An Interview With His
Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson
10 questions asked and candidly answered
Recently, a dustup occurred on Angelqueen
regarding the veracity of two letters from Bishop Williamson that were posted on
the forum via the "Tradlist". Some members had doubted whether these letters
were authentic, one poster claimed that his Society priest informed him that
they were "fakes".
Shortly afterwards, I was
contacted by and had several very engaging conversations with the owner of
the Tradlist - a very decent French gentleman living in Paris - who informed me that he had a
personal line of communication with Bishop Williamson and that both letters were
indeed authentic. He came to understand that although we had built a good
rapport over the course of our telephone conversations, Angelqueen members and readers
would expect more than his word alone that the letters were for real. He then asked for
my permission to give Bishop Williamson my phone number so that I may verify his
side of the story myself. I of course gave it.
On the first two attempts the good Bishop
had made to contact me, I was indisposed. I had arrived home on both occasions
only to find messages on my answering machine from a man with a British accent
identifying himself as Bishop Williamson. Finally on his third try I was
available, and quite eager to hear from him.
What first struck me about
His Excellency, was the way he conversed with me. He wasn't at all pretentious
and didn't come off as one might imagine someone who holds the same offie as St. Timothy
would. Then again, he wasn't overly "humble" to the point of his humility being
contrived. His proper Brit accent and ecclesiastic status belied his
plainspoken, matter-of-fact manner which was completely free of any airs. He
laughed heartily several times. I felt so comfortable speaking with him that it
became a chore to maintain the etiquette a Catholic layperson should
observe when speaking to a bishop.
We had two conversations
after which he agreed without hesitation or qualification to answering a series
of written questions. I stressed the fact that it was important to establish an
impeccable line of verification, so as to remove any doubt that future
communications between himself and either Tradlist or Angelqueen were to have
anything less than 100% verity. He isn't very internet savvy and although he
understood our dilemma, he seemed genuinely frustrated by the concept that he
could be thought of as anyone other than himself.
After we hung up, I phoned
a well trusted Society priest who had been very reliable to me in the past on a
personal level . This father
has been with the Society from nearly the beginning and knew both Bishop
Williamson and the late Archbishop Lefebvre very well. He also had a hand in
founding a primary SSPX literature outlet and is rather well known in
Society circles. It may sound silly, but for some reason I can't help
but likening him to Yoda, from "Star Wars". Those of you who have deduced who
the priest in question is by the above description will understand the
comparison. I'm omitting his name not because he or anyone else asked me to, but
because I see no need to have the possibility of causing his phone to ring or
bringing him the stress of any controversy. He's getting on in years and has
been a bit ill as of late, in addition to being busy enough as it is.
The father called me back
within the hour and confirmed that I had indeed spoken to Bishop Williamson, who
he himself had just gotten off the phone with after contacting him at the number
I had provided him. That settled it. The real Bishop Williamson had stood up and
we could carry on without any hindrance.
As to the following
interview, the Bishop didn't set any rules whatsoever nor did he have my
questions or myself screened by staff or anyone else. He made no hint whatsoever
as to any subject matter to be covered and graciously answered every single one
of the ten written questions I sent him, all of which are mine and mine alone.
There have recently been 2 letters said to be written by you, send out
via the Yahoo! “Tradlist” (website).
There has been some speculation that these may have not been authentic.
Would you care to settle the matter?
The two letters, called “Thoughts for August” and “Thoughts for
September” were written by Bishop Williamson, He says so!
The Yahoo! Tradlist is presented by the
owner as a service with no official ties to the SSPX that is often used
by Society clergy and episcopates as vehicle for online communication.
It is said that your communications through it may become more regular.
Should correspondence through Tradlist
stated as authored by you be taken as such?
Until further notice, “Thoughts” for any month, published by
Tradlist, will also come from Bishop Williamson.
Some have wondered why if you feel the need to communicate broadly, you
would use an unofficial avenue such as Tradlist
as opposed to a Society asset such as DICI or SSPX.org. Can you shed
any light on this?
Bp. Williamson: An
official Society asset such as DICI or sspx.org may reach a particular
public. A different asset may reach a different public. Our Lord would like
his bishops and priests to reach everybody.
There has been much News about the meeting between the SSPX bishops and
the pope. When the Society makes important decisions, for example on how
to respond to a “deal” - if any - offered by the Curia, how are
decisions reached? Is this done by a majority vote by all of the bishops
or is there some other protocol in place?
