Could SSPX Bp. Williamson be expelled from the SSPX?

Here is an interesting bit from the DICI site of the SSPX:


Filed under From Tradition, News

The Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, has learnt by the press of Bishop Richard Williamson’s decision, just ten days before his trial, to dismiss the lawyer charged with his defense, in favor of a lawyer who is openly affiliated to the so-called neo-Nazi movement in Germany, and to other such groups.

Bishop Fellay has given Bishop Williamson a formal order to go back on this decision and to not allow himself to become an instrument of political theses that are completely foreign to his mission as a Catholic bishop serving the Society of Saint Pius X.

Disobedience to this order would result in Bishop Williamson being expelled from the Society of Saint Pius X.

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  1. danphunter1 says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf,
    Apparently Bishop Williamson has heeded Bishop Fellays order and dismissed his contoversial lawyer.
    Rorate Caeli reports:
    “RORATE CÆLI has learned from a source very close to Bishop Williamson that the Bishop will take steps to separate himself from his new lawyer, in accordance with Bishop Fellay’s public order.”

  2. Fr_Sotelo says:

    danphunter1: That is great to hear. I don’t know what possessed such an intelligent man as Bishop Williamson to secure the services of a neo-Nazi to begin with. It would really have been very damaging for the SSPX if they had to expel Williamson, and even more damaging for Williamson to be seen as sympathetic to the neo-Nazi cause.

  3. basilorat says:

    He will be expelled, and he will take many SSPXers with him as is custom when schismatics leave the Church. They fraction themselves off into such itty bitty bits, that attempts at reunion with such a group only affecgts a small amount of the original cast of characters…. When one no longer sees the basic tenets of the faith as essential and common value, little can be done effectively.

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    Fr. Sotelo: It would really have been very damaging for the SSPX if they had to expel Williamson

    On the other hand, might not Bp. Willamson be a obstruction to the regularization of the SSPX? In which case, he might be good baggage for them to shed?

  5. cpaulitz says:

    Yes, we put up an exclusive on this late last night:

    [You guys at Rorate are great, very quick with many useful things. But how do you have an “exclusive” when it is a press release on another site? o{]:¬) ]

  6. Sid says:

    If, as the writebacker at 22 November 2010 at 10:30 am reports, Williamson has dismissed his braun lawyer, sadly serious questions must still be asked:

    1. Is Williamson’s continued presence in the SSPX at best an embarrassment for the Society and at worse brings the Society and the good people in the Society into unnecessary disrepute?

    2. Does his choosing of such a lawyer in the first place suggest a grave lack of judgement, and this being not the first instance of such bad judgement?

    3. Does Williamson’s continued presence in the Society burden the Society’s and The Church’s attempt at reconciliation, a reconciliation which I pray all MEFers wish?

    4. And if the answers to any of these questions is “yes”, then is it time that he be gone?

  7. digdigby says:

    As a formerly Jewish convert to the Catholic faith in all its fullness, I believe that Matt speaks for me. I question Williamson’s basic intelligence and at times think he is being insufferably and repulsively coy. After all, at Nuremberg and the other war crime trials Nazis on trial for their very LIVES never even THOUGHT to deny the extent of what they had done. The Commandant of Auschwitz, who had an extraordinary memory gave precise daily details of gassings, train arrivals etc. all of which has been meticulously verified from numerous sources. Not only of Jews but of murdered Poles, priests, gypsies, Russian POWs, children etc. etc. I would love if Dietrich von Hildebrand could appear to MISTER Williamson and have a little discussion.

  8. MLivingston says:

    I think of the psalm: “Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me.”

  9. Geoffrey says:

    If the SSPX ever returns to the bosom of Holy Mother Church, I could very easily see Williamson leading his own breakaway movement.

  10. kat says:

    I’m just wondering how many commenters have met personally, known personally, or even seen Bp. Williamson from afar in person, as they make their judgments about him and what they “could see him doing.” Amazing how so many people have him all figured out, and what is best for the SSPX and the Church at large. Hard to believe everyone knows him so well. Or…have you only read about him in media??

