And now for this lighter note… about SSPX Bishop Williamson

Pain is a matter of perspective and priority.  You cease to think of your headache if you hit your thumb with a hammer.

After the last couple of weeks of slime in the MSM, how pleasant it seems – by contrast – to be able to post something about SSPX bishop Richard Williamson.

From AFP with my emphases and comments.

Catholic group silences Holocaust-denying bishop
Thu, Apr 15, 2010

BERLIN – A breakaway ultra-conservative Catholic group ordered British [SSPX] bishop Richard Williamson not to speak in public or testify at his trial for denying the Holocaust, German media reported Thursday.

The secretary general of the Saint Pius X Society, Father Christian Thouvenot, wrote to Williamson, a leading member of the group, telling him to stop giving interviews or communicating publicly, according to the daily Tagesspiegel, which obtained a copy of the letter.

Williamson’s lawyer, Matthias Lossman, on Wednesday confirmed that the bishop, who lives in London, would not attend his trial which opens in the southern German city of Regensburg on Friday.

The society told Williamson to "stop communicating by Internet, be it by blog, forum or via his web page," the Tagesspiegel said.

He has also been ordered not to give interviews on general issues, and only to speak on matters of faith after obtaining permission from the society.

Williamson was fined 12,000 euros (S$22,473) earlier this year after giving a television interview in Germany in 2009 in which he argued that only "200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps" and denied there had ever been any gas chambers.

A further trial was ordered after he refused to pay, [ROFL!] although the Regensburg court does not require the bishop to be present. [Which is a not comforting.]

Denying that the Holocaust took place, or questioning key elements, is illegal in Germany and Austria.

Williamson’s comments prompted a rare comment on religious matters by German Chancelor Angela Merkel, who called on Pope Benedict XVI to "clarify unambiguously that there can be no denial" the Nazis killed six million Jews. [No evidence that anyone is getting any smarter when it comes to this.]

The pope has drawn strong criticism for reversing the excommunication of Williamson and three other bishops in the Saint Pius X Society.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. baseballguy79 says:

    I would hardly term the case “pleasant.” I think it falls in the horrifying category.

    Whatever you think of Williamson, the fact that one can be fined, prosecuted, etc., for stating an opinion – right or wrong – is flat out scary. If they can do this to him now, what’s to stop governments or world bodies from doing this to other people on other issues at some point? Who says we’re not next? It’s a very slippery and scary slope.

  2. RichR says:

    The pope has drawn strong criticism for reversing the excommunication of Williamson and three other bishops in the Saint Pius X Society.

    Always trying to draw that line straight to the Pope – the ex-Nazi, Jew-hating, pedophile-hiding, anti-free-thought policeman who only cares about Latin liturgy, papal pomp, and Prada shoes being nice and shiny.

    Yawn……How stupid does the MSM think people are? I say, “The future is bright!”

  3. jasoncpetty says:

    God bless America.

  4. AndyMo says:

    Agreed, Baseballguy. Maybe it’s a genetic thing growing up in the USA, but the idea of being penalized for statements is scary to me. Do his statements about the Holocaust make Williamson look like a fool? Absolutely. Should the media show him to be a fool by exposing his woefully formed history? Go nuts.

    But it is not a crime to be woefully misinformed, and it should not be illegal to be a fool.

  5. jlskey says:

    To my buddy Mr. Rich (and I don’t say that sarcastically):

    You are right, the MSM is incessantly trying to link the Pope to all that is bad and wrong. They try to paint HH as an antediluvian relic who loves to impede progress. Unfortunately, (and perhaps this is just my cynicism speaking here) the MSM can get away with this (more often than not) for two reasons:

    1) Most people are not curious/engaged enough to actually question the drivel that is fed to them by the MSM; or
    2) the target of the attacks don’t fight back sufficiently.

    I am glad to see the Vatican has stepped up efforts to combat the lies and grandstanding that the MSM (and in some cases the wolves from within) are trying to spread.

  6. jlmorrell says:

    “A breakaway ultra-conservative Catholic group” – The secular media just can’t help themselves when it comes to these types of phrases. Apparently, it doesn’t matter to the media that the excommunications have been lifted, and even the Holy See has said the SSPX are not in schism.

    AndyMo & baseballguy79,

    At this time I’m not sure what I think about the speech laws in Germany, but the idea of unlimited free speech is a fallacy especially popular with Americans, as indicated by your posts.

  7. JonM says:

    SSPX is not a breakaway group. This has been put to rest. I believe its leader will one day be hailed a Saint.

