Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bishop Richard Williamson - Will no one rid us of this turbulent priest?

This is a guest post by Mr Christopher Gillibrand, presently residing in Brussels, whom His Grace commissioned (de gratia) to share his insights and thoughts on the troublesome SSPX bishop who seems to be as careless with his lawyers as Lady Bracknell finds Jack Worthing to be with his parents:

It was with no little surprise that I received the entreaty of Your Grace to communicate on the vexatious episcopate of Richard Nelson Williamson, formerly of his jurisdiction but now fallen in a strange and unhappy manner under that of the Bishop of Rome, where he has no rivals, yeah, not even Your Grace in his attacks on the office of ye Pope. To which he doth add, attacks most grievously personal.

Much information on the sad history of the decline and fall of Bishop Williamson can be found on my website Catholic Church Conservation, so what I say now is in the form of commentary on the latest developments.

Williamson is forgetful what it really means to be a Bishop as he has busily, indeed very busily constructed his own reality at the margins of the Catholic Church. And like anyone who wishes to do this, he has not been wanting for those who he wishes to suck into his world. While as a Catholic, I would be slightly more extensive on the meaning of episcopacy, a good reference point serves as the service for the consecration of Bishops in the Church of England.

What is the point of holding episcopal office if you elevate private and indeed eccentric opinions on the Holocaust to a neo-dogma and a touchstone for religious life? If your whole dialogue as a bishop does not directly concern the Gospel of Our Lord and Saviour, such a life in a profound sense is a waste of time and effort.

I heard the Bishop once preach in the glorious Church of St Joseph in Brussels. Ironic indeed, that he dwelt on the Last Judgement and implied that the faithful who have given so much for this church could have been wasting their time, if that dread day was coming as soon as the Bishop thought it was. All too often indeed, those that despair of the Papal office in the Catholic Church become obsessed with prophecies of the end of the world. Williamson’s only rival as a prophet of doom is Al Gore, he who has had the whole world wasting time worrying about global warming.

He scares the faithful with talk of the Last Judgement and is not himself able to accept the judgement of a secular court which has convicted him of inciting racial hatred. He is so keen to appeal not just against the level of the fine but also the judgement itself that he has gone to the extreme of retaining a neo-Nazi lawyer. This lawyer comes from a whole family of neo-Nazis- father and grandfather before him. He is the “in-house” lawyer of the extreme right in Germany and rushes to the legal defence of every odious character who ever perpetrates some vile crime on behalf of this movement. Williamson’s first lawyer was a member of the Green Party, the most anti-church party in Germany. According to his religious order, Williamson is in the process of selecting a third lawyer and will inform the Regensburg court of his decision "as soon as possible." The damage has, however, already been done. Williamson’s change of lawyer has probably saved him, at least pro-temp, from being degraded as a bishop and ultimately stripped of the right to practice as a priest.

Indeed, he took with him when he converted to the Catholic Church, anti-Catholic Church beliefs. His respect for the person and office of the Pope if anything diminished. The Pope was accurate when he said that Williamson never had the experience of living in the wider church and was not a Catholic in the proper sense. A truly Catholic theology lives in the Golden Mean, not at the extremes of heresy or politics.

It was very good to hear the Pope saying that the excommunication ban on Williamson should never have been lifted. It is a pity that this was not clear at the time but the management of the crisis probably demanded it.

One of the problems for the Curia however was that three of the Society of Saint Pius X’s bishops are in good faith. Indeed, it is possible that Williamson’s speculations on the Holocaust were a deliberate attempt to destroy the growing rapprochement between the main traditionalist body and the Papacy. Jewish organisations especially tended to make no differentiation between Williamson and other traditionalists. There are undoubtedly anti-semites in the traditionalist movement - they generally are laity, who do not understand the nuances of theology, and who should be avoided like the plague because they pollute everything that they touch, not least of course, the preaching of the Gospel.

Williamson would do well to listen to the teaching of St Ignatius of Antioch on the silence of bishops.

For Ignatius, God is the true bishop of all (Letter to the Magnesians 3.1). Ignatius pays homage to the Bishop of Philadelphia who “accomplished more through silence than others do by talking” (Letter to the Philippians 1.1). Ignatius insisted “the more anyone observes that the bishop is silent, the more one should fear him. For everyone whom the Master of the house sends to manage his own house we must welcome as we would the one who sent him” (Letter to the Ephesians 6.1).

