Should the SSPX throw Bp. Williamson out of their “priestly fraternity”?

Via CMR I found this about the SSPX and their equivalent of the “crazy-uncle in the attic” Bp. Williamson.

My emphases:

Bishop McCrazy Says He Wants Bp. Fellay Out

Bishop Williamson of the SSPX, a guy who makes the Moony marrying Bishop Milingo look like Spock, is speaking out against Bishop Fellay. He wants him out, no surprise there.

The SSPX need to throw Williamson out permanently and completely. [A touch of Donatism?] I firmly believe that God has appointed Bishop Fellay to restore the SSPX to the Church and maybe a little vice versa. When that happens, Williamson will do as much damage as he can. Whatever damage he does, he must do it as an outsider.

If he is still of the SSPX, no matter any sanctions imposed, he will drag the SSPX and the Church down with his self-centered lunatic ravings and behavior.

Forget Fellay being out, Fellay must kick Williamson out. Do it. Do it now.

I don’t know how the SSPX handles matters like this.  Does the Superior have that authority from his office?  The SSPX is a priestly “fraternity”: can they just, should they just, chuck men out?

I am sympathetic to CMR‘s concerns.  Even the human body cuts off blood to limbs to save the core.

Do you throw your brother out?

From Matthew 18:

But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. pledbet424 says:

    They have thrown out priests before. In the early eighties they threw out several priests for sedevacantist views…I know this since one of them took over the “independent chapel” my mother went to in Aurora, CO.
    I’m not sure this answers Father Z’s question, since we are speaking of a bishop, but my guess is they can remove him from the Society.

  2. Papabile says:

    I believe it matters little if they throw him out. The Priests who agree with him will not change, and some will simply follow him, or join him if there is an ultimate reconciliation. It really doesn’t matter anyway as Rome has stated the issue of the three other Bishops is independent of this reconciliation.

    He can cause just as much trouble outside their group as in it.

  3. digdigby says:

    Now it turns out he is a ‘Truther’ who says the U.S. government was involved in 9/11, AND made still more antisemitic comments directly contradicting the Holy Father’s clear teaching that the Jews are not ‘eternally guilty of deicide’. The Holy Father is WRONG and he is right. Uh, got that. How do you remove a bishop… just hold my coat and stand back and I’ll show you how it’s done.

  4. jasoncpetty says:

    I like how he has a Glenn Beck conspiracy-board in the background.

  5. And I agree in the opposite direction for notoriously liberal bishops. I’m afraid it doesn’t seem the rebuke comes quite so quickly in that direction though.

  6. Jack Regan says:

    I find this whole spectrum quite interesting.

    There have already been a load of splits. The FSSP (okay, sort of) split from the SSPX to go back to (or stay in? I can’t remember) the Church, the SSPV split from the SSPX, then shortly after that a load of priests separated from the SSPV, some under the ‘Catholic Restoration’ banner.

    Point being, there will always be splits and fractures. The further you get from the centre ground (left or right), the more fractured the picture will always be.

    Basically, yes, the SSPX should kick Williamson out. The guy is extreme even by far-right-separated standards. But we shouldn’t worry that there will be splits. There will always be people ‘out there’ on every side of the spectrum.

  7. acardnal says:

    Let’s recall that he was not invited to attend the July General Chapter. That means something.

  8. Brian2 says:

    Maybe I’m going soft, but I think they should move mountains to keep him in. I agree, he is a lot of trouble. He says crazy things, stupid things, and just plain wrong things. But where would he go once given the boot? Would he get a severence package from SSPX? Could he move in with Fr. Cedaka? Or should he live under a bridge somewhere, burning his vestments for warmth in a trashcan? My understanding of religious life, is that one joins the community for life, but the community joins you as well. For better or for worse. Kicking him out now, no matter how difficult he makes things, seems cruel. In this case it is worse, but he not be kicked out, although perhaps going off to an SSPX affliated monastery and keep radio silence. Remember, that was roughly what Maciel was sentenced too. I should add that I am not a Williamsonite, nor even an SSPX-er, in fact, I go to one of the novus ordo heresy festivals Williamson likes to complain about :)

  9. asperges says:

    [The FSSP is a most respectable Society in full union with Rome. ]

    Williamson is the embodiment of someone entirely unsuited to being a Bishop. There is a group called “Traditional Roman Catholic” on Facebook, whose page I must have carelessly clicked at some point in the past, and now daily it delivers poisonous ranting from Williamson. His latest hobby-horse (as quoted above) is to throw out Bp Fellay, whom he seems to consider a traitor and an enemy. No doubt he has a following within SSPX and they will go their own way as they fall into eventual, formal schism.

