The Conciliarization of Bishop Williamson’s Thinking regarding the Catholic Church

“How could it be more clear?! From now on it is the conciliar church one must obey and be faithful to , and not to the Catholic Church. This is precisely our problem. We are suspended a divinis by the conciliar church, of which we do not want to be a part. This conciliar church is a schismatic church, because it breaks with the Catholic Church of all time. It has its new dogmas, its new priesthood, its new institutions, its new liturgy, already condemned by the Church in many official and definitive documents. This is why the founders of the conciliar church insist on obedience to the church of today, making abstraction of the Church of yesterday, as if it didn’t exist anymore. […] The church which affirms such errors is at one and the same time heretical and schismatic. This conciliar church is therefore not Catholic. In the measure in which the Pope, the bishops, priests or faithful adhere to this new church, they separate themselves from the Catholic Church. The church of today is the true Church only in the measure in which it continues and is one with the Church of yesterday and of always. The norm for the Catholic faith is Tradition.”


Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre wrote the above on July 29, 1976 to his friends (reproduced in Sel de la Terre 36, p. 10, as stated here).  It is clear from these words that the Archbishop understood the Catholic Church and the conciliar “church” to be two formally separate entities even though they share material elements (e.g., members of the hierarchy).  It is sad, however, that Bishop Richard Williamson has deviated from the Archbishop’s position on this significant matter.  It is the purpose of this post to show the conciliarization of Bishop Williamson’s thinking regarding the Catholic Church.


Before we begin, we must define some philosophical technical terms.  These are all taken from the “Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy” by Bernard Wuellner, S.J., published by the Bruce Publishing Company in 1956.


1. Substance (sense 1):  being whose essence naturally requires it to exist in itself.

2. Substance (sense 2):  loosely equivalent to essence and nature.

3. Substantial Form:  the intrinsic incomplete constituent principle in a substance which actualizes the potencies of matter and together with the matter composes a definite material substance or natural body.

4. Substantial Change:  change in the substance of a thing because of change of its substantial form.

5. Essence:  what a thing is.

6. Accident (logical sense):  an attribute belonging to some nature but not constituting its essence or a part of its essence.

7. Accidental form:  an accident considered as a secondary or added perfection that determines a nature that is already substantially complete.

8. Accidental change:  real change in the accidents of a being.


I wanted to define these terms so that I could apply them to the Catholic Church.  However, I must make clear that these terms will be applied to the Catholic Church only in an analogical sense.  The Catholic Church is not a substance.  It is a society (a perfect one) and societies are not substances.  Nevertheless, we can think of the Catholic Church as a substance analogically in that we can say that it exists in itself (sense 1) and has an essence (sense 2).  Furthermore, there is no other substance that has its essence.  It is the one Church founded by Jesus Christ.  The Anglican “church”, for example, exists in itself, but its essence is not the same as that of the Catholic Church since it was founded by a heretic.  The same goes for all the other false “churches”, including the conciliar “church”.


From philosophy and Church teaching, we know that the substantial form of man is the soul of man.  Likewise, analogically speaking, we can say that the substantial form of the Catholic Church is the Holy Ghost, unchangeable Truth Itself.  After all, the catechism teaches us that the Holy Ghost is the “soul” of the Catholic Church.  On the other hand, the substantial form, analogically speaking, of the conciliar “church” is man.  When the substantial form of a thing changes, the thing undergoes a substantial change.  The substantial change results in a thing essentially different from the thing that underwent the substantial change.  Likewise, again analogically speaking, if the substantial form of the Catholic Church were to change, it would be a substantial change, which would result in a “church” essentially different from the Catholic Church.  For example, Archbishop Lefebvre affirms in the quote above that the conciliar “church” has “its new dogmas”, which make it “not Catholic”.  Of course, a substantial change in the Catholic Church cannot happen because she is of the Holy Ghost and hence indefectible.  What resulted instead at Vatican II, from the evil actions of the human element of the Catholic Church, is a heretical and schismatic “church”, the conciliar “church”, which is a separate entity from the Catholic Church.


When an accidental form of a thing changes, the thing does not undergo a substantial change; rather, the change is accidental or non-essential.  The thing before and after the accidental change remains the same thing but with an accidental difference.  Likewise, analogically speaking, if an accidental form of the Catholic Church changes, it still remains the Catholic Church.  For example, changes to Church laws regarding the election of a new pope are accidental.