    I would think the truly best thing anyone can do is PRAY … for the Church, the Holy Father, the SSPX AND for Bp. Williamson…that the devil has no power over any of them and Holy Mother Church grows stronger in Her battle against the world.

    As far as the “MISTER,” whether one likes it or not, no matter what standing he has in the Church at large, Richard Williamson is a validly consecrated bishop, hence his title is “Bishop.”

    Let’s not let our own personal feelings and judgments about a man make us wish or desire for anything other than God’s will. What WE desire may not be what is for the best. God draws good out of evil. Let us pray for good to triumph sooner than later.

  11. asperges says:

    This man really should have the decency to resign or step down. He is an embarrassment and has shown himself wholely unfit to be a Catholic Bishop. Although it may not have been his intention, SSPX is now seen as associated with holocaust denial, not a body intent on conservative Catholicism.

    He jeopardises the essential need for SSPX to be reconciled fully with the Church, preferably without schism or civil war. I do not see how it can ever be with him still on board so close to the driving seat.

  12. Tim Ferguson says:

    I would agree that common decency requires that Bishop Williamson be addressed by his title. He is indeed a validly ordained bishop (though a burning question I have always wanted an answer to is – of what is he a bishop? The whole concept of a bishop without a diocese, even if it’s just a titular one, seems to be completely foreign to the whole of Catholic tradition which the Society proclaims to try and preserve).

    Yet, I also find myself in agreement with the sentiment that thinks reconciliation of the SSPX with the Holy Father and the rest of the Catholic Church – Got grant it soon! – would seemingly come more quickly without Bishop Williamson. And yes, I have seen him up-close-and-personal, heard him preach and read his writings, though I’m not of the belief that only through personal experience can one make a valid evaluation of someone. I never met Mother Teresa, but know her to be holy. I never met Hans Kung, and yet know enough about him to keep my distance.

  13. Scott W. says:


    The SSPX and Bp. Williamson are controversial subjects and as such, comments are likely to get a bit heated, but frankly this implication that one needs to know him personally to comment on public facts and that we should just pray is dirty pool and reads more like “shut up!” Let’s act like everyone here is an adult capable of parsing the facts, and if those facts are wrong, will be corrected through the discussion.

  14. Daniel Latinus says:

    I don’t know what possessed such an intelligent man as Bishop Williamson to secure the services of a neo-Nazi to begin with. It would really have been very damaging for the SSPX if they had to expel Williamson, and even more damaging for Williamson to be seen as sympathetic to the neo-Nazi cause.

    This sort of thing is nothing new. Bishop Williamson has been consorting with neo-Nazi types for years, at least since the 1980s. Many years ago, the president of the Latin Liturgy Association called out Bp. Williamson for supporting the cause of Ernst Zundel, who is both a holocaust-denier, and an open admirer of Adolph Hitler.

  15. digdigby says:

    Kat says –
    “…I wonder how many have known personally….” speaking of Williamson. It is NOT personal and if it were personal it wouldn’t matter very much, would it? I’m sure he’s a darlin’ man but is that what is involved here? I’ll agree to call him ‘Bishop’ just as I would call the head of the Coptic Church Pope Shenouda III.

  16. danphunter1 says:

    Best advice!
    We should all pray for Bishop Williamson as we pray for all humans created in the image and likeness of Almighty God.
    I am most likely a far worse sinner than His Excellency and need many prayers too.
    All men should always pray for the unity of Holy Mother Church and therefore we must pray for the speedy regularisation of the FSSPX, including Bishop Williamson.

  17. danphunter1 says:

    ” I’ll agree to call him ‘Bishop’ just as I would call the head of the Coptic Church Pope Shenouda III.”
    You do no good service to the Body of Christ in your disrespect for the office of bishop.
    No matter what anyone thinks of Bishop Williamson, he was validly ordained a bishop by a valid bishop.
    He is a bishop of the Catholic Church.