The dissonant noises, ultimately signifying nothing, of Williamson on matters political has brought mockery on him and worse to the whole Christian Church.

Williamson is part of a wider political problem.

The Holocaust, if not in extent, then in evil intent was the greatest crime committed in world history. Those who deny it are unworthy of a place at any dining table. They have separated themselves off from civilised society. Hitler nearly destroyed a whole civilisation from which, in God’s good providence, Christianity took its roots. And without Christianity, the world will have no chance of civilisation. Hitler unstopped would have destroyed Christianity.

Further, worrying the world and the church with anti-semitism is a complete distraction from the real religious issue of our day, which is the large and growing Muslim populations in the great cities of Europe.

The anti-semitic right is one of the greatest barriers to political progress in Europe. Desperate conservatives danced with this devil in Germany in inter-war years. In our times, conservatives at home and abroad are fighting against the formation of a European super-state with dictatorial powers, not least in economics, as the Irish are finding out. We shall not win this or any battle by partnering with those whom we most fear and whose solutions would include our own political ruin.

An imperative for the conservative right in Europe is a Declaration of Civilisation which any politician of good will and humanity can sign and which would specifically condemn anti-semitism and holocaust denial. This would separate the sheep from the goats among the potential European allies for UKIP and the British Conservatives. This would make for a true ecumenism in matters political.

If these true friends cannot be found, we will find ourselves alone fighting for the freedom and prosperity of our great country. And this fight, my Lord Archbishop of all people, knows is well worth having.


Anonymous Dan said...

I would like to post a comment, if I may. But I'd like to ask a question first.

What, specifically, is your main beef with Williamson? I think that simple question deserves a simple answer. Is it his occasional eccentricities? His imprudence? Or is your whole and entire beef with him that he has questioned the precise number of Jews who suffered under the Nazi regime? Please let me know.

Now that I've asked the question allow me to proceed with my comment. You state that the Jewish suffering under the Nazis "was the greatest crime committed in world history." Frankly, I would have thought that the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ was the greatest crime committed in world history.

But perhaps this view is too pre-1970 to be worth considering.

30 November 2010 at 23:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very astute observation concerning Bishop Richard Williamson. However, I fear that this reasoned article will not fare well with the drooling fanatical followers of said infamous bishop.

Will they stop and carefully consider this reasonable writing of Mr. Gillibrand? Or, will they come running in with verbal pitchforks, ready to skewer anyone who dares to say anything negative about their revered leader, whom they see as a god who will save all humanity from the evil Shoah?

1 December 2010 at 00:08  
Anonymous not a machine said...

My encounters of anti semitic followers are useually rooted in some sort of reformualtion of nazism and conspiracy theory with very few questions on if they had ever bothered to do any research of Judaism and found it to be as troblesome as secualrism .
I have never met a holocaust denier although have seen them interviewed and again we have arguments over numbers and races which trip off the tongue like shopping items . You enquire what about the written reports sent in by those soldiers who first set eyes on the industrial death camps , and again you are met with accusations of made up figures rigged film shots and the like , almost immune to what these places did .

Even now it seems impossible that such a horrific thing as the holocaust could have formulated in the minds of the nazi officers so brilliantly portrayed in the TV play on Enrichs famous conference.

Perhaps it is unfair to mention lord Faulkners euthansia new think group in the same comment , but both instances applied reasoning on suffering in a godless format and offered relief .

Holocaust deniers are just as godless as those who commited the evil .Euthanasia belief has many grey areas as they reduce the terms to neuroscience which they cannot truly see themselves , even death itself is reduced to the malfunctioning of biorythems on recording devices .

For the rest of us we have to be content with gods timing and his promise of being faithfull unto the end .

Any bishop must surely value that aspect of the christian faith or cease to be a bishop .

1 December 2010 at 01:02  
Blogger Alex said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1 December 2010 at 01:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Mr. Gillibrand did write that post, then it is absolutely shameful and wrong.

