudium et Spes’s pronouncements on human rights may be found in the article by Brian Benestad in that new book “Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition”.

  22. Mike says:

    “The leftists understand with virulent desperation that they must keep the ideas represented by the healthy sector of the SSPX out of the Church, even out of discussion.”

    I agree, Father….it is becoming obvious that the deep, underlying fear is that the SSPXers might have something valid to add to the post-V2 dialogue…and we know that the powers-that-be must do everything to eliminate such a possibility.

  23. Thomas says:

    Inspite of all the questions surrounding Bishop Williamson, he certainly is clear on the motive for the current controversy. Demons are shrieking as they flee before our Holy Father. Silly season is OVER!

  24. veritas says:

    Rejection of holocaust denial and holocaust minimisation is not a left wing cause it is the view of all respectable historians. Can anyone name a historian from a good university who takes such a view? Indeed it is held by only one non-university historian of note, fresh from the Old Bailey, and he is notable for addressing Neo-Nazi meetings. Should Williamson be serious about his “research” perhaps he might submit it to a suitable institution for a research degree. He would then have to defend his thesis before real experts in the subject.

    AS for the question of human rights how is the Pope in the name of human rights to ask for religious liberty in Saudi Arabia if it is denied, even just in theory in “catholic” countries. Vatican II should be read by what it says and not, like Anglicans with the 39 Articles, for what people want it to say. It is very clear on religious liberty.

  25. Chris says:

    Two things here: 1.) anyone who says this man is without any brilliance, even if coupled with nuttiness, just isn’t willing to see it; 2.) he is much, much more willing to bend over backwards for reconcilliation with Rome. He is certainly not the dug-in traditionalist/borderline sede-vacantist that so many have claimed he is.

    He is really impressing me.

  26. Michael J says:


    You seem to be using the phrase “religious liberty” in the sense of any individual having the right to choose any religeon instead of the sense of being free from coersion.

    In other words, an individual should not be forced to choose Catholicism, but it does not follow that they are then free to choose a false religeon.

    “Vatican II” uses the phrase in the latter sense.

  27. veritas says:

    Michael J. I am afraid your exegesis is on a par with your spelling of coercion and religion. We must agree to differ on the plain meaning of words.

  28. prof. basto says:

    I continue to consider Bp. Williamson stupid and perhaps anti-semitic for denying the Holocaust, BUT I also have to acknowledge that he makes very good and valid points in the answers above. I agree with what he said in the answers above, and I think he delivered his answers very well.

    Indeed, he is the tool here. Initially, I was outraged by his holocaust-denying remarks (and I still think those remaks are utterly wrong and reprehensible), but right now I’m more concerned with the evident Anti-Traditionalist and Anti-Ratzinger posture of the media (after all, Williamson is not relevant enough to start a campaign of holocaust denial, but the mainstream media is relevant enough and is creating a campaign of Pope bashing and of disinformation and bashing vis a vis Traditional Catholicism). So, clearly, the target is not Williamson. The targets of the media frenzy are the Pope, the SSPX, and the traditionalist movement in general.

  29. Truman says:

    The answer to Kevin Symond’s question is both simple and disturbing. Williamson’s crackpot thoughts about September 11, which variously have been a) the Muslims did it but it was the Americans’ fault, b) the Jews did it (although it is less than clear why, since they already rule the world), and c) Bush did it to manufacture an excuse to go to war, are not significantly different than those of the left-wing, secularist, and anti-Israeli European press.

    Williamson is mercifully leaving the stage. The same cannot be said for the crackpot zeitgeist.

  30. Patricia says:

    Father Z, thank you so much for posting that interview and for your clear-headed observations posted throughout. So very few people are seeing what is behind the over-reaction to Bp Williamson’s comments – that he is indeed merely the tool being used to attack the Faith and the Pope. [He is also pretty strange. But he is less and less important except as a rock in the hands of the MSM to hurl at the Holy Father.] Thank you Father. Thank you very much indeed. God bless.

  31. Andy Brandt says:

    In this interview the most powerful part for me was this:

    SPIEGEL: The Society of Saint Pius X has set an ultimatum for the end of February. Are you not risking a break with the group?

