Richard Williamson

Richard Nelson Williamson (born in London on 8 of March of 1940 ) is a bishop Catholic English that belonged to the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) until 2012, when he was expelled from it. 1 He received the episcopal consecration from Monsignor Lefebvre . He was excommunicated in 1988 after his episcopal consecration. 2 Benedict XVI forwarded the suspension of excommunication through the Congregation for Bishops on January 21, 2009 , 3 but is still suspended from his functions as a priest and as bishop . His statements to Swedish television , in which he denied the use of gas chambers by the Nazis for the Jewish genocide , has raised a scandal that earned him in early February 2009 being relieved as director of the seminary in La Reja , Province of Buenos Aires , where he held the position of director and subsequently the initiation of a criminal complaint against him for “apology of the crime”, requesting the Argentine national government to be declared ” persona non grata “, which led to his expulsion from the country.


Early years

Williamson was born in London into an Anglican family of three children of whom he was the second. His earliest education was at the College of Winchester . 4 He later graduated in literature at the University of Cambridge .

He taught French in Ghana . 5 At that time in Africa he met Albert Schweitzer in Gabon and gained the friendship of Malcolm Muggeridge . 6


In 1971 he was received by an Irish Catholic priest who worked in London, Father John Flanagan. After a while in the London Oratory , Williamson joined the International Seminar St. Pius X in Écône , Switzerland in October 1972 .

Ordained priest in 1976 by Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre , he was professor of the German seminary of Zaitzkofen and two years later he was transferred to Écône.

In 1983 he was transferred to the Seminary of St. Thomas Aquinas , seminary that in 1988 moved to Winona (Minnesota) , USA where he was successively professor, deputy director and later director.

Consecration and excommunication

In June 1988 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre announced his intention to consecrate Williamson along with three other priests as bishops.

On June 17 of that same year, Cardinal Bernardin Gantin , prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, sent a warning to Williamson that if he accepted ordination bishop would incur papal disobedience and would be excommunicated immediately.

On June 30 , however, Williamson continued his determination and was consecrated bishop by Lefebvre along with three other priests.

On July 1 Cardinal Gantin published a statement in which Lefebvre, Williamson, and the three new bishops were said to have incurred the latae sententia excommunication reserved for the Holy Office ipso facto . They were joined by the Brazilian bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer , who participated in the ceremony.

On 2 July Pope John Paul II published the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei in which he gave excommunication and described the consecration of Lefebvre as a “disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the Church” and which “Such disobedience – implying a practice of rejection of Roman primacy – constitutes an act of schism.” 7 Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos , in charge of the commission responsible for the implementation of the Ecclesia Dei , affirmed that this act of disobedience constituted a situation of separation, even if it was not formally a schism. Referring to Fig.

For their part, Williamson and the faithful of the SSPX denied the validity of the excommunication by saying that the consecrations were necessary due to the moral and theological crisis of the Catholic Church. 9 10 11


After his episcopal consecration, Williamson continued as rector of the Seminary of St. Thomas Aquinas, performing the functions corresponding to his episcopal status as confirmations and priestly ordinations. In 1991 he attended as co-consecrator of Licínio Rangel as bishop of the Priestly Society of San Juan Maria Vianney after the death of its founder, Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer .

In 2003 Williamson was appointed rector of the International Seminary Our Lady Coredentora in La Reja , Argentina .

In 2006 he ordained two priests and seven deacons in Warsaw for the Priestly Society of St. Josafat , a group led by the priest Basil Kovpak who had been excommunicated in 2003 by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church . 12 These ordinances were considered unlawful under the same parameters of their own, since they violated the canons 1015 §1 and 1017 of the Code of Canon Law 13 because they had carried out outside their ecclesiastical jurisdiction and lacked the papal permissions.

The excommunication rises

The decree of 21 of January of 2009 , under the protocol 126/2009, was issued by the Congregation of Bishops led by Cardinal Re as unilateral and gracious to stabilize communion with the fraternity measure. The document refers to the excommunication of four unlawfully ordained bishops in 1988. 14 He also expressed the hope that this act would bring about an early communion between the Church and the Society of St. Pius X under the visible authority of the Church in the Pope. The decree was published on January 24, 2009.

