The National Catholic Review

The ongoing debate over Pope Benedict’s decision to lift the ban of excommunication on four bishop-members of the Society of St. Pius X has been split into to general discussions. First, the (currently) more explosive issue of the reception of Bishop Williamson into full communion with the Catholic church in light of his absurd comments on the Holocaust, which the Vatican has rejected and Cardinal Kasper termed "gibberish." (This is the issue that has been receiving more media attention.) Second, the more complex question of why the pope would move to lift the ban on a group that has as its raison d’etre the rejection of the Second Vatican Council. The first, you might say, is a more political-historical question; the second a more ecclesial-theological one.

But the two issues are linked. For one thing, a rejection of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, which includes a rejection of "Nostra Aetate," means that is more difficult for members of the Society to engage in dialogue with Jews, to respect Jewish history and to understand Jewish concerns, as well as to reflect on the sad history of Christian anti-Semitism.

Still, the question remains: Is anti-Semitism a pattern that pervades the Society of St. Pius X, or is it simply a bigotry expressed by only a few members?

The Society’s website indicates the former. This appalling article, entitled "The Mystery of the Jews," is still on their official American website, as of this morning (Saturday).

It includes these comments, which read less like a contemporary theological reflection on the Jewish faith and more like passages Mein Kampf.  For the record, the article was written in 1997:

"It is public knowledge that the Jewish sector, relatively small compared to the Gentile sector which devotes itself to the creation of wealth, controls especially the financial power that is exercised through banks."

"Then these Jews, in the name of their Law, their Torah, and to serve the material interests of their nation and race, demanded the blood of Him who had been promised them as their blessing. They stirred up the Gentiles against Jesus. Using them to carry out their plans, they crucified the One who was to be raised up as a "sign of contradiction".

"Judaism is inimical to all nations in general, and in a special manner to Christian nations."

"Catholics are not to enter into commercial, social, nor political relations which are bound hypocritically to seek the ruin of Christendom. Jews must not live together with Christians because this is what their own Jewish laws ordain and also because their errors and material superiority have virulent consequences among other peoples."

Bishop Williamson is one thing; an anti-Semitic tirade appearing on the group’s official website is quite another. At this time, it is important to remember that in official Catholic teaching anti-Semitism is a sin, and, in the words of Pope John Paul II, an "evil."