    In any event, it is for the best that Bishop Williamson retain his perspectives. It’s a cross to bear for him, because he keeps being erroniously called a ‘denier’ when in fact he only shared a difference of facts relating to the time period.

    The secularist progressives tell us to ‘question everything’ and heap praise on colleges (i.e., systematic soul-sucking pits) for supposedly advancing this freedom. I guess not everything is up for debate.

    Anyway, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Bishop Williamson, who is NOT anti-Jewish at all. The good Bishop will have his place in the kingdom; acclaim by the world is fickle and lasts but an instant.

  8. beez says:

    I’m curious to know a couple things:

    1) Did Bishop Williamson make these statements in Germany and in German? If not, what exactly is the court’s jurisdiction against a London resident?

    2) If the court claims jurisdiction anywhere, why hasn’t it charged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the same thing?

  9. Ben Dunlap says:

    the fact that one can be fined, prosecuted, etc., for stating an opinion – right or wrong – is flat out scary.

    Absolutely. It’s also, as I understand it, extremely common outside of the US.

  10. MichaelJ says:


    I could be mistaken, but I do not think you can equate “freedom to express an opinion” with “unlimited free speech”. I think we can all agree that speech is justly supressed when it causes harm to others, but we may disagree where that line exists.

  11. teevor says:

    The trouble with holocaust denial is that in the West, you really need to be more than a fool to say those things. It is almost always associated with anti-semitism of a particularly vile nature, or at the very least a tendency to engage in gnostic conspiracy theories in order to upset the civil order. The idea that saying only 200-300 thousand people died in the holocaust not being holocaust denial is ludicrous. The holocaust can only be defined as a systematic effort to exterminate the Jewish people, and radically minimizing the number of casualties is an attack on this concept; the proof that there were gas chambers is completely overwhelming at this point.

    And to pretend that Williamson is not anti-semitic by paring down and qualifying one’s semantic definition of ‘Jew’ or ‘anti-semitism’ is ridiculous. The man has endorsed ‘the Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ for heavens’ sake. If that’s not anti-semitic, then Dan Brown ought to be the next Pope.

    JonM, media double standards aside, as Catholics we stand for truth. We can not cite the moral relativism and ingrained suspicion of every accepted truth, as practised by the Left as an excuse to deviate from seeking the truth when it would suit our ideology or agenda.

    While I am also deeply uncomfortable with the holocaust denial laws, there is certainly an argument to be made that since holocaust denial has no substantive value, it is valueless speech and should be banned because of the overwhelming harm it can cause. There’s just as much basis to making that argument as there is to the enlightenment idea that we should permit all speech regardless of its content and value, which is really rather a whiggish notion, certainly not rooted in Christian teaching (people of good will can disagree).

    And as for Williamson being fined without being present, while the Germans do it a bit different, in common-law countries one can also lose summarily if one fails to appear in court on a charge.

  12. Papabile says:

    I don’t intend to comment on the issue re: holocause denial, but rather on the fact that Williamson is seemingly following this order from the Secretary General of the SSPX.

    When Lefebvre set up the SSPX, he did so in a way whereby a Priest was the inial Superior General, even though they had a Bishop, and then the four later ordained. This was done specifically to show Rome that SSPX was not claiming any jurisdiction. Lefebvre was very careful in this matter.

    That Fellay was selected as Superior General was not foreordained, and they still have a Priest as Secretary General, who seemingly can order on of their Bishops to be silent. It is encouraging that they are still following this principle to some extent.

    Now, if they would give up the Crozier in their liturgies, that would be even better.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    “SSPX is not a breakaway group. This has been put to rest.”

    If that were true, then they would be regularized and SSPX priests would be able to legitimately hear confessions, etc.

    “A breakaway ultra-conservative Catholic group…”

    I can’t stand that term either. The secular media uses the same phrase to describe Opus Dei, which is very different from the SSPX.

  14. moon1234 says:

    Here would be how I would report on this article:

    Liberal German Daily continues to attack Bishop

    The liberal German newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel, reported today that Archbishop Williamson of the Society of Saint Pius X has been ordered to not defend himself in court by his superiors in the Society. Archbishop Williamson has gracefully complied with this request even though it may land him and his society with a fairly hefty monetary judgement.

    In a move remenescient with their Nazi era past, the German court in Regensburg has fined Archbishop William 12,000 euros for expressing his opinion about the number and nature of those murdered by the Nazi’s during WWII. The German court has decided that expressing an opinion contrary with the state is grounds for monetary fines or imprisonment. Who knows what’s next? Maybe interment camps for those who dare to speak their mind?