    The mechanics of the process of reconciliation are less important than the importance of getting SSPX back on board. The consequence of failure for countries such as France, where a large part of the small remnant of practising Catholics (>4%) attend Mass, would be disastrous.

    Who cannot think that a ‘triumph’ over the Traditional movement (symbolically) represented by SSPX – however much they may not be actually representative of many other forms of tradition and however stupid they have been – would not send a wholly negative signal to all that the Holy Father is trying to achieve? It would be a coup for the liberals which would put them again to the fore.

    Find me one liberal who would not crow until sunset at the fall of anything traditional whilst they continue to unbolt every nut and bolt not already loosened or weakened by them in the last 50 years. Summorum Pontificum has been tragically slow to take off. Abuses are still legion; very few parishes have anything resembling a standard, reverend and worthy form of Mass. We are at a crucial point and underestimating what is happening and dismissing it all as whining from a small, disaffected group is not the issue. It is much more.

  10. Horatius says:

    I would not be surprised if an appreciable number of SSPX believes as Williamson does: the video Fr. Z has kindly posted comes from a popular website rife with anti-Catholic disinformation, Pope bashing, and sectarianism. You will find vocal support of Williamson in the comments to the video. Depending on how many notice the video, those numbers will only grow–and comments criticizing Williamson will be deleted.

    Should Fellay bring SSPX back to the Church, it will not be without many hold outs and defections. But that is already part of its history, and is in the nature of all sectarian ideology.

    I doubt that anybody serious, or at least very many people, will draw the conclusion that the Church in welcoming the prodigal son home is winning, somehow, a victory over and against tradition. I see nothing at all tragic in the pace of things, such as liturgy, though it is not to my liking. It is only too understandable after decades of rot. If the prodigal son comes home, so much the better. Meanwhile, as the University of Peru has recently discovered, Catholic and papal will no longer be words easy to shuffle around, pro-aborts (e.g. the widow of Senator Kennedy) will find it harder to speak at Catholic institutions (sadly, after Assumption College dinked her, thanks to Bishop McManus, she ended up at B. C.: I said harder, not yet impossible), FSSP and ICK grow bigger by the day, and many more than “a few” parishes are transforming their liturgy in line with the truth.

  11. LouiseA says:

    What a shameful post this is. Truly beneath you, Fr. Z., to post something so insulting and juvenile about a Catholic bishop.

    This is an internal matter to the SSPX, and it should stay that way. Running opinion polls does not do any good.

  12. Joseph-Mary says:

    Willliamson is not a Roman Catholic bishop in union with the Vicar of Christ.

  13. Actually Joseph-Mary…he is…the bishops and priests of the SSPX are suspended a divinis and prohibited from sacramental ministry…but they can go to confession…and are indeed Catholic clergy…

  14. Horatius says:

    Here is Williamson perpetuating a grotesque lie about 9/11, with approving comments in two languages, most recently today, Avoid, and pray for it and for Williamson.

  15. AnnAsher says:

    Bp Williamson’s anger stands in stark contrast to Bp Fellay. IMO. Maybe if they ignore him he will just go away on his own.

