SSPX Bp. Williamson: ceased to function as seminary rector

It may be that the obvious shoe has dropped and that Bp. Williamson has been retired so that he won’t be an obstacle.

Rorate has this interesting story.

The Turning Tide:

Four SSPX Bishops send joint letter to the Pope

Spanish blog La Cigüeña de la Torre (the first to report that the decree of removal of excommunications was imminent) reports this evening that a special letter has been received at the Apostolic Palace:
A joint letter of the four Bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre was received in the Apostolic Palace, in which they thank the Holy Father for the lifting of the excommunications.

The letter, written in French, is very affectionate and conciliatory.

La Cigüeña also informs that Bishop Richard Williamson "has ceased [his functions] as director of the Seminary of La Reja [Argentina]". This information has not yet been confirmed.

posted by New Catholic at 10:44 PM


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  1. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    Bishop Williamson’s website of 2-8, after a nice piece on music of Beethoven, says he is not retired. But there is no detail

  2. schoolman says:

    “The letter, written in French, is very affectionate and conciliatory.”

    This seems to be the more important news item. I hope we will see this process move back on a fast track.

  3. TNCath says:

    This is good news. For the sake of unity and in the interests of avoiding scandal, after recanting his erroneous opinions, he needs to fade quietly into obscurity.

  4. On one hand I don’t like seeing people being run off for reasons nothing to do with doctrine or actual wrongdoing (sexual misdeeds, theft) to satisfy the politically correct.

    Fr Leonard Feeney didn’t have to recant his outrageous views. Why Bishop Williamson?

    That said the SSPX is smart making clear that it doesn’t teach the French anti-Semitism rife in its culture as Catholic doctrine.

  5. Ian says:

    Not to argue that Bishop Williamson was right, but one has to be objective about all of this, especially with all of the media uproar and misinformation.

    Bishop Williamson said in an interview recently that he was open to reconsidering his views provided he had the chance to see new evidence, since what he stated to the TV reporter was based on books and other things he had read in the 1980s.

    What he said is not “opinion” nor is it “fact”. He communicated what he had been lead to believe based on various sources. That’s not opinion.

    Finally, if the Bishop does truly believe the points which he made and is unable to be persuaded by other sources that his statement was in error, it would be a lie to “recant” (defined by St. Thomas as “a statement at variance with the mind”). Thus, the bishop would be sinning to “recant” when he does not truly believe his statements were in error. Demanding that he “recant” without giving him time to re-examine the evidence would be desiring him to sin, which certainly no Catholic should desire.

    There’s political expediency and then there’s the Faith. When we can have both, great. When political expediency doesn’t allow for practice of the Faith (which includes avoiding sin), the we have to be a sign of contradiction.

  6. EJ says:

    We really don’t need to split atoms over Bishop Williamson and his conscience here. The fact is that the Enemy has armed those who hate the Pope and the Church with a very powerful distraction which Williamson and his comments on the holocaust have proven to be. Maybe a field trip to Auschwitz or Dachau would be an aid in dispelling Williamson’s attachment to making inane comments and supporting unbelievably ridiculous conspiracy theories. He has been a loose cannon for quite some time, and I bet Bishop Fellay is quite sorry now for not reigning him in sooner, as we have seen him do in recent days. What possessed Lefebvre to put a mitre on this man’s head in the first place is quite beyond me. Let’s pray for Williamson and a happy and quiet retirement for him, and pray that the real issue of the reintegration of the SSPX into the Church move forward.

  7. scholastic says:

    Fr. Feeney was not disciplined for his teaching, he was disciplined or disobedience. Her presistently refused Pope Pius XII’s invitations to discuss the matter in person.

  8. Michael UK says:

    +Williamson will not lay down, he gave the interview to der Spiegel and could not resist the opportunity of a still wider audience. His ‘qualified’ view, combined with the appended comment to his signature on his Dinoscopus web nesletter merely underwrites the assertion.

    As it happens, UK TV Freeview History channel has featured a serial on “The Final Solution” which I have followed. Whilst it concentrates on the 6 million Jewish aspect, with little cover relative to the other 5 million, the same discredits +Williamson’s assertions.

    I well remember the newsreels contemporary to the allies entry into the ‘death camps’. The + Williamson briggade declare that such were faked. This presumes that whilst the allies were fighting across Europe, governments (?) wre busy creating holocuast propaganda.

    As previously stated: I am not disturbed by +Williamson’s views on the ‘death camps’- which are clearly unsound; I am extremely concerned regarding the cult he has created within SSPX America and the exportation of their ideas into SSPX UK.

