Thursday, November 12, 2009

Richard Williamson in the News

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Judge issues ruling on John Sharpe defamation case

John Sharpe -- the subject of prior investigations of this blog -- recently sued the newspaper (The Virginia Pilot) and a columnist by the name of David Mastio for defamation.

The ruling came on April 9, 2009. While we have yet to hear reporting of this matter in the mainstream Catholic press, we have come across a few outcries protesting the summary judgement on various anti-semitic blog sites.

The article by David Mastio, to which Sharpe took offense, can be found here: "Rank is wrong for Navy supremacist" The Virginia Pilot March 15, 2007. Vivian Page (All Politics is Local) relays the background:

Back in 2007, the Pilot printed an article about Lt. Cmdr. John Sharpe, who was relieved of his duty as the public affairs officer on the aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson. Sharpe was being investigated for heading two anti-Semitic groups, the Legion of St. Louis and IHS Press. The Southern Poverty Law Center identified these groups as “two of the most nakedly anti-Semitic organizations in the entire radical traditionalist Catholic pantheon.” (This article was the result of an earlier article printed in Portfolio Weekly which is no longer available online.)

The article prompted this editorial, written by then editorial writer David Mastio. In it, Mastio takes the Navy to task for not having noticed that Sharpe’s writings had been available on the internet for five years. In the process, Mastio – as only Mastio can – uses some inflammatory language to describe Sharpe, like the following: "His views veer from insanely pacifist conspiracy theories to chest-thumping jingoism with barely a speed bump in between."

What follows are excerpts from Judge Norman A. Thomas' summary judgement in the matter of John Sharpe v. Landmark Communications, Inc., d/b/a The Virginian-Pilot and David Mastio [PDF format].

With respect to the particular public controversy inquiry, the Court finds that Sharpe, writing from the perspective of an advocate of his personal interpretations of the very conservative Catholic Social Doctrine, frequently writes or compiles, re-publishes, or endorses the writings of others that criticize the alleged role of Jews and their perceived conspiratorial efforts to dominate the United States Government, world financial markets, the media, and world events, including but not limited to, the September 11, 2001 attacks by Islamic extremists in the United States and the resultant United States’ and other western nations’ involvement in armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. While relatively broad in their scope, Sharpe’s writings and those which he otherwise published or endorsed on the websites of the Legion of St. Louis or the IHS Press (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Sharpe’s writings” or “his writings”) coalesce around one common denominator, that is, suspicion and criticism of the role of Jews in world events, including the perceived cause and effect of such Jewish efforts on the downfall on western Christendom and, in particular, Catholicism. Sharpe’s writings take a macro view of perceived Jewish influence, variously referring to it in such ways as “Judeo-Masonry”, the “Jewish Nation”, “World Judaism”, “World Jewry”, and “depending upon who is asked, what makes someone Jewish, is anything from their religious persuasion to their ethnicity, to their nationality, to the religion or ethnicity of their maternal parent.” Special Feature: WTC and the Pentagon Attacked. Part III, a writing authored by Sharpe and published circa October 16, 2001, on the website of the Legion of St. Louis. [...]

In paragraph three of the March 15, 2007 editorial the defendants state that, “Sharpe’s views aren’t dangerous because they are openly racist and anti-Semitic, though that would be bad enough. His ideas are dangerous because they’re crazy, and when uttered by a commissioned officer, they take on the aura of authority”. Although one might argue that the defendants uttered only opinion in stating that Sharpe’s views are “openly racist and anti-Semitic”, Sharpe claims that the defendants therein make factual assertions and defamed him by doing so. Complaint, paragraphs 6 and 20.

Viewed as allegedly defamatory factual statements respecting Sharpe’s views, the Court grants the defendants summary judgment. The Court, having thoroughly reviewed the corpus of Sharpe’s writings, and especially those selections personally authored by him, concludes as a matter of law that the writings do espouse anti-Semitic and racist views.