    The opinions expressed by Archbishop Williamson were claimed by Der Tagesspiegel as being a denial of the atrocities against the Jews during WWII. However this reporter has actually watched the interview and contrary to what Der Tagesspiegel has reported, Archbishop Williamson did not deny that they holocost happened, rather he questioned the number of people killed and the method.

    It is a sad day in German history when it appears that the Nazi era thought police and kangaroo courts have begun rearing the free-speech snuffing authority. The difference today is the German courts have substituted Jews for Catholics who express their opinion. I guess Der Taggespiegel is ok with this, at least until their speech is deemed against German law.


    Spin can be a fun thing ehhh. Glad I am not a German.

  15. moon1234 says:

    Now, if they would give up the Crozier in their liturgies, that would be even better

    Why? They ARE valid Bishops after all. They were ordained by a Valid bishop without canonical approval. That means they became valid Bishops (Proper Matter, Proper Form, Illegal juridiction) but the ordination was illicit.

  16. everett says:

    @JonM: “I believe its leader will one day be hailed a Saint.”

    I’d like list of all the saints that have been excommunicated. I’d also like to see a list of saints who were outrighly disobedient in a similar manner as Bishop Lefebvre. A real saint would have stayed within the Church and been obedient as in the case of FSSP.

  17. grhone says:

    Unfortunate, and definitely not something to gloat about – I get no schadenfreude from this at all. It is ridiculous that in any “free” country the expression of opinions can be outlawed. Even the infamous Voltaire got that one right – we may disagree with the content of the speech but must be prepared to defend the freedom of the individual to express his opinions. In the free marketplace of ideas — or in the adversarial battle between truth and falsehood — however that struggle is viewed, truth will out. Oppressing freedom of expression undermines man’s free will and denies a fundamental freedom inherent in the true conception of human rights that should prevail in the mind of any right thinking member of society.

    Granted, the Society of Saint Pius X can police itself and has the right to prohibit its members from expressing themselves (it is not a democracy, after all). This is very different from the country imposing the fine and outlawing the freedom. An embarrassment, and no different than what many deplore in the Nazi regime — just because the shoe is on the other foot, does not make this type of totalitarian behaviour acceptable. Thank goodness for beacons of freedom like the good ol’ U.S. of A, warts and all.

  18. JonM says:

    First, the contention of Archbishop Lefebvre, that there is an emergency, should not be summarily dismissed. He cited Canon Law to support his side; as years become decades, we will have a clearer picture of his actions as they relate to the contemporary matters of the world and Church.

    We will have to agree to disagree about what each of us thinks will be the verdict of history.

    Second, I’m not getting sucked into a numbers game. Period. All I will say is that certain people (e.g., a certain apostate Catholic) who crow about certain genocides are the first to deny others, such as the Armenian Christian holocaust, persecutions of Catholics in China, and Ukranian/Russian Christian genocides (combined, these are several times bigger than are certain genocide).

    Why forbid the subject?

    Because it brings up rather thorny issues that our post modern society will not air.

    Anyway, the point I made seems to have been lost. I think the decision of SSPX is a good one, and I have every reason that the Bishop will obey.

    Of course, this is a case of a Shepherd simply saying something un-politically correct and getting scourged…while the Precious Body and Blood are subjected to humiliations daily without a peep.

  19. Everett: St. Athanasius

  20. Papabile says:

    Moon 1234 asks why the SSPX Bishops should give up the crozier. I would simply say they should give it up because it is a sign of jurisdiction and one needs the permission of the Diocesan bishop to wield one. I personally saw a Bishop once denied the right to use his crozier at the Basilican of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by a Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, DC.

    It’s no different for them, and wrong to wield a symbol of jurisdiction when they claim to recognize they do not possess it.

  21. Geoffrey says:

    “Everett: St. Athanasius”

    Mr. Mulligan: I don’t think Saint Athanasius died while still in the state of excommunication.

  22. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Someone finally got the message. But exactly how long did this take? Twelve months? Eighteen months?

    Glacial responses will never suffice in the 24 hour news cycle.

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    Jason, yes, God bless America. As long as it still allows free speech.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    I love to visit Europe. Live there? Uh, no.

    They have great historical buildings. They have really yummy food and picturesque neighborhoods. But don’t look too closely. The standard of living is often low, and some of them are as crazy as bedbugs. Their politics are scary, and have been forever. No coincidence that both world wars happened there.

  25. catholicmidwest says:

    Joan of Arc.