  9. Michael UK says:

    Apologies, I have screen trouble on my pc and am unable to correct typos. Please bear with me.

  10. veritas says:

    The harvest is being gathered, and now the weeding has begun. Denial of the shoah is a sign of insanity, lack of charity, and the bearing of false witness against one’s neighbour. Eisenhower when the camps were liberated said that the German population sould be forced to visit them “so that some bastard in the future would not deny that it had happened”. His inelegantly phrased prophecy has come true.

    It is unworthy of catholicism to be associated with either denial of the shoah or anti-semitism. Thank God the Pope, that excelllent man, is so clear on the matter.

  11. Hear, hear, veritas!

  12. Fr. Z,

    Rorate has the following update in that same post now:

    [UPDATE: Bp. Williamson’s editor has told us that he has NOT ceased his functions as head of the SSPX seminary in La Reja, Argentina.][UPDATE: Bp. Williamson’s editor has told us that he has NOT ceased his functions as head of the SSPX seminary in La Reja, Argentina.]

  13. oops – except Rorate only states it once. :/

  14. In pondering this, I’m wondering if Fellay isn’t trying to get him to step down.

    Often times we look at the surface and think, “Why doesn’t just expel the loose cannon?”

    Consider, that any time someone is forced out in anyway, as opposed to go along with something, you lose not only that person, but many more.

    If Williamson goes down hard, how many seminarians and members of the SSPX will he take with him?

    Hence, I think the delicacy of it all is very clear, and the need for continued patience, and prayers all the more.

    As an aside, I didn’t realize he was rector of the seminary. God help those young men. We have to pray that they can weigh the good against the bad and discard those things which are really skewed.

  15. RJS says:

    It’s interesting, John Paul II invites pagans to Assisi and provides them with a room wherein they can commit false worship (a mortal sin against the first commandment), and we hear no complaints; John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger approve, as valid, a “mass” that has no words of consecration, and we hear virtually nothing; John Paul II claims that “the old covenant has never been revoked by God”, and he is praised for it; the USCCB takes John Paul II’s words at face value and issues a heretical document saying that it is no longer theologically appropriate to attempt to convert the Jews, since, after all, the have their own valid covenant, and Rome says nothing in response. John Paul II accepts the heretical Joint Declaration with the heretical Lutherans, and we hear nothing negative. The “clarification” for the heretical document is then issued saying that parts are “unacceptable” and almost no one knows about it.

    In short, some of the most blatant heresies come out of Rome and are approved by the Pope himself and no one says a peep (accept for the Traditionalists), yet when Bishop Williamson gives his personal opinion on a politically incorrect subject, “all hell breaks loose”. That is because, of course the holocaust has been used as the greatest PR campaign in the history of the world.

    Christendom was built on the true Holocaust – that of the Son of God on Calvary – whereas the New World Order is being built on the Jewish “holocaust”. Just as the “holocaust” has replaced the Holocaust, so too the never-ending-PR-campaign (the “continual sacrifice” – commemoration – of the holocaust”) is replacing the Mass – the “continual sacrifice” – and commemoration – of the True Holocaust. The victim and sacrifice have been replaced – and Woe to that one who does not march lockstep with the program.

    It’s bad enough that the world cannot see through this, but I would hope that those with the true faith would be able to see it for what it is.

  16. prof. basto says:


    1) There is an update on Rorate Caeli stating that Williamson’s editor denies that he has ceased to function as Seminary Rector;

    2) German Chancellor Angela Merkel telephoned the Pope to express her views on the situation, and they “reciprocally exchanged the own point of view in a climate of great respect”, according to a communiqué issued jointly by the Director of the Holy See Press Office and the Spokesman of the German Federal Government. This joint communiqué is published in today’s bulletin of the Holy See Press Office. It is written in the usual language of the Bulletin, and offers little detail on the contents of the discussion.

    3) Text of the joint communiqué:

    “Il Santo Padre Benedetto XVI e il Cancelliere Dott.ssa Angela Merkel, in un colloquio telefonico richiesto dalla stessa Signora Cancelliere, hanno avuto modo di scambiarsi reciprocamente il proprio punto di vista in un clima di grande rispetto.

    Al riguardo, entrambi hanno fatto riferimento ancora una volta alle dichiarazioni fatte rispettivamente dal Santo Padre all’udienza generale di mercoledì 28 gennaio e dalla Sig.ra Cancelliere giovedì scorso.

    Il portavoce del Governo Federale Sig. Wilhelm e Padre Lombardi, Direttore della Sala Stampa, hanno commentato: “È stato un colloquio cordiale e costruttivo, segnato dalla comune e profonda adesione al monito sempre valido della Shoah per l’umanità”.