    Williamson: In the Old Testament, the Prophet Jonah tells the sailors when their ship is in distress: “Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.” The Society has a religious mission that is suffering because of me. I will now examine the historic evidence. If I do not find it convincing, I will do everything in my power to avoid inflicting any further harm on the Church and the Society.

    This is a very powerful and yet humbling statement. I think I’m starting to respect Bp. Williamson. To bad he would be sidelined now anyway. [No. That is not too bad. It is exactly the best outcome. It had to happen. His graceful departure from any public role could really help. It is the only real role left to him.]

  32. John Enright says:

    Great. So Bp. Williamson can handle a reporter with little effort. It doesn’t detract from the fact that he denies Nazi tragedies and believes that the U.S. government brought down the twin towers. There’s something wrong with this man, and I hope that God cures him of his weired beliefs.

  33. prof. basto says:

    The leftists understand with virulent desperation that they must keep the ideas represented by the healthy sector of the SSPX out of the Church, even out of discussion.

    Exactly. The whole point of this media frenzy is to attack the Pope, in an attempt to discredit his leadership; to derail the SSPX reconciliation; to try to damage the image of and status of Traditional Catholicism as a whole and; more generally, to try to block the progress of what you call the Pope’s Marshall Plan, that is, his vision, his programme of pontificate.

    By attempting to damage the image, reputation and leadership of the Pope and his allies, the leftist mainstream media hopes to do harm to the dissemination of the traditionalist and conservative message; the attempt is to make that message as a whole be associated with nut-cases, so that traditionalism and conservatism become politically incorrect, even taboo, in the eyes of the wider audience. The ultimate goal is to block the pope’s action, and to decrease the effectiveness of his leadership, until he dies. Because the left indeed can’t get over the fact that he was chosen Pope, and they don’t accept his views.

    More broadly, the goal of all the Pope bashing has to do not only with trying to block the SSPX reconciliation, but it is also an assault against Summorum Pontificum, against every tought associated with theological conservatism, traditionalism, liturgical aprreciation for the extraordinary form or strict adherence to the dogmas that the left-wingers have abandoned. So, the future of the Church is at stake. The Pope has elected traditionalism a priority in his programme of pontificate (as witnessed by Summorum Pontificum and the progress in the SSPX reconciliation, etc). But the left is trying to stop him. By making him look bad, and by getting world leaders to criticize him.

    The ultimate hope of the attackers is to make the Cardinals who are likely to be electors in a future conclave wonder wether a more conciliatory person (who wouldn’t so agressively promote the conservative and traditionalist view) wouldn’t be more “suitable”, so as to create less “confusion” (at the expense of us getting a “watered down” version of Catholicism, a triumph for the left).

    So, the left’s target is the “Hermeneutic of Continuity” itself. The left wants to halt the dissemination and prestige of that hermeneutic, by attacking those who defend it and teach it. That’s why the Pope and his Cardinals cannot yeald ground. Or else the heretical “hermeneutic of rupture”, already condemned by the magisterium, will continue to prevail in the mainstream.

    Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto…

  34. No one has mentioned the fact that in spite of being silenced by Bishop Fellay from giving interviews, Bishop Williamson has done so anyway…

  35. Sam says:

    standing maryanna, according to the interview was given for legal reasons.

  36. prof. basto says:

    Standing Maryanna,

    For the moment, that is not a big problem. Because, for the moment, Fellay is not yet a major superior of a canonically recognized Society within the Church. So there is a jurisdictional defect in Fellay’s orders and in Fellay’s authority, at least from the standpoint of ecclesiastical Law (and not merely of internal group cohesion).

    Ergo, Williamson may have violated an internal SSPX directive, but that directive was not emanated from an ecclesiastical superior, in the canonical sense (since the SSPX was canonically disbanded in the 1970’s, and today exists as a “de facto” group, pending the hoped for and much awaited full regularization ). Thus, since the SSPX is not erected within the Church canonically (i.e. it does not exist in Canon Law), the order violated was not an ecclesiastical command.

