SSPX removes "Mystery of Jews;" Lombardi on Vatican

A reader wrote to let us know that the Society of St. Pius X has quietly removed from their website the article "The Mystery of the Jews," which we referenced in a blogpost a few days ago, and which asserted that Judaism was "inimical" to Christian nations, responsible for the death of Jesus, and so on.  That anti-Semitic piece is no longer posted on the group’s official American website.

Also, Federico Lombardi, SJ, the official Vatican spokesperson, is quoted in a Reuters story, speaking candidly about serious problems with the Vatican’s recent communications strategy over the SSPX controversy in a story with the surprising, but accurate title, "Spokesman says Vatican can’t control its message." 

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For me, the Vatican’s strongly worded statement yesterday, which called in no uncertain terms on the Society of St. Pius X to embrace the Second Vatican Council, as well as the authority of the post-conciliar popes (which, lest anyone in the SSPX misunderstand, they listed by name), and the Vatican’s clear instruction for Bishops Williamson to repudiate publicly his denial of aspects of the Holocaust, was exactly the clearly worded statement needed to clarify what was a situation that confused Catholics and non-Catholics alike, around the world.  It reassures all parties that indeed Vatican II was an essential part of a modern Catholic’s faith, and that the kind of anti-Semitism espoused by Bishop Williamson (as well as on the group’s American website) has no place in the Catholic church. 

An open question though, which I pose out of real curiosity, is how a group who has as its raison d’etre the rejection of the reforms of Vatican II will now be able to embrace Vatican II. 