1 December 2010 at 04:19  
Anonymous Mar said...

Thank you, dan, for putting your view across clearly and factually, without any self-congratulatory rhetoric or smug artifice. Your point about the Passion and Death
of Jesus Christ is well made, as is the point about questioning certain historical data. There are Jewish historians who have not hesitated to question the historical data of the Holocaust so why should anyone take issue with Bishop Williamson for doing so?

What the writer of this article - together with many others - has failed to grasp is that Bishop Williamson's position is about truth, yes Truth. So the argument: "What is the point of holding episcopal office if you elevate private and indeed eccentric opinions on the Holocaust to a neo-dogma and a touchstone for religious life?" devolves into the fatuous. Even on a purely secular plane sociologists have noted that at times it is precisely those who are considered 'eccentric' who have best discerned the truth.

It is equally fatuous to apply the words: "If your whole dialogue as a bishop does not directly concern the Gospel of Our Lord and Saviour, such a life in a profound sense is a waste of time and effort" to Bishop Williamson. The mission of Jesus was - is -profoundly about truth and anyone who takes a firm position on truth is most certainly a disciple of Jesus. Jesus took pains to expose liars and lies and so should anyone who takes Him seriously.

1 December 2010 at 04:38  
Anonymous Mar said...

The most fatuous part of the article, however, is where, speaking about the Holocaust dogma the author says: "Those who deny it are unworthy of a place at any
dining table. They have separated themselves off from civilised society". I assume that the author is talking about Christian civilisation. This civilisation was built on the blood of martyrs. The protomartyr St. Stephen suffered his fate at the hands of the Jews, as the Scriptures relate. In other instances martyrs suffered their fate if not at the hands of the Jews then certainly with their collusion.

These martyrs were too busy defending the faith to be doing anything so 'civilised' as sitting down to dinner. For many of them it was precisely a choice of sitting down to a civilised dinner - and with one innocuous little word betraying their faith - and
shedding their blood. Neither did Jesus hold dining at the most civilised tables above preaching the truth. His dining out very often was of a decidedly downmarket sort. Perhaps by altering his position by one tiny iota he could have ended up dining out with Pontius Pilate or the members of the Sanhedrin - all very civilised. "Will no one rid
us of this turbulent priest?" could well have applied to Jesus when He was being taken to court.

But I suspect that the perception of civilisation demonstrated here is not really Christian civilisation. It is more in keeping with a certain approach that is mocked in the joke about Catholics, Jews and Anglicans; for the Anglicans the hottest fires of
Hell are reserved for those who ate their dessert with the wrong fork. (For the Catholics for eating meat on Fridays, and for the Jews for eating food that was not kosher). What a perception of civilisation! Sitting at dinner and eating dessert with the right fork! Sitting at dinner and mouthing the right platitudes!

1 December 2010 at 04:40  
Anonymous Mar said...

Mr. Gillibrand, I am flabbergasted that you would consent to be a guest at this 'table' which in another 'course' serves up the most vile article about the Holy Father accompanied with the most vile picture of him; as vile as any to be found on the most
violently anti-Catholic and anti-Pope website, the much-vaunted 'restrained and mellifluous' flavour notwithstanding.

As an admirer - up to now - of the valuable work that you have done on your CathCon website I am at a loss to understand how or why you would stoop so low - unless, unless, unless - you were being so extremely subtly ironic as to go off the radar completely. Perhaps your choice of title is an indication? "Will no one rid us of
this turbulent priest?" That is what King Henry II said of Archbishop Thomas Beckett.

As everybody knows it turned out that the priest was right and the King was wrong.

1 December 2010 at 04:42  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

Whatever ones opinion about the holohoax,the fact remains that this subject is the only one in the world that it is taboo to question,christ can be queer,married,anything one likes to defame him with,but say that there were not six million jews who died during the unpleasantness of the period 1939-1945,and suddenly one becomes a non person,whom it is viewed as legitimate to ridicule,insult,cast into penury and even threaten with physical violence,a most unenlightened attitude from those who parade thier enlightenment as an absolute.Mankind questions,in fact it is his entire reason for being,without which he can not grow,or rectify his deficiencies,yet we are forced under pain of imprisonment to accept this unsubstantiated,uninvestigated ,money making scam as an article of faith,and be punnished for what after all is meerly a vibration of sound emanating from ones vocal chords,this then is the tyranny of deluded public opinion,mob rule,which has altogether no place in a presumed civilised society,and for so many reputedly intelligent people to join with the mob,baying and casting stones,all upon the spurious manufactured "evidence"from the nuremburg victory trials is totally unconscionable.

