Risible in the City of Angels

Roughly 3000 people have sent me a note about how Card. Mahony of LA has "banned" SSPX Bp. Williamson from the Archdiocese.

It is to laugh.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. BTW… here is the text from The Tidings.

    In the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Williamson is hereby banned from entering any Catholic church, school or other facility, until he and his group comply fully and unequivocally with the Vatican’s directives regarding the Holocaust. Later this year, I, Cardinal Mahony, will visit Israel and pay my respects to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem.

  2. B Knotts says:

    Fr., do you think this is something he cannot do? While I recognize that bishops have authority to put people under ecclesiatical penalties, it seems to me that those people have rights as well, and that there would have to be some canonical reason to impose such a severe penalty.

  3. Jordanes says:

    B Knotts said: there would have to be some canonical reason to impose such a severe penalty.

    Yep. That’s why the cardinal’s ban is nothing but empty words. He has no authority to ban Bishop Williamson from the churches in his archdiocese, nor to decree, as he did, that Bishop Williamson is not a member of the Catholic Church and may never become one — this despite the Holy Father remitting his excommunication. Not that Bishop Williamson is likely ever to step foot in one of Cardinal Mahony’s churches any way.

  4. Folks: Don’t be overly serious about this.

  5. Fr. Angel says:

    B Knotts:

    While the laity can come and go where it pleases them, we clergy can indeed be “banned.” This would take the form of a visiting priest or bishop being told that he had no faculties to minister any sacraments or preach in the specific diocese.

    A bishop also has the power to threaten those clerics subject to him that we are not allowed to appear in a geographic location where we have caused scandal or disturbance. So, my bishop could forbid me from returning to the locality of a previous parish where I caused harm to the faithful, under penalty of suspension.

    Williamson’s case is curious though. He is neither incardinated or subject to the Archbishop of Los Angeles, nor would he have official visitor status since as a suspended bishop he cannot visit and minister in any parish of the archdiocese.

    It seems to me that any banishment would be really ceremonial or symbolic since no one can stop him from visiting the SSPX chapels except his superior in the SSPX.

  6. thomas tucker says:

    I hereby officially ban Roger Cardinal Mahony from
    visiting my home in Austin.
    Two can play at that game, your Eminence!

  7. Merriweather says:

    I think the *Catholic Faith* was actually banned from all the Churches within the archdiocese of Los Angeles.

    So I suppose +Williamson is in good company with all the other Catholic exiles.

  8. Dan says:

    If Cardinal Mahoney really wanted to ‘punish’ Bishop Williamson, he should invite him to concelebrate in his cathedral!

  9. Amy P. says:

    What’s funny is the list of people Card. Mahoney hasn’t “banned” from the Archdiocese of LA…

  10. Merriweather said: I think the Catholic Faith was actually banned from all the Churches within the archdiocese of Los Angeles.

    Spot on, my good man !

  11. Geoffrey says:

    I saw this in the newspaper yesterday. I didn’t give it much thought because I don’t see Williamson visiting the Archdiocese of Los Angeles any time soon! If I recall the head of the SSPX wants him to “lay low”… out of sight, out of mind.

  12. jarhead462 says:


    Semper Fi!

  13. jarhead462 says:

    Hey, I just realized that I would rather have the cardinal in the next post running the Diocese of L.A. than the current one ;)

    Semper Fi!

  14. James says:

    Father Z.,

    You don’t think it is quite serious that the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles says the things he does? This letter (it must be official if he is decreeing that Bishop Williamson is banned) is full of sickening religious indifferentism. And he writes this false Gospel rubbish in the name of the Second Vatican Council…

    It may be hot air, all right, but it isn’t exactly pleasant coming from one of the most prominent princes of the Church.

  15. John Enright says:

    I always loved that line “It is to laugh.” Glad to see that you like it too, Father!

  16. Paul M says:

    Yes, this is what amounts to courageous leadership in LA. It’s particularly ironic in light of all of the dissenters invited by the Cardinal to speak at the wRECk last week. Let’s see: sponsor a group of dissenters and give them a public platform (and cover), then turn around and ban someone who will never come here anyway.

