Bishop Williamson says Vatican-SSPX talks “dialogue of the deaf”

January 19, 2010

Bishop Williamson, 28 Feb 2007

Bishop Richard Williamson, the ultra-traditionalist prelate whose denial of the extent of the Holocaust created an uproar in the Catholic Church and with Jews early last year, has said the discussions at the Vatican to rehabilitate his Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) are  a “dialogue of the deaf.” Williamson, one of the four SSPX bishops whose bans of excommunication were lifted by Pope Benedict only days after his controversial views were aired on Swedish television, said the two sides had “absolutely irreconcilable” positions.

In a 15-minute interview posted on the French video-sharing website Dailymotion, Williamson discussed a number of issues with a man identified by the Paris Catholic daily La Croix as a minor French far-right politician named Pierre Panet. When asked about the negotiation under way at the Vatican to reintegrate the once-shunned SSPX into the Roman church, he said in fluent French:

“I think that will end up as a dialogue of the deaf. The two positions are absolutely irreconcilable. 2+2=4 and 2+2=5 are irreconcilable. Either those who say 2+2=4 renounce the truth and agree that 2+2=5 — that is, the SSPX abandons the truth, which God forbids us to do — or those who say 2+2=5 convert and return to the truth. Or the two meet halfway and say that 2+2=4-1/2. That’s wrong. Either the SSPX becomes a traitor or Rome converts or it’s a dialogue of the deaf.”

Williamson’s negationist views of the Holocaust caused such an uproar early last year that the head of the SSPX, Bishop Bernard Fellay, issued a gag order for him. It was so embarrassing for Benedict that he had to issue a letter to Catholic bishops around the world explaining his decision. Williamson was quickly removed from his post as head of the SSPX seminary in Argentina and sent home to Britain, where he lives in an SSPX home in the Wimbledon section of London. Asked about his life there, he said with dry British humour: “This is an unexpected but quite agreeable sabbatical year.”

Asked how he spends his days, he said: “Dormir et manger” (sleeping and eating), as well as writing his blog Dinoscopus, which was quickly turned into a private blog after the controversy last year.

Dinoscopus, the icon of Bishop Williamson's blog

Dinoscopus, the icon of Bishop Williamson's blog

When Panet asked for his views about Israel, Williamson said: “Many people think this state is legitimate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.”

La Croix quoted a Rev. Jacques Masson, a former member of the SSPX, as saying of Williamson: “He belonged to the group that was the most intransigent with Rome. I suspect that they pushed (SSPX founder) Archbishop (Marcel) Lefebvre to harden his line and finally go into schism.” The SSPX, which rejects the Second Vatican Council and the Catholic Church’s reconciliation with the Jews, broke from Rome in 1988 when Lefebvre disobeyed Pope John Paul and consecrated four bishops, including Williamson. Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications in 2009 and the negotiations with the Vatican aim at finding a way to reintegrate these traditionalists into the Church.

Pope Benedict recently said he hoped to reestablish full communion with the SSPX.

Here’s the video, in French:

Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

[…] Full story and image source. […]

Posted by Ad Dominum » Blog Archive » Williamson: a dialogue of the deaf | Report as abusive

It’s crazy for the Catholic Church to insist on the attempt of reconciliation with the SSPX. These so-called traditionalists are following Christian teachings the Catholic Church has already repudiated. From a public relations perspective it’s a disaster to have somebody in a frock go about denying the extent of the Holocaust or implying that the State of Israel is illegitimate. This latter point is especially bad considering the Vatican shamefully refused to recognize Israel until 1993, forty-five years after its founding and fourteen years after its greatest foe, Egypt, had recognized its right to exist in 1979. The Vatican was one of the last states in the world to do so.

Gabriel Wilensky

Six Million Crucifixions:
How Christian Teachings About Jews Paved the Road to the Holocaust
Follow me on Tweeter at

Posted by gwilensky | Report as abusive

Bishop Williamson is not authorized to speak for the SSPX. The Society is serious about coming to a mutually satisfactory agreement with the Vatican concerning serious concerns about liturgical irregularities which need attention. Pope Benedict XVI has indicated over many years, by his own writings and comments, that there is much common ground concerning Roman Catholic Traditional liturgy. Giving Bishop Williamson coverage as if he is an authorized spokesman for the SSPX can only be one way that those who oppose Tradition desperately try to destroy the Society’s sincere efforts to resolve the situation.