1 December 2010 at 10:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How odd of God to choose the Jews.

But not so odd as those who choose

The Jewish God and hate the Jews.

1 December 2010 at 13:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard/listened to many 'holocaust deniers' and where I live I am surrounded by them. These people freely express their opinions and have no fear of censure, be it canonical, civil or criminal. With the confines of the jurisdiction of the German Republic you can find these holocaust deniers in an abundance that some think excessive. Who are these people? Asian Muslims from Bangladesh and Pakistan. The Germans will not prosecute these. They will not reprove them. It will be said that theirs is their free expression of what their religious leaders teach them. Such is the inherent hypocrisy of the corrupted society that wooly and liberal thinkers have imposed upon us. So we must condemn Bishop Williamson but understand and excuse holocaust denying Muslims. Scarcely proper, really, is it?

1 December 2010 at 14:18  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Thank you Mr. Singh -

Is that Ogden Nash? Another of favorites is:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em
And little fleas have smaller fleas
And so ad infinitum

1 December 2010 at 15:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding Mar's post of 4:42, I would like to point out that revisionism is absolutely anti-Catholic and anti-Pope. And I will not argue this point, since revisionists, being under the control of the Father of Lies, cannot see the evil spell that they are under. I have sympathy for their plight, but revisionism is the truth only of Satan. Hitler was also under his control. You cannot see this, I know, so there is no use in arguing any points of revisionist dogma with you.

It is unusual that the revisionists here have so far been mostly reasonable in their posts. This is not usually the case. Where else is Mr. Gillibrand to go with his article where he will not be hatefully persecuted for what he writes? If he dares to post this on his website, the amount of hateful posts and emails would surely inundate him and cause much grief.

1 December 2010 at 15:45  
Anonymous Dick the Prick said...

Dear Chris

He cerainly does sound like a curious priest and perhaps more suited to working behind the bar at some dodgy boozer.

I've never attempted to get into the heads of holocaust deniers mainly because it's so utterly objectionable to speak of deaths as though it was an exercise in accounting. I would in very slight terms agree with some of the err...hmmm..posters above in that to say it's the worst crime ever does, personally, require greater knowlegde of Mao, Pol Pot, stalin etc but in reference to mechanised execution and willful genocide one knows it when it's seen, read or heard of.

A priest? An idiot at best and that's being kind.

Many thanks. Brussels eh? Never mind!


1 December 2010 at 20:25  
Anonymous len said...

Williamson has expressed controversial views about Jews. He called them the "enemies of Christ" and urges their conversion to Catholicism.
I am no expert on Catholicism and the process of excommunication but it seems irrational to me.

Hitler was reputedly a Catholic and was never excommunicated for his crimes against humanity and causing the deaths of millions of people; whereas Martin Luther was excommunicated for translating the Bible into German!
Is it a case that crimes against Humanity are less serious in Catholic eyes than 'crimes' against the Catholic Church|?

1 December 2010 at 20:33  
Anonymous Petronius said...

I have not followed this whole story (indeed, this is the first I know of Bishop Williamson).

I am inclined to agree with the gist of Mr Gillibrand's post, ie, that a Bishop (whether he be CoE or RC) may hold somesuch private opinions on political/historical matters. But a Bishop must have due regard to his place in the church, before making his private opinions public, and causing undue controversy with them.

To my distress, I agree with Len's above comment; sometimes within the RC church, it can appear that "crimes against Humanity are less serious in Catholic eyes than 'crimes' against the Catholic Church. However, to be fair, there is a big difference between "it can appear that" and "it is true that". For example, "it appears that" Catholic teaching ("don't wear condoms") contributes to the spread of AIDS in Africa. However, considering that Catholic teaching first of all says "don't have casual sex at all, reserve it for marriage", then it is apparent that the very people who are spreading AIDS by "obeying" the Pope and not wearing condoms, are in fact DISobeying him on a far more fundamental level, by having the casual sex in the first place!
A bit unfar, I think, for one aspect of RC teaching to be held up as "wrong", while blatantly disregarding the wider context of the teaching.

