Sad. Former SSPX Bp. Williamson consecrates a bishop. Both now excommunicated.

Former SSPX Bp. Williamson consecrated another bishop. They both have incurred the late sententiae excommunication foreseen in Canon Law.

The SSPX issued an official statement HERE:

On March 19, 2015, Bishop Richard Williamson performed the episcopal consecration of Fr. Jean-Michel Faure at the Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Cross in Nova Friburgo, Brazil.

Bishop Williamson and Fr. Faure have not been members of the Society of St. Pius X since 2012 and 2014, respectively, [NB] because of their violent criticisms of any relations with the Roman authorities. According to them, such contacts were incompatible with the apostolic work of Archbishop Lefebvre. [I suspect that Lefebvre would be horrified.]

The Society of St. Pius X regrets sincerely that this spirit of opposition has led to an episcopal consecration. [May the come soon to regret other spirits of opposition.] In 1988 Archbishop Lefebvre had clearly indicated his intention to consecrate auxiliary bishops [NB] who would have no jurisdiction, because of the state of necessity in which the Society of St. Pius X and faithful Catholics found themselves at that time. His sole goal was to make available to the faithful the sacraments which priests ordained by the bishops would offer.  [There is no question that Holy Orders, Mass and baptisms and confirmations are valid.] After having done everything conceivable to gain permission from the Holy See, Archbishop Lefebvre proceeded with the solemn consecrations on June 30, 1988 before several thousand priests and faithful and hundreds of journalists from around the world. It was abundantly clear from all the circumstances that, despite the lack of authorization from Rome, this action done in the most public manner was for the good of the Church and of souls. [It was not abundantly clear… but read on.]

The Society of St. Pius X denounces this episcopal consecration of Fr. Faure, which, despite the assertions of both clerics concerned, is not at all comparable to the consecrations of 1988. [True.] All the declarations of Bishop Williamson and Fr. Faure prove abundantly that they no longer recognize the Roman authorities, except in a purely rhetorical manner.  [Like admitting that Francis is indeed Pope, and then not submitting to his authority?  Say his name in the Roman Canon and put a photo up?  What do they do, exactly?]

The Society of St. Pius X still maintains that the present state of necessity renders legitimate its action throughout the world, without denying the legitimate authority of those for whom it continues to pray at every Mass. [The Roman Pontiff and, I suppose, the local bishop.  I wonder: Do the priests of the SSPX include the name of the local diocesan bishop in the Canon during Mass?] The Society intends to continue its work of priestly formation according to its statutes. It has every intention to keep the deposit of the Faith and the purity of the Church’s moral teaching, in opposition to errors, from wherever they may come, in order to pass on such Faith and morals in the traditional liturgy and by preaching, in accordance with the missionary spirit of its founder: Credidimus caritati [1 John 4:16].

Menzingen, March 19, 2015

I pray that Williamson and the other fellow will be reconciled before they die.

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  1. Maltese says:

    I have the great good fortune to attend the 2pm Sunday mass an San Miguel (the “oldest church” in America) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was started, actually, at the request of college students from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, who loved the Latin language. Since my needs are met, at this mass, I have no need to engage in polemics any longer. Hopefully, more and more Catholics will garner the riches offered by the Traditional Latin Mass, which, in all truth, would have disappeared without the work of Lefebvre. I pray for +Williamson, because I think his heart is in the right place, but I think his reason may be clouded by some of his conspiracy-mindedness. More than the gas chamber controversy, his views on 9-11 speak of a mind that sees the evil in the world and assigns it to conspiracy. Robert Gates famously said: ” the only conspiracy which is true is that government is sometimes inept.”

  2. Geoffrey says:

    I do not doubt Benedict XVI’s good intentions, but I was always confused at how His Holiness lifted the excommunications without any show of repentance on the part of the SSPX Bishops. I always thought that excommunication was a “treatment” to try and “wake up” the excommunicated before it was too late. The SSPX continue to maintain that their disobedience in 1988 was “required”. I am sure Williamson is saying the same thing now. I just don’t get it…

  3. paterscotus says:

    Fr. Z, I know for a fact that the Society priests recognize and pray for the local Ordinary in the Canon of the Mass.

    This is a sad situation. I think the difference between the consecrations today and those in 1988 might be said to resolve down to this: the Society does wish reconciliation with Rome – but a Rome that holds fast to the Faith as it has always been taught and believed (particularly with regard to ecumenism, religious liberty, and collegiality) and represented in worship (the traditional Mass), whereas Bishop Williamson and the “resistance” seen to have broken entirely from Rome. This is, it seems to me, the difference between an internal conflict and a protestant revolt.