Posted by w7xq | Report as abusive

Bishop Williamson is a public figure and covering his comments does not amount to turning him into an authorised spokesman for the SSPX. We never said he was an SSPX spokesman — in fact, the post says he was not supposed to speak in public after the uproar he created last year.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Bishop Williamson’s assessment of the discussions and meetings between the SSPX and the current occupants of the Vatican is certainly correct. The modernists in Rome have no intension of negating the control of the church they won in the revolution following Vatican II.

Posted by Eduardus | Report as abusive

[…] is also praying for “visible unity” with Lutherans. British bishop/Holocaust-denier Richard Williamson said the discussions between the Vatican and SSPX are a “dialogue of the […]

Posted by Wednesday’s roundup | Read NEWS | Report as abusive

Mr. Wilensky your comments are ignorant, and offensive.

Modern Jews like yourself continue to persecute and crucify the body of Christ, his Holy Catholic Church. That’s the choice YOU make, nobody else.

Your ancestors sealed your fate when they chose Barabbas, a choice that continues to be made, as evidenced by your despicable post and link.

Your fate in the eyes of the Lord was crafted by YOU, nobody else.

Posted by JasonL | Report as abusive

“Your ancestors sealed your fate when they chose Barabbas, a choice that continues to be made, as evidenced by your despicable post and link.”

Honestly, JasonL.

Wilensky posts a link referring to the racist hate that many catholics feel towards the Jewish people, and you reply with a comment like that? All you have done is proven his point.

And the Jewish people are not persecuting your church because of its faith.

They are persecuting your church because it stood by while people were being shoveled into ovens. That was the choice YOUR church made, nobody else.

And because of that, the fate of your holy church is sealed. Because no matter how it tries, history will not be overwritten or ignored, but remembered.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive

Wilenski obviously is pushing his own agenda rather than engaging the article, while JasonL’s harsh response is not ordered to Catholic truth and unity. And then there are the SSPX apologists, who understandably see in this thread an opportunity to promote their views.

The SSPX has been in schism since the 1980s. Pope Benedict has been very “ecumenical” toward the SSPX and is sympathetic when it comes to the so-called “Tridentine Mass” favored by the SSPX. Pope Benedict’s olive branch in lifting the excommunications was ridiculed after Bishop Williamson’s scandalous, ignorant remarks regarding the Holocaust. But, the dialogue continues, and hopefully not everyone over at the SSPX is deaf.

This point is clear: It’s not the Catholic Church that needs to “convert” and give up its “modernist” heresy. The Pope has the keys of St. Peter–not Bishop Lefebvre, Bishop Williamson, or any other adherent of the SSPX schism who has said “non serviam” (“I will not serve”) to the Holy Father.

Let’s pray that cooler, holier heads prevail in all this.

Posted by All4Christ | Report as abusive

I agree with All4Christ’s comments. I believe Rome has made huge concessions for SSPX and now it’s up to them to take the final steps. I think what you will find though is that as the Latin Mass becomes more common place and some elements of SSPX engage with Rome, SSPX will lose it’s core market. Those who seek reconciliation with Rome will head back to the Latin masses popping up all over the place and the hard core SSPIXI’s will end up breaking to a hardcore Sedevacantist group. This has already happened in different parts of the world.

Posted by AgentOrange | Report as abusive

Cardinal Castrillon de Hoyos, Head of Ecclesia Dei, in an interview in September 2008 had this to say about the SSPX in answer to the following question:

What time do you foresee for the reconciliation with the Fraternity of Saint Pius X?

“I regard as viable the reconciliation with the fraternity Fraternity of Saint Pius X because, as we have often said at “Ecclesia Dei”, this is not a real schism but an anomalous situation which arose after the “schismatic action” of Msgr Lefebvre in conferring the episcopate without papal mandate, even against the express will of the Pope. In my heart I have great confidence that the Holy Father will be able to mend the fabric of the Church with the arrival of these brothers to full communion. Some differences will still remain, as we always had in the history of the Church”.

The interview in Italian was translated for the New Liturgical Movement website and can be found here: -with-cardinal-castrillon-on-implementin g-summorum-pontificum/

So, pace All4Christ, the SSPX are not in schism, nor are any of the Bishops or priests of the SSPX schismatic.