James Martin, SJ

Comments

Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 10:01pm
Dear Father, In many ways, the more I delve into this matter, the more I'm starting to feel a strange kinship to Goldilocks. I neither feel any attachment to the SSPX qua SSPX, nor do I harbor any panic Vatican II is about to get heaved into the wood chipper. (Although the outright dismissal of the amorphous ''spirit of Vatican Two'' would not weigh heavily upon my conscience.) To address your point, I believe the crucial bit is the four bishops (five if one wants to add Abp. LeFebvre to the pile) were not excommunicated for failing to adhere to, say, Nostra Aetate...but rather, for defying the Holy See in the matter of the ordination by one man of the four remaining men as bishops. Juridically, nothing has changed with the SSPX. Lifting the excommunication is, in the words of everyone at the Holy See, the beginning of a process. The onus is on the SSPX to adhere to the Holy See and not the other way around as Bp. Tissier de Mallerais, SSPX has intimated. The greater blogosphere is busy producing more heat than light but yet the voice of reason can still be heard, if sought. Sean Card. O'Malley of Boston and Abp. Thomas Collins of Toronto -- hardly a wild-eyed Rad-Trad twosome --have commented with great clarity on this issue. It bears repeating nothing has changed with the SSPX. All those things they could not validly do a month ago, they still couldn't do today. AND all of the more, er, peculiar (I hope that was charitable enough) elements within the SSPX are being brought to light, as are those who are seemingly open to a full reconciliation with the Holy See. With great hope and prayer I believe we will see not merely a diminution, but an exorcism of all anti-Semitism within those who profess allegiance to, and desire full communion with Holy Mother Church. (I note that great rancor is rife on both sides, but very few calls for the faithful to pray for all parties concerned.) AMDG,
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 6:11pm
You would do well to defend the Faith and learn what Judaism teaches: ''You are adam [''man''], but goyim [gentiles] are not called adam [''man''].'' Kerithoth 6b “The seed of the goyim is like an animal.” Sanhedrin 74b “All Gentile children are animals.” Yebamoth 98a ''The best of the gentiles should all be killed.'' Sopherim 15, rule 10 ''...'living soul' designates Israel because they are children of the Almighty, and their souls, which are holy, come from Him. From whence come the souls of other peoples? R[abbi] Eleazar said: 'They obtain souls from those sides of the left which convey impurity, and therefore they are all impure and defile those who have contact with them.'...'living soul' refers to Israel, who have holy living souls from above, and 'cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth,' to the other peoples who are not 'living soul,'' but who are as we have said.'' Bereshith 47a ''The Jew by his source and in his very essence is entirely good. The goy, by his source and his very essence, is completely evil. This is not simply a matter of religious distinction, but rather of two completely different species.'' Rabbi Saadya Grama, ''Jewish Superiority and the Question of Exile'' 2003 “Souls of non-Jews come entirely from the female part of the Satanic sphere. For this reason souls of non-Jews are called evil. … the presence of Israel among the nations mends the world, but not the nations of the world…. It does not bring the nations closer to holiness, but rather it extracts the holiness from them and thereby destroys their ability to exist… [T]he purpose of the full redemption is to destroy the vitality of all the peoples.”], Yesaiah Tishbi, The Theory of Evil and the Satanic Sphere in Kabbalah 1942, see also Michael Hoffman, Judaism Discovered: A Study of the Anti-Biblical Religion of Racism, Self-Worship, Superstition, and Deceit, ISBN 9780970378453, 774-775 http://www.revisionisthistory. org
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 5:47pm
There must be some grace somewhere in all this. If the Pope can unilaterally vacate the schism with SSPX, why can he not do it with Protestants? And the Orthodox? The spiritual gulf between Rome and SSPX seems much greater than the gulf between Rome and many Protestant groups, and certainly the Orthodox. This would be a true miracle. When the Pope made his poorly chosen comment about Islam being a violent religion, it became a means of grace by opening up dialogue. I like to think the Holy Spirit is most at work at times like this.
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 4:43pm