1 December 2010 at 21:41  
Anonymous Mar said...

To Anon. 1 December 2010 15:45,
Yes, yes, argument is useless in this case. To try to refute the statement: "I would like to point out that revisionism is absolutely anti-Catholic and anti-Pope" is like trying to refute: "There is a full Pot of Tea and Cups orbiting the planet Jupiter." I mean, where do you start? :)

"And I will not argue this point, since revisionists, being under the control of the Father of Lies, cannot see the evil spell that they are under. I have sympathy for their plight, but revisionism is the truth only of Satan."

Now that is significant, particularly right at this moment. For many years it was only the revisionist historians - whom you so vilify - who defended the view that Russia was responsible for the massacre of Poles in the Katyn forest. It is only because of their tenacity that finally the truth has come out into the open. Just now, in November, the Russian State Duma has approved a declaration blaming Stalin and
other Soviet officials for having personally ordered the massacre.

26 November 2010 Russian parliament condemns Stalin for Katyn massacre.

For many, especially the Poles, it is a blessing to finally see some semblance of justice. Pity that for you it 'is the truth only of Satan'.

As a point of interest, did you know that right from the start a number of Jews have been prominent members of revisionism?

2 December 2010 at 07:32  
Anonymous Mar said...

England was once a stronghold of intellectual vigour and integrity where the highest level of scholarship flourished and where that most precious of intellectual
commodities, common-sense, thrived. (Alas! - no more.)

Edmund Campion, whose feast day was yesterday, December 1, was an outstanding example of intellectual vigour, integrity of purpose and purity of life. He was someone who knew what it feels like to have the "Will no one rid us of this turbulent priest?"
sentiment pointed towards himself. Like Thomas Beckett he too in the end shed his blood for the truth.

St. Edmund Campion, pray for England!

2 December 2010 at 07:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

non mouse

I do not know who the author is. I learned it soon after I came to know the Truth about living and dying.

2 December 2010 at 07:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all Jewish people who read these comment threads:

‘But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’

Happy Hanukkah!

2 December 2010 at 08:40  
Blogger dolorosa said...

Beware of the Synagogue of Satan as written in the Bible in the Apocalypse! "We've Had Enough Of Exhortations To Be Silent! Cry Out With A Hundred Thousand Tongues. I See That The World Is Rotten Because Of Silence."

~ St. Catherine of Siena

Praying for you, Bishop Williamson!
Thank you and God bless you. The truth will set us free!

2 December 2010 at 18:31  
Anonymous len said...

The Truth is a person,not an abstract idea,not a philosophy,not collections of data,not a dogma,not a tradition,not a statement from a religious official (however venerable), but a person!
Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth & the Life." [John 14:6]

So if you are genuinely seeking truth you will only find it if Jesus Christ reveals it to you!.

2 December 2010 at 19:29  
Anonymous len said...

Christians owe a debt of eternal gratitude to the Jewish people for their contributions that gave birth to the Christian faith. Jesus Christ, a prominent Rabbi from Nazareth said, "Salvation is of the Jews!" (St. John 4:22) consider what the Jewish people have given to Christianity:
a) The Sacred Scripture

b) The Prophets 

c) The Patriarchs

d) Mary, Joseph, and Jesus Christ of Nazareth 

e) The Twelve Disciples 

f) The Apostles

Jesus considered the Jewish people His family. Jesus said (Matthew 25:40) "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren (the Jewish people… Gentiles were never called His brethren), ye have done it unto me."

2 December 2010 at 19:40  
Blogger Evan said...

I am really shocked at the revisionist postings to this subject. It is a shame that these horrors have been downgraded in the minds of some - illustrating the irresponsible leadership shown by Williamson. Why deny the Holocaust when people we know lost huge numbers from their wider families. This is quite disgraceful and out of step with the apology rendered to the Jewish people by Pope John Paul II. Austrians welcoming German invaders - Roman Catholics have much to hide

11 December 2010 at 10:00  

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