    However, even from the standpoint of internal SSPX discipline (irrespective of the SSPX’s present canonical status), it is possible that Fellay granted Williamson a “dispensation”, so to speak, from the general gag order, so as to allow him to adress certain questions.

    And the interview was actually helpful, from what I read above.

  37. Ole Doc Farmer says:

    On no…yet another sign of the impending Apocalypse…Standing Rama-Lama (Ding-Dong) is rending his or her garments over disobedience in the Church!

    Enough with the comedy.

  38. boredoftheworld says:

    I disagree with Bishop Williamson on the holocaust (at least I think I do) and on the events of 9/11 (probably…) I include parenthetical expressions because he could probably mop the floor with me in a debate on either of those subjects. Most of the furious outrage has been of the variety I would be reduced to in those hypothetical debates, lots of screaming of ad hominems. When “shut up you poopy head” is the most I can muster I try to let the experts battle it out.

    I’m not going to attempt to defend the bishop because the recent insanity has proven to me that I can’t even defend my own beliefs on these subjects, but what I do want to introduce into the mix is the fact that he holds other views that the world considers unacceptable. Most of us hold those views as well and what I have observed over the last few weeks is people who hold the same Faith that I hold sound exactly like the secularists in their efforts to shout down Bishop Williamson and unfortunately an awful lot of it sounds like people racing to one-up each other on who sounds the most offended.

    Take any of the various hot button topics we all find ourselves in the middle of when we talk to the secularists: abortion, birth control, marriage… the existence of God. When was the last time you weren’t just shouted down and called names? How did it come to pass that “we” sound like “them”?

    I was raised in the evangelical/holiness “tradition” and two elements of that are involved in the current mess.

    1. We admired Catholics on one issue only: Catholics didn’t eat their own wounded like we did. Obviously Catholics got over that.

    2. The state of Israel could do no wrong and (in some totally NOT thought out mystical sense) all Jews were going to just go poof and turn into Christians and secretly (don’t ask me to explain this… it sounds insane) Jews really WERE Christians but they were just playing out some Divine stage production that had to do with the rapture. Between the current storm and the reaction over “The Passion of the Christ” I’ve gotten over that.

  39. shadrach says:

    ‘Leftist’, like ‘neocon’ is a secular term. Using it in church affairs can lead to unclear thinking and might leave us liable to be prey to sort of conspiratorial hokum that Williamson and some traditional catholics seem to adhere to. There is a liberal consensus, it’s not a conspiracy; which makes it more chilling.

  40. old doc farmer said: “…Standing Rama-Lama (Ding-Dong) is rending his or her garments over disobedience in the Church!”

    What was that all about? I thought I asked a valid question…

    prof. basto said:”…So there is a jurisdictional defect in Fellay’s orders and in Fellay’s authority, at least from the standpoint of ecclesiastical Law (and not merely of internal group cohesion).”

    Thanks for the explanation. I wouldn’t have known all that…

  41. wsxyz says:

    I find it interesting to see a poster here engaging in proof by appeal to authority: “Can anyone name a historian from a good university who takes such a view?”

    I assume that “known history” about the holocaust is true. However I do not KNOW that it is true. I assume that it is true because it is generally taught and I have no motivation to investigate the matter for myself. However that does not mean that it IS true.

    We should be cautious about assuming that the conventional wisdom of the secular liberal establishment is equal to truth.

  42. Joe R. says:

    Got an email joke in my box today and it made me pause….
    “What’s the difference between the SSPXers and the Cafeteria Catholics?
    Ten Hail Marys.”

  43. Cathguy says:

    Perhaps it is left over modernism from before my conversion. Perhaps it is because it is because I am an American. Perhaps it is because I know how deceiving evil can be.

    Put all this together and I don’t trust this guy.

    He has denied the holocaust.

    He has promoted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

    He has opposed freedom of religion.

    He has opposed freedom of the press.

    He has opposed every principle my nation was founded on; and my nation, warts and all, is pretty good.

