Bishop Williamson – off the deep end.

The discussions directed towards reconciliation between the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) and the Holy See, which were noted here a while back, seem to have reached an impasse for now. There appears to be significant opposition within SSPX to Bishop Fellay’s work toward normalizing the status of the SSPX, not least ending its effective schism from the Church. Much of that opposition centered on Bishop Williamson, who gained notoriety by denying aspects of the received history of the Holocaust.

ImageFor this and other reasons it was no great surprise when the SSPX expelled him on 23 October. The question that everyone pondered was what the rogue bishop would do now. Few thought he would slink away into quiet retirement. A vigorous man with intellectual gifts sadly not tethered to a full sense of reality or perspective, he has rarely been a team player as a SSPX bishop. While one admires, even prays for, a bishop with a strong and active commitment to the Faith, a good bishop needs also a proper sense of his role within the universal Church, and the discretion and prudence with which to fulfill it. These qualities Williamson demonstrably lacks

It seems Williamson has now played his hand. A website has been launched to support his new St Marcel Initiative. There is not much to the page thus far, and it would only be fair to allow that there is more to come. Yet this page is public, and it is already deeply disturbing.

The name itself is bemusing. The ostensible reference appears to be to St Marcel the Centurion. However he is more commonly known as St Marcellus of Tangier, or St Marcellus the Centurion. The fact that he has chosen to render the name Marcel surely must imply an allusion to his own beloved Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the SSPX and episcopal consecrator of Williamson. There is the whiff here of Williamson canonizing the late Archbishop. Not a good start.

This maverick, I’ll-do-it-my-way approach, all part of the stance he has adopted of Williamson contra mundum et ecclesiam, receives apparent confirmation on this simple web page. First, after barely a paragraph of introduction (disturbing in itself, of which more below), Williamson asks for money. His request is not subtle and he offers several ways of donating. Indeed, raising money seems to be the main purpose of the website. Not that there is anything wrong per se with asking for donations to help in a religious work. However, some works are legitimate and others not. That is one difference between donating to the Church and donating to a cult.

What is this work for which Williamson asks money? This is the second point which seems to confirm that Williamson has set up his own ecclesial community (or “the True Church” as he would no doubt term it). What does Williamson say?

IT SEEMS THAT, today, God wants a loose network of independent pockets of Catholic Resistance, gathered around the Mass, freely contacting one another, but with no structure of false obedience, which served to sink the mainstream Church in the 1960’s (sic) and is now sinking the Society of St. Pius X…. For myself, once my situation stabilizes, I am ready to put my bishop’s powers at the disposal of whoever can make wise use of them.

So he has discerned, it would seem through private revelation (a central element of radical Protestantism), that God now does not want either the Church or the SSPX (those evil “structure[s] of false obedience”), but a loose network of resistance cells. Williamson is selflessly (!) offering himself as bishop at large to La Résistance.

What should be made of this? Simply, that Williamson has ceased to be Catholic in any but the technical sense deriving from his Baptism. He has abandoned any concept of the organic development of the Church and seeks to replace its “structure of false obedience” (the hierarchy, the curia, and the diocesan system one presumes) with resistance cells. He has ceased to conceive of the role of the bishop as always and everywhere at the service of the universal Church by bonding to it the local Church that he serves. Being the bond of communion for resistance cells, following their own version of the Gospel, is not the same. In time I expect Williamson’s rhetoric will involve references to the primitive Church, served by the peripatetic St Paul, to whom we will all be invited (implicitly at least) to compare him.

Williamson is now bishop-for-hire: has mitre, will travel. He now embodies the very radical Protestantism he would affect to despise. Worse, he is setting himself up as an episcopal prostitute.

We can only pray for him, and those souls that he might lead astray, that he might come to his senses and reconcile himself with Christ’s Vicar, and so too Christ’s Church. The Church’s earthly mantle is, and always has been and will be, dirty and a little ragged. Yet it still adorns the Body of Christ. Williamson’s self-manufactured substitute will not suffice to replace. Horrible to think what body it might adorn.