  16. Vecchio di Londra says:

    I pray for the Pope’s intention that the SSPX may find their way back into union with Rome, and the views of one bishop cannot ultimately weigh much in God’s plan – whatever His Will may be.
    I do not believe our Holy Father would have set this risky attempt at reconciliation in motion without a clear sign from the Holy Spirit.
    Bishop Williamson seems to fail in obedience to his fraternity and in loyalty to his superior: that is, up to now, a matter for his fraternity to sort out with him. And God can soften the hardest and proudest of hearts, so we shouldn’t judge the outcome just yet.
    But as to the SSPX itself: if they reaffirm their own obedience to papal authority and to the magisterium, what is it, precisely, that they consider to be ‘the work they wish to be free to continue’ to which they have recently referred as a pre-condition?
    If it is the work of enthusing others for the traditional Latin liturgy, and a sense of true devotion, that can only be welcomed. If it is the aim of setting up a barrier between the past and the present, or between their adherents and those already in Communion, that would devalue the true unity of the Church.

  17. If Bishop Williamson IS a Roman Catholic Bishop in union with Pope Benedict XVI he sure does a good job of covering that up.

    I’m a convert. Fellow converts like Bishop Williamson never cease to remind me that humility is a virtue.

  18. Gulielmus says:

    We should remember that Archbishop Lefebvre intended to accept the offer made in 1988, until the four SSPX priests whom he would eventually ordain as bishops, pressured him, HARD, to refuse. Williamson is not, and has never been, a Catholic in union with the Holy See, and as far as I can see, never intends to be. He has lured many many away from obedience, including my cousin and her family, and very capably does the devil’s work in so doing.

  19. Andrew_81 says:


    That is not entirely correct. If one reads the documentation surrounding the May 1988 “Protocol” that Archbishop Lefebvre initially accepted, one will also discover several points:

    1. Fr. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, soon to be a Bishop, was one of those who negotiated the Protocol and thought it acceptable. In fact he can be seen smiling in the well-circulated picture of Archbishop Lefebvre signing the protocol (standing, right).

    2. Three of the four dossiers submitted to Rome were eventually consecrated, one was not. Another was added. Thus, at the time of the protocol only three of the four were candidates, and most certainly did not know of their candidacy, as nothing was yet settled, and the Holy See had not yet picked who was to be consecrated.

    3. Following the signing of the Protocol, Archbishop Lefebvre read a letter from Cardinal Ratzinger. In that letter was a draft of a letter that the Cardinal wished Lefebvre to address to the Pope. In that letter Lefebvre was to ask that the Pope consider the ordination of a member of the Society as a bishop in the reasonably near future.

    4. Archbishop Lefebvre clearly set down the consecration of at least one member of the SSPX as bishop as a necessary precondition.

    5. Following Archbishop Lefebvre’s reneging of his acceptance of the Protocol, Cardinal Ratzinger offered the guarantee of one bishop for August 15, but rejected all of the candidates Lefebvre had already submitted.

    6. It became clear that the commission for tradition that was also a precondition would not have a majority of members from traditional groups, but would mostly be Vatican bureaucrats.

    So, it seems far more likely from the documentary evidence that Archbishop Lefebvre balked on the agreement because he saw inconsistency from the Holy See, and frequent ambiguity and delay and thus he grew distrustful that the Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger would live up to their promises.

  20. LouiseA says:

    Future generations will see that during this period of history all 4 of the FSSPX bishops were the most faithful of all the Catholic bishops, and that they were in full and true union with the Holy Father as his most faithful sons, even though the poor Pope himself did not recognise that fact at the time. They are being persecuted unjustly for holding firm to the Faith, and are enduring a white martyrdom. So slander away at one of them at your own risk.

  21. MikeD says:

    It would be a big mistake to expel Williamson from the Society. That would lead even more to view the Bishop (and he is a Bishop, and, despite a number of absurdities that he clings to, a better one than an untold number of other Bishops in perfectly regular canonical standing) as a martyr.

    No, the thing to do is to isolate him to the point where he chooses to either leave the Society himself, which seems quite plausible at this juncture, or come to his senses. The leadership of the Society, I think, understands this, and that is perhaps why they have not expelled him already.

  22. Pax--tecum says:

    To me it’s clear that Bishop Williamson doesn’t want a reconciliation to happen, even if the conditions were ideal. So, yes, I hope that the Society throws him outside, so that the Society may fully return to their home, which is Rome.