    I am deeply concerned about this man. Just because he is bright and articulate, all of a sudden we are praising him? Hitler gave a good interview too.

  44. Cathguy: I think you are blowing his role out of proportion. Bp. Williamson is now side-lined. His enduring role will be only to serve as a club with which the MSM may beat the Pope in the service of the progressivist agenda. That’s about it now.

    To admit he made a good point is hardly what I would call praise.

  45. Steve K. says:

    “‘Leftist’, like ‘neocon’ is a secular term. Using it in church affairs can lead to unclear thinking and might leave us liable to be prey to sort of conspiratorial hokum that Williamson and some traditional catholics seem to adhere to. There is a liberal consensus, it’s not a conspiracy; which makes it more chilling.” – shadrach

    I don’t entirely agree with this. I think it is appropriate to use the term leftist (although I think ‘progressive’ is better and au courant), because these are people who take their cues in the first place from secular politics, and seek to conform the Church and the faith to them. They strive for a “gleichschaltung” of the Church with the Progressive mainstream. They are political before they are religious, so designating them as leftists or progressives is accurate and brings a greater degree of clarity to what they do in the name of the “spirit of Vatican II.”

  46. Michael J says:

    Please forgive my typographical errors and please answer the question. How can we “agree to differ” when there is no common understanding?

    So, does “religious liberty” mean that every man has the right to choose whatever religion he sees fit, including no religion at all?

  47. shadrach says:


    Catholics and the ‘secular liberal establishment’ know plenty of the same things. True, we disagree on many issues, but conversation, although increasingly heated, is possible, and we must proceed willing to communicate, without betraying our Lord and what He has left us. His Holiness has had plenty of contact with liberal intellectuals like Habermas. This is very good. The son of God walked among us, and spoke to us, even after we killed Him. If Catholics refuse to communicate with the culture that surrounds them, conversion of those who need it (and we all need it to some degree) is impossible. This includes the continued and lively practice of apologetics. We should be confident enough in faith and reason to talk to everyone. Conversation was possible with the pagan ancients too. Catholicism is not treated charitably, and where we find invincible ignorance, we should be cautious, but we must remain charitable.

    Of course, the burden of proof in this historical matter rests with Williamson, and, if you agree with him, it also rests with you. His denial of the gassing of Jews in death camps (a proved fact, not a fiction) was not only gratuitous but is particularly sinister now that the generations who survived the nazi camps, many of whose relatives were gassed, are dying out.

    Conversion of those who don’t believe, it is manifestly true, is also encouraged by Catholics displaying a charitable attitude; Williamson has not displayed this to those killed or bereaved by the nazi death camps, among whose number were Edith Stein (St Teresa Benedicta) and her sister Rosa. Read Raul Hilberg, Konnilyn Feig, and the 18 volumes on the Shoah edited by John Mendelsohn. If you still think that Williamson had a point in denying the gassings and continuing to equivocate about it, I ask you, think again.

  48. Somerset '76 says:

    The maddening thing about +W, as he calls himself in shorthand, is just that mixture of prescient brilliance regarding the overarching principles of the objectivity of truth and the logical consequences of the doctrines of Faith with a certain tendency to dichotomize overly much on certain issues and accept questionable understandings of others.

    This interview in SPIEGEL is quite reflective of the Bp. Williamson I knew as rector and mentor during the mid-1990s, and at last, some people here are recognizing the brilliance despite the madness. Yes, these can and do co-exist, and he is living proof of this. I always had the sense that “outsiders” had way too much a one-dimensional view of the Society and its workings to ever consider that it represented, in some respects, things that the Church has sorely missed since the Council. And I rather suspect that he will not mind at all silencing himself to further that cause.

    By the way … does anyone realize who is keeping very quiet in all of this? Have no doubts: both Moscow and Tehran are paying very close attention.

  49. Jerry says:

    Oh how stiff-necked and arrogant some of you are. So cowardly in that you must slap the bishop while you begrudgingly praise him. Would that any of you were half the man or half the child of God he is.

    Some are so jealous of Williamson and have been for quite a while.

    I’ve got news for you. Williamson is not going away and will not be ‘side-lined’ God has too much work for him yet ahead.

