In the matter of Bp. Williamson

Lots of people are talking now along these lines…

"Bishop Williamson must change his views or, if there is a reconciliation of the SSPX, he won’t be given an assignment."

Folks, inter alia, Williamson was born in 1940.  Do the math.

He won’t be getting an "assignment".

He maybe would get a titular see, but I imagine they could find a way around that too.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eugene Lavrenchuk says:

    I don’t understand why there is all this brouhaha about what Bishop Williamson said? He didn’t state anything anti-Semitic, he simply questioned the numbers habitually given out by the Holocaust industry which is a lucrative business. Read some of the sermons of St. John Chrysostom… I bet he would have been banned in our day and age, too.

  2. Dan says:

    That is a great point, Father.

    Sanity regarding the Bishop Williamson controvery is beginning to surface. Unfortunately, everybody…you, I, posters to your blog and scores of blogs…we piled on Bishop Williamson initially without realizing that a number of Jews, reporters and anti-SSPX/anti-TLM Churchmen had duped us into having believed that the object of their rage was Bishop Williamson.

    The objects of their rage were actually Jesus Christ, the True Church, Papacy, TLM, SSPX itself…all under there cover of attacking Bishop Williamson.

    A rational response to Bishop Williamson could have transpired. He didn’t deny the Holocaust…he said hundreds of Jews died at the hands of the Nazis (but not in gas chambers) and that he was open to having his opinion changed regarding the issue of gas chambers.

    Therefore, the rational response should have been to propose a meeting of concerned folks with Bishop Williamson to present arguments in favor of their claims that the Nazis employed gas chambers against their victims.

    Unfortunately, a vicious overreaction transpired. Bishop Williamson was the victim of lies, distortions and a dehumanization campaign that sadly, many posters and Churchmen applauded and promoted.

  3. EDG says:

    Bp Williamson may have questioned the numbers, but the numbers aren’t important. Was it 6 million or 5 million? Or, as Williamson asserts, a “mere” 600,000? It doesn’t matter. Defending the killing of Jews in any way, even by minimizing it, is unacceptable.

    At the same time, Bp Williamson has actually said some very positive things about the Jews, our Jewish roots, and converting the Jews and welcoming them in, etc. None of this is ever mentioned, probably because it seems to be considered tasteless to talk about conversion. In any case, in his letter to the Pope, he offered himself to be thrown into the sea like Jonah, and I think he meant it. Perhaps the Pope wants to send him to a remote monastery under a prohibition of silence for the rest of his days, and perhaps he knows this. Maybe he’ll change his mind and trash his very humble letter. I don’t know. But I think even Bp Williamson is aware that something has got to be done, and if he really cares about the SSPX and his people, he’ll do it.

    The Jews, or at any rate, Jewish pressure groups, are being heavily manipulated by the press and the politicians. Many of these groups are non-profits that make their living basically by being aggrieved, and the left has found them delightfully willing to sally forth and do the dirty work.

  4. Sid says:

    Thank you father for doing the math! Williamson will have no important position in the Church. Heck, Fellay has said that the Society forcefully rejects his views, which suggests to me that Williamson isn’t even going to have an important position in the Society! And if this is to be the case, let’s forget Williamson and do as he asks: “throw him overboard”.

    And thank you for helping me cool off a bit by directing my thoughts to the probable!

  5. I am not Spartacus says:

    Vice President, Joe Biden is a Catholic. He has a LOT more power than Bp. Williamson. Yet, liberal Catholics are not being pressed to defend Biden who said publicly that he is a Zionist.

  6. Mitch says:

    If in order to appease the world when the SSPX is brought into the Church, and +Williamson is to be given a titular see then instead of giving him no see, give him one that will stick in his craw. Don’t know what that could be, but I’m sure there is one out there. Maybe one of the turkish ones or whatever that when said fast sounds like “women in pants” or something else that would bug him. (Along the same lines as Whirld Peas vs. World Peace) For all the grief he has caused the Pope, the Pope should have the right to a little fun with him like that right?

  7. Matt says:

    Mitch: Uncharitable

    Bishop Williamson, as many of the SSPX, see themselves as the means to spread traditional Catholic faith. I am sure where ever Bishop Williamson goes he will try his best to preach the gospel and bring souls into the Church.

    As for sending him to Turkey, his comments may make him quite popular there. Jews are not too popular with the native Muslim population in most of the middle east.

    In any event you should not revel in wishing punishment on any clergy. You may disagree, but do not disrespect.