  23. Jerry says:

    Future generations will see that during this period of history all 4 of the FSSPX bishops were the most faithful of all the Catholic bishops, and that they were in full and true union with the Holy Father as his most faithful sons, even though the poor Pope himself did not recognise that fact at the time. They are being persecuted unjustly for holding firm to the Faith, and are enduring a white martyrdom. So slander away at one of them at your own risk.

    Regardless of how correct their objections were/are on points of theology and liturgy, the threw in the towel on the big one: obedience. This opened the doors for numerous other spiritual problems to manifest all throughout the organization and its followers .

    Christ told us that we will know the tree by its fruit. While not all of the fruit of the SSPX tree is bad, enough is that the message is clear — to those who listen.

  24. Sixupman says:

    +Williamson has already been exiled to this other Elba, the UK. Here, he has sought to replicate the type of following he had attracted in the USA, which is virulently anti-+Fellay, ably abetted by the District Superior.

    From the fireplace, in the clip, it should be recognisable where the recording took place – probably Wimbledon.

    On Cathcon “Lamentably Sane” has made a very percipient comment which is worthy of consideration.

  25. CharleyCOllins says:

    “A touch of Donatism?” I guess Canons 694-704 are the Donatist canons then!

  26. Supertradmum says:

    LouiseA, Have you ever heard a sermon from Bishop Williamson? I have and was horrified. It was so bad, the regular members of the SSPX community in my area at the time came up to me and apologized for the tirade against the Pope, at Midnight Mass on Christmas, a Mass full of children as well. He was obviously not in his right mind. It was embarrassing even for the SSPX parish, which was old and venerable.

    I think he should at least be asked to be low-key and even silent while negotiations are in progress.

  27. Texas trad says:

    I can do better that that one. Several years ago, Bishop Williamson was in charge of the Confirmation in Houston, Texas and Williamson’s entire sermon was on the U.S. involvement in 9/11. The parents were shocked. No one tried to stop him and people started leaving. What a terrible sermon for the children being confirmed (and adults) to listen to on Confirmation Day. With so many people there, Bishop Williamson had a real opportunity to preach Catholicism, but instead, talked like a conspiracy theorist. It was terrible.

  28. I’m sadly convinced that a split within the Society will surely happen. With such outrageous mouthfuls, it’s inevitable +Williamson will eventually move along with with like around half their clergy and faithful.

  29. Simple Steve says:

    Just what are you accusing him of? He has an opinion and aright to express it, just like we are doing now. He was worried and rightly so, it did look like Bishop Fellay sold out. Truth is the truth weather we agree or not, or weather we are offended or not, it is irrelevant. When has he stepped out of Catholic line? Since when does the truth have to take account of every body’s sensitivities? When he makes a mistake on doctrine or fact, fine criticize to you harts content.
    If you want to win an argument, back it up with facts, other vise its just smear and innuendo. I for one can’t think of a more catholic or courageous man to clean out the church in the vain of St Pius V. Perhaps you might suggest somebody, good luck.

  30. dans0622 says:

    It’s an interesting question. As a member of a institute of consecrated life, the fraternity can expel members in accord with canon law (which is the 1917 Code, I imagine) and their constitutions. The complicating factor is that we are dealing with a bishop. According to the 1983 Code, a bishop can be judged in contentious cases by the Roman Rota (c. 1405.3.1). In the 1917 Code (c. 1557), any criminal case involving any bishop is reserved to the Pope. I don’t think this would be a criminal matter, though. Residential bishops, in contentious cases, are to be judged by a tribunal of the Apostolic See. Williamson is not a residential bishop. So, maybe the 1917 Code would allow the fraternity to deal with Williamson on their own. But, the Church is under the 1983 Code so if the fraternity wanted to expel him, I think they’d have to depend on the Rota to make the judgment. (This is all presuming that Williamson has not done and will not do anything that would result in his ipso facto (automatic) dismissal.)

  31. dcs says:

    We should remember that Archbishop Lefebvre intended to accept the offer made in 1988, until the four SSPX priests whom he would eventually ordain as bishops, pressured him, HARD, to refuse.

    I don’t know about Msgrs. Fellay, Williamson, and de Galarreta, but then-Fr. Tissier advised Abp. Lefebvre against the consecrations.

