Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bishop Williamson Is Infallibly Wrong

Once more Bishop Richard Williamson, expelled from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), and now heading up his own order (Society of St. Pius X of the Strict Observance or SSPX-SO), is trying to refute sedevacantism by offering an interesting argument based on the Church's Infallibility. In his latest e-letter called "Eleison Comments," he claims that Modernists (he calls them "liberals") and sedevacantists (i.e. true Catholics), do not have opposing views, but rather think alike! I summarize his points in black, and comment below in red

 Bp. Williamson proposes this syllogism:
Major Premise: Popes are infallible
Minor Premise: Conciliar popes are liberal
Liberal Conclusion: We must become liberal

First, I'm a bit confused by his use of the term "liberal." This is theology not politics. If he means liberal, as in Modernist, fine. He should use the correct label. Liberalism can also refer to religious indifferentism which is but one aspect of Modernism, "the synthesis of all heresies." His next syllogism follows.

Major Premise: Popes are infallible
Minor Premise: Conciliar popes are liberal
Sedevacantist Conclusion: They (conciliar popes) cannot be popes

So far, he seems to get it. "Seems" is the key word. If Jorge Bergoglio is pope, then he can't be a liberal, (i.e. Modernist or Indifferentist) as this would be heresy. Therefore, all appearances and logic to the contrary, what Francis teaches must be Catholic truth and we must follow him.....OR if he is liberal, then his claims to the contrary, Francis is an Antipope. But wait! Bp.Williamson informs us that the problem lies not in the minor premise (the bishop ADMITS the post- Vatican II "popes" are heretics!) or in the logic but in the Major premise, by putting "authority above truth." Huh?

God gave his Churchmen the freedom to err. At Vatican II the Church error (!) went a long way without God allowing His Church to be wholly defectible. Conciliar popes have told many Catholic truths alongside Conciliar errors.

Wow. OK, so the Church can teach error, just not a whole lot of error! Martin Luther himself could have been pope since he taught some Catholic truth alongside his errors. Being Catholic is an all or nothing proposition. If you deny even one truth of faith, or oppose it by teaching something to the contrary, you cease to be Catholic.

How then does someone find the truth? If you look with an upright heart, God will lead you, and Tradition is where you will find the truth. Popes don't make Tradition true, they make it certain by their Extraordinary Magisterium. Archbishop Lefebvre preferred unerring Tradition to erring Popes. Tradition is found in the Ordinary Magisterium. Sedevacantists underestimate the truth, overestimate the popes, and can be tempted to quit the Church altogether.

I met Bp. Williamson in 1985 when he was just Fr. Williamson. He was arrogant and full of himself. He also proves (again and again) that he can't think on his own, but must idolize his ordaining/consecrating Archbishop. Bp.Williamson never cites to relevant authority to back up his novel and strange assertions. Any serious look at what was taught by the theologians before Vatican II, will quickly dispel his nonsensical drivel.

Tradition is to be found in the Ordinary Magisterium? Then, by your own admission, Your Excellency, Vatican II is part of Tradition because it is taught by the Ordinary Magisterium! According to theologian Tanquerey, "The ordinary and universal magisterium is that which is carried on daily through the continuous preaching of the Church among all peoples. It includes: 1. The preaching and proclamations of the Corporate  Body of Bishops..." (See Tanquery, A.,  Manual of Dogmatic Theology 1:177, Emphasis in original). The preaching and proclamations of the bishops at Vatican II, and continuously preached throughout the world by them since then, meets the definition for the heresies of  Vatican II to be part of Tradition. This simply cannot be, as the Church is protected from ALL error, not just SOME error and God gives us a teaching authority for just that purpose. The idea of having God give us a Church that teaches truth alongside error, and then leaves it up to us individually to go around discerning what is true and what is false is so bizarre that I can only wonder how Williamson came up with it. Fr. Cekada gave us two issues that need to be confronted and refuted, if sedevacantism is to be proven false. 

   1. Fact. Certain pronouncements of Vatican II and the post-Conciliar popes on religious liberty, ecumenism and various other doctrinal matters appear to contradict, sometimes word for word, previous Church teachings, or appear to propose as true certain teachings which the Church has condemned in the past. Those who adhere to the sedevacantist position would contend that such pronouncements represent a public defection from the Catholic faith.