Joseph, Well I have spoken with Bishop Williamson in the past and have sat in on a few of his conferences and I can tell you first hand that he is not anti-semitic. He prays for the conversion of the Jewish people everyday just as the Catholic Church and EVERY Pope prior to Vatican II did. You make mention of the SSPX website and their position on this issue concerning the Jews and the Catholic Church's relation with them, but obviously you can't understand that the SSPX's position is EXACTLY the same as the Catholic Church's position for 1960 years prior to the novel teachings of a Pastoral Council. For one thing, the whole notion of 'dialogue' is poppycock. The Catholic Church's mission is to convert all souls to Christ, NOT to compromise the teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church, which is exactly what the bishops, clergy, and laity have been doing for the past 40 years. I suggest that you and the rest of the people read what the past Popes and Saints have taught concerning Judaism and that is what we should be adhering to. It is time to stand up to the bullies of the ADL and the rest of the anti-Christian bigots who are NOT interested in dialogue, for they want to destroy everything pertaining to Christ. Please stop attacking the SSPX and Traditional Catholicism and open your eyes to the real enemies who are trying to destroy the Faith.
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 4:05pm
Darian I can not speak for Father Martin, but let me summarize the situation as I see it here and on other forums of fair minded people. We are not simply describing Bishop Williamson’s statements to be anti-Semitic. (I do not know him and I am sure he is a gentlemen and I imagine he treats his dogs kindly but this is not the current issue) That his statements are 'anti–Jewish' and hurtful is rather easy to show given his direct quotes on issues like denying the attack on 9/11 in New York really occurred, the attributions to the 'Elders of Zion' rubbish and his television interview on the Nazi gas chambers. All of the above could perhaps be explained away as the result of one misguided soul. No instead the focus of attention is on the SSPX and the vast information it presents on its websites as its teaching and worldview. Alas no 'Jesuit plot' is necessary, its own website makes clear the SSPX’s absolute refusal to accept the ongoing teaching of the Holy Father as it relates to our relationship with the Jewish people and also the refusal to follow the clear decisions of the Bishop of Rome and his fellow bishops made in an ecumenical council over forty years ago. They are so lost in a discredited theology of bigoted opposition to the Jewish people they have become a prime example of what they often attack in others, 'Cafeteria Catholics' who pick the church law they like and make excuses to ignore those rules and dogma that do not like. The above is clear enough, what is not clear is the response of the bishops, clergy and laity to the above situation that threatens to undo forty years of ecumenical dialogue. I am sure that there are fair minded people within the SSPX who also find the above anti-Semitism to be reprehensible. They need to speak up forcefully also as the entire 'traditionalist' wing of the Church I being painted with the broad brush of the SSPX.
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 2:04pm
Are you aware of any effective way - petition, signing a letter online, etc. - to join my voice to those of other practicing Catholic who are deeply saddened and appalled by this confusing and quite simply wrong action on the part of Pope Benedict? Why have American bishops not spoken out on this issue? Or have they and I have missed it? Why is it considered within the pale to direct voters regarding abortion, but not to voice opposition to condoning and effectively excusing "official" anti-semitism in the name of Jesus Christ? I'm very sad. No hate mail from the capital T traditionalists, please. there's already enough hate going around.
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 1:30pm
Fr. Martin, Like I said, if you personally knew Bishop Williamson, then you would know he is anything but an anti-semite, and if you knew anything about the SSPX you would realize they are not anti-semitic as you attempt to insinuate in your blog. And as the Vatican has readily admitted, Vatican II was NOT a dogmatic council, but a Pastoral Council and therefore did not teach any new doctrines. The SSPX has always viewed Vatican II as a valid Council, they just won't accept the liberal and modernist views which were a product of the Council such as freedom of religion and universal salvationism. I mean, you have spent all this time attacking Bishop Williamson and the SSPX, but where is your voice of opposition against all these so-called Catholic politicians advocating abortion, and these so-called women-priests, and the homosexual invasion at Catholic schools?
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 9:19am
Dear Joe, Thanks for a good question. I agree that closer ties with the church will mean a diminution of anti-Semitism in the Society of St. Pius X, assuming that they finally accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. (But that seems not certain, at least according to news reports.) My larger question is why, in this case, was the ban lifted before the acceptance of church teaching? Normally, it is a condition for the ban to be lifted. It seems strange to set that aside in this case. Otherwise, as many have noted, why not lift the ban on others accused of schism and heresy, as a way of fostering unity? As several other groups have argued, they are ready for their bans to be lifted. Dear Mr. Sarafian, I didn't quote the entire passage for space reasons, but I think