  4. Siculum says:

    “Like admitting that Francis is indeed Pope, and then not submitting to his authority? Say his name in the Roman Canon and put a photo up? What do they do, exactly?” That’s about right. That’s what they do. Except often without the photo. Where the Holy Father and local ordinary should be, that’s where you usually see Archbishop Lefebrve’s portrait.

    And yes, to my knowledge as well, the SSPX priests outwardly pray for the local bishop in the Canon.

    I pray too, Father Z, for reconciliation. Personally, I’m so, so weary of this struggle. We have much bigger fish to fry catch out there than this, and it would be great if we were all riding our B16 bicycles together on the deck of this barque, supporting our rock-like fisherman-captain who is at the helm.

  5. nhoward says:

    Fr. Z,

    I have a question I have never found the answer to. We all know that the excommunication on the SSPX bishops was lifted by HH Benedict XVI. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre also was under excommunication, but he died long before the excommunications were lifted. The lifting of the excommunications were not retroactive (applied to the Archbishop), correct?

  6. anilwang says:

    Geoffrey says: “The SSPX continue to maintain that their disobedience in 1988 was “required”. I am sure Williamson is saying the same thing now. I just don’t get it…”

    It is different. Archbishop Lefebvre was getting near the end of his life and he didn’t want to see the SSPX die before his concerns were dealt with. He pleaded with Rome to let him ordain a bishop but when an answer did not come, he got impatient and ordained 3 bishops. According to Fr Hardon, the SSPX did ultimately get permission to ordain one and only one bishop, but by the time the SSPX got the message it was already too late and the illicit ordinations happened.

    With Bishop Williamson, there’s no pressure for him to ordain a bishop and he hasn’t asked Rome permission, since he doesn’t recognize it’s authority. IMO, he’ll wear the excommunication like a badge of honour.

    The original excommunication of the SSPX didn’t need to happen, and probably wouldn’t have if Archbishop Lefebvre were more patient and the Vatican was faster in arriving at its resolution. Ultimately, excommunication is a medicine that the Church uses to bring the sinner into repentance so he can rejoin the Church. But in this case, the excommunication had the opposite effect and instead caused the SSPX to dig in its heals and look for reasons to distrust Rome. Pope Benedict XVI recognized this and reversed the excommunication to try to heal the rift that should never have happened. I’m certain Archbishop Lefebvre would have accepted Pope Benedict XVI’s offer had it and SP been made in the mid 1980s, but now, especially after Pope Francis, the SSPX is a lot more distrustful of Rome.

  7. St. Rafael says:

    When the shepherd is struck, the sheep are scattered. What a complete and utter mess. The Church is in total choas. You have a Modernist Pope with Modernist cardinals and bishops, fighting alongside orthodox cardinals and bishops, fighting alongside the SSPX who has no ordinary jurisdiction and faculties, who fight alongside Williamson’s group, who fight alongside sedevacantists, who splinter and breakaway among themselves. What a mess. A mess that I won’t try to make sense of. It’s for God to sort out. To sort out the greatest crisis in Church history.

  8. Vincent says:

    I’m really not sure Ab. Lefevbre would have “accepted terms” from Pope Benedict – if you were following events closely you might know that there were no terms! There was what was called a “doctrinal preamble” – more or less a list of Catholic beliefs which the Society had to sign. Their problem was the wording, which would have forced them to accept Vatican II in every way, without leaving wriggle room.

    I recall Bishop Fellay speaking about this: he said that the information that came from sources “close to the Pope” and the information that came through official channels differed. This was deemed to be an indication that there were hostile forces between the Pope and the Society (which is hardly surprising, since Ab Lefebvre was in the good books of the Pope until the French bishops intervened, telling him that the SSPX was stealing their seminarians.

    Ironically, of course, the Society has a large ‘following’ in France…

    On another note, the Society chapels usually have a photo of the Pope and a photo of Ab Lefebvre (not the local ordinary). Masses by bishops are said, at the faldstool. They don’t read out messages from the local bishop, but there we are. If you ask me, they’re not proactive enough in asking permission, etc, from local bishops. Although past experience has rather left a bad taste in the mouth….

  9. Siculum says:

    ” If you ask me, they’re not proactive enough in asking permission, etc, from local bishops.” Because, the answer to all requests for permission for the Society to operate is and should be a resounding “No” — until they become a regularized priestly fraternity. Just like me asking my mother for ice cream every day as a youngster — not gonna happen, so don’t even try.