    Leadership at its finest. Bishop Martino, eat your heart out!

  17. Ken STL says:

    Fr. Angel, this ban is not related to his ministering, but even entering the churches. Bishop Williamson should sue.

  18. Irish says:

    Fr Angel wrote: Williamson’s case is curious though. He is neither incardinated or subject to the Archbishop of Los Angeles, nor would he have official visitor status since as a suspended bishop he cannot visit and minister in any parish of the archdiocese.

    Fr, that made me start thinking: Does Mahony know something that we don’t yet? Perhaps the communion is closer than we think and Mahony is removing the welcome mat in advance of the announcement?

  19. RANCHER says:

    Cardinal–ban thyself!

  20. Joey says:

    “…Williamson is hereby banned from entering any Catholic church, school or other facility, until he and his group comply fully and unequivocally with the Vatican’s directives regarding the Holocaust.”

    And when will His Eminence comply fully and unequivocally with the Vatican’s directives regarding the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite?

  21. John says:

    This foolishness cheapens the seriousness of the role of bishop in Christ’s Church.

    Cardinal Mahoney should not give in to such overt displays of self righteous indignation. Especially when taken into consideration that I serisouly doubt Bishop Williamson has any plans to visit LaLa Land.

    In a small way this reminds me of an old Cheers episode in which the loud mouth know-it-all mailman Cliff answers a Jeopardy question with “Who are 3 people who have never been in my kitchen.”

    Yes Cardinal, you are right. Bishop Williamson will never set foot in your diocese much like the celebrities who never set foot in Cliff’s kitchen…not that they ever wanted to anyway.

    Maybe the cardinal can begin educating eskimos on the dangers of heat stroke?

    Cardinal Mahoney, do your job and stop looking for such clumsy ways of declaring your self rightousness.


  22. DeborahAnne says:

    Ummmm…let me think about this, but not too seriously… Card Mahony has banned Williamson, but allowed inauguaration ceremonies held at a major cathedral for pro-abortion Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Ah, Card Mahony has such a way of engendering confusion and mutal recriminations. His Eminence is deserving of our prayers.

    Deus Lux Mea

  23. ALL: You must keep the mean stuff out of the combox.  I will ban you. It is an appropriate gesture, given the topic! o{]:¬)

  24. Chris says:

    Am I the only one that wishes to see this settled with a good, old fashion fist fight? I’ve got every last cent on H.E. Williamson!

    Good always prevails over, well …

  25. Irenaeus says:

    [EDITED OUT as a warning by Fr. Z. I was smiling, but not kidding.]

  26. Folks: Don’t be overly serious about this.

    Yes. There seems to be more preening than preaching in His Eminence’s statement.

    (I hope that doesn’t run afoul of the “mean stuff” rule.)

  27. Jacques says:

    Fortunately the catholic churches are not like casinos where a physionomist janitor remembers the faces of forbidden people to bar them from entrance.
    Bp Williamson, once he has Rayban sunglasses and wears lay clothes, who ever would be able to recognize him? Unless Card. Mahony would display his photograph with the mention “wanted dead or alive”.

  28. Son of Trypho says:

    Fr Z
    I know you’ve suggested that this should be light hearted but perhaps you can comment on something I’ve been thinking about concerning this.

    Mahoney’s actions are a calculated win-win for him (and his faction) precisely because the Vatican is going to be extremely reluctant to come out and confront him publicly (on refusing permission for Williamson to attend his diocese) and face the awful press which would go along with doing something like this.

    I wouldn’t be suprised that, if they let this ride, that other liberal prelates don’t come out and do something similar to embarass the Pope. Your thoughts?

  29. In my solemn capacity as august pastor of my two parishes in the venerable city of Piqua, Ohio, I hereby ban from entering, or even contemplating entering, the territorial bounds of my two parishes, the following notorious people:

    > Bishop Richard Williamson
    > Hugo Chavez
    > Heinrich Himmler
    > Benedict Arnold
    > The singer known as Yanni

    Harumph harumph!

  30. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    This is just so laughable!

    I do hope that LA trad & author William Biersach is able to work this into his next Fr. Baptist mystery novel!