James Martin, SJ

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8 years 8 months ago
It is disingenuous to state that the raison d'etre of the Society of St. Pius X (SPX)is to reject Vatican II. There are two documents of Vatican II - only two - which SPX questions, and even that it does in a limited way insofar as they may be interpreted to contradict Catholic tradition.' Bp. Williamson is obviously an embarrassment to SPX and to the Vatican. The ultra-liberals, of which perhaps the largest number of priests in any one order are Jesuits, have simply taken advantage of this as an opportunity to hammer the efforts of Pope Benedict XVI to restore the rightful place of tradition in the life of the Church, including in the liturgy. That they hate. But never fear, the ultra-liberal clergy, who are embarrassed at anything authentically Catholic, are in their dotage, and sanity will replace their feeble 'anything goes' cafeteria Catholicism. This business with Bp. Williamson is a mere distraction from the unstoppable self-correcting action of the Holy Spirit working through the brilliant mind of Benedict XVI. We are fortunate indeed to have him for Pope in these times.
8 years 8 months ago
It is totally inappropriate and reminiscent of the Inquisition for the Pope to attempt to coerce Bishop Williamson to 'recant' his sincerely held historical and technological objections to the view that millions of Jews were killed in gas chambers. This is not a matter of faith or morals, but of history and politics. There is no Catholic 'doctrine of the extermination' to which Catholics must give the assent of faith. By their successful campaign to pressure the Pope into condemning Bishop Williamson's opinions, international Jewish organizations have demonstrated a degree of power and influence that many have heretofore sought to deny. It is ironic that Francis Cardinal George, the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has now joined the chorus of support for Jewish demands. In an October 2007 NCR interview he dared to suggest that there be some reciprocity by Jews in interfaith matters. Cardinal George said: 'It does work both ways. Maybe this is an opening to say, 'Would you care to look at some of the Talmudic literature's description of Jesus as a bastard, and so on, and maybe make a few changes in some of that?'' As one might expect, the only concession to this mild suggestion was made by Cardinal George himself when he meekly backtracked on his initial comments. (NCR Cafe website)
8 years 8 months ago
One respondant wrote: ''It is totally inappropriate and reminiscent of the Inquisition for the Pope to attempt to coerce Bishop Williamson to 'recant' his sincerely held historical and technological objections to the view that millions of Jews were killed in gas chambers. This is not a matter of faith or morals, but of history and politics. There is no Catholic 'doctrine of the extermination' to which Catholics must give the assent of faith.'' This is disingenuous in the extreme. First, genocide is not simply a crime against humanity, it is an intrinsic evil and a very grave sin. This was clearly declared by the Fathers of Vatican II and reinforced by Pope John Paul II of happy memory. Second, the Holocaust, with the deliberate extermination of approximately 6 million Jews, is a fact of history. Those who claim otherwise are motivated not by the truth but a destructive, racist ideology. Period. 'You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'
8 years 8 months ago
It's perfectly acceptable to analyze the historicity of Jesus. Imprimaturs on Raymond E. Brown's and John P. Meier's works confirm that. Obviously that does not mean that the Church or these authors deny that Jesus existed or the esentials of our faith. Why is it not acceptable (for Williamson or anyone) to analyze the historicity of anything else including the Jewish holocaust? Are Catholics now somehow obligated to analyze it but from 'faith in the holocaust' as one is in the case of Jesus? Frankly, I had never taken the time to investigate the 'facts' of the holocaust and had basically accepted the mainstream view, but why should I be obligated to that by my church? Or is the obligation only for Williamson? If so, why? I believe Benedict XVI needs time to analyze and clarify his position as well as our unconditional support, not the unceasing pressure he's been receiving even from Catholics. After all, apart from being Christ's vicar he's also very much a human being, a German directly affected by what is being questioned, and a fellow Catholic.
8 years 8 months ago
Let's be clear here: the penalty of excommunication was not designed as remedy for kook-opinions even if by clerics. To be sure as Fr.Martin indicates anti-semitism has no place in the Church. However what one means by anti-semitism should be clearly defined because it is not a univocal term considering how the definition of anti-semitism has morphed from its original historical context to, for example, the State Department's definition of anti-semitism which includes criticism of the State of Israel. The Williamson-affair has drawn out the Pope and the papacy's enemies within and without the Church. Many if not all of the folks expressing outrage and horror especially in Germany (eg.Michael Friedman journalist and vice-president of the Zentraljudenrat,many of the rabbinate in Italy) know perfectly well that the Pope is not hostile to the Jews, does not condone denial of the Holocaust, and seeks continued dialog. The bottom line is these enemies have an anti-papal agenda which they continue to pursue. Things like the Williamson-affair give them cover to orchestrate outrage and attacks on the Pope allegedly because of the anti-semitism of this suspended bishop. Many, like Friedman, are simply anti-papal and anti-catholic and need to be called to task for their bigotry and prejudice. Responsible members of the Jewish community need to call these folks to task. With respect to Fr. Lombardi's comments about the Vatican's communication strategy, isn't Fr. Lombardi responsible for that? If Lombardi did not know, even though his office was in charge of preparing the note presenting the decree, then he should blame himself. He is the Pope's leading man in all media-related matters. He, personally, or the scores of employees all under his personal control could have just searched Google for any of the several problematic texts written by Bishop R. Williamson, some for his own blog... Or he could have just searched in YouTube.
8 years 8 months ago
As I understand Catholic ecclesiology, one of most important roles of the Pope is to confirm his brothers in unity. How does it serve the interests of unity to lift the punishment of excommunication from individuals who posture as bishops in a society which rejects principal teachings of an ecumenical council, questions the very validity of the reformed Roman Rite, continues to deride the Jewish people as "God-killers", and opposes ecumenical dialogues with other Christians? Not even popes can make silk purses out of sows' ears. It is not a matter of questioning the sincerity or even the good intentions of Catholics like these, it's a matter of being of one mind, and one heart in matters of faith and morals. These particular prelates claim to be promoting genuine Church tradition which they assert was broken with Vatican II. What, then, of the doctrine of infallibility promulgated at Vatican I? The Pope is preserved from errors in matters of faith and morals, is he not? I'm all for Popes adopting a form of servant leadership in which they consult widely and openly with the episcopal college, but when push comes to shove I know I must either affirm or deny what the Popes teach in the name of Jesus Christ. If I not only choose denial, but encourage others to resist the legitimately exercised teaching authority of the Pope, then I am out and on the sidelines. This whole matter is embarrassing. Someone needs to share the truth in love with the Holy Father that these leaders of the SSPX are still beyond the pale.
8 years 8 months ago
Just why is unity with the SSPX a value to be sought? They are separated from the Church due to their schismatic practices. They are an embarassment!