Sharpe’s views, as expressed in his personally authored writings, align almost perfectly with both the traditional and more modern expanded definitions of the term “anti-Semitism”. Indeed, on one occasion, Sharpe admitted, in effect, that a hypothetical enlisted member of his command might well have considered his writings to be anti-Semitism.


No reasonable person can read Sharpe’s individual writings and conclude that he espouses anything other than a deep, abiding and pervasive suspicion of and hostility toward Jews, whether considered as a collective people, religion, nation or ethnic group. From his perspective as an advocate of the Catholic Social Doctrine, he considers Jews to be in direct competition with western Christendom, in fact, seeking to bring about its end, and also responsible in whole or in part for nefarious and self-centered domination of the United States Government, one or more of its former Presidents, the media, the world financial markets, and, bearing responsibility for such events as the terrorist attacks on
United States soil occurring on September 11, 2001.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Robert Sungenis is at it again.

"Lies, Plagiarism, and Anti-Semites: Sungenis Comes Full Circle", by David Palm. July 14, 2009:
Despite an explicit directive from his ordinary, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, to cease writing about Jews and Jewish issues (see here) and despite his own numerous promises to stop doing so (his promises are documented here), Sungenis has repeatedly returned to the topic, each time with the same blatant disregard for truth, Catholic morals, and scholarly standards. As a direct result of Sungenis’ embarrassing and vile extremism, he has now had presentations halted by Archbishop Raymond Burke (St. Louis) and the Diocese of San Bernardino (in concert with the Knights of Columbus).

Well, the dog has once again returned to his vomit. His latest salvo, however, is of particular interest because of what agitated Bob this time - a document that was promulgated by the USCCB precisely to correct the problematic positions taken by the Reflections on Covenant and Mission document in regard to the dual covenant theory and the evangelization of Jews.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Watchdog group: Dozens of active-duty troops found on neo-Nazi site, by Kevin Baron, Stars and Stripes. July 10, 2009.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BNP's soft sell masks the poison, by Peter Hitchens. May 30, 2009.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI on the Williamson controversy

An unforeseen mishap for me was the fact that the Williamson case came on top of the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards four Bishops ordained validly but not legitimately suddenly appeared as something completely different: as the repudiation of reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and thus as the reversal of what the Council had laid down in this regard to guide the Church’s path. A gesture of reconciliation with an ecclesial group engaged in a process of separation thus turned into its very antithesis: an apparent step backwards with regard to all the steps of reconciliation between Christians and Jews taken since the Council – steps which my own work as a theologian had sought from the beginning to take part in and support. That this overlapping of two opposed processes took place and momentarily upset peace between Christians and Jews, as well as peace within the Church, is something which I can only deeply deplore. I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on. I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news. I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility. Precisely for this reason I thank all the more our Jewish friends, who quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust which – as in the days of Pope John Paul II – has also existed throughout my pontificate and, thank God, continues to exist.
Excerpt from Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre (March 10, 2009).

Friday, February 27, 2009

Williamson apologizes; Vatican: "not enough"

Bishop Richard Williamson released a public statement apologizing for his remarks on the Holocaust:
The Holy Father and my Superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, have requested that I reconsider the remarks I made on Swedish television four months ago, because their consequences have been so heavy.

Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them.

On Swedish television I gave only the opinion (..."I believe"..."I believe"...) of a non-historian, an opinion formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available, and rarely expressed in public since.

However, the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St. Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused. To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize.

As the Holy Father has said, every act of injust violence against one man hurts all mankind.

+Richard Williamson,

London, 26 February, 2009

* * *

Federico Lombardi says an apology from Bishop Richard Williamson is not enough:
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said in a verbal statement today that the apology is lacking. He told journalists that the statement "does not seem to respect the conditions established in the Feb. 4 note from the [Vatican] Secretariat of State, which stated that [Bishop Williamson] must distance himself in an absolute, unequivocal and public way from his positions regarding the Shoah."