Posted by Ludolphus | Report as abusive

Re Wilenski’s comments; the Jews were not historically the first or only target of Hitler’s purity drive. It was the handicapped and deaf who were the initial victims. As Williamson’s experience shows (regardless of whether you agree with his views or the way he presents them) it has become impossible to fully explore issues around the holocaust beacause of societal pressure and legislation blocking off avenues of enquiry or even speculation. This is a matter of serious concern when parallels can be drawn between the Hitlerian ethos and the modern cult of the perfect body which is linked into the easy availability and accepability of abortion. Yet the hypersensitivty around any motion that impinges on the claim the Jews were THE victims of Hitler brings us to the point that it is only intransigents like Williamson that bring any alternate viewpoint which is not healthy for intellectual freedom or Christian dialogue.

Posted by wickindle | Report as abusive

I am not an expert on this- but surely, someone should be able to inform G.Wilensky of the facts following World War 2, that significant and heartfelt testimony (for saving the lives of countless jewish war victims) was publicly given to Pope Pius XII by several prominant Rabbis (one converted to Catholicism in gratitude!). This was recorded but then quite later expunged from the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Why? (I mean, why the change of heart- when Naziism was so strongly antiChristian also, and Catholics were also put to death in the camps).

Posted by teleological | Report as abusive

in support of teleogical:from Wikipedia: The Catholic Church was particularly suppressed in Poland: between 1939 and 1945, an estimated 3,000 members (18%) of the Polish clergy, were murdered; of these, 1,992 died in concentration camps.[22] In the annexed territory of Reichsgau Wartheland it was even harsher than elsewhere: churches were systematically closed and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported to the General Government; 80% of the Catholic clergy and five bishops of Warthegau were sent to concentration camps in 1939 and 108 of them are regarded as blessed martyrs.[22] Not only in Poland were Christians persecuted by the Nazis: in the Dachau concentration camp alone, 2,600 Catholic priests from 24 different countries were killed.

Also: Estimates of Non-Combatant Lives Lost During the Holocaust

Ukrainians 5.5 – 7 million
Jews (of all countries) 6 million +
Russian POWs 3.3 million +
Russian Civilians 2 million +
Poles 3 million +
Yugoslavians 1.5 million +
Gypsies 200,000 – 500,000
Mentally/Physically Disabled 70,000- 250,000
Homosexuals Tens of thousands
Spanish Republicans Tens of thousands
Jehovah’s Witnesses 2,500 – 5,000
Boy and Girl Scouts, Clergy, Communists, Czechs, Deportees, Greeks, Political Prisoners, Other POWs, Resistance Fighters, Serbs, Socialists, Trade Unionists, Others Unknown
Table assembled from figures quoted by Milton; Lukas 38-39, 232; Gilbert 824; Berenbaum 123; and Holocaust Internet information sites.

Posted by danyboy2010 | Report as abusive

I work on the basis that Mr Wilensky is a nice man, an honest man who writes in good faith and then I say to him and to all who will listen that the Catholic Church has not repudiated any previous doctrines. In that, he is simply wrong. Now, admittedly from many years ago I know Bp Williamson whom I judge not only to be a nice man but also a highly intelliegnt and truthful man. I do not say his is preserved from all error – so he can, indeed, be wrong – but I have never heard of him erring in terms of the doctrine of the Faith. What he says may be unpalatable to some but the bitterness of some orange juice does not mean that it is not orange juice. It does not cease to be orange juice because I do not think it sweeet enough. I choose whether I drink it or not, of course, just as each must decide (if he has enough true knowledge and judgement) whether he accepts the entireity of the Catholic Faith or not. The Doctrine of the Faith is not a pick-and-mix candy stall. You take the prescribed package – assembled over the millenia, you assent to it and you are a Roman Catholic. Refuse it, abjure it, fail to teach it, pervert it, adulterate it and you are something else – you are not a Roman Catholic although you may be a neo-modernist ‘bishop’ of a new church that denies its past, and thus denies itself. Simple. No difficulty there. Bishop Williamson simply passes on what he has received. That is what a Bishop does. He who does not do that is at fault, not Bishop Williamson.

Posted by archiesdaddy | Report as abusive