  8. prof. basto says:

    Father, I don’t get your point.

    Firstly because, the “Note” issued by the Holy Father’s Secretariat of State makes that exact point, that Bp. Williamson “for an admission to episcopal functions in the Church, will also have to distance himself, in an absolutely unequivocal and public manner, from his positions regarding the Shoah…”.

    So, with all due respect, this is not just something that “lots of people” are saying. The Vatican is saying that.

    Bishop Williamson will be 69 this year. That means that if he were appointed to an office today, he could discharge it for six years before presenting the canonically required resignation.

    Probably, if the SSPX is erected as a personal prelature or apostolic administrator, the Holy Father will appoint Bishop Fellay as prelate or apostolic administrator, and the other Bishops would be appointed auxiliary bishops. That would seem the best way to accomodate the status of the other Bishops after regularization And, such a large ecclesiastical circumscription would warrant auxiliary bishops. Of course, the normal course would be to also assign titular episcopal sees to the prelate/apostolic administrator and to the auxiliary bishops. But would Williamson also be canonically regularized as a Bishop like that. From the Vatican’s recent “Note”, it seems that that would depend solely on Williamson’s future attitudes.

    What the Holy See is saying with that part of the “Note” is that: a) it will not regularize Bishop Williamson’s status as a Bishop unless he distances himself from his current views on the Shoah. In that case, it seems, the Fraternity would be returned to full communion, but Williamson would have to be either laicized or ordered to function as clergyman of lesser rank; b) a contrario sensu, if Williamson distances himself from his views on the Holocaust, he can expect to have his episcopal situation regularized. In such a case, he can expect to be admitted to episcopal functions in the Church , to use the language of the “Note”.

    “Episcopal function” includes: a) in the case of a Bishop who is not Bishop or Bishop emeritus of a See, the appointment as titular bishop; b) the authorization to celebrate the Sacraments as a Bishop (if he were either laicized or degraded canonically — not sacramentally, of course — to the status of a clergyman of lesser rank and ordered to live his life as a priest or deacon, then it would not be licit for him to wear the Pontifical insignia, to celebrate Pontifical Mass, etc); c) the possible assignment to an office of episcopal jurisdiction, even if in the rank of “auxiliary”.

    What the Holy See is saying seems to be this: that Williamson has a choice – he can either be fully regularized as a Bishop (if he renounces his views on the Holocaust) or if he chooses not to renounce them, then he will not in any way be canonically regularized as a Bishop.

  9. Thomas says:

    And bishops can function in some position well into their late 70s as witnessed by the current Pope who was refused his retirement at seventy- five. Even if not given a particular See they could function as a Bishop in some way assisting the church as Cardinal Avery Dulles demonstrated. Bishop Williamson will not only have to ‘distance’ himself from his position on the Holocaust, but probably even harder for him, he will have to accept the validity of the documents of the second Vatican Council.

    Bishop Williamson’s videos and questioning of the validity of figures or methods in the Holocaust has been turned into a fiasco by the media and liberals for their own purposes. But even without the recent video on the Holocaust, one wonders why the Society of Pius X had not stated anything censuring such views earlier as he has made other statements about the Holocaust, and conspiracies in regard to the Jews along with advocating for the faithful the Elders of Zion, etc. or blaming of Pope Benedict for anti-semitism, etc. Some of these conspiracy theories about the Jews as on the side of the anit-Christ, etc, are on the Society of Pius X’s internet site. It seems that they
    can not blame everything on Bishop Williamson.

  10. Matt Callihan says:

    Bishop Williamson was sharing personal opinions outside the realm of faith and morals on the holocaust, which is a historical event. A holocaust called abortion is going on presently and only going to escalate as a result of the new president. It could be argued that entire USCCB is responsible for this current state of affairs. Most of the members of the USCCB have assignments. Why the double standard?

  11. Dan says:

    Wow! Forget about the Jews and news media folks. Incredible animosity among Catholics, at least who post here, exists for Bishop Williamson. I am certain that as is the case among many Jews and reporters, the nasty sentiments and demands by Catholics that Bishop Williamson jump through hoops over the gas chambers issue is really a cover for the anti-SSPX sentiments that exist among many Catholics, particularly conservative Catholics.

    Liberal Catholics have tended to leave the SSPX alone. The SSPX was unimportant to liberals.