  32. dominic1955 says:

    Whether he is expelled or not is an internal matter for the Society. That he wasn’t invited to the General Chapter was telling.

    He is a bishop, yes. However, he needs to learn how to open his mouth without letting all sorts of crazy spill out all over the place. Bishops are successors to the Apostles, they should be preaching Christ and Him crucified not their pet conspiracy theories about temporal matters-matters which the episcopal consecration does nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, to give authority to such opinions.

  33. aviva meriam says:

    Obedience is hard…..
    I do not envy BP Fellay….. nor the SSPX the coming decisions. I hope they return and I hope the community doesn’t fracture. I am horrified by much of what BP Williamson has said but wonder if the old dictum “Keep one’s friends close and one’s enemies closer” applies here. If expelling Williamson makes him vulnerable, than he would have more incentive to act and speak in a manner that could be destructive. If there could be a way to provide a quiet retirement within the society with the condition of public silence and obedience to the SSPX order, wouldn’t that be the more charitable way to deal with the situation?

  34. mrose says:


    You wrote: “made still more antisemitic comments directly contradicting the Holy Father’s clear teaching that the Jews are not ‘eternally guilty of deicide’.”

    What about all the saints and doctors of the Church who said that Jews are eternally guilty of deicide? Does it matter that the Holy Father disagrees with them?

    Men such as:

    St. John Chrysostom
    St. Augustine
    St. Thomas Aquinas
    St. Jerome

    Ponder that before defending the Holy Father and VII novelty about deicide, please.

  35. aragonjohn7 says:

    God bless you
    For inquiry

  36. Disobedience sucks, doesn’t it?

  37. dans0622 says:

    @mrose: I’d be interested to see one example of “all the saints and doctors of the Church who said that Jews are eternally guilty of deicide.”

  38. irishgirl says:

    I keep praying that the SSPX be reconciled with Rome. That’s all I can do right now.
    But Williamson needs to be definitely muzzled! He should be sent to some remote monastery where there is a strict vow of silence.
    Poor Bishop Fellay-he has an awful cross to bear in the person of Williamson.
    And it would be terrible if there was another split in the Society, too.

  39. Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam says:

    Oh yes, absolutely! Muzzle people who speak uncomfortable truth; the new church can’t have any of that! We need to speak newspeak and deride, ridicule, ostracize, & belittle those who say things that make us feel strangely uncomfortable in our persistent quest for willful naivete’ and ignorance; you know, about false flag operations and illegal wars and purposeful depopulation and such. The enemies of Christ are legion, have been among us from the beginning, and do not give up on deceiving, obfuscating, concealing, twisting, and using words (as do those in the sciences-especially neurosciences) to psychically drive home their points and their agenda. The most skillful part of this, is that those who are under attack by these creatures/people don’t know they are targeted. They believe what they’re told to believe; Bp. Williamson is a crazy, old man, people like him are crackers, conspiracies don’t exist, the SSPX is disobedient because the head “Grammaton cleric” (watch the movie Equilibrium) says they are; etc. etc. As long as “those people” wear the “tin foil hats”, the rest of us must be okay; we are the “sane” ones. We can remain comfortable in our (mis)perceptions, not think anything through to its logical conclusion, not believe our lying eyes, and thus, not have to make any uncomfortable choices which would me taking responsibility after coming to the undeniable conclusion that those who run the new world order took the (visible) church over a long, long time ago and Bp. Williamson knows it. Meanwhile, Bp. Fellay thinks he can play footsie with the devil and not get scorched. You decide. Come in from the Disneyworld fairytale world you swallowed whole cloth when you were a child or live in reality.

  40. Cavaliere says:

    Recent quote from Bishop Williamson from his newsletter,

    “May Catholics who wish to keep the Faith attend a Tridentine Mass celebrated by a priest who is part of the Conciliar Church, for instance by his belonging to the Institute of Christ the King or to the Fraternity of St Peter? The answer has to be that, as a rule, a Catholic may not attend such a Mass, even if it is a Tridentine Mass, and even if it is worthily celebrated….”

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