  26. JARay says:

    One of the consequences of the European Union, which the Members of European Assembly have pushed through, (they make the laws now), is that any constituent country can issue a European Arrest Warrant for contravening laws which exist in that country, even if those laws do not exist in the country in which the arrest warrant is served. Hence, because both Germany and Austria have Holocaust denying legislation, they can demand the arrest of an Englishman who contravenes their laws, even if that particular Englishman has never set foot in Germany or Austria. How about that?!

  27. Joan of Arc was never disobedient in the way you mean. She obeyed all legitimate authority over her, and even did her best to accommodate the collaborationist bishop of Rouen (who wasn’t her bishop). This was one of the big sources of frustration for her persecutors. When she recanted, it was in part a confused attempt to appease authority; and when she recanted her recantation, it was in obedience to God and legitimate authority.

    When she was retried posthumously in a fair canon law court, it was acknowledged that she’d been obedient. Her courage failed her at times; her obedience did not. In that as in other things, she was an example of the soldierly virtues.

    I expect this kind of ‘disobedient saint’ comment from liberals, not from traditionalists. It is unfitting.

  28. robtbrown says:

    Whatever you think of Williamson, the fact that one can be fined, prosecuted, etc., for stating an opinion – right or wrong – is flat out scary. If they can do this to him now, what’s to stop governments or world bodies from doing this to other people on other issues at some point? Who says we’re not next? It’s a very slippery and scary slope.
    Comment by baseballguy79

    Euro nations don’t have the same freedom of spee/press that is found in the US. A German friend told me a few years ago that if an immigrant committed a crime in Germany, it is illegal for the press to mention his country of origin.

    And libel laws in England are much more strict than in the US.

  29. robtbrown says:

    Should be freedom of speech/press.

  30. Ceile De says:

    Well, there’s news I didn’t hear!
    Williamson is, according to the impeccable, a “Roman Catholic bishop”.

    Even if one were an anti-clerical atheist, should not the collapse in journalistic standards concern us all?

  31. JonM says:

    For the record, I’ve never been to an SSPX mass, event, or location nor have I (to my knowledge) ever met someone associated with the Society. In fact, I’ve only been to two TLMs in my life (though this will change thanks to a new TLM offering in my region.)

    In other words, I feel I can approach with impartiality.

    We won’t resolve the nature of the excommunications of SSPX here, so I’m not going to get into a protracted debate about it.

    But, you have to read what I wrote: time and a more sober assessment of the last 50 years will determine the validity of the Archbishop’s argument. Certainly not me. It is not so simple as a case of disobedience.

    Unlike the vast majority who are under the modernist spell, I believe in the revelations at Fatima. I don’t for a second believe Pope John Paul II’s attempted assassination was the Third Secret. Rather, I see the Church in chaos with orthodoxy and practice amongst the faithful at a shocking low (polling data indicates it’s far lower than the 1970s.) Coded announcements here, rumors there…all suggest that the Third Secret won’t be released because it depicts pretty much what has happened and a really, really bad Part II.

    Again, we’ll see as time passes. Unlike some spirited, but misguided Protestant evangelicals, I see no good reason to drool over eschatological speculation.

    @Ceile De,

    He is a Roman Catholic bishop, but without jurisdiction or canonical regularization.

  32. lacrossecath says:

    Williamson remarks seemed to deny the details, not the holocaust itself.

  33. lacrosssecath: That is my understanding. What exactly is he being punished for? The denial of gas chambers? Or the denial that six million Jews were exterminated (his count: 200-300,000; which in any case is still quite a huge number). Or both?

  34. moon1234 says:

    Williamson didn’t even deny the gas chambers. What is questioned is the number of people killed USING gas chambers. He was stated that he thought only 200k-300K people could have been killed USING gas chambers, not 6 million. He also did not deny that the holocost happened.

    What he is being punished for is not towing the state line and stating 6 million JEWS were killed. Never mind the Catholics, Gypsies, mentally ill, undesireables, etc. Bishop Williamson even came out in a further interview and stated that he will review material and change his opinion when he looks at more evidence.

    Again this is total thought police, Nazi tactics. Punish those who do not accept what the state says. Germany has not changed much since the 1940’s. The same dictator courts are alive and well, in some ways they are worse.

  35. moon1234: Thank you. I could not remember the details and this refreshes my memory.
    You are correct; “thought police” is exactly right…how long before we have this kind of (wait, do we?) totalitarian control in this country? Enforced by law?

  36. MichaelJ says:

    Given that excommunication is a medicinal remedy, and that an individual’s death eliminates any possibility of repentence, it is my understanding that the Church does not continue the punishment. It seems incorrect then, to suppose that anyone has “died while in the state of excommunication”

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