The spokesman also noted that the prelate's declaration was not a letter directed to the Holy Father or to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which oversees the Church's efforts to heal the schism with the Society of St. Pius X.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Williamson's anti-semitism no secret to former SSPX seminarians

Former seminarians under Bishop Williamson say his anti-semitism was no secret:
"He got his point across, right from the start," said the Rev. John Rizzo, who in 1985 was ordained a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, which broke with Rome over the liturgical and theological reforms instituted during the Second Vatican Council of the mid-1960s. John Rizzo left the Society of St. Pius X in 1993 and joined a different traditionalist society, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, which is in union with Rome.

"I have a sizable nose, and he would say to me, 'Rizzo, are you baptized, or are you a Jew?' " John Rizzo, who is now based in New Zealand, said in a phone interview from Australia. "There was another seminarian named Oppenheimer, and he would say: 'Oppenheimer, I don't like your name. If you keep it up, there's a gas chamber waiting for you at the boathouse.' "


John Rizzo's twin brother, Joseph, who left the seminary without being ordained, also recalls Williamson's rhetoric. Joseph Rizzo is now back in Weymouth, where he has four children and is a general manager for Tedeschi Food Shops.

"He called the Holocaust the biggest theatrics known to mankind - I remember sitting in a conference one time when he said those words, and I couldn't believe it - he looked around the room and saw the jaws dropping," said Joseph Rizzo. "I walked around the lake with him, and I said, 'Why would you say that?' and he said, 'There's no documentation.' He said it was all staged, and when I asked why, he said because the Jews own the country, they own the banks, and he felt it was some kind of effort to generate some sympathy toward them."


On a related note, however, The Times reports that Williamson has been give ten days to leave the country or face expulsion:

The Argentine Interior Ministry said Bishop Williamson’s statements on the Holocaust “profoundly insult Argentine society, the Jewish community and all of humanity by denying an historic truth”.

Bishop Williamson had been head of La Reja seminary in Buenos Aires since 2003 but he was removed from that job last week.

The Argentine interior ministry said that Bishop Williamson had not declared “his true activity” as the director of the seminary on immigration forms, and had “concealed the true motive for his stay in the country” by claiming to be an employee of a non-governmental body.

The government said it had been unaware of Bishop Williamson’s position until recent publicity, but added that his views were a factor in the decision to expel him.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Bishop Williamson delivers pseudo-apology; Bishop Fellay: "The Jews are 'our elder brothers'"; "Antisemitism has no place in our ranks"

Letter of apology to Pope Benedict XVI from Bishop Bernard Williamson:
Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems.

For me, all that matters is the Truth Incarnate, and the interests of His one true Church, through which alone we can save our souls and give eternal glory, in our little way, to Almighty God. So I have only one comment, from the prophet Jonas, I, 12:

"Take me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you."

Please also accept, and convey to the Holy Father, my sincere personal thanks for the document signed last Wednesday and made public on Saturday. Most humbly I will offer a Mass for both of you.

Unfortunately, this strikes me more as an apology for making his remarks at an innopportune moment in time, rather than a remorseful retraction of the content itself.

That said, it also sounds like Williamson's superior is sincere in his convictions:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Superior General of the SSPX: "Bishop Williamson forbidden to speak on political or historical matters"

  • Superior General of the SSPX: Bishop Williamson forbidden to speak on political or historical matters January 27, 2009:
    Communiqué of the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay

    It has come to our attention that Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Society, granted an interview to a Swedish network. In this interview, he also commented on historical issues, especially on the genocide of Jews by the National-Socialist regime. It is obvious that a bishop speaks with religious authority solely on matters of faith and morals. Our Society claims no authority over historical or other secular matters.

    The mission of the Society is the offering and restoration of authentic Catholic teaching, as handed down in the dogmas. We are known, accepted, and appreciated worldwide for this.

    We view this matter with great concern, as this exorbitance has caused severe damage to our religious mission. We apologize to the Holy Father and to all people of good will for the trouble it has caused.