the sentence you mention does not change the meaning of the ones that follow it at all, which is why I omitted it. Those sentences quoted above--about the Jews killing Christ, about the Jews controlling the financial markets, about the Jews not being fit to live with Catholics and about Judaism being 'inimical' to all nations-- need little context. And if anyone wants to read the entire article, which is clearly anti-Semitic, I posted the link. Dear Darian, I have indeed read those of Bishop Williamson's articles that I could find on the web, and also heard his video presentation about the Holocaust now available on several Catholic websites. Further, the article posted above gives some context to the kinds of things that the group finds acceptable to place on their site, and so underscores some of the bishops comments. Finally, the 'constant teachings' of the Church include the teachings of the ecumenical councils, including the Second Vatican Council. James Martin, SJ
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 7:45am
Wow...It is amazing how far people like Fr. James Martin will go to calumnize great people like Bishop Williamson, who is NOT an anti-semite in the least. I bet not one of the people here who has attacked Bishop Williamson has even met him or read any of this articles. If you had, you would realize he is a very Faithful Bishops of the Catholic Church who adheres to all the constant teachings of the Catholic Church...which is something which can't be said for a majority of Novus Ordo bishops and priests. Shame on Fr. Martin and shame on anyone who criticizes Bishop Williamson or the SSPX. If anyone is a bigot, it is the modernist and liberals such as Fr. Martin who will go to any length to attack anything to do with Catholic Tradition.
Anonymous | 2/1/2009 - 10:51pm
Thank you immeasurably to Jim Martin for exposing the true nature of the SSPX. Yet even here, you get apologist comments for them, marinated in citing Jesuits as Modernist heretics. This is so beyond imagining. I am dumbfounded, disgusted, and sickened. What is circulating in the air? What fears, demons, irrationalisms are about? Benedict 16 has unleashed something ugly by his blindness and flagrant indifference. The Wall St. Journal has an excellent article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123328432417932139.html by a Jesuit, bless him, called "Surveying the Damage Schismatics Do: The difficulties of gathering a group of renegades back into the Catholic fold” Snip: "As church history proves, most schisms die out of their own internal contradictions. Explicit reconciliations are rare.” I certainly hope so. But I am persuaded by Robert Mickens that B16 will bring the SSPX back, no matter how much dissembling is involved. He will also complete his decades-long reinterpretation of VII that essentially nullifies its genuine intent. See an earlier blog here at http://americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&id=27F08DDE-1438-5036-4F8792220B462A90 Note the defense of the Inquisition at http://www.sspx.org/against_the_sound_bites/defense_of_the_inquisition.htm It is a black period indeed. Condolences to the many clergy who are as privately pained by this move as we are.
Anonymous | 2/1/2009 - 3:42pm
Thank you, Fr. Martin for saying what needed to be said including the observation that a German Pope with a (however minimal) Nazi-era history should have been more circumspect in his actions. At the very least this SSPX crowd should have been required to publicly assent to Nostra Aetate. I am more than certain that John Paul II would not have taken this mistaken step. Now before some uber-traddie claims I'm some sort of disobedient Catholic, please note I'm a friendly respectful member of another 'ecclesial body.' The actions of Rome have impacts far beyond the RC walls. Thus, my concern is a valid one.
Anonymous | 2/1/2009 - 11:21am
To add an additional two cents -- if I may impose on Fr. Martin's kindness and charity to do so -- to this question. The SSPX is riddled with a notable amount of anti-Semitism. This is undeniably so, and furthermore that it would be foolish to deny there are a fair number of anti-Semitic capital-T Traditionalists. This is to be condemned, always and everywhere, in the strongest terms conceivable. However...as long as these Traditionalists remain mired in schism (we'll set aside the issue of whether this is an ''official'' or ''de facto'' schism) the very grave situation with anti-Semitism will not improve. The more ardently the Holy Father condemns anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial, or he calls on the faithful to love our Jewish brethren, the louder the howls and imprecations from the anti-Semite ''amen corner.'' Interestingly, by the act of lifting the excommunications, take a look at what's happened thus far. Bp. Fellay has silenced Bp. Williamson on matters outside of faith and morals. Bp. Williamson -- someone in whom I have never seen a searing need to apologize for ANYTHING -- has apologized for something; admittedly, something of a weak-beer apology. Even more interestingly, many (most?) faithful SSPX adherents (at least if the ''Usual Suspect'' blogs' comboxes are anything to go by) seem eager to quickly place as much distance between themselves and Bp. Williamson’s ''gibberish.'' AMDG,