2. Law. According to church law, public defection from the Catholic faith automatically deprives a person of all ecclesiastical offices he may hold. Theologians and canonists such as St. Robert Bellarmine, Cajetan, Suarez, Torquemada, and Wernz and Vidal maintain, without compromising the doctrine of papal infallibility, that even a pope may himself become a heretic and thus lose the pontificate. (Some of these authors also maintain that a pope can become a schismatic.) This possibility is recognized even by an authoritative commentary on the 1983 Code of Canon Law:
"Classical canonists discussed the question of whether a pope, in his private or personal opinions, could go into heresy, apostasy, or schism. If he were to do so in a notoriously and widely publicized manner, he would break communion, and according to an accepted opinion, lose his office ipso facto. (c. 194 §1, 2ยบ ). Since no one can judge the pope (c.1404) no one could depose a pope for such crimes, and the authors are divided as to how his loss of office would be declared in such a way that a vacancy could then be filled by a new election." (James A. Corridan et al. editors, The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America [New York: Paulist 1985], c. 333.)

If Bp. Williamson wants to show the sedevacantist position false he must either (1) show that the teachings of Vatican II, the post-conciliar "popes" and the corporate body of bishops have not taught heresy, or (2) in spite of their heresy (and the teaching of the Church on the loss of office through the profession of heresy) they nevertheless retained their authority--and it's on him to demonstrate how.  

Bishop Williamson, you underestimate the importance of the knowledge of Church teaching, overestimate the importance of Archbishop Lefebvre, write shoddy screeds bereft of relevant citations to Church law/teaching, and make up wacko ideas about the nature of the Church. In so doing it is you, and not  sedevacantists, that runs the danger of placing yourself extra ecclesiam, where we all know there is nulla salus. Kyrie eleision on you.


  1. I have to agree with you. You can no longer just write articles without backing it up with relevant Church law/teaching. This comes off as a slovenly written article by him. As if he no longer cares enough and is just going through the motions.

  2. @Introibo: This is a serious question. Have sedevacantists (outside the lunatic fringe) ever considered electing their own pope? I don't want to be flippant but the sedevacantists seem not to have the courage of their convictions. After all, according to the sedes, the papal claimants and hierarchy are outside the church. Aren't those still within the church then obligated to elect a pope? They seem to be waiting for a sign or divine intervention, but you know what Our Lord said about those who "seeketh after a sign". The great western schism is always held up as a scandal, but may it really be the proper model for handling such a situation? After all, a true claimant eventually emerged. Why don't the sedes lead a movement to elect a true pope? How could the Almighty be against such a thing if the sede claimant (1) held and defended the faith; and (2) dedicated himself to saving those who have been led into error? By failing to advance a rival claimant to contest the conciliar pope, the sedes seem to be making the conciliar pope's job of destroying the faith much easier.

  3. A few more observations. The sedes (and SSPX for that matter) are always claiming that the conciliar popes and hierarchy believe, teach and do things the church has always condemned. As a result, the sedes (but not the SSPX) conclude that the popes and hierarchy are heretics and outside the church. But I can say the same thing about the sedes! The sedes (and SSPX) have adopted a form of church government the church has never used before - essentially the orthodox model where you have a collection of autocephalous entities that do not take orders from one another. I can say that adopting such a model is heretical - the church is a monarchy not a loose confederation. Those who do not recognize the conciliar pope either explicitly (the sedes) or implicitly (SSPX) are obligated, it would seem to me, to come together and elect their own pope and then, the hard part - TO OBEY HIM. Otherwise, the sedes and SSPX are using a form of church governance NOT instituted by Our Lord. Further, if the sedes and SSPX did elect a Pope and the election was in accordance with the will of the Almighty, those in the conciliar church would be obligated to acknowledge the sede and SSPX pope as the true pope and the conciliar pope for the heretical antipope they always have been, How can a true pope ever emerge if those who hold the faith don't advance one of their own into the fray?

  4. Please see my reply to the queries above in my next post
    "A Cure For Sedevacantism?" of 2/19/14

  5. We sedevacantist churches literally practice the faith as it was before 1951.We are not creating our own church like the orthodox.We simply practice the catholic faith as it was between 33 AD - 1951 AD.If we were wrong then, you are wrong now.