    After reading his first novel “The Endless Knot”, I have never looked at a bottle of Jagermeister the same way!

  31. Tim Ferguson says:

    Is Bishop William Richardson still allowed in?

  32. Gordon says:

    This is indeed a laugh. But it also has very serious undertones. The Lord Cardinal speaks of Williamson and “his group” denying the holocaust. Is the cardinal deleberately ignoring the declarations of Bishop Fellay and Fr. Schmidberger, or has it not been brought to his attention? He risks falling into the same position of the English bishop he condemns, by denying stated truth. This is part of the grave damage Bishop Williamson has caused by making it sound that all in SSPX are shoah deniers. But it has also been all over the secular press that Bishop Williamson has been silenced and indeed comments condemned by his own superior. However, this kind of thing coming from a senior bishop does nothing to help solve matters with SSPX. Given that we are supposed to be observing charity, being quadragesima, the cardinal really ought to know better. Maybe His Eminence feels the need to say something tough lest it sounds that he also, or the Church in general is not of same opinion as said English Bishop. After all, he does have Hollywood on his doorstep. We know how they can twist things. But the way Mgr. Mahoney has gone about repudiating Bishop Williamson is quite simply ridiculous! I would love to tell the Cardinal of a sermon Bishop Williamson gave 20 years ago about the doctor in Califronia, but that might make bishop Williamson sound, well perhaps a little sane! (In case you all wonder, the doc was the good guy)

  33. Calleva says:

    I am afraid I can’t laugh. Williamson is wrong, but so is hanging him out to dry in the name of political correctness. Williamson is a child of God and not a demon. Casting him out in a PC-style exorcism will simply drive him further towards the rather questionable characters he’s been associating with in recent days.

    I still say that the best remedy would be for a kindly, very old, rabbi to give Williamson a tour of Auschwitz.

  34. I am not Spartacus says:

    Gee, I didn’t know Bishop Williamson subscribed to The Tidings

  35. Vasya says:

    Does that mean His Eminence would refuse to hear +Williamson’s confession in one of the Archdiocese’s churches?

  36. I thought Deborah Anne’s comments were quite charitable, without deservance of banishment. The truth isn’t easy to whitewash; Christ sees everything we do. Thank you, Father Z.

  37. Brendan says:

    “Holocaust deniers like Williamson will find no sympathetic ear or place of refuge in the Catholic Church, of which he is not — and may never become — a member.”

    Is Cardinal Mahony saying that Williamson’s Baptism is invalid?

  38. Dino says:

    Someone has already mentioned posturing. This statement by the Cardinal was issued jointly in his diocesan newspaper and in a publication of the two rabbis with him at the news conference where it was announced. Posturing at its best.
    So the bishop, who hasn’t indicated he had any plans to visit LA, is banned from Catholic churches there, but non-Catholics, pro-aborts, and most anyone else may attend Mass.

  39. Merriweather says:

    All joking aside, this declaration from the Cardinal is right on the heels of the announcement that the was under Federal investigation in connection the sex abuse coverup.

    Coincidence? I think not. Cardinal Mahony is a pro at evasive maneuvers.

  40. Look at the bright side, how frequently do you get to use “risible” in a blog
    post title?

  41. Immaculatae says:

    Love this movie, by the way :) Thanks, FrZ

  42. I have to laugh, as a resident in LA…

    The Catholic Faith isn’t completely banned in LA, just the majority of it with about 5 parishes of orthodoxy left.

  43. Phil Steinacker says:


    I’m so glad I was not one of the 3,000. I contemplated it for just a second, but realized I was torn between laughing and shrugging. It is so childish as not to be worth the trouble.

    Frankly, it’s alxo too absurd to be worth a slapdown by anyone else, even Benedict XVI.

    It is embarrassing, though, to observe a Prince of the Church behaving in such a silly and grandiose manner, especially when the news also reported that he suggested
    the ban to two Jewish members of a diocesan Catholic/Jewish group who contacted him to express concern about Bishop Williamson.

  44. Jakub says:

    I don’t think that Bishop Williamson would set foot in that Cathedral…

  45. Irenaeus says:

    Sorry, Father — I did not mean to offend. So let’s just say there’s a lot of other stuff Mahony could concern himself with besides Williamson, who’s on another continent (iirc).