Anonymous | 2/1/2009 - 10:16am
Bishop Williamson is completely correct about the way people address this. They go by emotion. The absurdity of calling someone who agrees with people who come to a different conclusion on a matter of history is ''anti-semitism'' is a non-sequitur of the first rank. I suppose those who have re-evaluated the death toll of Dresden are ''anti-Gentile'' or ''anti-German.'' Should the number of abortions performed turn out to be lower than that reported, those reporting must obviously be ''anti-baby.'' Added to the that, the dishonesty of evaluating Bishop Williamson's preaching in order to present a caricature is evident of the maliciousness of those attacking him, not for his views on history or politics but rather his orthodox Catholicism. Only the small-minded like those liberal factions in the Church that do not have the courtesy nor courage to pronounce their heresy and leave the Church would so selectively quote bishop Williamson. While the ADL and others quote from bishop Williamson, they always seem to leave out other quotes that put the lie to their accusations. ''And let us therefore, with no thought of hating Arab or Jew, because they are NOT the real problem, turn to the real problem, which is the sins by which we offend God. Let us take the Ten Commandments in reverse order, culminating in the first.''--Bishop Williamson letter OCT. 2001
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 10:09pm
Amen - How indeed did it come to this. When you're eleven years old, like me, in 1963, and a man with numbers tattooed on his arm hands you a hot dog, and you already know about the Holocaust, you know not to ask how he got that tatoo. Now tell that man he dreamed it. Tell my local librarian, born in Krakow, her mother, father, and sister killed in Auschwitz, it never happened. Impossible, unless your mad as a march hare, as the lovely british people like to say. What this article doesn't go into, also, are Williamson's assertions, which you can listen to in his own voice on Youtube, that 9/11 was an inside job, that seven of the alleged highjackers are still alive, all the usual garbage, and presumably this leads to further libels against the jewish people, I had to stop listening. Bishop Fellay's response asserting authority in faith and morals alone, and not mundane history, maddens one even further, as he utterly fails to recognize that certainly one will never be trusted in a large matter, like faith, after one has proven untrustworthy in a smaller matter, like the denial of simple, verifiable, facts of recent history. In other words, Bishop, who would trust your opinions on so grave a matter as eternal salvation, and events two millenia removed from the present, whilst there are living souls whose testimony renders your servant Williamson, and you, a buffoon? Get this: 'If you can trust a man in little things, you can also trust him in greater; while anyone unjust in a slight matter is also unjust in a greater.' Reads the same in the Vulgate. Lk, 16:10. One has to consider the possibility the Pope made a mistake with these lunatics, although I've yet to read 'the sixty two reasons Catholics cannot in conscience attend the Novus Ordo Missae.' Meaning that the last time I served a Tridentine mass, in about 1964, was the last time I attended real mass. Nuts!
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 9:42pm
Father Martin’s has done the Church a great service, not by presenting his own opinion, but rather making public the hateful poison this so called ‘catholic’ organization peddles. One understands the lure of the traditional latin mass, and the Church has tried to accommodate the sincere desires of some to 'do Mass the old way.' But the article presented from the SSPX website directly repudiates the actions and decisions of the Bishop of Rome and his brethren Bishops in ecumenical council over forty years ago. Free will allows that some people will hold such hateful and perverted views. But they do not represent nor is there room for them our Church in 2009 ( and we can use a big 'C' or a little 'c' here) If that means schism between the Catholic church and the SSPX so be it but even within a church of sinners unworthy of redemption except by the grace of God, anti-Semitism must be named and repudiated by the clergy and the faithful.
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 8:50pm
The Anti-Defamation League has described SSPX as ''mired in anti-Semitism'' in a recently released report. It has more quotes of the type described above. http://www.adl.org/main_Interfaith/Society_Saint_Pius_X.htm
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 7:37pm
Unfortunately, the article, if it can be titled such, ''The Mystery of the Jews'' remains as of Saturday night on the website. It is perhaps even more appalling than Fr. Martin has made it out to be. There can be no excuse or explanation for such hate. This saddens me so much, and these sorts of attitudes toward the Jews must not only be repudiated, but they cannot have any place in the Church.
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 3:40pm
