Tornielli on Williamson and conspiracies to embarass the Pope

The intrepid Andrea Tornielli has a piece in Il Giornale today about, what else, SSPX Bp. Williamson and the Jews.

The great Fabrizio kindly did a rapid translation for us.

A conspiracy against the Pope behind the negationist bishop

By Andrea Tornielli

It is an unofficial dossier, of only a few pages, dedicated to the origins of the Williamson case, much read in the sacred palaces [that is, the buildings of the Vatican where the offices of the Curia are, especially the Apostolic Palace] these days. It is a dossier that reached the desks that count in on the Vatican side of the Tiber and that puts together dates and circumstances, suggesting that what happened in these latest days could be more than a series of coincidences.

According to the dossier, the filming and airing of the interview with the prelate denying gas chambers and the reality of the millions of  Jews dead during the Shoah, in the eve of the remission of the excommunication of the Lefebvrist bishops was somehow orchestrated by circles seeking  to put Benedict XVI in trouble. Circles that might have been helped by some opposition from within, someone contrary to the reconciliation with the Fraternity St. Pius X.
The dossier minimizes neither the absurd words pronounced by Williamson, nor the gravity of their coincidence with the Day of Memory, which especially hurt the sensibility of the Jewish world, but it hints to the possibility of interventions aimed at creating the case.

Williamson – says the dossier – was interviewed on November 1st 2008 “at the Bavarian seminary of the Fraternity St. Pius X”. The bishop was in Regensburg where he came to ordain to priesthood a Swedish former Protestant pastor. The bishop is reached by the journalist Ali Fegan, of the TV show “Uppgrad Gransking” (“Mission Research”). They talk for one hour. At some point, Fegan reminds Williamson certain negationist statements on gas chambers he had released many years earlier in Canada. The bishops answers by saying the well-known enormities, knowing that his words, in Germany, constitute a criminal offence: “for the things I am saying you could take me to jail since we are in Germany…”
The interview was aired on January 21st, the very day of the signing of the decree of remission of the excommunication.



The authors of the show guarantee that it was a coincidence, while the “Dossier Williamson” does not rule out the possibility that the info about the remission of the excommunication was somehow leaked to the Swedish network.  During the same  show there was also an interview with the French journalist Fiammetta Venner, a well-known militant of the homosexual movement and active in pro-choice campaigns. On the eve of last september’s journey of Benedict XVI to Paris and Lourdes, together with her lover Caroline Fourest – with whom she shares many anti-religious battles and ties to the Grand Orient of France – she authored a book titled “The New Papal Army. Legion of Christ, Opus Dei, Traditionalists”, very harsh against the Pope and against the Lefebvrists, accused of connections with the circles of the French far-right. The dossier insists on the French origin of the case and on the role played by Venner and Fourest in this story. On January 20, on the eve of the airing of the show, the German weekly Der Spiegel revealed in advance the contents of the interview and will go as far as to write that “the Central Council of Jews in Germany “ had been “already informed” of the negationist statements of the bishop.

But the decree had been already penned and personally delivered into Fellay’s hands by Card. Giovanni Battista Re, the head of the Fraternity St. Pius X, called to Rome for the occasion. Therefore, when the news of the Williamson interview begun to spread around, it was already to late to do anything. On January 20th, the Diocese of Stockholm and the head of the German Lefebvrists release two distinct communiqués to deplore all forms of anti-Semitism. The news was already in the open, but its scope and its consequences are not perceived in the sacred palaces.

A complicated mystery, then, or a series of coincidences? The dossier circulated does not contain evidence. It limits itself to compare hypothesis and data. One thing is sure: not many, in the Vatican, believe that the Williamson case was just a coincidence.

Paolo Rodari also has an interesting story.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Wait, wait, wait! I’m still working on the other conspiracy theory for Abraham Lincoln’s death.

  2. Satan is trying his damnedest isn’t he, “French journalist Fiammetta Venner, a well-known militant of the homosexual movement and active in pro-choice campaigns”. the stench of sulfur as they say

  3. Mila says:

    Father, I just heard on RTVE that the German chancellor Angela Merkel has protested, insisting that what Bishop Williamson said is a crime in Germany and, from what I understood, she’s asking that the Holy Father reverse himself. Of course, they also quoted “prominent theologians”, like Küng, asking that the Holy Father resign! I know, it’s absurd. It looks like the whole deal is big news in Europe. No one seems to have any idea what excommunication is, or what the lifting of the sanction means. So sad. We need to pray.

  4. Thomasso says:

    Satan is truly at work and his minions inside and outside the Church are only too willing to do his dirty work. Faithful Catholics must constantly pray for the Holy Father that he will be given the health, strength and continued conviction to carry out his mission as Vicar of Christ.

  5. Ottaviani says:

    Tornielli is a respected and usually accurate journalist – I doubt he would report on something that was just plain bizarre and just a mere conspiracy theory.

    Tornielli has also ‘let the cat out of the bag’ on masonry in the Vatican curia before – it would not surprise me if this is another one of their doings.

