After all of the hubbub around the Pope’s recent decision to bring four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X back into the fold, both the Vatican and the Lefebvrites are trying hard to make amends. However, their “apologies” come off rather less than sincere.
The Superior of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, had this to about Bishop Williamson’s recent musings on the Holocaust:
“We have become aware of an interview released by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Society of St. Pius X, to Swedish television. In this interview, he expressed himself on historical questions, and in particular on the question of the genocide against the Jews carried out by the Nazis.
It’s clear that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesiastical authority except on questions that regard faith and morals. Our Fraternity does not claim any authority on other matters. Its mission is the propagation and restoration of authentic Catholic doctrine, expressed in the dogmas of the faith. It’s for this reason that we are known, accepted and respected in the entire world.
It’s with great sadness that we recognize the extent to which the violation of this mandate has done damage to our mission….”
It seems that Bishop Fellay is more concerned with the credibility of the Society rather than the people who may have felt the impact of Williamson’s horrendous statement. And he obviously forgot to mention the fact that one of the Society’s founding documents implicated Jewish people as modern-day enemies of the Catholic church.
Another message came from Pope Benedict at a general audience:
“I have undertaken this act of paternal benevolence because those same bishops have repeatedly expressed to me their profound suffering at the situation in which they found themselves.
I hope that this gesture of mine will be followed by a prompt commitment on their part to take the further steps necessary to achieve full communion with the Church, thus showing true faithfulness to, and true recognition of, the Magisterium and authority of the Pope and of Vatican Council II”.
Profound suffering? There is another group of people that has undergone such suffering as a result of the anti-Semitism that people like the Lefebvrites preach.
There are also many liberal theologians and women and men religious who have been excommunicated that have experienced this “profound suffering.” But, I guarantee Benedict won’t be welcoming them with open arms anytime soon.
On top of that, the Holy Father may need a lesson on the nature of excommunication. Rescinding an excommunication is not a “gesture” meant to entice the excommunicated to improve their behavior. Normally, a person must submit a statement of repentence before a member of the church hierarchy can lift their excommunication. As far as I can tell, the Lefebvrites have issued no such statement.