Bishop Williamson 'banned from entering any Catholic church'
But to hear that the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony, has banned him from even entering church is to elevate the man’s sin to the status of the rebellion of Lucifer.
The Cardinal said:
“In the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Williamson is hereby banned from entering any Catholic church, school or other facility, until he and his group comply fully and unequivocally with the Vatican's directives regarding the Holocaust.”
Schools – fine. Other facilities – fine. The Cardinal's back garden - fine. But ‘banned from entering any Catholic church’?
Is church not supposed to be the place for sinners? Does it not welcome murderers, liars, thieves, adulterers, homosexuals, paedophiles, rapists, readers of 'The Tablet' and Tony Blair – indeed, all who may be in need of the grace and mercy of God? Is their attendance not necessary for the church to exist? Is it not the church’s very raison d’être to be ministering to sinners and urging them to repent? Where else may one access the sacraments? How else may one encounter the outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace? How is Bishop Williamson to confess? Is reconciliation to be effected by text or email?
Excommunicate, by all means: the Apostle Paul set out very clear directives and conditions upon the matter. But banning a man – any man – from church because of his rebellion and sin is a gross abuse of ecclesial authority and a fundamental misunderstanding of missiology and soteriology.
There are many mortal sins. And surely they may all lead to the place of everlasting fire. But it is concerning to learn that holocaust denial is now elevated to parity with blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as an unforgivable sin.
To quote Tony Blair when he was banned from Mass at Westminster Cathedral: ‘What would Jesus say?’
Perhaps something like ‘Let him who is without sin...’