  18. St. Rafael says:

    This is old news that should be updated because it has already been stated that he plans to dismisss his lawyer which broke about a day ago. The post makes it seem like Bishop Willliamson hasn’t done anything about it yet.

  19. digdigby says:


    You are entirely correct.

  20. kat says:

    Scott W:
    I was not meaning to tell people to “shut up!” but comments like “it would be better for the SSPX and the Church if he would just (resign, go away, die, get lost…fill in the blanks)” really irk me precisely because we do NOT know “what is better.” We only THINK we may know “what is better.” GOD is the one Who knows what is best. Perhaps a GREATER evil than many think possible could come from Bp. Williamson going off on his own, with no doubt a group of followers. That is all I mean by people who think they’ve got all the answers, especially the answer that he should just resign or be kicked out of the SSPX.

    And that is why I said the best thing to do is to pray for GOD’S will, not our own.

  21. cheekypinkgirl says:

    OF COURSE there is going to be a breakaway group from SSPX if the SSPX comes into “good graces” with Rome. It’s an absolute certainty, with or without Williamson’s actions.

  22. kgurries says:

    Evidently there is viturally zero direct contact between Bishop Williamson and the SSPX head office. It seems Bishop Fellay must rely upon the “press” to know about Bishop Williamson’s activities while Bishop Williamson must rely upon SSPX press-releases to know his boundaries. It really sounds like they need to work on their communication — and perhaps some of this mess could be avoided.

  23. moon1234 says:

    Actually bringing them back in the fold would make dealing with Bishop Williamson a LOT easier. It would no longer be necessary for the society to deal with him. Rome could deal with him directly and it would be more effective.

    As to the lawyer, who cares who his lawyer is. If I am going into court to defend myself I want the BEST lawyer there is. I am not going to quibble about his political party affiliation as long as he is fighting for me. Telling someone to dismiss a lawyer because of their party affiliation would be like telling Christ to dimiss his apostles because they are tax collectors, etc.

    People love to find a reason to bash Catholics. Give Williamson a break. Let him have his day in court (kangaroo thought crime court really) with the lawyer of his choosing. You do realize they are punishing him because of his speech and ideas? You are fine with the state telling someone what to think and believe and then haul them into court when they don’t tow the state line?

    I personally think Bishop Williamson is being chastised and given WAY too much publicity for his words. It is ALL being used to hurt ALL Catholics. If people wanted this to go away they would ignore Williamson when it comes to his ideas of death toll during WWII. We all know what happened. We all know that the numbers are debatable, but they are large.

    While Bishop Williamson is a Bishop he should be respected as such. He hasn’t sexually abused anyone, he hasn’t defiled the Eucharist, He hasn’t tried to ordain women, he hasn’t covered up crimes of those under him. He has spoken his mind about how he sees history. However bad that may be, it is a far cry from what others are doing to the Church and are never attacked.

  24. asophist says:

    Lots of public relations faux pas in the SSPX. Sounds like they are already united with Rome – at least at that level!

  25. Supertradmum says:

    Sadly, Bishop Williamson is not intelligent. His biases and bitterness, which I have heard in person from the pulpit in the past interfere with any rational thinking he may have had at one time. This can happen to anyone who follows extreme, conspiracy theories of any kind. He has shot himself in the foot too many times for credibility as a speaker and spokesman for the SSPX. He should resign as bishop and leave the fight to those who are less stringent and irrational.

  26. chcrix says:

    I’ll venture into this. Let’s get some facts as well as opinion.

    First: Germany has laws that would be considered repugnant in the United States (or at least would have been once upon a time.) Specifically, one can be fined or thrown in jail for asserting unapproved historical positions. Secondly, parties have been banned for being “anti-constitutional”.

    The lawyer is a member of the NPD
    This party is called by its enemies “neo-nazi”.
    Q: Do one typically accept the valuation of the avowed enemies of (say) the Church on the Church or its policies?