    For the most part, conservative Catholics, particularly via publications and web sites (Crisis Magazine and The Ratzinger Fan Club are examples), attacked the SSPX reqularly…labeled the SSPX heretical “anti-Semitic” types who hated the Church.

    Conservative Catholics even portrayed Bishop Fellay as cranky, nasty and anti-Church.

    I believe that much of the anti-Williamson sentiment posted to this and additional blogs is really anti-SSPX sentiment. Again, Bishop Williamson is simply a cover.

    Funny…a number of American bishops, for example, protected priests who had molested children. The bishops in question, with few exceptions, continue to govern dioceses. Said bishops weren’t exiled to monasteries.

    Saint Paul was a persecutor of Catholics. But he was forgiven. He wasn’t sent into exile.

    Considering that and the sorry actions of many current bishops, Bishop Williamson need not enter into exile.

    One thing is certain…I’d hate to rely upon various posters for mercy.

  12. Ad Orientem says:

    The easiest way to deal with this is for Bp. Williamson to ask for retirement or to be allowed to retire to a monastery or something like that.

  13. Ad Orientem says:

    St. Paul repented before he was forgiven. And I really think you need to get a grip. There is no way Bp. Williamson can be received back as a functioning bishop as long as he is very publicly on record with those kinds of views. Those of us who are sharply critical of him are not attacking the SSPX. We are trying to save it. The SSPX is not institutionally anti-Semitic. But Williamson is, and he is NOT the only one there who holds those kinds of views. This needs to be dealt with because you can not have clergy running around denying one of the most documented crimes in the history of the world and pushing antisemitic nonsense like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    Under the mercy,

  14. James says:

    The way I understand it, a bishop must have a see, even if titular. Even retired bishops still have a titular see. I could be wrong, but this again is my understanding. If Williamson were not given a title, would he the just function as an ordinary priest like the Thuc line bishop Alfred Seiwert-Fleige? Just asking questions really.

  15. Woody Jones says:

    I think ad orientem is right: the deal will almost have to be that Bp Williamson resigns upon the SSPX being regularized. Hopefully the deal will include the Holy Father appointing a replacement like Fr. Schmidberger, who I imagine would have been consecrated instead of one of the other four in 1988 except that Abp Lefebvre did not want it to appear that he was creating a separate church structure, so since Fr. Schmidberger was superior of the SSPX at the time, he could not be consecrated. The election of Bishop Fellay as superior later was a different matter.

  16. Karen says:

    I was born in 1938. Does that mean I’m all washed up.

  17. Tim Ferguson says:

    There’s never been a tradition of appointing auxiliaries to a titular see, but why not start now. Maybe if he is reconciled, the Holy Father can make him auxiliary – or better yet, coadjutor cum iure successionis – to Partenia.

  18. Eugene says:

    It amazes me how in the last fifty years everybody has to apologize to the Jews or at least pay the lip service to the Holocaust. When will the Jews apologize for the Holocaust that Jewish Bolshevik commissars inflicted on the Russian and Ukrainian people throughout the 1920s-1930s killing millions and millions of Christians? Catholics of the world, wake up and let’s remember what the Jews did to our fellow Christians in the 20th century!

  19. Greg Hessel in Arlington Diocese says:

    Ad Orientem,

    You don’t know what you are talkinga about. Let Bishop Williamson stay right where he is in South America in that out-of-the way seminary where he won’t bother anyone but will train semanarians and perform ordinations. It is the perfect assignment. No one in Argentina knows who he is and no one cares so leave him there.

  20. Eugene says:

    Actually, Greg Hessel, in Argentina a lot of people know who Bishop Williamson is. He has been working there for a few years on behalf of spreading traditional Catholicism, something which cannot be said about “canonical” Argentine bishops. Bishop Williamson is not afraid of speaking out “for fear of the Jews”, unlike most of today’s “Catholic” bishops and even quite a few folks at the Vatican

  21. Greg Hessel in Arlington Diocese says:


    Are you sure? There are no links to his seminary from the USA site and when you click on the link from the International site no page pulls up. It doesn’t seem like the seminary is very big — certainly far smaller than the US seminary. As I understand it is out in the wilderness so it is very easy for him to fly under the radar. It’s probably why he was transferred there in the first place.

  22. dcs says:

    There’s never been a tradition of appointing auxiliaries to a titular see, but why not start now.

    No? Philadelphia’s four auxiliaries and two auxiliaries emeriti all have titular sees. I’m sure it’s not unique in this regard.