    You claim Williamson “is a nut” when he holds conspiracy theories different from your own, (the idea that 19 villains “conspired” to hijack planes is a conspiracy theory)

    None of you obviously believe in a Devil that Christ permitted to be “Prince of this world” in which humans have willingly signed themselves over to him in exchange for great power. Or that the Catholic Church has enemies. (do you seriously think the Vatican is the only institution in the world that makes plans that encompass more than a generation?)

    You are so cock-sure of “the holocaust” that you don’t question: 1) soap made from jews 2) lampshades made from jews 3) shrunken heads from supposed nazi experiments 4)no list of the names of the 6 million 5) all of those bodies look starved to death, not gassed, who cut off the food supplies? 6) Why was there a swimming pool and soccer field at Auschwitz? and the list goes on….

    Here’s what happened. Pope Benedict knows the Church is in a desperate state. He knows that Vatican II is a failure that empowers the Church’s enemies and he knows that he has to answer to God. He also knows that ultimately the SSPX is correct. So, he swallowed his pride and fulfilled the two preconditions demanded by the SSPX. He recieved the grace for this through millions upon millions of Rosaries said by faithful Catholics. The angels have come to break Peter out of his jail cell.

    The Pope has prevented the SSPX from being persecuted like Branch Davidians and the papacy can take all the hits it needs to.

    Now Williamson is going to rope-a-dope the media and they (like many of you who don’t know the man) have yet to discover what a man chosen by God for a particular time and place can do when he puts God first. Williamson is God’s club not the media’s. Get that straight and thank God for Bishop Williamson. He like his namesake Richard “the Lionheart” are the type of men that can stare down their enemies and prevent tragedies from happening.

  50. Somerset '76 says:

    He has opposed freedom of religion.

    He has opposed freedom of the press.

    He has opposed every principle my nation was founded on; and my nation, warts and all, is pretty good.

    That’s because so did Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos (1832) (who there called freedom of the press “execrable” and had no nice words for other ideas we associate with contemporary pluralism) and his two immediate successors through several Encyclicals, most notably Quanta Cura and the Syllabus Errorum (Bl. Pius IX) and Leo XIII in Libertas (one of several key points: the more a State is obliged to tolerate religious error, the worse off it is); that same Pope warned the bishops of the United States in Longinqua Oceani that “it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the Church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for State and Church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced.”

    And it was none other than Bishop Williamson who brought these things to my attention.

  51. jamgreg says:

    I find amusing those who are as sure of their history lessons as to cast aspersions and denounce categorically out of hand anyone who does not comport. Surely, Bishop Williamson’s holocaust opinions seem terribly wrong. But, is truth so tenuous as to be threatened by one Catholic Bishop’s misreading of it. Furthermore, If Bishop Williamson is so unhinged, how is that consistent with his other seemingly very intellectually reasoned views on current Church affairs? I’m amazed by the fierceness to shut down any meaningful pedagogical dialog. It’s almost as if truth is feared! Anyway, was it Pontius Pilot who said “What is Truth?”

  52. shadrach says:

    Jerry, You write like as if you have been subject to a private revelation. You should read something about Richard ‘the Lionheart’. He was a disastrous king.

    PS Prison guards and SS men play football and swim.

  53. LBJ says:

    Williamson is not the only one saying 9/11 was not caused by Muslims. A distant German cousin, Andreas v. Bülow wrote a book soon after 9/11 espousing his theory that the CIA and President Bush was behind it. It was quite well-known and I even had relatives ask me if it might be true!
    Why isn’t Andreas being raked over the coals for being so stupid and ignorant? The difference: the guy is a full blown socialist. Thus Bishop Williamson is in the German mainstream on that one!

  54. Jerry says:


    I suggest you do some research of your own about King Richard on the battlefield and then Marc Klein’s memoirs from 1947 of the swimming pool at Auschwitz.

  55. shadrach says:

    Jerry, you’re a hoot.

  56. wsxyz says:

    If you still think that Williamson had a point in denying the gassings and continuing to equivocate about it, I ask you, think again.