Let us now give a more concrete example to illuminate better the concepts defined above.  A tree is a true substance.  It exists in itself and has an essence.  The substantial form of a tree is what makes the matter to be a tree and not something else.  If a tree (think about any particular tree) were to catch on fire, the portion that is being consumed by the fire undergoes a substantial change from “tree” to “ash”.  The ash has a different substantial form than the tree; hence, the essence of the ash and tree are different.  On the other hand, when the same tree buds leaves in the spring and loses them in the autumn, the tree undergoes only an accidental change; hence, only the accidental form is affected.  Throughout the whole process (spring to autumn), the tree remains a tree.


I bring these concepts up because Bishop Williamson has on many occasions used a good analogy in comparing the Catholic Church and the conciliar “church” as apple and rot, respectively.  In his Eleison Comments Issue #281 (December 1, 2012) titled “Various ‘Churches'”, he wrote the following:


“‘Conciliar Church'” means the God-centred Catholic Church as fallen and still falling under the sway of the man-centred Second Vatican Council. Conciliarism (the distilled error of Vatican II) bears the same relation to the true Church of Christ as the rot of a rotten apple bears to the apple which it is rotting. Just as rot occupies the apple, depends on the apple, cannot exist without the apple, yet is quite different from the apple (as uneatable is different from eatable), so man-centred Conciliarism so occupies Christ’s Church that little of the Church is not more or less rotten, yet Conciliarism is so different from Catholicism that one can truly say that the Conciliar Church is not the Catholic Church.”


As an apple oxidizes, it undergoes a substantial change from “apple” to “rot”.  The rot has a different substantial form than the apple; hence, the essence of the rot and apple are different.  Bishop Williamson, understanding this, distinguishes the apple (Catholic Church) from the rot (conciliar “church”) as two different substances (in both senses defined above).  Of course, we have to keep in mind again that the Catholic Church cannot undergo a substantial change.  The analogy, as with all analogies, is imperfect.


In his Eleison Comments Issue #360 (June 7, 2014) titled “Conciliar Church”, His Excellency continues to substantially (in both senses defined above) distinguish the Catholic Church from the conciliar “church”:


“The expression ‘Conciliar church’ obviously expresses a reality, something real, namely the mass of people and institutions professing themselves to be Catholic but in fact sliding into the practice of the new humanist religion of the Second Vatican Council. “Sliding,” because Conciliarism, or neo-modernism, is precisely designed to enable Catholics to maintain the appearances of the Faith while they empty out the substance.” 


“On the one hand the rot belongs to the apple. All rot was once apple. The rot is a corruption of the apple, a parasite on the apple, it could not exist without the apple and it remains firmly attached to the apple unless and until the rotten part falls off. Likewise Conciliarism belongs to the Catholic Church insofar as everything Conciliar was once Catholic, it is a corruption of the Catholic Church, a parasite on the Catholic Church, it could not exist without the Catholic Church, and it remains firmly attached to some part of the Catholic Church unless and until it destroys that part, as it was designed to do.”


“On the other hand the rot does not belong to the apple. No apple was ever meant to go rotten. All rot is a transformation of some apple, a corruption and parasite of apple, transforming it for the worse, resulting in something quite different from apple, something which nobody in his right mind would dream of eating or of saying that it was no different from apple. Likewise Conciliarism does not belong to the Catholic Church, it is a corruption of something Catholic and is a parasite on whatever is Catholic. It transforms (a human part of) the Catholic Church for the worse, resulting in something essentially non-Catholic which no Catholic in his right mind would call Catholic or want to associate with, on pain of losing his faith.”


“In brief, Conciliarism is rot, and the ‘Conciliar church’ is the one divine-human Church being rotted in one or other of its human aspects. Of course the Catholic Church will last to the end of the world (Mt. XXVIII, 20), while the ‘Conciliar church’ is merely one in a long line of parasite churches down the ages, living on what they rot and rotting what they live on. A plague on all liberals, confused and confusing!”


Let us now move to 2017.  In his Eleison Comments Issue #495 (January 7, 2017) titled “Vatican ‘War'”, His Excellency writes:


“In today’s crisis of the Church, of an unprecedented gravity in all Church history, it is most important that Catholics should give due importance both to the Traditional movement and to the Catholic Church outside the Traditional movement. Tradition in its broadest sense, meaning everything which Our Lord entrusted to his Church to be handed down (tradendumin Latin) to world’s end, is indispensable to the Church, and the Traditional movement has played an indispensable part in preserving Traditional doctrine and sacraments from their destruction by the Conciliar Revolution over the last half-century. But to survive, the Traditional movement had to place itself outside the normal hierarchical structure of the Church, and that structure is very much part of Tradition – ‘Peter, feed my sheep’ (Jn XXI, 17). Therefore however deep is the Conciliar corruption in Rome, Catholics must still be looking to Rome.”