    And in answer to nhoward, the lifting of the excommunication on Archbishop Lefebrve was not retroactively applied. He died excommunicated and is henceforth left to the mercy of God. Let us pray for his soul.

  10. John of Chicago says:

    I understand that the Sacrament of Holy Orders conferred by an excommunicated bishop is valid and the man so ordained is truly a priest. My question is: Is a man who seeks ordination to the priesthood from an excommunicated bishop, himself, excommunicated by doing so? At first glance, ordination to the priesthood seems significantly, perhaps even fundamentally, different from occasionally attending an SSPX Mass.

  11. tominrichmond says:

    There is no comparison between moonbat Williamson and Apb. Lefebvre. The moment Lefebvre found out that nutty priests at the American seminary were doing things like omitting the Pope and local Ordinary’s name from the Canon, and calling the Archbishop a Modernist for imposing the 1962 MR on the Society, he quickly booted them out of the order (they went on to create the “Society of St. Pius V” and have since further fractured). Sadly, the man sent in to fix the crazy ethos of the American branch of the Society was… Williamson!

    I believe Apb. Lefebvre would indeed be appalled by Williamson’s antics. The point of the Society communique is that the ’88 consecrations were necessary in the sense that bishops were required to ordain the Society’s priests, period. That necessity does not exist anymore, so Williamson has not even the questionable grounds that the SSPX had in ’88.

  12. ppb says:

    I’m not convinced that what Bp. Williamson just did is all that different from what Abp. Lefebvre did in 1988. Abp. Lefebvre said quite a lot of things; you can get the Bp. Williamson approach out of his writings, or you can get the more benign-seeming version presented in this SSPX communique. In my opinion, the difference between the two is largely rhetorical. In 5 – 10 years, the remaining SSPX bishops are going to face a similar question: do they consecrate more bishops again, even if there is not a papal mandate? Will they still claim a state of necessity?

  13. Wiktor says:

    Although maybe the SSPX does not need a new bishop ASAP, I don’t think this argument can be applied to Bp. Williamson. He is not in SSPX anymore. He is (was) alone as a bishop, just like Abp. Lefebvre was.

    The difference is, as far as we know, Williamson didn’t even try to get permission from the Pope.

    But let us think if there’s anything good that can come out of this. More traditional bishops and more priests. Let us pray for reconciliation of both the SSPX and Williamson’s group.

  14. anilwang says:

    Vincent says: I’m really not sure Ab. Lefevbre would have “accepted terms” from Pope Benedict – if you were following events closely you might know that there were no terms! There was what was called a “doctrinal preamble” – more or less a list of Catholic beliefs which the Society had to sign.

    Keep in mind that in the beginning all Ab. Lefevbre wanted was to be able to form a society, much like the FSSP to continue the celebration of the Latin Mass. Ab. Lefevbre actually signed on to Vatican II during the council, so there is a hermeneutic of understanding Vatican II is acceptable to the original SSPX. The society was even granted an ad experimentum status, but it was revoked due to protests from liberal bishops and that’s when opinions started to harden. But before the original excommunications, there are signs that Ab. Lefevbre would have accepted the “doctrinal preamble” as long as they had full freedom to criticize Vatican II, as many FSSP priests are free to do so today. A personal prelature was a lot more than Ab. Lefevbre wanted and the SSPX might never have been formed if SP was in place from the start.

    But as time goes on, positions harden and you start to look for reasons to justify your position…looking at things from the worst light possible. Take the SSPX criticism of the New Catechism. If you follow the link to their detailed analysis, you’ll notice that it’s based on the 1994 version of the Catechism — a draft copy that was never published. There are several paragraphs referenced that have been dramatically altered in the published versions of the catechism. An even many of the paragraphs that they do reference that haven’t changed don’t even mean what they say they mean, especially when taken in context. It’s very easy to unintentionally take things out of context and come up with your own narrative if you’re looking for reasons to stay out. Protestant on the verge of converting know this all too well. But the longer you stay out, the easier it gets.

  15. Gerard Plourde says:

    I hope that the SSPX humbly submits to the authority of the Holy See but the communique’s reference to “the Roman authorities” troubles me. As others have pointed out, Abp. Lefebvre did sign the documents of the Second Vatican Council, including Dignitatis Humanae. Unless one decides to give credence to the contention that somehow the Church hierarchy has fallen en masse into heresy (a contention that flies in the face of the Doctrines of Indefectability and Infallibility), the true Catholic duty of the SSPX is to follow the course of obedience.