  6. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    It seems that Fr. Z’s prediction that a firestorm may stir this week against the Holy Father is coming to pass…

  7. Dan says:

    In short, any conspiracy theory that may be considered somewhat plausible by “traditionalists” has been mocked in recent years by a great many conservatives.

    But the “Williamson case” conspiracy theory will be advanced by many conservatives. Not because it does, to some extent, alleviate the endless and un-Christian piling on of Bishop Williamson that has taken place. (By the way, there is a sense in which we owe Bishop Williamson an apology, which, of course, we are too proud to offer.)

    But the “Williamson case” conspriracy theory will gain traction among conservatives as the theory protects the Holy Father.

    That said, several folks, including I, wrote at the beginning of the “Williamson case” that Bishop Williamson was, in a sense, set up.

    That, of course, was dismissed here and elsewhere. But it should have been obvious from the beginning of the “Williamson case” that there was a sense in which Bishop Williamson had been set up. It is very difficult to believe that the “Williamson case” is just a coincidence.

  8. Thaddeus says:

    this is what happens when you start ordaining bishops without papal mandate, this williamson wasnt right from the start and has never been under any real authority. converted to the sspx when they were already broken with rome and then ordained a “bishop” in this manner only leads one to conclude that he is in fact merely anglican, although grant you a conservative one.

  9. Aquino says:

    “this is what happens when you start ordaining bishops without papal mandate, this williamson wasnt right from the start…”

    Unfortunately the same could be said about many bishops consecrated with a papal mandate – we have plenty examples in the UK of bishops refusing to act under the real authority of their teaching Office and faithfulness to the teaching office of the Holy Father.

  10. schoolman says:

    I seem to recall that a certain blog broke the story of the lifting of the excommunications based on information leaked by Cardinal Re. Why did Cardinal Re choose to leak the information through a blog? Did he sign the decree with one hand and seek to undermine it with the other?

  11. mrsmontoya says:

    Well, this answers my question about the importance of this topic. I must say, I am an extreme skeptic of conspiracy theories, and even I see the dots connecting here.

    Prayers for strength for our spiritual leaders!

  12. Brian Day says:

    Dan –

    Who is this “we” you refer to? (By the way, there is a sense in which we owe Bishop Williamson an apology, which, of course, we are too proud to offer.)
    And you are setting up “conservatives” as a strawman. Can you tone down the rhetoric a bit? Thanks.

  13. Rachel says:

    I thought there was something fishy about the interview with Bishop Williamson being aired around the same time as the excommunications were being lifted..especially considering that the interview was done in November. Hmm….something smells very rotten about this. If this report is true then I’m not surprised and it fits..sadly. Pray, pray, pray for the Holy Father.

  14. Prof. Basto says:

    Then the Holy Father must find out who is the “mole” inside the Vatican.

  15. TerryC says:

    “Then the Holy Father must find out who is the “mole” inside the Vatican.”
    A very difficult proposition since I would assume that the Vatican, like any large bureaucracy, has a hoard of minor functionaries who are privy to any statement before it is released. Anyone can be a leak with an agenda. That does not even speak to the senior Curia, some of who are hostile to Catholic orthodoxy.

  16. schoolman says:

    The blog that broke the story cited Cardinal Re as the source. The open question is the intent behind the “leak”. Was it intended to stir up the media in advance of the “exposive news”?

  17. Michael says:

    “Then the Holy Father must find out who is the “mole” inside the Vatican.”

    The Vatican must have a fairly sophisticated intelligence capability and security organization. Are they unable to root out a mole(s) in their own hierarchy? If you think about it, there could not have been too many functionaries that were privy to the Holy Fathers plans and schedule to lift the excommunications. The list should be fairly short.

  18. Woody Jones says:

    Hmmm, “The New Papal Army. Legion of Christ, Opus Dei, Traditionalists”, at least all my eggs are in the right (you should pardon the pun) basket.

    If Venner and Fourest had a role to play in this unfortunate affair, what does that say about the proclivities of their associates in the Vatican, eh? Some will recall Malachi Martin’s “Windswept House” novel in which he alleged that there had been an enthronement of Satan in the Vatican. I always thought that to be too extreme an occurrence to actually have happened, but perhaps what he was doing was using that as a novelistic device to call attention to a cabal of a different (and yet perhaps not so different) sort lurking there.

  19. Dominic says:

    Wow! Very important news, I think. Thanks for the posting in English, Father.

  20. Having just come back from dinner over here in France, I\’m sick to my stomach, not because of the French cuisine, but because of the discussion at table. Don\’t get me wrong: everyone was very, very supportive of the Holy Father. It\’s the things they said about who was condemning the Holy Father today. I put two and two together and… I don\’t feel well. The Holy Father needs our prayers, now…

  21. TJM says:

    This too shall pass. Consider who’s fanning the controversy: the left-wing loon Catholic hating media which is going out of business anyway. Tom

  22. John says:

    This to shall pass away.

    For whatever reasons Bp. Williamson believes that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis but not 6,000,000. Is there any reason to think that he is not sincere in this? If he is sincere, how can he, with real honesty now recant on these beliefs.