Thank God there are reponsible and faithful Catholics like Fr. Martin who are speaking up on this, our latest humiliation. There are two things that make me very angry. The first is, if Catholics of a more progressive bent had been more diligent about filling the pews every Sunday, this ridiculous overture to the SSPX would have never taken place. The second is that it took Richard Williamson's recent remarks to raise consciousness over the obnoxious anti-semitism of this group, whose obsession over Judeo-Masonic conspiracies and the demise of the ancien regime after the French Revolution has been discrediting traditionalism for years. There's a lot more wrong with the SSPX than the illicit consecration of a handul of bishops. SSPX adherents aren't drawn by the love of the Tridentine Mass alone. Anti-Semitism is part and parcel of the whole attraction. If you don't believe me, just look at the remarks left in the comboxes on blogs and forums like Rorate Caeli, Angelqueen, and Envoy, and dozens of other traditionalist websites to get a sense of it. There are millions upon millions of Catholics in the world who love Latin and Gregorian Chant who don't buy into this nonsensical SSPX worldview. For a pope who was at least nominally a member of the Hitler Youth and the Wermacht, the size of his blind spotted insensitivity is staggering. This is like an Alice-in-Wonderland scenario. How in the world did it come to this?
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 3:11pm
America would consider Pope St. Pius X and both St. Pius V both the lat 2 pope saints in the last 700 years as anti-Semitic. The SSPX is Catholic teaching, which is no anti-Semitic. The Jesuits are Modernist heretics who implicitly and explicitly deny that Jesus Christ is God.
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 12:17pm
Wow, I had hoped this was behind us. We have come so far, we must work hard to not let this impact our personal relationships with our brothers and sisters of the Jewish faith.
Anonymous | 2/5/2009 - 11:23pm
The SSPX and especially Bishop Williamson are not anti-semitic! People have been brainwashed, labeled, and charged with a crime just because they dare to question the Holocaust. Do Novus Ordo catholics even know their faith? Before the Vatican II (pastoral not dogmatic) Council - catholics actually prayed for the conversion of the Jews. Now according to Vatican II, they are still awaiting their Messiah? Jesus Christ is the one, true Messiah and numerous prophecies, witnesses, etc. make that a fact. So how is it that Vatican II which was infiltrated by modernists, heretics, and enemies of Christ made it seem otherwise.
Anonymous | 2/5/2009 - 8:53pm
As a Catholic I am horrified and thoroughly ashamed that there even exists such a travesty as the SSPX. Why is this group even tolerated? They have no knowledge of the true spirit of the Catholic church and are delusional if they think they know anything of Jesus's teachings. I hope the Holy Spirit shines light in the darkness of their hearts. This is truly a shameful day for the Catholic Church. Williamson and his schismatics have no business being in religion.
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 12:07pm
As a lower-case-T traditionalist Catholic, some of the things articulated by the SSPX as concerns strike me as valid. However, the anti-Semitism that seems swim through the SSPX gives me grave concern. Just after Bp. Fellay silenced Bp. Williamson, after Bp. Williamson apologized, after the Holy See re-repudiated anti-Semitism...Fr. Floriano Abrahamowicz, SSPX gave an interview defending Bp. Williamson and expressing his manifold doubts on matters relating to the Holocaust. Sadly, all this gives ammunition to those whose views might be hostile to traditional (little ''t'') Catholicism both against the traditionalists and against the actions of the Holy Father. It provides a convenient (and conveniently broad) brush with which to tar those among the faithful who find themselves anywhere along the traditionalist/reform-of-the-reform end of the spectrum. (There is a luxury of evidence to support this unfortunate reaction. In many quarters, to prefer Mass in Latin, even Mass in the Ordinary Form, is tantamount to being the next Oswald Mosley.) The Holy Father has zero sympathy whatsoever for anti-Semitism or Holocaust deniers. (Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ bluntly stated: ''Whoever denies the fact of the Shoah knows nothing of the mystery of God, nor of the Cross of Christ [and it is] even more serious [when this] comes from the mouth of a priest or a bishop, meaning a Christian minister, whether or not he’s in union with the Catholic church.'') The real reason for lifting the excommunication is the crucial matter of Church unity; to close up the only real schism of the postconciliar era. John Allen at NCR (hardly a garrison manned by ressourcement types) makes an interesting point (http://ncrcafe.org/node/2382) on this: ''The risk, of course, is that the outside world won’t see the pope trying to steer the traditionalists toward moderation; it will instead see the pope rolling out the red carpet for a group that includes Holocaust deniers and hate-mongers.'' AMDG,