PS For some insightful recent commentary of Williamson, written before the his Initiative was revealed, see Brian’s blog.

17 thoughts on “Bishop Williamson – off the deep end.

      1. For a start, an effective denial of papal infallibility and of the indefectibility of the Church. These are not open to discussion but are established truths of the Faith to which all must submit.


      2. The whole of Vatican 2 is heresy along with those that look to it as a guide post. Bishop Williamson is a hero with backbone to stand up to the establishment.


  1. If what passes for the church today is a pope that plays with condoms, bishops that accept abortion and priests that sodomise altar boys, I would say Bp. Williamson is a much-needed breath of fresh air. The conciliar church is a doomed construct and awash with invalidity. Anyway, what use is canon law and posturing hierarchies among the ruins? Back to simplicity and away from worldliness …….


    1. Of course, I had forgotten that the Church was perfect before the Council. Silly of me. As for Williamson’s flight from worldliness, the primacy of his donation buttons suggests otherwise.

      The imperfections of the Church’s members are not the basis by which to judge it. No valid judgment of an institution can be made on the basis of those who disobey it. As for the Pope playing with condoms, I think that has come from the realm of fancy. Some of the pre-conciliar popes were far from saintly. Alexander VI was appallingly immoral. Many others were immoral, weak, venal, equivocating and incompetent. Using the line of reasoning you appear to have adopted, the pre-conciliar Church should be rejected. Hardly sensible surely?.

      Christ has guaranteed his Church founded on Peter. No Pope, no Church. No Church, and you may end up facing God on judgment day very much alone. I am sticking with the Church, warts and all. There is no other choice.



  2. The days of the ‘remnant’ church have begun. If the Vatican is as riddled with freemasons and liberals as is often alleged, where lies truth? If prophecy is right, it is likely the church will indeed be going ‘underground’ in the fashion he describes, during persecutions to come.
    His words do sound like the seeds of protestantism, the irony the greater for the fact that Williamson is not a ‘reformer’ but a traditionalist. His rallying cry “return to the church” only exasperates, since he next points out that that Church no longer exists. The adjunct to this is of course – “Church – return to tradition”, something which it seems reluctant to do.
    Most perplexing is his ‘bishop for hire’ advance. Once can only assume he is seeking a new home away from the SSPX. I don’t think he is going to start selling indulgences (but that’s been done before!).
    There are those of us who sympathise with much of what Williamson says, and wish the Church itself would expand a little to incorporate gifted and impassioned men like him, not let them go. The end of his story is not yet reached of course. Who knows, he may be remembered as a ‘voice in the wilderness’ yet. The best advice was, pray for the bishop.


    1. Sadly, Williamson is not a traditionalist. At best he is schismatic, at worst a heretic. Both these types of creature begin as being the more zealous, the purer, the sounder. And as they begin to believe their own rhetoric they drift further away from the Church and from truth. The Church will exist till the end of time; and until then, where Peter is, there can be found the Church, how imperfect it might be in its members both high and low. That is de fide, no matter what casuistry Williamson and his ilk might employ. We have it from Christ himself. We are ultimately much safer, if no less agitated, sticking to Christ than to Williamson.

      Peace upon you.


      1. I agree with you that fidelity to the throne of Peter is most important, no matter how bad things get. Williamson is pro-Rosary, anti-abortion and pro-extraordinary rite. That’s not traditionalist? He is also vociferous, in a way that the modern placatory, inclusive tones of the Church do not allow (popes kissing Korans, prayers with witch doctors, tango on the altar etc.) I feel the Church needs voices like his, they just need to know their own limits a little better…

        Et cum spirito tuo 🙂


      2. I can see the point you are trying to make; it is just that Williamson is not the man to help you make it. He has very strong allegiance to someelements of tradition, but not all. This smorgasbord approach can never equate to authentic traditionalism, or Tradition in its proper Catholic sense. His voice is so discredited, so indiscreet, so doctrinaire that the Church could well do without it. Our wake-up calls need to come from a more credible source.