  16. Ben Kenobi says:

    Personally I’m concerned that it’s always someone Lefebvre ordained. We can talk about how Lefebvre wasn’t responsible but the truth of the matter is that the consecrations were never necessary, unless one adopts the protestant notion that only Lefebvrites can sustain it. If that’s the case, then schism is evident.

  17. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Maltese’s quotation from Gates reminded me of something Boswell quotes Johnson saying in tart jesting about their mutual friend, Sheridan: “Why, Sir, Sherry is dull, naturally dull; but it must have taken him a great deal of pains to become what we now see him. Such an excess of stupidity, Sir, is not in Nature.” Presumably the same could be said of ‘such an excess of “ineptitude” ‘…

    Gerard Plourde refers to “the contention that somehow the Church hierarchy has fallen en masse into heresy (a contention that flies in the face of the Doctrines of Indefectability and Infallibility)”. Would all forms of some such contention do that? There was a lot of polemical attention ‘in the day’ to Alphonsus de Castro having written in early editions (1534, 1539) of his Adversus omnes haereses, “Non dubitamus an haereticum esse, et Papam esse, coire in unum possint […] Non enim credo aliquem esse adeo impudentem Papae assertatorem ut ei tribuere hoc veli ut nec errare aut in interpretatione sacrarum literarum hallucinari possit” (which Simpkinson translates “For the matter on which we doubt is not whether to be a heretic and to be Pope can go together […] For I do not think that there was ever yet a supporter of the Papacy so shameless that he should wish to attribute this to him that neither can he err nor be deluded in the interpretation of Holy Scripture”). Could it not be contended that very numerous members of the hierarchy could be each “as touching his own personal pesuasion heretical” (to quote another ‘period’ polemicist)?

    Fr. Z wrote, “I wonder: Do the priests of the SSPX include the name of the local diocesan bishop in the Canon during Mass?” How ‘optional’ is this? I recently thought I noticed a parish priest of odd, off-putting manner and expressions so omit to “include the name”…

  18. Maltese says:


    You bring up interesting points: what one may venerate in form may not be venerated (or followed) in heart, or spirit. What does it mean to be ‘Catholic’? I made a promise to God almost 20 years ago that I would be Catholic, after years of atheism. I have followed that promise, from the heights of Federal government, down to ill health and near destitution.

    By extension, we have to be true to Christ’s Church whether it is in ill health or well. We had Borgia popes, and, perhaps, worse, but also warrior-Saint-Popes, of great fidelity and courage. Maybe we aren’t in the best period of Church history, but remaining true to Christ’s Church is absolutely essential to the on-going 2.000+ year patrimony of her Mission.

  19. Fr_Sotelo says:

    What bizarre spin and mental acrobatics. What an impervious state of denial of reality. A Society which carried out illicit consecrations now criticizes a man who has carried out an illicit consecration. Why? Because the disobedience of the SSPX is a more noble, a holier, a more reasonable disobedience? Because they desire an eventual reunion (God knows when!) and Williamson does not? Small consolation. Let’s not speak of the blunt truth. I think the proper release from Menzingen should read:

    “After 40 years of disobedience, pride, and calling into question the authority and orthodoxy of the Pope, a former bishop of our Society has followed our logic and rationales to their logical conclusion. Namely, he has passed judgment that there is a state of emergency in the Church and no one is remedying it. He (how dare he!) has judged that we are as questionable in orthodoxy and moral authority as the Pope is. Following our example of almost 30 years ago, he is doing what Lefebvre did and ordaining a bishop without mandate of the Holy See. We so regret that he is imitating our example and adding irregularity to irregularity. However, we caution all, ahead of time, not to judge him either excommunicated or schismatic, because we all know that any bishop who needs to save the Church from the Pope has supplied jurisdiction!”

  20. Imrahil says:

    Someone in the comments here said Bp Williamson [I’ll leave the “Bp” until a possible defrocking by Church authority] was a good example for a lunatic in the Chestertonian sense.

    I’m not quite informed about him, and I don’t intend this to be wishful thinking but just an objective question…

    is there any possibility that the consecration might be invalid due to insanity?

    After all, that has been suggested as well in the Ngo-Thuc consecrations, as well in the Palmarian sect (which thinks that by now an interstellar war should have commenced).

    Rev’d Fr Sotelo,

    I think there is such a thing as one disobedience holied than another. So, for instance, Colonel (gen. staff) Stauffenberg’s disobedience was holier than that of the unknown German private in April 1945 who just threw his gun away and deserted chiefly for personal safety’s sake… even though the latter action was a fine one too..

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