A faithful adherent to the position of Archbishop Lefebvre knows that Tradition and the followers of Tradition, objectively speaking, are the Catholic Church.  However, from the portion of the above paragraph that I have placed in bold, we should see that His Excellency has shifted his thinking regarding the relationship between the Catholic Church and the conciliar “church”.  For if the “Traditional movement” (followers of the Archbishop) is only that, a movement, within the larger structure of the Catholic Church, then it stands to reason that the rest of the Catholic Church is composed of the conciliar “church”.  It is therefore no longer that the apple (Catholic Church) and the rot (conciliar “church”) are two different substances (in both senses defined in the beginning); rather, the conciliar “church” (rot) forms an essential part of the Catholic Church (apple), along with the Traditional movement.  Note here that the analogy has shifted from one thing being substantially different from another thing (in both senses of substance defined in the beginning) to one thing forming an essential part of another thing.  The latter would be akin to stating that the rational soul forms an essential part of man.  Nevertheless, the point I am trying to make is that His Excellency used to clearly distinguish the relationship between the Catholic Church and the conciliar “church” as substantially different (in both senses of substance defined in the beginning).  Now he makes the relationship between the two of one (conciliar “church”) forming an essential part of another (Catholic Church).


His Excellency basically repeats what he wrote in Issue #495 during a sermon, at the 34 minutes and 40 seconds mark, given at the first Pontifical Mass of His Excellency Bishop Gerardo Zendejas on May 12, 2017:


“Let us not believe that Tradition has a monopoly on Catholicism.  Catholicism is much much more than the dear movement of Tradition of today….May Our Lady look after all Catholics in whatever part of the Church they are to be found.”


Earlier in the same sermon, at the 24 minutes and 10 seconds mark, His Excellency said:


“When an apple goes rotten, it is still an apple, even if it’s a rotten apple….It’s still the same apple as the one that was rotten.  The Catholic Church has gone conciliar.  It’s still the Church, even though it’s rotten, with conciliarism, with Vatican II.”


Compare the above with what His Excellency wrote in 2014:


All rot is a transformation of some apple, a corruption…….resulting in something essentially non-Catholic which no Catholic in his right mind would call Catholic or want to associate with, on pain of losing his faith.


The impression is that rot (conciliar “church”) and apple (Catholic Church) in 2014 are substantially different (in both senses of substance defined in the beginning); in 2017, they are accidentally different (or as mentioned earlier, that the conciliar “church” forms part of the essence of the Catholic Church).


Finally, in his Eleison Comments Issue #523 (July 22, 2017) titled “Menzingen’s Mistake III”, His Excellency writes:


“But, one replies, in real life, as the rot of an apple is and is not apple, so the Conciliar Church is and is not the Church. In real life, the Society is not dealing only with the Catholic Church or a Catholic Pope, but directly with Conciliar rot.”


Even though His Excellency doesn’t go into more detail in this issue on how the rot (conciliar “church”) of an apple (Catholic Church) is and is not apple, we can prudently state, based on what he wrote and said earlier in the same year, that the difference between the conciliar “church” and Catholic Church is not substantial (in both senses of substance defined in the beginning).  Furthermore, it would not make sense to state that “the rot of an apple is apple” if the difference was intended by His Excellency to be qualified as substantial (in both senses of substance defined in the beginning).


To conclude, I have shown the conciliarization of Bishop Williamson’s thinking regarding the Catholic Church.  As such, His Excellency has deviated from the Archbishop’s position on a major point in the fight for Catholic Tradition.

Necessary Precisions to Those Who Resist the Conciliar Fury and Its Mistakes – Fr. Hugo Ruiz Vallejo

You may download here a document written recently by Fr. Hugo Ruiz Vallejo, faithful son of Archbishop Lefebvre, in which he makes it clear that we must not attend Novus Ordo, Indult, Sedevacantist, or Neo-SSPX Masses.  Furthermore, no canonical agreement with Rome can be had until Rome converts back to the Catholic Faith.


Oh, how I wish that the three “Resistance” bishops, and the new one to come, would be so clear in their teachings regarding Mass attendance.  One of these bishops, consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre’s own hands, even teaches that one may attend any of the above Masses if one feels attendance will bear fruit.  What a shame!

Bishop Williamson – A De Facto Leader of Tradecumenism

His Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson made the following statement in Issue 505 (March 18, 2017 – Catholic Life?) of his Eleison Comments:


“… my opinion, be content to attend the least contaminated Tridentine Mass that there is anywhere near you,…..”


