Once more controversy is stirred around SSPX Bp. Williamson and the Holy See’s Press Office. What did X, Y, Z know and when did they know it?
In a nutshell, a very messy and nasty nutshell, the Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden, H.E. Anders Arborelius, said on Swedish TV what the Holy See knew about Bp. Williamson before the excommunications of the SSPX bishops were lifted last January.
You will recall that Bp. Williamson was interviewed on Swedish TV. That was when he revealed his thoughts about the Holocaust, to the amazement of many (not all).
According to the new claims, Bp. Arborelius and the Nuncio in Sweden sent the information about the Swedish TV interview with Bp. Williamson to the Holy See in November 2008 saying that the program would be aired on 21 January 2009, the very day that Pope Benedict signed the document which lifted the excommunications.
Remember: The excommunications of the SSPX had nothing to do with the opinions any of them had about the Holocaust. They were excommunicated because of the illicit consecrations in 1988.
In the meantime, here is an English text of a letter issued by the Press Office’s director Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ to a Turkish journalist Ali Fegan who was behind the Swedish TV interview:
Dear Mr Fegan,
the only thing I can say is that I did not have any knowledge about your interview with Bishop Williamson before It was broadcasted.
After that I was informed about it by journalists and Swedish colleagues of Vatican Radio.
Card. Castrillon said me no word about it before the interview was broadcasted.
I did not know that an information was sent about Williamson to the Vatican, and I do not know who has received it and red it. No one said me any word about it.
The Pope has said that he was not informed as he approved the lifting of the excommunications. I am sure that the Pope tells the truth.
As I informed my Superiors about your interview with Williamson, I saw that the decision about the lifting of the excommunications was already done.
Therefore the only thing I could do, was to distinguish strongly between the sense and the intention of the decision of lifting the excommunication by the Pope, and the absolute inacceptability of the negationism of Williamson as his personal position which was not connected in any manner with the origin of the excommunication. This is what I have repeated many times in those sad days.
I hope that this answer is clear.
Thank you for your attention. Best regards.
What a mess.
Apparently La Repubblica (Il vescovo svedese rivela "Il Papa sapeva di Williamson".) and La Stampa («Williamson, Il Papa sapeva») now have headlines saying that – because of all this – the Pope knew about Williamson before he lifted the excommunications.
It seems to me that this stems from dislike of the SSPX and dread that somehow they may be reintegrated in the Church. Furthermore, those of the "the enemy of my enemy" school are taking advantage of this to undermine respect for the Church in the public square.
Now that the talks will be starting between the Holy See and the SSPX, many people are going to make problems for an eventual reunification, yes. But more will simply use this as a handy whip with which to flog the Church. If not with this, then with something else. This is a handy whip and some who should have known better put it in their hands.
We have to pray that the talks between the SSPX and the Holy See commence properly and fruitfully continue.