What was rumored for a long time has finally come true: Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunication of the bishops leading the schismatic Society of St. Pius X.

Damian Thompson has the document at the Telegraph. There’s one curious paragraph:

It is hoped that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity.

I’m not sure what this means. Since these were the only individuals who were excommunicated (as has been reaffirmed by the Vatican in other ways) what is left to “accomplish … full communion” with the rest of the movement? Probably such things as reaffirming canonical recognition of the society itself, acceptance by individual bishops of the chapels in their diocese (there are two in the Houston area), granting of faculties to individual priests.

The document acknowledges there are “still open matters”–the group’s criticisms of various aspects of the teaching of Vatican 2. But these “still open matters” are not barriers to communion, apparently. These include the SSPX’s rejection of religious liberty and of Nostra Aetate. In effect the Vatican is acknowledging that these are not dogmatic matters binding the conscience of Catholics.

And that’s worrisome.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has released this statement:


The Simon Wiesenthal Center is calling on His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to declare that the group known as the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) cannot function within the Catholic Church while mocking Church doctrine on anti-Semitism.

Pope Benedict, a champion of Church unity, is reportedly poised to lift the excommunication of four bishops from the Society, which had been operating outside the authority of the Vatican. While the group,  which has tens of thousands of Catholics followers worldwide, has apparently agreed to accept the authority of the Pope, its teachings remain completely at odds with the positions of openness and improved ecumenical relations that were born out of the Church’s Second Ecumenical Council. One of the landmark rulings from the Council, also known as Vatican II, denounced anti-Semitism as a sin. Pope Benedict, then Father Joseph Ratzinger, was one of the theologians involved in drafting these new positions.

“According to media reports, Bishop Williamson, one of the Society’s leaders, gave an interview just last week denying Jews were murdered in gas chambers, hardly an indication of a change of heart or mind”, charged  Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of  the Wiesenthal Center. “Beyond the Holocaust denial of one bishop looms the larger issue of the virulent anti-Semitism of the group as a whole,” he added.

Postings on the Society’s website ( proclaim that:

  • Jews are “directly responsible for the crucifixion,” Jews are cursed with the ‘blindness to the things of G-d and eternity;’
  • Jews as a people stand ‘in entire opposition with the Catholic Church.;’
  • ‘Christendom and Jewry are designed inevitably to meet everywhere without reconciliation or mixing;’ that Jews ‘should neither be eliminated from among us … nor given equality of rights.’

“The differences between accepted Church teaching and this group of Latin-speaking extremists are not subject to reconciliation,” added Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Center’s Director of Interfaith Relations. “The Pope must make clear to the world – especially in the midst of the wave of  Islamist anti-Semitism engulfing Europe – that SSPX cannot teach medieval hatred while seated amongst the leaders of the Church.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.

For more information, please contact the Center’s Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036.

On a local level I’m wondering, does this mean that Cardinal Daniel DiNardo will be welcoming back Fr. Steve Zigrang?

Update: SSPX Press Release; letter from Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX; NCR; America.

SSPX articles on the Jews
Note: the Angelus articles to which I link were on the webpage of; they’re now at Angelus Online, but since that site requires registration, I’ve linked to the Internet Archive versions of the Canadian site.

Books I’ve seen for sale at an SSPX bookstore

  • Ford, Henry. The International Jew. Summary at the webpage of Jewish Virtual Library of Ford’s multivolume work, which is on-line in various places.
  • Fry, Leslie. Waters Flowing Eastward: The War against the Kingship of Christ. Edited and revised by Fr. Denis Fahey. “Authentication of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.” (“Leslie Fry” is a pseudonym for Paquita de Shishmareff, who worked with Ford on The International Jew).
  • Pinay, Maurice (pseudonym). The Plot against the Church. Depicts Vatican 2 as the result of a conspiracy involving Communists, Freemasons, Protestants and Jews.


  1. Whilst the English speaking press has picked up on Williamson’s recent holocaust denial, the Swedish documentary in which it appears (available in Swedish on SVT’s website) alleges that SSPX in Sweden has other links (local contact people, books distributed, etc) with nationalist, far-right and Neo-Nazi groups. If these allegations are true (and no one appears able to refute them) then the problem is more than simply one “rogue” bishop as SSPX’s supporters are arguing.

  2. I don’t think we have met that second step yet. For instance I am not sure Bishops at all have the authority to reconcille SSPX Chapels on their on authority.

    This is sort of murky to me. In other words the lifting of the excommunications to the men themselves in reality does not change the status of these Churches yet.

  3. Pingback: Controversy at the Vatican: The Fuller Story | Cross-Currents

  4. I think it’s a good step forward to re-union with Rome, but about the doctrinal issues with Vatican 2, all of it is extremely worrying because of the fast decline of the Catholic Church in the pass 40 years since Vatican 2 is disturbing

  5. It’s sad to see so many so-called catholics who don’t know their Catholic Faith or even God’s word in the Bible. The SSPX, Bishop Williamson, and Fr. Fahey and Coughlin follow Jesus Christ who through his Catholic Church (outside of which there is no salvation) know as the church has always taught that all must convert to Catholicism to be saved. So it is not hatred to seek historical truth but to uncover lies in order that people, especially catholics, are NOT deceived!

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