Exclusion of the Fraternity

Through a communiqué 15 of October 24, 2012 of the General House of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X , Williamson was excluded from the Fraternity by decision of the Superior General and the Council, dated October 4, 2012.


Williamson is considered as belonging to the hard line of traditionalism, although not so much to support sedevacantismo . 16 17 18 Among the bishops consecrated by Lefebvre, he opposes any compromise with the Vatican , 19 20 accusing him of deceit 16 and being under the “influence of Satan.” 18 21 The bishop judged that reconciliation between the Society and the Holy See was impossible, suggesting that some members of the SSPX could abandon it if they reached an agreement. 22 23 20 Williamson argues that the SSPX is not schismatic, but a body of Catholics who keep the “whole faith.” 24 21 25 26

Like the SSPX, Williamson opposes the changes introduced in the Second Vatican Council , which he sees as liberals, neo-modernists, and destroyers of the Catholic Church. 21 25 24 Among the changes that denigrate are lack of formality and simplicity in worship, preferring instead “beauty and majesty, music and wonderful garments.” Williamson sees the Catholic Church after Vatican II as too open to other religions, and sees Ecumenism as an error. 27 21 criticized the theological vision of the Popes John Paul II , who believed he had a “weak understanding of Catholicism , ” and Benedict XVI . 28 17

On a personal level, he is accused of supporting conspiracy theories about the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the collapse of the Twin Towers , denying that the latter was caused by a terrorist attack, and holding instead that they were carried out by the EE . 29 23 30

Williamson has also expressed controversial views about the Jews, calling them “enemies of Christ” and promoting their conversion to Catholicism. 31 32 33 He argues that Jews and Masons have contributed to “change and corruption” in the Catholic Church 34 35 36 31 He has also indicated that Jews aim at world domination 23 37 and believes that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion Are authentic. 2338 Williamson has denied being anti – Semitic , indicating that it is against the “enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ”, that not all Jews are such, and is also against other groups like communists and freemasons. 23 31 32 18

Controversy “Denial of the Jewish Holocaust”

Williamson has been accused of denying the Jewish Holocaust , 31 36 39 35 40 since he claimed that the Jewish victims of Nazism are not part of any holocaust 41 and that they would have died only of 200,000 or 300,000 instead of six million Jews. He questioned the existence of gas chambers . 42 43 Williamson has also praised the negationist Ernst Zundel . 31 35 36 32

His views were expressed about it in an interview to television Sweden in November 2008 and issued on 21 of January of 2009 , just days before the Holy See lifted his excommunication.

Williamson’s comments created an immediate reaction to protests and even the risk of judicial prosecution in Germany where the interview took place because in that country denying the Jewish Holocaust is considered illegal and can be punished with up to five years in prison. 44 On 4 February 2009, the German prosecutor announced that he would initiate a legal investigation into that statement. Four. Five

Bishop Fellay, superior of the SSPX, initially stated that Williamson was responsible for his own personal point of view and that this assessment did not include the religious Society as a whole. 46 For their part, the SSPX district superiors in Sweden and Germany distanced themselves from any presumption of anti – Semitism and racism, 47 and forbade Williamson to speak publicly about historical or political matters. They later asked Pope Benedict XVI to forgive the “damages caused by Williamson’s statements.” 48

Williamson himself sent a letter to the pope apologizing about the problem, but did not retract his statement. 49 50

The reactions of the Jewish communities were especially strong and negative. On January 23, 2009, one day before the decree raising the excommunication was published, Abraham Foxman , president of the Anti-Defamation League , wrote to Cardinal Walter Kasper to express his opposition to any reintegration event of Bishop Williamson. 51

The spokesman for the Vatican , Father Federico Lombardi, said that Williamson ‘s views had no impact on the decision. Monsignor Robert Wister, a professor of church history, said Williamson’s comments may be “offensive and erroneous,” but not “heretical” and not excommunicable, calling Williamson “not a heretic but a liar.” 52

On February 8, 2009, the Pius X Priestly Fraternity relieved Richard Williamson of his position as director of the seminary in La Reja, Buenos Aires. Subsequently, the editor of Newsweek magazine, Sergio Szpolski filed a criminal complaint against the bishop which is in the hands of the court of Dr. Ercolini. It is a criminal complaint for “Apology of crime”, aggravated by non-compliance with the Anti-discrimination law. Likewise, Rabbi Daniel Goldman asked the Argentine national government to declare Williamson a ‘non-grateful person’ “because we must not harbor our hate apologists in our lands.”

