Richard Williamson Back At It

Bishop Richard Williamson, the infamous former member of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and leader of the so-called “Resistance,” is planning to consecrate a third bishop for his “movement” next month. From Catholic World News:

Bishop Williamson told followers that on March 19, he will ordain Father Thomas Aquinas, the prior of a traditionalist monastery in Brazil, as a bishop. In 2015, on the same date, he presided at the episcopal ordination of Father Jean-Michel Faure, also in Brazil. Bishop Williamson said that new bishops are needed to sustain “the resistance.”

. . . .

Under Church law the new ordinations will be regarded as valid but illicit. Canon law stipulates that anyone involved in the ordination of a bishop without approval from the Holy See incurs automatic excommunication.

At this point Williamson is still technically excommunicated for his arguably illicit consecration of a second “Resistance” bishop in March 2015, so what does he have to lose? Although I can only admit to following the activities of the “Resistance” from a distance, it doesn’t appear the movement has gained much steam since Williamson was ejected from the SSPX in October 2012 for defying the Society’s Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay. This doesn’t mean the movement is on the verge of dying out, however. The addition of another bishop to its ranks could speed-up the number of ordinations the “Resistance” performs in the coming years, not to mention making the sacrament of Confirmation more readily available to “Resistance” lay adherents with children. It stands to reason that there are a number of individuals and families who attend Society chapels but would otherwise depart for “Resistance” centers if they were more readily available. Moreover, some continue to suspect that if/when the SSPX gains full canonical regularization, a portion of the Society’s more “hardcore” clerics will take a walk.



  1. gregorystackpole
    February 23, 2016

    Looks like a story I’m familiar with, only from the Orthodox world. What are the distinctives of this group?

    1. Gabriel Sanchez
      February 23, 2016

      Essentially it holds to the same platform as the Society of St. Pius X with one significant caveat, namely that Rome must first be “converted to tradition” before any traditionalist worth his salt should have anything to do with it. That is to say, the “Resistance” bishops and priests scoff at the idea of canonical regularization until Rome has corrected her ways on matters like religious liberty, ecumenism, and collegiality.

      In truth, the “Resistance” was more or less borne of the fact that Williamson thought Bishop Fellay & Co. were getting too cozy with the Roman authorities. It also doesn’t help that Williamson likely believed he, not Fellay, should be leading the SSPX and because of that, the Society has “gone soft” in recent years (that is, they haven’t been outspoken or combative enough).

      But yes, you’re right. It does remind me a lot of what goes on among Orthodox Old Calendarists and the various groups that split from ROCOR in the 00s when they were about to patch things up with the Moscow Patriarchate. In fact, I have long argued that there are a lot of parallels between ROCOR’s experience and the experience of the SSPX, though ROCOR’s tension with Moscow ran for a lot longer than the Society’s tension with Rome.

  2. Janet Baker
    February 23, 2016

    I received an email letter from the resistors as they exited our chapel in the great demonstration back last fall (one family, one single woman left our chapel; three sympathizers remain in our chapel, contributing nothing to its maintenance). There was not a single credible citation in the letter of SSPX capitulating on any of the three major issues on the table in the discussions with Rome. What stood out was this single idea: the resistors just know in their hearts that SSPX is soon going to tolerate–women in trousers. Yes it boiled down to that. That was the issue they had with SSPX. They are completely preoccupied with it. And it’s not new. I once asked the woman, one of the three who remains in our chapel apparently to agitate as possible for disobedience and disrespect of the SSPX pastor, what exactly the chief thing against women in pants was, and she told me confidentially: “They Stride.” Trousers lead to striding. This is unbearable, in women. In their eyes.

    And that’s Williamson’s chief legacy, this twisted Anglican hatred of women, of strong women, I imagine like those who resisted them in the early days of the Protestant Rebellion. I am afraid it remains much entrenched in the US branch of SSPX. I wish it would just die out already. I wish the resistors and the perverted Williamson legacy would vanish from SSPX chapels. I personally come from a long line of feminine striders. They are Catholic women. I wish SSPX would clarify our position on modesty and make it clear: if you are active in the struggle: stride, woman, stride.

Comments are closed.