  17. prof. basto says:

    The newsmedia is still not letting this newscycle end. Yet another frontpage report on CNN’s website, titled “German bishops say ‘no room’ for Holocaust denier in Catholicism”:

    According to CNN the Chairman of the German Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, told Spiegel Online that “the church should part ways with Bishop Williamson”, and quoted the Archbishop as saying: “Mr. Williamson is impossible and irresponsible” and “I now see no room for him in the Catholic Church”.

    So, here again we see the pattern of the media revolving arround this story, not letting it die; and Catholic Bishops of liberal persuasion helping to keep the story alive by criticizing publicly the Vatican’s decision.

    The Pope removes an excommunication, and the Chairman of the German Episcopal Conference says that the Church should part ways with the formerly excommunicateded person. An act of complete defiance to the Pope’s authority on the part of the German Episcopal Conference’s presidency. This only goes to show how deep the “Smoke of Satan” penetrated into the Catholic Episcopate. As a partial solution to this problem, I repeat the suggestion I have uttered before: the pope should assume unto himself the power of appointment of the Presidents of all the Episcopal Conferences of the World, not just Italy’s.

  18. veritas says:

    For we are God’s elected and all the rest are damned, and those poor Jews who suffered, often at the hand of our co-religionists, should shut up and not remind us of the sins of an earlier generation. If they do so it is of course just public relations, and we will pretend that it never happened.

    That seems to be the message of so many posters.

    Thank God for the essential decency, humanity, and sanity of the Pope.

  19. IvoDeNorthfield says:

    Bp Williamson was not asked to “recant” anything; rather, he was asked to “distance himself” from his publicly stated views on the Holocaust. He does not have to say that he has changed his mind, and that he now believes the commonly accepted account; he merely has to say that it is inappropriate for a Bishop to make statements about such matters, which is true.

  20. RJS says:

    Veritas: “we are God’s elected and all the rest are damned, and those poor Jews who suffered, often at the hand of our co-religionists, should shut up and not remind us of the sins of an earlier generation. If they do so it is of course just public relations, and we will pretend that it never happened.”

    I’m curious, how often to you lament the 100 Million Gentiles who were killed by the communists during the 20th century? Why do we never hear about this “holocaust”? Answer: Because we Gentiles have not used our “holocaust” as a PR campaign in order ot get the world to bow down to us, as have the unbelieving Jews – not to be confused with the faithful believing Jews who are Catholics.

  21. Maynardus says:

    The Young Fogey wrote:

    “Fr. Leonard Feeney didn’t have to recant his outrageous views. Why Bishop Williamson?”

    The comparison is in no way applicable. Fr. Feeney simply taught a strict interpretation of a defined truth of the Church; that might be irritating to some but it isn’t sinful. Perhaps some may be “offended” or “provoked” by that, but it has often spurred them to seek the truth in the Catholic Church!

    Bishop Williamson’s opinions are simply uninformed, and quite likely designed to “offend” and “provoke” as well, but to what end? While they are not sinful in and of themselves their expression is at best in poor taste and at worst malicious. One can hardly compare the two.

  22. prof. basto says:

    Dr. Edward Peters, Doctor in Canon Law, who has a blog (In the Light of the Law), posted a brief opinion regarding the legitimacy of the demand made by the Secretariat of State that Bp. Williamson must distance himself from his views on the Holocaust vis a vis the question of freedom of conscience of the faithful in matters outside the realm of Faith and Morals :

    “Within the (unsigned, grrr) Note of the Secretariat of State on the remission of excommunication against four SSPX bishops, Point Three thereof is causing some concerns among the faithful regarding liberty of thought and/or speech in the Church:

    3. Declarations on the Shoah . . . Bishop Williamson, in order to claim admission to episcopal functions in the church, must distance himself in absolutely unequivocal and public fashion from his positions regarding the Shoah, which were not known by the Holy Father when the excommunication was lifted.

    How, some are asking, can the pope order someone, even a bishop, to retract assertions (however stupid) concerning, not Catholic faith or morals, but points of history?