On February 20, 2009 the government of Argentina headed by Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo, asked Bishop Williamson to leave the country or submit to the expulsion. The government justified its decision that Williamson ” has repeatedly setting the real reason for his stay in the country ” and stressed that statements by the bishop to deny the Holocaust ” assault [sic] deeply Argentina society, the Jewish people and the All humanity, pretending to deny a proven historical truth . ” 53 He left the country on February 24, 2009.

On February 26, 2009 Monsignor Williamson apologized in case someone had been offended by his statements to Swedish television, but did not retract his convictions. 54 The Holy See considered that apology insufficient. 55

For the controversy, on March 10, 2009 Benedict XVI wrote a letter to the bishops explaining the remission of the excommunication to the four bishops consecrated in 1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre without mandate from the Holy See. 56

Episcopal Consecration 2015

Being expelled from the SSPX 57 dozens of priests and religious, once they linked to Fellay SSPX accused of modernism and bring agreements contrary to the line of Lefebvre to reach an understanding with Rome. They were placed under the orders of Williamson and formed the Priestly Union Marcel Lefebvre, the harshest line of Catholic traditionalism. On March 19, 2015, in the Benedictine monastery of Nova Friburgo Brazil, Williamson consecrated a bishop without a mandate from the pope to Father Jean Michel Faure , who was Lefebvre’s right-hand man in Latin America. 58



  • The Rural Solution: Modern Catholic Voices on Going Forward to the Land (2003, with P. Chojnowski, W. Marx, W. Nutting, C. McCann)
  • Letters from the Rector by Bishop Richard Williamson
    • Volume 1: The Ridgefield Letters covering 1983-1988 (2007)
    • Volume 2: The Winona Letters covering 1988-1994 (2008)
    • Volumes 3 and 4: forthcoming