  23. Brian says:

    Please rate these in order of severity in terms of lacking wisdom and prudence such as to be unfit to serve as a Bishop:

    Repeatedly turning a blind eye to priests who are sexually molesting children and adolescents.

    Failing to discipline Catholic politicians who vote to maintain the legality of murdering millions of unborn children.

    Bishop Williamson’s recent remarks.

  24. Eugene says:

    Well, Greg Hessel, if you could read Spanish you could find plenty of information about the seminary and the extent of SSPX in South America. Can’t do it for you, sorry.

  25. Dear Eugene Lavrenchuk, author of the first post on this thread, re. that first post:

    My stomach turned to see so great a Father and Doctor as St. John Chrysostom used to score a point toward the advancement of a position that is in fact, if not in intent, anti-semitic. The figure of 6 million Jews comes from examination of the Nazis’ own meticulous Final Solution records – do you think the Elders of Zion falsified the Nazis’ records to make them look bad?

    The reason Jews and others of good will spend so much time and energy and money to keep alive the memory of and sensitivity toward the Shoah is because the Nazis tried, and got nearly half-way toward, exterminating God’s Chosen People; there is absolutely no a priori reason why it could not happen again, so there is constant vigilance.

  26. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    Regarding your point about HE Williamson’s age, and the implications of it for his future role in an SSPX fully reconciled to Rome, let me say the following:

    Of course Williamson will never have an assignment anywhere in the Church, under any circumstance. You know that, and I know that, but THEY (the Press, most Catholic lay faithful, and, most importantly, people of other confessions and religions who are well-disposed to the Church). Saying it would have, at once, assuaged bona fide people’s legitimate concerns and taken ammunition away from the monsters in the MSM.


  27. A Lesser Williamson says:

    It’s really amazing to read these entries by people who know nothing of Bishop Williamson discussing his fate as if he were something less than a human being. And, it’s ironic that you justify your dehumanization of him in defense of another dehumanization. Consider this excerpt from an interview that Stephen Heiner did with Bishop Williamson in 2006. The entire interview is available on Stephen Heiner’s website:

    Mr. Heiner asked Bp. W. about his conversion and how he came to be a seminarian at Econe.

    Bp. W. talked about reading the Summa, and he said, “[H]ere were great truths as hard as nails. I loved it.”

    Bp. W.: “I was received into the Church in early 1971 by a ‘conservative’ priest. He did not agree with Archbishop Lefebvre. But he believed I had a vocation, so he sent me firstly to a diocese and secondly to a religious congregation in London. After I got kicked out for the second time, he said, in his heavy Irish accent, ‘If you can’t keep your big mouth shut, there’s only one place for you, and that’s Econe.’ So that’s where I went.”

    Mr. Heiner: “What were your initial impressions of Econe and the Archbishop?”

    Bp. W.: “Econe – peace and order. The Archbishop—radiant with peace and order.”

    Mr. Heiner then asked Bp. W. about his fellow seminarians.

    In part, Bp. W. replied, “There was a quiet joy and a real sense of purpose.”—————
    Now, gentlemen, consider the human being who uttered these words . . . and then consider yourselves.

  28. Tim Ferguson says:

    I was unclear in my post. Of course, auxiliary bishops are appointed as bishops of titular sees, but not as auxiliaries to a titular see. Philadelphia has auxiliary bishops. Bishop Thomas, for example, is titular bishop of Bardstown. But Bardstown does not have a titular auxiliary.

  29. C. says:

    Bp Williamson may have questioned the numbers, but the numbers aren’t important.

    He said ZERO Jews died in gas chambers, and he said it on TELEVISION. It’s a plain lie and it calls the many witnesses liars, including the camp commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Stop apologizing for an outrageously evil use of tongue, an act of suicide against his own reputation and yours and ours.

    How would you like it if I–who have never met you–said, “I don’t think your father is really dead”, or “I think your father was murdered”, or “I don’t think your father was really your father”? What if I said it on television?

    Does Williamson deserve excommunication? No. What’s very troubling to me is that he controlled a seminary for years.

  30. Fr. AJ says:

    I don’t quite follow this. He’ll be 69 sometime this year but the retirement age for bishiops is 75.

  31. TerryC says:

    I would expect that Fr.Z means he does not expect the regularization of the SSPX to be accomplished within the next 5 years, or at least that once +Williamson reaches 70-71-72 the Holy See would not appoint him to a regular working position at that advanced age.

Comments are closed.