    Item: the organ of the German government charged with banning parties got its fingers burnt rather badly in 2003 or so when it attempted to ban this party because it turned out that a number the inner circle figures responsible for some of the extremism were actually agents provocateurs from the German secret police. (Really, read the referenced Wikipedia)

    I hold no brief for the NPD. Neither do I hold a brief for those who spy on and outlaw political movements and jail individuals for unpopular or even grossly inaccurate historical views.

  27. cpaulitz says:

    Father, the exclusive came before any release and was independently verified to New Catholic from a source close to Williamson. There’s all kinds of exclusives one can achieve around a broader story.

  28. kgurries says:

    cpaulitz, are you saying that Williamson had decided (and confirmed to a source) that he would indeed obey Bishop Fellay’s order BEFORE the SSPX published the press release on their website — and yet they published the press release anyway? That seems a really odd thing to do unless Bishop Williamson had given the contrary impression to his superiors.

  29. Athanasius says:

    I do have to say, Bishop Williamson did not get a “neo-nazi” lawyer. The Democratic Party of Germany suffers from the same thing any conservative government agency that believes in national sovereignty, the family and limiting Islamic immigration in Europe suffers from, being painted as a Nazi, a charge from which everyone will automatically declare you guilty without a trial and from which you cannot escape constant condemnation in the press. The problem is Williamson wanted someone to represented him seriously and not give the famous Voltaire defense from Rumpole.

    That said, and adding that I think his original remarks were imprudent on a number of levels, if not exaggerated in others, this trial is just a show trial to attack Catholic tradition. It doesn’t matter whether one is a fan of the SSPX, hates them, loves them, or for that matter thinks Bishop Williamson is great or stupid, this is an attack on anyone who takes the true faith of Jesus Christ seriously, and Williamson is just the face they are using.

  30. LouiseA says:

    Did anyone ever consider the possibility that perhaps Bishop Williamson simply did not google the lawyer’s name? Perhaps the lawyer offered his services pro-bono and a poor Bishop who was dissatisfied with his current Counsel happily accepted such a generous offer without looking too deep. Afterall, it seems that many here didn’t find it too difficult to believe that the Pope and all his Vatican staff failed to do sufficient research or a simple google search on Bishop Williamson!

  31. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Hmmm. Seems like Bsp. Fellay is really not pleased at this. Is it possible that this is but a small sign that He and the “true” majority of those of SSPX are truly wanting full reconciliation from Rome?

  32. Mike Morrow says:

    chcrix: “…it turned out that a number the inner circle figures responsible for some of the extremism were actually agents provocateurs from the German secret police.”

    I have tremendous respect for the SSPX, the only group without whose existence and struggles the Extraordinary Form would have been exterminated in 1970. Williamson the Anglican, on the other hand, has repeatedly sabotaged the SSPX and brought shame upon it. His public utterances are those of a fool…or perhaps, those of a clever agent provocateur from the Vatican II revolution crowd.

    He should have been expelled from the SSPX decades ago.

  33. cpaulitz says:

    Yes, that was our exclusive, 24 hours ago. See my link above. Williamson will obey H.E. Fellay.

  34. Geremia says:

    I am sick of the term “holocaust denier.” “Holocaust denial” equivocally means “the belief or assertion that the Holocaust did not happen or was greatly exaggerated” (New Oxford American Dictionary), where Bp. Williamson would fit into the latter category. One cannot deny something that merely “was greatly exaggerated.” Hitler murdered Catholics et al. in concentration camps, too. Give Bp. Williamson a break!

  35. Dof says:

    LouseA: If this was the case, then Bishop Williamson – with all due respect – ought to go back to the seminary to learn the virtue of prudence.

  36. Sixupman says:

    I have crossed-swords with +Williamson on both Jewry and the Holocaust and I found, in respect of the latter, his ‘source’ proofs were based upon the documents produced by a single man, whose name evades me. +Williamson is an highly educated intellectual individual and like many of such, he is also something of an eccentric and revels in that status, also as a contraversialist.