        Prayer and patience, with a dollop of fidelity: this is our best weapon for now.


        On 22 January 2014 22:44, Dominus mihi adjutor


  3. Bishop Williamson is on the fringes of the Church.
    Sadly a number of people are following him because they see no hope for the Traditional Mass and Catechesis in the liberal post conciliar Church.
    So Brother, in your concern, will the priests at Douai offer regular celebrations of the Traditional Mass?
    Could they install Communion rails so that the norm of receiving on the tongue, kneeling be accomodated?
    In love and charity,


    1. Well, Leo, I’m not abbot of Douai, and indeed I’m not even resident there at present, being on the mission in Lancashire. That said, I’m quite prepared to acknowledge that the consistent decline in the Church in recent decades requires more than token gestures and empty words.

      For all that, I’m not yet convinced that the Mass and catechesis have no hope in the Church of today. If you do some exploring you will find it healthy in some places. What is the Traditional Mass? 1962; pre-1948; pre-Pius XII?

      Communion rails are not essential to receive Communion on the tongue while kneeling; at least one worshipper regularly does so without kerfuffle. Rails do make it easier of course. But really, these are cosmetic tinkerings when more fundamental issues need addressing.


  4. Dear Brother,
    We both acknowledge that there is a crisis in the Church. Since Vat II many faithful are confused. Many have joined traditional Mass communities (generally using the 1962 books), others are with the Society of St Pius X, others are sedevacantists, some have joined other denominations and some have lost the Faith altogether.
    The recent documents from Rome eg Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis comment “Who am I to judge?”, the title Vicar of Christ, the statue of a woman in St Peter’s basilica with her tit out feeding a pig or whatever it was, the negociating with Communists in China, MaCarick, lack of belief in the Real Presence etc show the major problems. Before going onto the balcony Pope Francis refused the Peter & Paul stole saying “this is the end of the Carnival.” What an insult to the Sons of thunder, an insult to the previous Popes, not least Benedict.
    Who would have thought that the Catholic Church would be divided into Low & High church- historically Anglican terms. One may attend the London Oratory or St Bede’s, Basingstoke!
    When I was prepared for Holy Communion in the late 90s, the word sacrifice did not even feature in my workbook. The vast majority of that class have fallen away from the Church sadly.
    If Communion rails are too extreme, perhaps the communion plate should be introduced to all churches? You cannot deny that fragments of Our Lord’s Body and Blood are daily falling to the floor and later being vacummed.
    I mentioned this to my parish priest who lied to me saying that the parish uses a new kind of host that doesn’t drop fragments. What utter tosh.
    I decided in conscience to leave that parish and solely attend the Traditional Mass.
    Rarely on a Sunday does the plate I hold for Father not have visible fragments. The rails and kneeling would also teach by externals the importance of the Blessed Sacrament.
    This is a major issue that needs addressing. Do we believe that in the smallest particle is Christ’s body blood soul and divinity? If so, what on Earth is happening?


  5. Personally I do not agree with the Williamson movement. They simply want to return to the early days of the SSPX with Mass in sitting rooms and a remnant attitude.

    It’s sad that the Mother Superior and another nun left Burghclere for the Resistance. They were astonished that Novus Ordo Bishop Egan was welcomed at the school, leading a Rosary.

    I see their point. Bishop Egan has celebrated Pontifical Mass at the Throne in Portsmouth but also complimented the liturgical dance arranged at a local parish visitation Mass.

    He isn’t a staunch Traditionalist, just tolerant of it.

    Bishop Fellay is correct though. We must remain at the Foot of the Cross as the Church suffers Her Passion.


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