Thursday, 5 February 2009

Horror of the Holocaust and Vatican II

The Secretariat of State of the Holy See, published the following useful note below yesterday afternoon on the subject of the Society of St Pius X and the Holocaust. Obviously it would have been good if this had been communicated before the lifting of the excommunications and before the damage was done. Positively there are strong statements on the issue of Bishop Williamson's denial of the Holocaust and the need for the Society to fully accept the Second Vatican Council and Magisterium of the Church including the many excellent documents and statements on Catholic-Jewish relations. (The picture shows the Pope on his visit to Auschwitz )
The statement reads as follows:

"In the wake of reactions provoked by the recent Decree from the Congregation for Bishops lifting the excommunication on the four prelates of the Society of St. Pius X, and with reference to declarations denying and reducing the Shoah pronounced by Bishop Williamson, a member of that society, it is felt appropriate to clarify certain aspects of the issue:

1. Remission of the excommunication

"As has previously been explained, the Decree from the Congregation for Bishops, dated 21 January 2009, was an act by which the Holy Father benignly responded to repeated requests from the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X.

"His Holiness wished to remove an impediment that hindered the opening of a door to dialogue, and he now awaits a similar readiness to be expressed by the four bishops, in complete adherence to the doctrine and discipline of the Church.

"The extremely serious penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae', which these bishops incurred on 30 June 1988, formally announced on 1 July of the same year, was a consequence of their illegitimate ordination by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

"The remission of the excommunication has freed the four bishops from a serious canonical penalty, but it has not altered the juridical position of the Society of St. Pius X which, at the present time, enjoys no canonical recognition within the Catholic Church. Even the four bishops, though released from excommunication, have no canonical function in the Church and cannot legally exercise a ministry within her".

2. Tradition, doctrine and Vatican Council II

"An indispensable condition for any future recognition of the Society of St. Pius X is their full recognition of Vatican Council II and of the Magisterium of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.

"As already affirmed in the Decree of 21 January 2009, the Holy See will not fail, in ways considered most appropriate, to join the parties concerned in a profound examination of outstanding issues, so as to be able to reach a full and satisfactory solution to the problems that gave rise to this painful split".

3. Declarations concerning the Shoah

"Msgr. Williamson's views on the Shoah are absolutely unacceptable, and firmly rejected by the Holy Father as he himself said on 28 January when, referring to that brutal genocide, he reiterated his complete and indisputable solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters who received the First Covenant, affirming that the memory of that terrible event must 'induce humankind to reflect upon the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man', adding that the Shoah remains 'an admonition for everyone against oblivion, negation and reductionism, because violence against a single human being is violence against all'.

"In order to be readmitted to episcopal functions within the Church, Bishop Williamson must absolutely, unequivocally and publicly distance himself from his views concerning the Shoah, which were unknown to the Holy Father at the moment he lifted the excommunication.

"The Holy Father asks all the faithful to accompany him in prayer, that the Lord may illuminate the path of the Church. May all pastors and faithful increase their commitment in support of the delicate and onerous mission of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the 'custodian of unity' within the Church".

'For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared for all nations, the light to enlighten the Gentils and give glory to Israel, your people.' (Luke 2:30-32)


  1. If these people "have no canonical function in the Church and cannot legally exercise a ministry within her", then why are they referred to as Bishops and Msgr. The church is not giving a clear message on this subject.

  2. I believe good can come out of the furore over bishop Williamson. The SSPX will be far more circumspect over unsuitable candidates for priesthood and comments by its members. Already a priest has been expelled for his anti semitism on Friday. I do wonder though about the reaction among some Catholics. There remains a strong liberal, permissive and divisive element in the church in western countries that sees Roman Carholic orthodoxy with its piety as something old fashioned rather than something that has been sadly lost and never should have been. The Holy Father has made it his ambition to heal the rift that should never have happened with tradition following Vatican II i.e. the hermemutic of continuity and therefore understanding Vatican II in light of all the other Councils of the Church and not creating a super dogma for a Council that was purposely not dogmatic as its concerns were with how to be present in the modern world. I think we should rejoice if many hundreds of thousands of lost sheep return to the one true fold or do we only rejoice when the lost sheep returning are protestants? I welcome and hope for both.