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