Monday, March 16, 2015

Richard Williamson: Go Forth and Multiply

He's finally going to do it. Bishop Richard Williamson is going to consecrate two men to the episcopacy and I see no reason why. His All Traddiness does see why Williamson is doing this from a "Resistance" perspective: to perpetuate holy orders outside of the supposedly defective FSSPX and the canonical traditionalist groups. What his Traddiness does not understand is why Williamson has decided to lay hands on Frs. Innocent Marie and Jean-Michel Faure.

When Msgr. Lefebvre consecrated his four priests in 1988 he selected four men relatively young in age, in part because of the workload they would have to undertake and in part because of the prelate's plan. Bishops in their thirties could expect four decades or more of active ministry, during which time Rome could sort out its own messes. What is more, by ordaining young men Lefebvre ensured that the institution of the Fraternity of St. Pius X would remain relevant in Rome's eyes for years to come, and they did until the current pontificate. After Cardinal Ratzinger gave Brother Roger Holy Communion at John Paul II's funeral, a reporter asked him, "What was going through your mind?", no doubt eagerly awaiting an ecumenical breakthrough. Ratzinger replied, "What is bishop Fellay going to say?"

The always obstreperous Williamson is going to consecrate two men that are his age or older. At their advanced stages they cannot possibly hope to hold the "Resistance" together as a cohesive enterprise that will give either the FSSPX or Rome reason to think twice about anything. This sounds more than anything like a payoff for loyalty.

The only possible outcome of this is that these bishops, like some of the sedevacantist bishops scattered throughout America and the world at large, will diffuse and multiply their holy orders whenever they disagree with each other, yielding smaller and smaller sects. This might be the most fecund enterprise bishop Williamson has ever undertaken.

A friend of mine was right: Williamson missed his calling as an English teacher.

In other news, keep your eyes pealed for the beginning of a new series about St. Joseph on March 18th.


  1. A series on St. Joseph? Interesting...

    I will break my fast on the 19th to celebrate the real feast of that wonderful saint. I will also fast extra on the Day of St. Patrick to atone for the sins of the Irish.

  2. Oh good, it was getting boring since the suppression of the FFI!

    I'd give it a greater than 50% chance that the pope will say and do nothing, and hence not call any attention to these new consecrations. This action doesn't hold a candle to 1988, and if anything, considering the ages of these priests, it becomes all the more irrelevant even in the large portion of the Tradtionalist network.

  3. Thuc bishops meant something back in the 1980's. Archbishop Thuc himself died in 1984 and +Guérard des Lauriers in something like 1987 when I was up at Fribourg. In those days, consecrations got talked about and Rome fulminated excommunications. Nowadays, no one cares and I doubt many will care if +Williamson goes ahead with the consecrations. I could understand +Williamson doing one bishop, not too old, for that particular community of priests. The relevance is gone. Anyway, back to my eccentric Anglican ways...

  4. An update from Rorate: "Update (Mar. 17, 4 PM GMT): the blog of the followers of Bp. Williamson in Spanish, Non Possumus, confirmed the news of the consecration of Fr. Faure shortly after our post came up. So does today the semi-official daily of the Church in France, La Croix . The rumor of the second consecration (Fr. Innocent-Marie), which was never certain, is not confirmed."

  5. Here you all are pontificating, while I just sit idly by enjoying all those flowers and all that lace...

  6. I would agree with JohnR that it breaks the boredom a bit. I am actually slightly surprised as I did not think +RNW had it in him and that his ecclesial view was that $$PX = Church. I suppose that having been kicked out he has had to make some adjustments. Interesting that he is consecrating one of clergy from an early vintage. The net result I am sure will be the same: more 1960s liturgy masquerading as something more venerable. At Wimbledon there are now three 'Mass centres' offering the same stuff: Neo-$$PX, Non-Williamson Resistance and +Willamson Resistance. Will +Tissier now be laying hands on some French clergy I wonder?

    1. Rubricarius, it is mind-boggling that the "resistance" whether of Williamson persuasion or not, has not taken their new found freedom from the SSPX to return to the common practice in the Anglosphere - i.e. use of the actual Traditional Missal. Then again, I suppose +Williamson still needs to distinguish himself from the Nine he helped remove, though they are, de facto, in the same boat nowadays, in my opinion.

    2. What happened in the $$PX in 1983 demonstrates just how divisive the liturgical books of 1962 can be.

  7. JohnR,
    I understand the, now, anti-Williamson resistance is rabidly 1962. I agree with you that +RNW seems to have a need to distinguish himself from the Nine and 1983. All very sad and all avoidable. I also suspect you are correct that Francis probably isn't interested in what +RNW does and I too would be surprised to see a confirmation of excommunication a la Gantin style as in 1988.

    I fully agree with Patricius' comment above.

  8. The fact that so much of the SSPX "Resistance" has *not* broken for Williamson is striking, and perhaps a marker of the good sense that remains in those quarters; one wonders how that factored into his decision to do this. Perhaps he just wants have more time off to write Pink Floyd album reviews.

    The Rad Trad makes reference to Msgr. Lefebvre's plan, which is another interesting point. Picking very young prelates was only part of it, for he not unreasonably presumed that such young men might have more difficulty commanding respect among the Society faithful. He finessed the difficulty with what has been termed an "A Team/B Team" arrangement, wherein his really top flight priests, his "A Team," would *not* be ordained, but rather serve as the Society superiors. As Pete Vere has noted, this included Fr. Schmidberger, Fr. Aulagnier, Fr. Bisig and a handful of others. A "B Team" of younger, lesser lights would be consecrated as the bishops, who would serve as sacramental dispensers, if so gross a term may be used. As Vere notes, the whole reason for choosing the B Team as his bishops is because the Archbishop did not want bishops within the SSPX to claim any jurisdiction. This was the Archbishop's way of trying to get around canonical arguments that the consecrations were an act of schism.

    Well: the best laid plans of mice and men and all that. +Williamson proved to be a tragic mistake, as Dom Calvet predicted he would; more to the point, one of the bishops (Fellay) eventually ended up being Superior anyway (and has grown into the role), in what seems likely to be a lifetime tenure, while the old A Team has largely receded, most frequently to Rome, Fr. Bisig leaving shortly thereafter to form the FSSP, Fr. Aulagnier leaving to form the IBP, and so on. Meanwhile, the Society's exile in canonical irregularity continues on longer than Msgr. Lefebvre projected, with no obvious end in sight. I wish and pray that it were otherwise.

    I share the consensus here that the Society will continue on as it has, and the Resistance fringe will continue to splinter, which won't do much to reduce their (growing) status as feeders for sedevacantist chapels, where not only the post-Pian liturgical books, but also certain other pretences, can be disposed of.