8 years 8 months ago
'An open question though, which I pose out of real curiosity, is how a group who has as its raison d'etre the rejection of the reforms of Vatican II will now be able to embrace Vatican II.' --Through prayer.
8 years 8 months ago
This is a step in the right direction, but off website is not renouncing a set of beliefs. Apparently the whole problem is about communications strategy instead of the substance of Benedict's action. Telling. Did anyone get a full copy of The Mystery of the Jews for the record? I wonder if the defense of the Inquisition is still up there, and I have not the patience to go back to their site to find out. Anyway, Williamson is not the only problem. Here is the district supervisor of the SSPX in Germany to German bishops before Christmas, the one who released a statement rebutting Williamson: 'With the crucifixion of Christ, the curtain of the temple was torn and the old alliance destroyed. But this does not just mean that the Jews of today are not our older brothers in faith. Rather, they are complicit in deicide, as long as they do not distance themselves from the culpability of their forefathers by acknowledging the divinity of Christ and the baptism.' Der Spiegel, p.5 of article, A German Pope Disgraces the Catholic Church at http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,605542-5,00.html There is so much to delete from somewhere and everywhere.
8 years 8 months ago
I recently have read various statements by members of SSFX, and they have killed my hope in ever seeing them re-join the 'main-line' catholic church. They want an ultra-conservative pre-Vatican II church. I think that we are better off by leaving them 'outside,' allowing the 'mainline' church to continue on its path of living the faith in an evolving world. Our Church has a history because it evolved over time. SSPX wants a static Church in which everything is cast in stone, regardless of an evolving world.
8 years 8 months ago
The original article from the Piux X website is still available on the Wayback machine (web.archive.org) and may be viewed at http://web.archive.org/web/20080213071227/http://www.sspx.org/against_the_sound_bites/mystery_of_the_jews.htm. --Terry McCarty
8 years 8 months ago
I feel a great sadness that so much hatred can come from a group calling itself Catholic. The Gospel message that Jesus spoke and lived was one of love and justice. He ended up giving up his life to save ours. I would hope that Williamson ( I can't come to call him Bishop) will find healing by coming to conversion and reconciliation with all of God's family. What a stone hearted person he must be. Thank our Holy Trinity for Vatican II and our beloved John XXIII. We have become a Church ''in the world'' and can never return to the fortress of ''isolation and denial''.
8 years 8 months ago
Alas, an entire section (four articles) entitled 'Jews and Anti- Semitism' disappeared from the SSPX website suddenly. Including the aforementioned 'The Mystery of the Jewish People.' Does this represent a change in views or just a media understanding that they could not win any public discussion peddling this as garbage as faith. The four articles are available using the cashed function of Google. The response this week of the Vatican was clear and direct (and in Latin— tradition must be served!) Yet the uproar to Bishop Williamson’s outrageous comments and the SSPX’s theology of anti- Semitism and opposition to the Jewish people came from all quarters, bishops, clergy, laity, so called 'ultra – liberals' and even conservatives who will typically grab a 'culture war' topic at the drop of a hat. Last night in Philadelphia, a conservative talk radio host who monthly hosts Cardinal Rigali was incredulous when he asked callers, 'certainly we can all agree that contemporary Jewish people are not responsible for the death of Christ' and callers defending the SSPX would answer 'well that’s not consistent Catholic teaching' or otherwise attempted to parse the question. It is clear this Pontiff will welcome the traditionalist’s viewpoint and worship within the tent of the Catholic Church. Still the Holy Father drew an important line in the sand this week that the Church he leads has, by the grace of the Spirit, moved beyond the days of 'error has no rights' and 'perfidious Jews.' Thanks be to God.
8 years 8 months ago
Different men have different gifts and the Vatican should recognize this by getting the best to present their message. Fr James Martin is a very good communicator and the right man to lead the Communications department of the Church. Fr Lombardi is a good man but does not have the media savvy of the men who work at America. The Communication office has been a joke for a very long time now and is hampering all efforts to spread the Gospel message. Latin for the Greeks.
8 years 8 months ago
Don't worry Carolyn, the SSPX forgot about the Inquisition article. It is still up there as testimony to their belief in the essentially merciful nature of torture in a 'good' cause. And just about anything by Le Febvre continues to provide interesting reading. They still have his piece describing the way the Masons and B'Nai Brith and the Communists undermined Vatican II, as well.
8 years 8 months ago
The SSPX is adhering to vows that where given since they gave birth. So being that they are being welcomed back into the fold its a good thing! Bishop Williamson has to recant now or he will be out of the church for good! So sorry for him but the SSPX will save the church and you can count on that!
8 years 8 months ago
From the 'For What It's Worth' Dept.: The SSPX has expelled (!) Fr. Floriano Abramowicz for his anti-Semitic comments. http://www.apcom.net/newspolitica/20090206_200901_2a8fce1_55752.shtml (Fair warning, it's in Italian) AMDG,
8 years 8 months ago
It is a violation of valid judgement to hold Vatican II up as an essential (or even dogmatic) element of Catholic Faith and belief. For older Catholics, 65+, Vatican II is something dear to many of them, especially progressive Catholics. But many younger Catholics either have no knowledge of Vatican II (the majority), while many others are openly against it (which is surprising but true). They see Vatican II as a betrayal of Catholic tradition and essential beliefs. While perhaps that is not what was intended by Vatican II, that indeed is what happened, especially regarding the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and other elements of Catholic life. I am too young to know of Vatican II (aged 30), but what I have seen and experienced has been a total break from the Catholic Faith of the previous 400 years, and for which some of my ancestors died and were beatified by the Roman Catholic Church (Japanese Catholic martyrs). I admire the Pope for lifting the excommunications of the SSPX bishops. While I find Bishop Williamson's rhetoric regarding the Holcaust disturbing, the issue has been overblown by specific groups to deliberatly do harm to the Catholic Church, and to discredit Roman Catholic tradition. As a young traditionalist Catholic, I do hope that the SSPX reaches an accord with the Vatican regarding Vatican II where elements of this Council can be discussed, re-evaluated, and if necessary corrected or outright supressed. Vatican II was a "pastoral" Council and not a dogmatic Council. The degrees of Vatican II are neither dogmas that must be binding, nor essential to attain salvation. They are pastoral provisions. To elevate Vatican II and it's decrees into a "SUPERDOGMA" which must be adhered to in all cases is a violation of judgement, and itself an abuse. Catholic liberals, progressives, dissidents, femminists, and radicals who expect this kind of thing from the Vatica in their relationship with the SSPX, prepare to be seriously disappointed.
8 years 8 months ago
This entire controversy has brought to light a lot of pent- up hostility and outright venom which the liberal or reformed Jewish community has for the Catholic Church. This is not just my imagination either and I'm hardly an Anti- Semite. Rabbi Dennis Prager has even mentioned this on his radio program.

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