SSPX/Rome: Bishop Williamson Raises the Stakes
The French weekly "Minute" has just published an interview with Bishop Williamson , and, for copyright reasons, we have translated only the most relevant parts. We have chosen to be as literal as possible, and the Gallicisms will be quite obvious to the attentive reader.
Bp. Richard Williamson is the superior of the seminary of La Reja(Argentina) which belongs to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FFSPX), created by Abp. Marcel Lefebvre. He is one of four bishops consecrated by Abp. Lefebvre in 1988 ... Bp. Williamson, considered as a hardliner regarding the Holy See, answers our questions. Remarks which, is it is important to underline, do not bind Bp. Fellay ...
"Minute" : Monseigneur, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X seems to have hesitated these last months to reconcile itself with Rome. The situation appears confused. How does it seem to you?
Bp. Richard Williamson : Catholics are in great confusion because the dogma of the faith has been lost.
"Minute": Allow me to interrupt you, but what does this little strange expression, "dogma of the faith", mean?
Bp. Richard Williamson: The expression is by the Virgin Mary herself : in July 1917, Our Lady revealed to the children of Fatima (to Lucia) that which is called the Third Secret. Beyond the controversy on the so-called "publication", by the Vatican, of this text in 2000, it is undeniable that Sister Lucia revealed the first words of them: "Portugal will not lose the dogma of the faith." These two words go right to the heart of the crisis which affects us since Vatican II. ...
"Minute": What do you think of the recent meetings between Bp. Fellay, the superior of Fraternity, and the Roman authorities?
Bp. Richard Williamson: I have followed the events with attention through the media, like everyone. Moreover, a few days after the meeting on November 15 in Rome between Bp Fellay and cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and chairman of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei, I received from Bp. Fellay a report on this meeting, which lasted more than five hours. I must acknowledge that reading this report was for me rather disappointing. It seemed to me that cardinal Castrillón has not at all understood the Fraternity better than in 2000/2001, at the time of the last negotiations between Rome and the Fraternity, which ended in failure.
"Minute": What did you think of the speech of Benedict XVI on December 22, 2005, in particular establishing a distinction between the text and the spirit of the Vatican II council?
Bp. Richard Williamson: This speech seems to present the program of his pontificate. Its main idea is that the Vatican II council would be the solution of the problems between the Church and the modern world and that the key to this solution would be the principle of religious freedom. ...
The speech of December 22 thus shows that the Rome of the Council did not change. The dogma of the faith is always undermined there. Thus, it seems to me that Benedict XVI, despite his apparent goodwill, can hardly promote the true welfare of the Church, because he does not understand it [the welfare].
"Minute": What may Catholics faithful to the Tradition hope for this pontificate ?
Bp. Richard Williamson: Unless there is one great miracle from God to give back to the men of the Church of the council their own sense of the dogma of the faith, it does not seem that there is much, humanly speaking, to hope of this pontificate. But "divinely speaking", Catholics must keep great hope because this new situation of the Church makes them earn great merits! ...
"Minute": Do you think that dialogue with Rome is possible?
Bp. Richard Williamson: It seems to me that, since the consecrations of 1988, dialogue between this conciliar Rome and the FSSPX is quite difficult, even impossible. "Cum negante principia nequit disputar": "It is impossible to discuss with anyone who denies principles", the well-known Scholastic proverb. However, as Abp. Lefebvre underlined by breaking the dialogue with Rome in 1988 to proceed to the consecration of the bishops, this Rome Cardinal Ratzinger at that time! seeks with the principles of the council to dechristianize the world whereas the Fraternity seeks to christianize it. The opposition is diametrical! What is there to be discussed ?Moreover, the dialogue itself is not without danger, because it raises false hopes, controversies, and disappointments if it does not succeed. The very opening [ofthe dialogue] must be gravely considered. However, I know that since the collapse of the conversations between conciliar Rome and the Fraternity in 2001, Cardinal Castrillón completely wished to reestablish contacts. The visit of the Superior-General [Bp. Fellay] and of the First Assistant [Fr.Schmidberger] of the Fraternity to honor the new pope in the month of August offered him the occasion [ellipsis in the original text]
"Minute": Is any dialogue thus definitively excluded ?
Bp. Richard Williamson: If discussion must take place, the great principle must be the primacy of the doctrine of the faith. The tension between this conciliar Rome and the FSSPX is not a little thing: it proceeds from this Catholic faith without which no human being can save his soul. Therefore, the interests of this faith are much more important than the interests both of this Rome or of the FSSPX.
"Minute": The Fraternity has completed its 35 years. What would you say of its accomplishments?
Bp. Richard Williamson: Such as it was founded by Abp. Lefebvre, the Fraternity was at the forefront of the combat of the faith and it still is, but it would not be there anymore if it compromised the dogma of the faith. ...The faithful have great regard and affection for the Fraternity, but the best among them would cease following it if it compromised with these Romans who have lost the dogma of the faith.
"Minute": Does the Fraternity have wrinkles?
Bp. Richard Williamson: ... Up to 1991, the Fraternity had before its eyes the admirable conjunction of faith and charity in the person of its founder, Abp. Lefebvre. Since he left us, we can be tempted, either to disregard charity by limiting ourselves to the accuracy of our faith, or to disregard faith by having too much compassion for the errors of the world arround us, including those of the conciliar Church. We must believe and love. From there we can question ourselves: do we always have the missionary zeal of our founder? His ardor and firmness to defend the faith?
"Minute":The FSPPX will elect its next Superior-General in July. What will the stakes of this election be for you?
Bp. Richard Williamson: We have seen that at the heart of this crisis is the loss of the sense of truth, of the primacy of the doctrine, and of the purity of the Catholic faith. This is what the next Superior-General should consider his priority. From there, it would be easier to practice and to make understood this true charity about which saint Paul speaks and which the souls greatly need.
"Minute": But, Your Excellency, what does this concretely mean?
Bp. Richard Williamson: Oh, well, the future Superior-General will have to guide the small barque of the Fraternity amidst increasingly high waves! We see well that the change of the world accelerates, the old references disappear one after the other. The conciliar Church decomposes and we will see the official clergy even more rarified. At the same time, other religions have each day more rights in our old Christian lands. The weight of anti-Christian ideologies becomes heavy, that of the democratic State, too. Family structures weaken, even among Catholics. All this weighs directly on the life of the faithful and of our congregation. From a human point of view, nothing seems to be able to slow down this decline. The Superior-General will have thus the responsibility to keep the faith and the zeal of our priests in this environment which always moves away from natural and supernatural reality.
"Minute": Is the Fraternity, therefore, at a turning point?
Bp. Richard Williamson: Yes. It will either take the heroic road of the summits and, refusing prestige and honor, accept to be calumniated and persecuted by the world. It then will be loved and followed by "the small flock" of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Or it will take the road of comfort and ease, while being compromised with the world and with the Church of the world, that is, the conciliar Church. It will then be abandoned, little by little, by the sheep, who will not recognize anymore in it the voice of the Divine Master.
"Minute": Which will be the most important qualities of the future Superior-General to face these stakes ?
Bp. Richard Williamson: First, to be strong in faith, and also humane, especially regarding his priests. He will also need judgment, prudence, and capability for adaptation, so he can discern and safeguard what is essential. This was one of the great qualities of Abp. Lefebvre himself. However, the Superior does not need to be a saint. For a superior, sanctity is a luxury, one might say. Saint Thomas Aquinas said once and for all: "Let the knowledgeable man teach. Let the holy man pray. Let the prudent man rule."
"Minute": One last message?
Bp. Richard Williamson: Let us keep vigil and pray to Our Lady.
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