  1. Back to top↑
  2. Back to top↑ Apostolic Letter ‘ Ecclesia Dei ‘
  3. Back to top↑ decree lifting the excommunication latae sententiae to the four bishops of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X .
  4. Back to top↑ “ Lefebvrists face crisis as bishop is exposed as ‘dangerous’ anti-Semite (in English). The Catholic Herald (Catholic Herald Limited). 3/5/2008. Link reviewed on June 24, 2008.
  5. Back to top↑ Daily Catholic .
  6. Back to top↑ Williamson ].
  7. Back to top↑ Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei (July 2, 1988). Holy See. Link reviewed on 2008-01-01.
  8. Back to top↑ Card. Darío Castrillón Hoyos: Interview in 30giorni (2005). Link reviewed on 2008-01-01.
  9. Back to top↑ SSPX FAQ Question 11] (29 June 1987). Link reviewed on 2008-01-01.
  10. Back to top↑ The 1988 consecrations: a theological study (July & September 1999). Yes, I do not see Link reviewed on 2008-01-01.
  11. Back to top↑ The 1988 consecrations: a canonical study (November 1999). Yes, I do not see Link reviewed on 2008-01-01.
  12. Back to top↑ “ Ukrainian priest excommunicated ” (in English). Catholic World News (CWN). 2007-11-23. Link revised on June 24, 2008. “SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson illicitly ordained two SSJK priests and seven deacons.”
  13. Back to top↑ Code of Canon Law 1983: Of the celebration of ordinations and ministries . Holy See. Link reviewed on 2008-06-24.
  14. Back to top↑ Decree lifting the excommunication latae sententiae to the four bishops of the Priestly Fraternity Saint Pius X
  15. Back to top↑
  16. ↑ Jump to:a b Pope opens talks with Latin Mass renegades
  17. ↑ Jump to:a b Ein Damenbesuch und andere unbekannte Seiten des Papstes
  18. ↑ Jump to:a b c McAteer, Michael (April 15, 1989). Maverick bishop confirms Lefebvre’s way . The Toronto Star.
  19. Back to top↑ Lefebvrist bishop says no reconciliation with Rome
  20. ↑ Jump to:a b Pope meets head of ultraconservative movement . USA Today. August 29, 2005 . Consulted on August 2, 2008 .
  21. ↑ Jump to:a b c d Moylan, Martin J. (December 11, 1988). US Seminary of front line in Catholic Doctrine Battle . The Dallas Morning News.
  22. Back to top↑ SSPX bishop sees little hope for agreement with Rome
  23. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e Lefebvrists face crisis as bishop is exposed as ‘dangerous’ anti-Semite
  24. ↑ Jump to:a b McAteer, Michael (April 3, 1989). Liberalism destroying church, bishop says . The Toronto Star.
  25. ↑ Jump to:a b Neuerbourg, Hanns (1 July 1988). New Traditionalist Bishop Says Fight Just Beginning . The Associated Press.
  26. Back to top^ Stowell, Linda (August 13, 1988). Ousted bishop says pope ruining church . Houston Chronicle.
  27. Back to top↑ Wilkins, Emma (19 September 1988). Bishop attacks Rome ‘poison’ Bishop Richard Williamson . The Times.
  28. Back to top↑ Owen, Richard (April 21, 2003). «Pope woos conservatives expelled for rebellion» . Times Online . Retrieved on July 29, 2008 .
  29. Back to top↑ Error in quotation:<ref>Invalidlabel; The content of the so-called references has not been definedbhr
  30. Back to top↑ Lecture by Williamson
  31. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e Legge, Gordon (April 15, 1989.). Holocaust stance probed . Calgary Herald.
  32. ↑ Jump to:a b c The Holocaust: Zeal and ignorance . The Windsor Star. April 20, 1989. pp. A.10.
  33. Back to top↑ Robert G. Weisbord and Wallace P. Sillanpoa: The Chief Rabbi, the Pope, and the Holocaust(Transaction Publishers 1991 ISBN 0-88738-416-1 ) p. 194
  34. Back to top↑ National Catholic Reporter, 30 March 2001 , quoting a 3 October 2000 letter by Williamson.
  35. ↑ Jump to:a b c McAteer, Michael (April 21, 1989). Catholic bishop will not be charged for remarks about Jews, police say . The Toronto Star. Pp. A10.
  36. ↑ Jump to:a b c McAteer, Michael (April 14, 1989). Chief Canadian bishop denounces clergyman’s anti-Jewish comments . The Toronto Star. Pp. A11.
  37. Back to top↑ 1 February 1991 Letter
  38. Back to top↑ 1 May 2000
  39. Back to top↑ Robert G. Weisbord and Wallace P. Sillanpoa: The Chief Rabbi, the Pope, and the Holocaust(Transaction Publishers 1991 ISBN 0-88738-416-1 ), p. 202
  40. Back to top↑ “Pope to cancel excommunication of rebel bishops” . The Daily Telegraph . 23 January 2009 . Consulted the 23 of January of 2009 .
  41. Back to top↑ It should be understood that for a Catholic the only holocaust was the one suffered by Jesus Christ on the cross as a priest and sacrificial victim.
  42. Back to top↑ Agnew, Paddy (January 23, 2009). Pope to lift excommunications of four ‘Lefebvre’ bishops . Irish Times . Consulted the 23 of January of 2009 .
  43. Back to top↑ Pope to cancel excommunication of rebel bishops . Telegraph. 23 January 2009 . Consulted the 23 of January of 2009 .
  44. Back to top↑ Reaktioner i Tyskland – redan före sändning!
  45. Back to top↑ CNN .
  46. Back to top↑ Bishop Fellay , Remnant Newspaper, in English.
  47. Back to top↑ Remnant Press: Williamson to be Charged? Diocese of Stockholm and SSPX District Superiors Respond
  48. Back to top↑ Forgiveness sought for Holocaust-denying bishop .
  49. Back to top↑ Bishop Williamson apologizes for ‘imprudent’ Holocaust remarks .
  50. Back to top↑ Bishop who denied Holocaust apologizes to pope
  51. Back to top↑ ADL To Vatican: Do Not Rehabilitate Holocaust Denier Bishop
  52. Back to top↑ Nicole Winfield .
  53. Back to top↑ EFE (20). «Argentina expels bishop who denies the holocaust» . . Accessed February 20, 2009 .
  54. Back to top↑ Bishop Williamson’s request for forgiveness of Holocaust and Church victims
  55. Back to top↑ The Holy See deems Bishop Williamson’s apology insufficient
  56. Back to top↑ Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Remission of the Excommunication of the Four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre
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