    This latest manifestation is +Williamson playing games, no more, no less, and, attempting to ‘play’ +Fellay. Many clergy in SSPX would be glad to be rid of him. When he ruled the roost in America, both directly and indirectly, he did great damage to SSPX, in that he bnrought forth many clergy who were trained in his own image and prejudices. America is now in safer hands, but +Fellay has foisted the problem onto the UK, where surrounded by a coterie of like minded, like the malevolent spider, in the middle of its web, he creates controversy. If you contradict ‘his’ people, you are ‘out’! In America matters were worse, some clergy ran their own form of ‘brown shirts’ to harrass non-conforming clergy and laity and took upon themselves the status of little gods. But not one, ever had experience of pre-conciliar Catholicism and therefore created a church of their own predelictions – one akin to ‘wee-free’ presbyterianism, but with music. Charity being anathema to their thinking and actions.

    By their fruits shall you know them: google Fr. John Rizzo and see just one example of the American [+Williamson] mafia in action. The last I heard of Fr. Rizzo, he was in the Antipodes, with FSSP, and in good relations with SSPX clergy in that region.

  37. vivaldi says:

    Fantastic news! Bishop Williamson is a nut case and he will take a lot of the nut-case fringe with him when he is expelled. His expulsion and that of his minor but vocal group of pseudo-sedevacantist/conspiracy theorist followers will certainly pave the way for a SSPX/Rome reconciliation.

  38. dcs says:

    I do have to say, Bishop Williamson did not get a “neo-nazi” lawyer.

    @Athanasius, Bp. Williamson’s lawyer’s membership in the NDP is not the only issue. There is also Herr Nahrath’s past leadership of the Viking Youth to consider.

  39. Pete says:

    I notice the tags for this article reads:

    Bp. Williamson, Neo-Nazi, SSPX

    Was that deliberate by Fr. Z?

  40. cpaulitz says:

    OK, another one of those “exlusives” on Rorate again (see, we can laugh at ourselves).

    Williamson’s website editor just asked us to post confirmation he has dropped the lawyer:

  41. Jack Brown says:

    The Long Sell-Out:
    Bp. Fellay’s order to Bp. Williamson to back off is not entirely about Bp. Williamson allowing himself to become an instrument of political theses. It’s no secret that for years the two Bishops have not liked one another. This present issue may be just part of the larger issue of, Selling-Out to Rome?

    Bp. Williamson the Catholic, and Bp. Fellay also a Catholic, but also more diplomatic (and French) is thought to be searching for a way to sell-out to non-Catholic Rome without appearing to give up Catholic Tradition. Bishop Williamson has rightly said about reconciliation: either Rome converts to Catholicism or the SSPX betrays, not very diplomatic but true.

    Bp. Fellay who is said to rule by force is a Frenchman; one has to ask why he has appointed fellow Frenchmen to Key positions in the United States and elsewhere in the world? Why cannot each county have its own countrymen in Key positions? Are the French more intelligent or holier than Americans or other people in the world, or is General Bonaparte getting all his ducks in a row for the Long Sell Out?

    Perhaps Bp. Williamson leaving and consecrating new traditional bishops will be Bp. Fellay’s Waterloo?

  42. M.D.R. says:

    I agree with what Supertradmum said at 5:18, Nov. 22, in that this can happen to anyone who follows extreme conspiracies of any kind. Sadly, the bishop’s followers and supporters help to keep him in this conspiracy mindset. My hope, which is what I’m praying for, is that he will loose himself from the hooks that these people have placed him in. If he does leave the SSPX, there will be less of a change that he will ever reconcile with Rome. As he is now elderly, the chance of him leaving this life while outside of the Church would be likely, which I don’t want to see happen.
    It isn’t too late for him to leave the life of the revisionist behind. There will be many who will turn against him for it, but many of us would support him, too.

  43. BobP says:

    I understand one of the requirements of “full” communion with the Church is that the order be renamed. (Similar to the FSSP?) So technically the SSPX will never be in such full communion.

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