  46. TomW says:

    He goes public on Williamson while he has several pro abort politicians under his authority that he’s never uttered a word. I pray for Bp. Mahoney daily.

  47. Fr. Angel says:

    From Cardinal Mahony’s 2000 Lenten Message, a few passages that perhaps he should remember after his edict against Williamson:

    “I would begin by expressing my personal apologies to everyone in the Archdiocese whom I have offended in my pastoral ministry by a lack of patience and understanding, through my pride and lack of charity, and by my rush to judge others without adequately hearing other points of view.” I wonder if the Cardinal bothered to reach out to Williamson or attempted to converse with him?

    The end of the pastoral message has this other quote:
    “As we begin our Lenten Journey in the Great Jubilee Year 2000, may I invite each one of you to reflect deeply in your own heart and soul in order to determine to whom you might need to extend apologies, seek forgiveness, and share generously the grace of reconciliation. Let us together create a more harmonious world as we become those unique instruments of reconciliation, harmony, and peace.”

    Hmmmm. Okaaaaay. How often we clergy, myself included, type and preach beautiful and lofty orations of charity and reconciliation. Yet how often an angry moment leads us to excess which causes our very lofty words to ring hollow and be rendered almost laughable.

  48. Larry says:

    While the Cardinal/Archbishop has the authority to do this it does seem a bit strange. The language of the announcement also does not seem quite right. Is this an official announcement? It is just not very well constructed and I wonder if someone is pulling our leg here. If it is real then I think someone should begin watching very carefully what the Arcbishop puts out for public consumption.

  49. RC says:

    Amazing: I’m actually approving of something Cdl. Mahony did. Well, except for the exaggerated aspect of the order.

    I imagine if Bishop Williamson were to enter the Cathedral in L.A., it would explode like something in a Stephen King movie.

  50. Duna says:

    For those of us who have lived under the hideousness and horrendous decisions of this man, to ask us to not recognize his vile behavior and words is sad. There is nothing remotely laughable at the heresy of this man who’s position as a leader in the Catholic Church is absolutely disgusting to loyal Catholics in Southern California. For the Vatican to ignore for decades the way he has lead Catholics astray gives many of us pause as to whether or not we can rely on Rome.

    There’s nothing funny about this or manony at all.

  51. Adam says:

    Geoffrey and Merriweather – All is not lost in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I say this because at my parish, no mention was made of the Religious Education Congress, either before or after the event, from the pulpit or in the bulletin. Our bulletin is extensive and is a great reinforcement to what we hear in the pews, especially at election time. I don’t think the REC was omitted by accident. There is hope!!

  52. Merriweather says:


    What *exactly* do you approve of?

  53. JohnC says:

    Creative MInority Report has a very “interesting” take on the subject. http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/2009/03/people-mahony-has-not-banned.html

  54. Paul Stokell says:

    Cardinal Mahony followed his statement – practically with the same breath – with his intention to visit Israel.

    Hollywood is in Mahony’s jurisdiction.

    Do the math!

  55. Maureen says:

    I guess Mahony is the Hug Nazi.

    “Williamson! No hugs for you!”

  56. Sandy says:

    I will never forget Mother Angelica’s feisty remarks about this Cardinal’s document on the “Liturgy”! God bless her – she got herself in hot water!

  57. MGH says:

    Some of your rhetorical questions asked of His Eminence are obliquely answered in my post, “The Extraordinary Form of Mass and Immunity from the Supreme Authority of the Church,” in my blog:


    Hope it’s helpful.

    Pax et bonum,
    Matthew G. Hysell

  58. Patrick Kinsale says:

    Someone above: “I imagine if Bishop Williamson were to enter the Cathedral in L.A., it would explode like something in a Stephen King movie.”

    Anyone want to chip in to fly Bishop Williamson to LA?

  59. Rachel says:

    Father, what’s that video clip from? I love it!

    I’ll contribute to that Fly-in-BpWilliamson-to-blow-up-LA-Cathedral fund. If he can do that I’ll forgive him for every condescending thing he’s ever said about women. :)

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