Bishop Williamson and the Other Shoe


I've been waiting for Bishop Williamson's other shoe to drop for sometime.

In short, I've been waiting to see if he follows his espoused principles to their logical conclusion or if he abandons them for some other path.

Open Letter to Bishop Williamson
In case there is any doubt as to the path that His Excellency has set his foot upon let's revisit my Open Letter to H.E. concerning E354.

Based on certain ambiguities in his writings Bishop Williamson has enabled people who turn to him for guidance in this crisis of the Church, to come to the conclusion that the:

  • Catholic Church before the Council had the Four Marks
  • Catholic Church after the Council "by losing all four marks of the Catholic Church (One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic), was [no longer] the Catholic Church"
Also, as a friend commented:

The analogy [Bp. Williamson's rotten apple analogy] is excellent and correct if we take the rot to consist in individuals who occupy places in the Church, or even in institutions that have a human character; it is wrong and dangerous if we take the rot to consist in actual institutions that have an ecclesiastical character - dioceses, especially the Roman See, and even religious orders considered from the point of view of their official canonical status and purpose. (Comparison of SSPX & Resistance Ecclesiology)
Where does Bishop Williamson's rhetoric / thinking lead?  


Bishop Williamson's Current Thoughts on Eccelesiology
Examining some of his latest 'Elesion Comments' we find the following themes that, presumably, are a reflection of his evolving thought.

EC 384 22-NOV-2014 Fortieth Anniversary
Reviewing this EC we find the following words:
Notice firstly the clear and sharp distinction (1 and 2) between Catholic Rome and Conciliar Rome. Now it is true to say that Conciliar Rome is occupying the structures of Catholic Rome, but to say that the Conciliar Church is therefore none other than the Catholic Church is as foolish as to say that a cuckoo is a nightingale because it occupies a nightingale’s nest. (And to say that the Archbishop wrote of Conciliar and Catholic “Rome” and not of the Conciliar and Catholic “Church” is to quibble with words.)
Here we have what amounts to an argument based on  'FUD'.

The SSPX has made amply clear that the phrase 'Conciliar Church' or 'Conciliar Rome' if you like, is a movement within the Church of Christ.  So to make accusations that the SSPX is conflating the 'Conciliar' and 'Catholic Church' is ludicrous and either deliberately misleading or the result of a confirmation bias on the part of Bishop Williamson.

Now, being Catholic, the principle is to assume that the individual (Bishop Williamson) is acting in good faith.

This being the case, I turn to cognitive dissonance as a model for understanding Bishop Williamson's behaviour.  What congitive loops is he doing in order to justify his attacks against the work of Archbishop Lefebvre?

Belief: Obedience is due to one's superior except in the case of sin
Action: Rebellion against authority (Superior General of the SSPX)

Now let's be clear about something: Bishop Fellay's actions in no way constitute an order to commit sin.  Bishop Fellay is simply following the principles of obedience as expounded upon by St. Thomas.  A careful examination of the principle reveals that 'trust' does not come into the equation. Prudence arises only in the determination of whether or not there is a proximate occasion of sin.  This was determined by Bishop Fellay when he made his test (DICI 8-06-2012 , Adelaide Conference 2012).

So Bishop Williamson has created an inconsistency between his beliefs and actions.  This results in a creation of dissonance.

In other words, it hurts.  Humans will normally seek to reduce the pain and are not always rational in the means they will employ.

What are Bishop Williamson's options? He can:
  1. Change his belief
  2. Change his action
  3. Change his perception of his action
Well obviously, looking at this EC it is obvious that he is changing the perception of his action.  To support this altered perception of reality, he needs to employ a confirmation bias in order to justify his actions - thereby resolving the dissonance and reducing the pain.

Therefore he casts Bishop Fellay's actions as a departure from the path of Archbishop Lefebvre. Which is irrational after even a cursory examination of the principles that the Archbishop employed in guiding his relations with Rome.

To futher support his altered reality, he will continue to see confirmation either in writings or by garnering support.  For example 'Conciliarism is heresy 7'.  Here is the actual words of Archbishop Lefebvre:
This Reformation, born of Liberalism and Modernism, is poisoned through and through; it derives from heresy and ends in heresy, even if all its acts are not formally heretical. (source)

Note the difference between the Archbishop's very specific words and Bishop Williamson's? " Conciliarism is heresy".

This is a confirmation bias in action.

Finally, what are the last words of Bishop Williamson:
... Here is why the Archbishop is being reduced within the Society of St Pius X, which he founded, to little more than a decorous mascot.
My wife has noticed in my discussions with various opponents (in-person and online) often when they accuse me of a particular action/fault - they themselves are guilty of the offense.

Here we have just such an occasion where Bishop Williamson cuts and pastes only those elements of Archbishop Lefebvre's writings/thoughts that support his opinions.

The reality is that it is Bishop Williamson is the one who is using Archbishop Lefebvre as a mascot to support his perception of reality.

EC385 29-NOV-2014  Living Popes

Now a few EC's later we come across this EC, that appears to be a clarification of the position of Bishop Williamson.

On January 29, 1949, Pope Pius XII made the following remarks about the importance of the Pope: If ever one day – speaking purely hypothetically – material Rome were to collapse; if ever this Vatican basilica, symbol of the one and only victorious Catholic Church, were to bury beneath its ruins the historic treasures and sacred tombs which it encloses, even then the Church would be in no way demolished or split. Christ’s promise to Peter would still hold true, the Papacy would last for ever, like the Church, one and indestructible, being founded on the Pope then living .”
But a tree half good, half bad, can produce fruits half good, half bad. Now taken as a whole, a mixture of good and bad is bad, but that does not mean that taken part by part, the mixture’s good parts are as bad as its bad parts. ...  So can there ever have been a living Pope whose fruits were entirely evil? The answer can only be, no. In which case the Catholic Church can have half-lived for the last 50 years on the half-good fruits of the Conciliar Popes, with a half-life permitted by God to purify his Church, but which he would never permit to go so far as to kill his Church.
Here we have the essential correction. Whether or not this is a result of my open letter is immaterial. Here we have a much-needed clarification that Bishop Williamson does indeed believe that the Church under the leadership of Pope Francis is the Catholic Church. I also noted that the notion of 'conciliar Church' was not present - hence no muddying of the waters.  This is a good turn of affairs.
Thus for example Paul VI wept for the lack of vocations. Benedict XVI hankered after Tradition. Even Pope Francis surely means to bring men to God when he drags God down to men. So, Conciliar Popes are dreadfully mistaken in their ideas, fatally ambiguous in the Faith where they need to be absolutely unambiguous. The Church has been and is dying beneath them, but whatever parts in them have still been good have enabled the Church to continue, and they have been needed as living heads to continue the body of the living Church, as Pius XII said. Then let us not fear that they will be allowed to kill off the Church, but let us for our part fight their liberalism tooth and nail and pray for their return to Catholic sanity, because we do need them for the life of our Church.
Another confirmation that, when I read it the first time, I noted a change vs EC384 and EC354.
It remains to be seen whether Bishop Williamson will continue making the correct distinctions and follow Catholic Principles to their logical conclusion.

If he does, it will require a significant grace from God to enable Bishop Williamson to swallow his pride, make an act of humility and apologize.

In time we will what path H.E. will take.



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