    I am only saying that I am suspicious of anyone who demands assent to a proposed truth on the basis of “everyone knows it” or “no respected authority on the subject thinks otherwise.” These things are useless for evaluating the truth of any statement.

    As for Bishop Williamson, I think he got a bee in his bonnet at some time about the Holocaust, subconsciously desired to believe that the mainstream account is false, found “evidence” that confirmed his underlying preference, and convinced himself of the truth of his preexisting sentiment.

    I do not believe that Bishop Williamson was lying when he started talking about gas chambers, he gave his honest opinion. Since he has managed to convince himself that nobody died in the gas chambers, nobody is going to unconvince him by screaming “no respected professor of history from a reputable university thinks otherwise.” he is going to have to unconvince himself. That is why he can not now immediately retract his words and start publicly flogging himself as so many demand.

    Just in case it helps to clear the holocaust- and Nazi-induced fog for you, my stand on the gas chambers is exactly the same as my stand on the Apollo moon landings. I accept as true the proposition that American astronauts traveled to the moon and walked thereupon. However, it has not been proven to me that it is true, nor have sought proof that it is true, and I therefore do not know that it is true.

  57. veritas says:

    wsxyz If you only believe that which you personally have “researched”, and one has no idea of your capacity to undertake such action, then you must believe very little. Your very faith comes to you on authority. The essence of a dogma is a belief held on authority. Newman became a catholic because he held that “certain is the judgement of the whole world”.

    AS for the views Williamson, I was merely pointing out that among those who have made a lifetime study of the Shoah in universities, as opposed to ecclesiastics who have read a few anti-semitic articles, opinion is pretty unanimous. It is of course open to him to undertake serious academic research and publish his findings or submit them for a research degree.

  58. moon1234 says:

    And not up to others to demmand he relinnquish his ability to exercise the religious teaching vocation of his office.

    Most university professors hold crackpot or strange views outside there area of expertise. I can’t recall the last time I saw anyone demanding they relinnquish their teaching role.

    It’s a sad day when people who claim to be Catholic will publically call Bishop Williamson a nut. If you don’t agree with his views, fine. Calling him namws is not charitable. Would you call Christ a nut to his face or behind his back?

    Just sad.

  59. DoB says:

    Excellent interview. Top marks to Bp W.

  60. wsxyz says:

    If you only believe that which you personally have “researched”, and one has no idea of your capacity to undertake such action, then you must believe very little.

    1) I didn’t say that I believe only that which I personally have researched.

    2) I know to true all that which is divinely revealed. University departments of history, however, do not possess the same level of authority as the Catholic Church.

    3) I wonder how many of those who “have made a lifetime study of the Shoah in universities” ever doubted the commonly accepted view, even before they began their studies? It’s not hard to prove something to yourself if you already believe it anyway.

  61. Matt of South Kent says:

    WOW… What a great interview.

    I think Bishop Williamson really did well for himself and the Church.

    I love the way he aligned himself and SSPX with the Holy Father. Great sign!

    And on a historical note, even Nixon was rehabiliated.

    Don’t discount a good and faithful bishop.

  62. Joseph says:

    Bishop Williamson whacks the ball out of the park with “….Germany’s leftist Catholicism has not yet forgiven Ratzinger for becoming pope.” Brilliant stroke to the heart of the whole controversy: persecution of the Catholic Church through the person of Holy Father Benedict. Der Spiegel and assorted bigots are like a bunch of annoying gnats, buzzing around until they get smacked down with a flyswatter. Good one Bishop Williamson, now put the icing on the cake and retract the anti-holocaust statement.

  63. craig says:

    Michael J writes: “So, does “religious liberty” mean that every man has the right to choose whatever religion he sees fit, including no religion at all?”

    Rights come from God. Contra Steven above, God will not guarantee your rights are recognized in civil society. Civil society cannot grant rights, but it has the practical power to enforce or abrogate them as it sees fit. A civil government that abrogates God-given rights does so illegitimately.

    Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae states:

    “Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.