Bp. Williamson: The
Society of St. Pius X is governed by the General Council which consists of
the Superior General and his two Assistants, presently Bishop
Fellay, Fr. Schmidberger
and Bishop de Galarreta. This General Council takes all current decisions
concerning the running of the Society. Once a year, in June, the other two
bishops attend the meeting of the General Council. However, Bishop
Fellay has said that if there were serious
question of, for instance, an important agreement with Rome involving the
whole Society’s future, he would call a wide meeting of Society Superiors
for consultation and decision.
Leaving aside the debate in some circles as to whether the supposed
excommunications are binding or even valid, if they were lifted “no
strings attached” would you view this as a positive development?
Bp. Williamson: If
the present “excommunication” upon the Society’s four bishops, dating from
1988, were declared null or non-existent, with –genuinely–
“no strings attached”, that could be a very positive development. Yet
it should be borne in mind that
Providence may have had good reason to allow the Society and its bishops to
be “marginalized”. The
marginalization may well have served to protect the Society, and may
still be doing so.
If Rome were to declare that no permission was needed for the
Tridentine Mass to be offered, do you see
any downside to such a situation?
Rome liberated the Tridentine Mass so as to
allow any Catholic priest to say it, with no need to ask anybody for
permission, there would be a considerable upside. Grace, presently
strangled by the new rite of Mass, could start flowing again in large
quantities all over the Catholic world.
But there would also be a downside –the risk of some Catholics,
presently enjoying the Tridentine Mass
embedded in the fullness of Catholic doctrine, going over to attending
the Tridentine rite surrounded by
Conciliar doctrine and practice,
e.g. in centers of
the Society of St. Peter. It is as wise to accept half a bottle of wine
in place of nothing, as it is foolish to want half a bottle in place of
a full bottle.
However, since many more Catholics going to the liberated
Tridentine rite would be going from nothing
to half a bottle than would be going from a full bottle to half a
bottle, then it can be safely said that the Catholic Church as a whole
would gain far more than it would lose from such a liberation of the
Tridentine rite of Mass.
Society chapels are largely self sufficient and in the green
financially. Is keeping control of SSPX property a non-negotiable point
as far as you’re concerned?
Williamson: The Society of St Pius X
has an enormous responsibility to Catholics all over the world
who have generously supported it for the last 35
years. That responsibility would be betrayed by any action of the Society
permitting Society properties to fall under the control of powers that would be
set on frustrating the very purpose for which those Catholics were so generous!
One of the main causes for the falling out between John Paul II and
Archbishop Lefebvre was that the Archbishop wanted to ensure that the
Society, both then and in the future, would not come under the charge of
bishops who would undermine its purpose. Would any “deal” with Rome be
possible without the SSPX being assured that it will not be subject –
now or in the future - to unfriendly or undesirable bishops?
Williamson: In Rome’s present
way of thinking and acting, Rome can only seek for an agreement with the Society
which would enable it to put an end to the Society’s resistance to what Rome has
been doing –and has been waiting to do- ever since Vatican II, i.e.
revolutionize the Catholic religion, and make it over into quite a different
religion. As things stand now, for there to be an “agreement”, either
Rome – neo-modernist Rome – drops its neo-modernism, or the Society betrays its
Catholicism, or half and half, etc. We pray to God that Rome may convert. We beg
God that the Society may not betray.
Have you ever had any regrets that you became an ordained bishop in the
Society of Saint Pius X?
Williamson: None. Spelt N-O-N-E.
Some who attend Society chapels and partake in the sacraments offered in
them may at times feel isolated from their fellow Catholics or have a
sense of being “orphaned” from the earthly Church at large. Do you have
any advice for them?
For Catholics to
feel “orphaned” ever since at Vatican II Mother Church began
no longer behaving like their mother, is a most normal feeling for
Catholics. They would not be true children of Mother Church if they did
not feel orphaned since Vatican II.
However, let such Catholics have patience, and courage.
Sooner or later, God’s purpose in allowing these “40 years in the desert”,
namely the cleansing of His Church, will be achieved, and then He will
restore both the true fatherhood of the Holy Father, and the true motherhood
of Mother Church. Until that time, pray faithfully the Rosary.
Help of Christians, pray for us.
Consoler of the Afflicted, pray for us.
+ Richard Williamson