    It must remain clear that those comments do not reflect in any way the attitude of our community. That is why I have forbidden Bishop Williamson to issue any public opinion on any political or historical matter until further notice.

    The constant accusations against the Society have also apparently served the purpose of discrediting our mission. We will not allow this, but will continue to preach Catholic doctrine and to offer the Sacraments in the ancient rite.

    Menzingen, January 27, 2009

    + Bishop Bernard Fellay
    Superior General

  • Note of the District Superior for Germany of the SSPX:
    As District Superior of the Society [of Saint Pius X] in Germany, I am very troubled by the words pronounced by Bishop Williamson here in this country.

    The banalization of the genocide of the Jews by the Nazi regime and of its horror are unacceptable for us.

    The persecution and murder of an incalculable number of Jews under the Third Reich touches us painfully and they also violate the Christian commandment of love for neighbor which does not distinguish ethnicities.

    I must apologize for this behavior and dissociate myself from such a view.

    Such dissociation is also necessary for us because the father of Archbishop Lefebvre died in a KZ [concentration camp] and because numerous Catholic priests lost their lives in Hitler's concentration camps.

    Stuttgart, January 27, 2009

    Father Franz Schmidberger

Thank you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Vatican lifts excommunications on SSPX hierarchy; Bishop Williamson - an obstacle to reconciliation

From Vatican Radio comes the news that Holy See today has lifted the excommunications of the four bishops of the SSPX by a decree of the Congregation for Bishops.

Amy Welborn offers a good assessment of the situation and a roundup of responses to the Vatican's move -- among them the helpful post from the clerical blog Rationabile Obsequium (What precisely has the Pope done?) and this analysis from Carlos Palad of Rorate Caeli; a good aid in discerning what this means (an invitation to reconciliation with the Catholic Church); and more importantly what it does not ("The lifting of the excommunications on the SSPX bishops does not signify that the SSPX is back in full communion with the Holy See").

The ball is now in the SSPX's court.

* * *

Earlier this month, SSPX Bishop Williamson gave an interview to the Swedish press, in which he espoused his oft-repeated view that none of [the Jews] died as a result of gas in gas chambers."

Williamson has previously endorsed the anti-semitic forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion ("God put into men's hands the Protocols of the Sages of Sion... if men want to know the truth, but few do") and has asserted that the Jews are fighting for world domination "to prepare the Anti-Christ's throne in Jerusalem."

In the past, he has also indulged in 9/11 conspiracy theorizing and denounced Vatican II as "the religion of man, of man put in the place of God ... it's a new religion, dressed up to look like the Catholic religion, but it's not." (See Catholic Herald March 5, 2008) and "The Politics of Bishop Richard Williamson" (Fringewatch January 25, 2006).

I fear that the Pope's gesture will not go over well with the Jewish people or those sympathetic to the betterment of Christian-Jewish relations. Some will see the lifting of excommunication without a concurrent demand for a change of mind and heart on the part of avowed anti-semites like Williamson as a tacit acceptance.

Writing to Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations With the Jews, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation league expressed his concern that lifting Bishop Williamson's excommunication "could become a source of great tension between Catholics and Jews.":

"The re-admittance to full communion of a bishop who appears to publicly reject key teachings of the Second Vatican Council could provide succor to those whose views threaten the Jewish people and the Church's desire to improve and deepen its relationship with us to benefit all mankind."

From my understanding Williamson's views have scandalized some within the SSPX; however, Bishop Fellay has taken a 'hands off' approach in his handling of the controversy. In a stern reply to the Swedish television studio, he castigated them for their "vile attempts" to question Williamson's views on the Holocaust, stating:

It is obvious that a bishop can only speak about questions of faith and morals with any ecclesial authority. If he deals with secular issues he is personally responsible for his own private opinions. The Society I am governing has no authority to address such issues, or will it ever claim such authority.
No doubt that if the SSPX has any desire to reconcile with Rome, particularly after Pope Benedict's significant gesture in their direction, they will have to confront the obstacle of Bishop Richard Williamson.