    I think here’s how: (1) The pope is demanding a retraction from Williamson not as a pre-condition to full communion, but rather, as a pre-condition to higher function in the Church. Verifying that someone, however ‘orthodox’ he might be, is not also a nut-case before allowing him to function in higher office within the Church seems to me entirely within a pope’s authority. (2) Williamson, though a bishop, ‘stole’ episcopal orders in the first place and has never been in full communion with the Church since that day; therefore, given his track-record of canonically illegal actions, a higher level papal scrutiny may be applied to him than might otherwise be appropriate for a bishop who has always been in full communion with Holy Mother Church. (3) Notwithstanding the legal anomalies surrounding hate-crime legislation, Williamson’s inane espousals seem to set him afoul of [German]* law. At the risk of setting out on slippery slope here, the pope’s special demand of Williamson may be seen as a papal directive to “Stop breaking local civil law, if you ever hope to exercise a legitimate role in the Church.”

    I leave to others to decide whether a single retractive statement by Williamson would, in fact, demonstrate his suitability for ecclesiastical office down the road, but such a statement would certainly seem to be a prerequisite.”


  23. Maureen says:

    RJS said: “It’s interesting, John Paul II invites pagans to Assisi and provides them with a room wherein they can commit false worship (a mortal sin against the first commandment), and we hear no complaints….”

    Not true. The organization of the event was badly handled; later events of the same kind have been much more definite about what is acceptable and unacceptable in inter-faith gatherings. We heard plenty complaints, various heads rolled, and we even got the document “Dominus Iesus” out of it. What more do you want? Chocolate and flowers, with a cherry on top?

    “John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger approve, as valid, a “mass” that has no words of consecration, and we hear virtually nothing….”

    That’s the Mass of Addai and Mari you’re insulting there. Nice way to talk about a genuinely patristic version of the Mass of the Ages. And you call yourself a traditionalist?

    But maybe it’s a case of reconciliation with the Pope for me and not for thee?

    “John Paul II claims that “the old covenant has never been revoked by God”, and he is praised for it….”

    So when Jesus said all that about neither jot nor tittle of the Law, He was lying. Nice way to talk about God, and another untraditional interpretation of the Bible. Nobody has ever said that the New Covenant _broke_ the Old, except maybe Marcionites.

    Before you complain any further about the heresies you think you see, you’d better do further study and remove the heretical 2 by 4 sticking out of your eyes.

  24. Richard says:

    Hello Maureen,

    Nice work.

  25. Paul says:

    The Most Rev. William F. Murphy is bishop of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

    From 1979 to 1987 he was undersecretary of the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace and helped arrange the gathering at Assisi in 1986.

  26. Nils says:

    @ Fr Z
    Regarding: Comment by Andrew — 8 February 2009 @ 1:17 am

    This alleged quote of then Cardinal Ratzinger references a fake article with German title. Literally translated the title would be something along the lines of ‘The d***heads’ faith’, although it appears to be made up by someone who isn’t actually capable of German. A quick Google search reveals it has been referenced before in catholic forums and is at great risk of being used again. I’d suggest to delete the entry including mine or at least make obvious it’s fake in order to diminish the risk of it being referenced again. Thanks!

  27. dad29 says:

    Argentina, eh? Quite apropos.

  28. Mark Ma says:

    Andrew, I don’t know about your point but your reasoning is nonsensical. Yes, we were non-Catholic before baptism. The whole point is that Feeney thought you needed to be baptized Catholic (that is, part of the formal Church) to be saved. His point wasn’t that only people born Catholic are saved.

    You and I probably agree on the point that baptism by desire and blood are possible, as well as invincible ignorance. I just take serious issue with your reasoning.

    I am not telling anyone to “shut up and not remind us” of the Holocaust, but I think that people outside of the Church trying to influence the lifting of excommunications was going too far. The excommunication wasn’t for denying the Holocaust, so why should that affect it? In my limited knowledge of Church history, I think that there is too much “dialogue” that results in unilateral concession by the Church. This kind of inter-religious relationship is useless, as far as I can tell. Would you agree?

  29. Prof. Basto says:


    Brazilian mainstream media ( is confirming that Bp. Williamson was removed from the office of Seminary rector.

    The article also quotes the South American District Superior of the SSPX, Christian Bouchacourt, distancing himself and the Society from Williamson’s remarks.


  30. John says:

    Hopefully either the retirement or removal to a non public position should end the holocaust denial matter. The speach of every Catholic Bishop no more represents the Catholic church than the speach of every Orthodox rabbi speaking from a West Bank settlement regarding the Palestinians represents Judaism. And there have been some equally bizare opinions offered right wing Rabbis as as well.

  31. Michael J says:


    Your characterization of the events at Assisi really does harm to the image and character of the late John Paul II. In order to believe that it was simply “badly organized”, one would have to believe that John Paul II was a simpleton who had no idea what was happening around him. Further, once the blasphemous events began to unfold, your explanation requires that we believe that John Paul II was weak willed and did not have the fortitude to put a stop to it.

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