    Over and above all this, the council intends to develop the doctrine of recent popes on the inviolable rights of the human person and the constitutional order of society.

    2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.”

    God does not grant men the moral right to worship false gods, in fact He gives men the moral duty to seek Him. But He grants men free will, so that they may come to Him uncoerced. So men do not have a moral right to choose false or no religion, to the extent that they know the truth, but because of free will they do have a practical political right to do so.

    The state does not have the moral right to coerce Catholic profession or observance by individuals, except as necessary to keep public order (defined narrowly). The state’s moral duties are: (a) to not impede Catholic observance, nor coerce it through law; (b) to acknowledge in law the true religion as the basis for civil authority and common law; (c) to acknowledge God as the author of rights. Neither an established (tax-supported) state church, nor a religious test for public officeholders, are automatically required by duty, although both could occur. The state’s interest in avoiding coercion is based in acknowledging the proper sphere of the church; to the extent that obedience to the state is commingled with obedience to the church, the state coerces and impedes evangelization by treating nonobservance as treasonous (cf. the disastrous similar bull of Pope Leo naming English Catholics as traitors against the crown).

  64. craig says:

    Oops — The quote from DH in my comment above was supposed to be 3 paragraphs, ending at “within due limits”.

  65. Ole Doc Farmer says:

    Standing Jambalaya said: What was that all about? I thought I asked a valid question…

    Q: What is a sophist?
    A: One who pointlessly asks a question to which s/he already knows the answer.

  66. TerryC says:

    Isn’t it amazing how, when he sticks to areas in which he is actually qualified to teach, that +Williamson is actually quite impressive. I agree that a quite retirement is probably the best outcome he can hope for.
    I will, with Christian charity, take him at his word and hope that he will use his free time to visit the camps and read up on some real history of the Holocaust, as well as spend time in prayer and contemplation.

  67. Maynardus says:

    Der Spiegel has done the near impossible: generated some sympathy for Bishop Williamson. This whole Williamson episode has been a(nother) senseless and needless black eye for the Church, but perhaps it has done some good for Bishop Williamson’s soul – a little humility goes a long way.

  68. Jan Baker says:

    Thank you, Father Z., for not being stampeded. It is incredibly difficult to stand up against the official story. Holocaust narratives were faked, and are still being faked. Not a month ago NPR ran a story about Herman Rosenblat\’s Angel at the Fence, a \’love story that began in a concentration camp,\’ and a fraud, which the piece mentions as one among others; you may listen here:

    I would like to know how any intelligent person could think that history is not manipulated, before, during, and after the fact? When the stakes are power, land, money, sex? When people are as cowardly as we know them to be? What educated person can entertain the idea that consensus has anything to do with the truth? Especially on a university campus!
    (The Duke University kangaroo court of their LaCrosse team is a micro example of the macro in play.)

    Anyway, thank you, Father Z. You will have prayers at the least.

  69. John 6:54 says:

    So what happens when Williamson looks at the facts again and moves his # from a couple hundred thousand to say no more than 2 Million? Will he have been rehabilitated then? What is the magic # that will take him from being a holocaust denier to a holocaust believer? Does the Pope get any credit for helping to give Williamson a reason to look at the facts again. Will the press give any credit to Benedict if Williamson recants?

  70. Ole doc farmer’s amusing appellations (Standing Rama-Lama (Ding-Dong),Standing Jambalaya) actually have nothing to do with the subject at hand… but I guess ad hominem attacks have been approved under certain circumstances.

    Sam said: “…the interview was given for legal reasons”

    I checked the link but I didn’t see what the legal reasons were. Anybody know?

  71. craig says:

    An interesting quote I found here, whose pertinence to the present situation is left as an exercise to the reader:

    “A central conceit of any intellectual condescension toward the lives and philosophies of the world is that the intellectual alone is clear-eyed enough to see the falsehoods that have deceived the common man. An intellectual is defined by this one characteristic: he is a man who thinks he is smarter than all his neighbors, instructors, and forefathers, and sees through all their sacred beliefs as contemptible falsehoods. The leitmotif of all intellectualism is contempt.”

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