    Holocaust denial is not punishable by excommunication. Unauthorized reception of episcopal ordination is. I see no way that Pope Benedict could have lifted the penalty from Fellay, etc., and kept the penalty on Williamson. To have done so would have made Williamson a martyr within SSPX, especially among those who wish to remain separate from Rome.

    Benedict might have done Card. Kasper a favor by keeping him out of the loop on this. He gave Kasper \”deny-ability.\” Kasper can play \”good cop\” in the ecumenical arena while Benedict plays \”bad cop.\” In any event, lifting excommunications is an internal Church matter. It does not concern other Christian denominations, let alone non-Christian religions. I do not think it is wise to give our separated brethren, let alone our elder brothers, veto power over internal Church matters, especially those relating to the salvation of souls and the unity of Christ\’s body. This is also true in matters like canonizations.

    The SSPX should realize that Benedict took not a few bullets for them. Hopefully they will keep that in mind when it comes time for substantive dicussions. I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised, if not astonished, by the positive reaction from the SSPX bishops. Williamson\’s apology to Benedict was pure class and utter humility.

  23. Paul Haley says:

    Lucifer is pulling out all the stops to have his henchmen derail the reconciliations. He will not succeed because Our Holy Mother has things well in hand and with our continued prayers She will step on his head with her heel and stop his wicked hissing. Holy Father do not be led astray by the prophets of doom. We stand with you and applaud your efforts. Viva il Papa!

  24. tecumseh says:

    Williamson is nuts. But, lets hear it from the film makers, when did they film, and did they sit on it for three months. Why. Why release it when they did. Lets hear it from the Jewish authorities in Germany, if they new about it before the event, why castigate the Pope, if they are so concerned about Catholic / Jewish relations why not warn they Pope. Seems they referred to consort with “Herod” rather than “return home”. Lets hear it from the French “women”, whats it got to do with them. Come on ladies, cat got your tongues. Lets hear it from the Vatican Mole. Most of all lets hear it from the Hierarchy, defend the Faith, why don’t you.

  25. EDG says:

    schoolman – Cdl Re evidently chats frequently with the Spanish blogger and a lot of things to do with the Church in Spain, such as episcopal appointments, are discussed in the blog; however, nothing is ever announced until it’s definite and public. It’s not much different from any other “insider blog.” Both the Cardinal and the blogger are very orthodox, btw, so if there was some attempt to schedule the release of information in such a way as to be damaging, neither of them had anything to do with it consciously, I’m sure.

    There were rumors from all sides that something was going to be done about the SSPX before long, and I’m sure that the Swedish TV station that had managed to get that interview was waiting for the perfect moment – but this could equally well have been just before the Pope’s announcement. After all, if the interview had come out before the Pope’s action, it might have made it impossible for him to go ahead in his attempt to resolve the situation of the SSPX, which certainly wouldn’t have displeased some folks in the Vatican, either. In other words, I think that once they got the interview, there was no time they could have released it that wouldn’t have had a seriously negative impact on both the Pope and the SSPX. It was a win-win situation for the enemies of the Church. But I do suspect that some hostile person in the Vatican probably knew about the existence of the interview (not Cdl Re, however) and the damaging material it contained, and did all he could to make sure it had the greatest possible impact.

  26. fxr2 says:

    Prof. Basto said “Then the Holy Father must find out who is the “mole” inside the Vatican.”
    I think His Holiness has found all sorts of disloyal members of the Hierarchy. This uproar will also set a standard of those reconciling with the Holy Church. SSPX will accept the new Good Friday Prayers. I don’t believe Pope Benedict XVI was not anticipating this fallout. Let Us all give the Vicar of Christ our confidence and our prayers.

  27. Simon Platt says:

    I think you’ll find that “Cardinal Re” is not, well, Cardinal Re.

  28. TMG says:

    One only has to type a search on Concordat Watch to view Fiammetta Venner’s article from 9-18-08 entitled “The Pope’s Plot to redefine secularism (and Vatican II)”, which exposes her agenda against Catholicism, and reveals the secularists’ campaign to try to derail the Pope’s relations with the SSPX. Very illuminating.

    It has been stated that she is a political scientist. The fight over the lifting of the excommunications began way before the interview with Bishop Williamson (which as events unfold appears to have been a planned set-up that he caught on to at the end of the interview but too late). Notice how the “catholic” politicians of the same secularist-liberal bent in the United States have also jumped on board the media train (liberal itself) to chastise the Holy Father. This is a political fight for the secularists. They want to keep traditional Catholicism firmly under a yoke to freely continue advancing their agenda of evil.

  29. RJM says:

    I’m not too sure about a total conspiracy in this particular case (although there may be some smoke in the air). Williamson’s views are not news to anyone who has followed the evolution of SSPX and FSPX; there is no shortage of material available at the click of a mouse.
    I am more inclined to cock-up theory; that the public release of the news of the lifting of the excommunications was poorly handled by people who either should have known better or were asleep at the switch.

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