Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Bishop" Apologizes for Holocaust Denial

I don't understand. Zenit reports that "Bishop Richard Williamson, formerly excommunicated member of the Society of St. Pius X, apologized today for statements in which he denied the extent of the [1933-1945 Jewish] holocaust." Of course the holocaust is a fact, but what can this sentence possibly mean?

"Bishop" Williamson is no bishop and he's barely a Catholic. He was "ordained" a "bishop" in 1988 by one Marcel Lefebvre, a man portraying himself as a Catholic archbishop, who was in reality a former archibishop who had separated himself from the Catholic Church: in 1988 during the papacy of Pope John Paul the Great, after a very extended period of rancorous rebellion against the authority of the Papacy and the Magisterium, Mr. Marcel Lefebvre automatically excommunicated himself as a consequence of this very "ordination" of Mr. Williamson and three other members of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X ("SSPX").

For some unknown reason the Vatican lifted the excommunication of the six private citizens of France (natch) involved in the 1988 "consecrations" last month. This means that the remaining five men (Mr. Lefebvre died in 1991) are now, barely, members of the Roman Catholic Church. But under no circumstances are any "bishops" that were "consecrated" by Mr. Lefebvre actually bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. Well, I guess they are about as much "bishops" as the emotionally troubled women who announce that they have ordained each other as "priests" from time to time.

I do not know what led Pope Benedict XVI to regularize relations between the Holy See and SSPX to some extent. And maybe he regularized relations to the full extent, whatever that might mean. For example, are Catholics REALLY expected to consider these men bishops??? As far as I am concerned, they are simply private citizens who are no longer excommunicated owing to the mercy of their betters in Rome. True Catholics are loyal to the Pope and to the Magisterium and Mr. Richard Williamson, while now apparently a Catholic again, is still a nut job and should attend Mass as often as possible and keep his fool mouth shut (if he ever wants to be taken seriously by anybody, that is).

[Edit: See update by me in the comments section.]


Mike Marsh said...

I think the media tends to use whatever honorifics people claim. To his particular sect, he's a Bishop, and journalists generally take no position on the legitimacy of claims like that. If they refer to him as a Roman Catholic Bishop, that would be an error. It's the same principle behind which librarians/archivists file books ostensibly written by spirits by the spirit's name, rather than the medium.

So if you were to start referring to yourself in print as Lord Robert of the Purple Hedge Clippers, then journalists would use that title when writing about you.

Mike Marsh said...

You should totally start referring to yourself as Lord Robert of the Purple Hedge Clippers.

raluke said...

But Zenit is a Catholic news agency. If anybody was going to get it right, they should have, no? How come we have to guess about this kind of thing? How come the Pope doesn't have a press secretary? Or does he?

And you're right, I *am* Lord Robert of the Purple Hedge Clippers. And now it says so on my profile in the upper right-hand corner. Thanks!

Mike Marsh said...

That does change things, LRotPHC. I did a search on Zenit for "Williamson," and it seems the Vatican has been referring to him as "Bishop" in its official statements, sometimes with a qualifier for their sect.

raluke said...

I asked about this on another forum and received the following answer. I'm hoping others chime in because it is unsatisfying. And it certainly doesn't cause my upper lip to uncurl. There are certainly bad priests and bishops. And although, as Fr. Mitch Pacwa has said, we've had a good run of Popes over the past 200 years, everybody recognizes that there have been a small percentage of very bad Popes in our history. So I still see no reason to treat schismatic mouthings with respect, merely glowering silence.

"Bishop Williamson ... and the others are valid bishops because they have apostolic succession from ... Lefebvre. This doesn't vanish if it is passed on illicitly, this is why the orthodox also have valid orders. The Anglicans on the other hand changed the ritual so much that it was declared by Leo XIII that they lost the apostolic succession."

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