Since His Excellency does not qualify this statement, we may interpret it as meaning that one may go to a Tridentine Mass celebrated by priests of the neo-SSPX, Ecclesia Dei religious communities, diocese, or those priests who hold the Sedevacantist position.  Is this an unfair interpretation?  No.  Most in the world of Catholic Tradition know by now that His Excellency has conceded that one may even actively attend the Novus Ordo Mass under certain circumstances.  Once one takes this position, he does not have a leg to stand on if he rejects attendance at a Tridentine Mass.


My friends, was this the spirit of the saintly Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre?  Did he advise us to go to “the least contaminated Tridentine Mass”?  Let us read the words of the Archbishop himself:


“And we must not waver for one moment either in not being with those who are in the process of betraying us. Some people are always admiring the grass in the neighbor’s field. Instead of looking to their friends, to the Church’s defenders, to those fighting on the battlefield, they look to our enemies on the other side. ‘After all, we must be charitable, we must be kind, we must not be divisive, after all, they are celebrating the Tridentine Mass, they are not as bad as everyone says’  – but THEY ARE BETRAYING US  – betraying us! They are shaking hands with the Church’s destroyers. They are shaking hands with people holding modernist and liberal ideas condemned by the Church. So they are doing the devil’s work.


“Thus those who were with us and were working with us for the rights of Our Lord, for the salvation of souls, are now saying, ‘So long as they grant us the old Mass, we can shake hands with Rome, no problem.’ But we are seeing how it works out. They are in an impossible situation. Impossible. One cannot both shake hands with modernists and keep following Tradition. Not possible. Not possible. Now, stay in touch with them to bring them back, to convert them to Tradition, yes, if you like, that’s the right kind of ecumenism! But give the impression that after all one almost regrets any break, that one likes talking to them? No way! These are people who call us corpse-like Traditionalists, they are saying that we are as rigid as corpses, ours is not a living Tradition, we are glum-faced, ours is a glum Tradition! Unbelievable! Unimaginable! What kind of relations can you have with people like that?


“This is what causes us a problem with certain layfolk, who are very nice, very good people, all for the Society, who accepted the Consecrations, but who have a kind of deep-down regret that they are no longer with the people they used to be with, people who did not accept the Consecrations and who are now against us. ‘It’s a pity we are divided’, they say, ‘why not meet up with them? Let’s go and have a drink together, reach out a hand to them’  – that’s a betrayal! Those saying this give the impression that at the drop of a hat they would cross over and join those who left us. They must make up their minds.”

(Two Years after the Consecrations)


Let us read the position of the Society of St. Pius X founded by Archbishop Lefebvre regarding attendance at Masses of the Ecclesia Dei communities:


“They are therefore Conciliar Catholics and not traditional Catholics.


“This being so, attending their Mass is:


“accepting the compromise on which they are based,


“accepting the direction taken by the Conciliar Church and the consequent destruction of the Catholic Faith and practices, and


“accepting, in particular, the lawfulness and doctrinal soundness of the Novus Ordo Missae and Vatican II.


“That is why a Catholic ought not to attend their Masses.”

(SSPX FAQS, Question #13)


Bishop Williamson’s position on this matter is clearly not in line with that of his spiritual father.  Rather, with this position, and with many in the “Trad” world flocking to him, defending him, and/or being silent on the matter, Bishop Williamson seems to have become a de facto leader of tradecumenism.  A true follower of the Archbishop will want no part in it.


On this Feast of the Annunciation, the 26th Anniversary of the death of Archbishop Lefebvre, let us pray that Bishop Williamson returns to the position of his spiritual father in all essential matters.

5th Anniversary of Infamous Sermon of His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay

Today is the fifth anniversary of that infamous sermon given by His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota.  The following is the quote that really caught my ear back then:


“We told them very clearly, if you accept us as is, without change, without obliging us to accept these things, then we are ready.”


By these words Bishop Fellay publicly opposed the old SSPX adage of “no canonical agreement prior to a doctrinal resolution”.  In other words, he publicly adopted a position in opposition to that of the SSPX founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who from the 1988 Consecrations onward clearly and firmly held the position that Rome must accept the pre-conciliar Magisterial teachings prior to the resumption of discussions regarding a canonical regularization.  It is true that there were almost two years of doctrinal discussions between Rome and the SSPX prior to this sermon, but the conclusion reached was that each party could not convince the other of its position.


My friends, does this make any sense?  The SSPX starts the doctrinal discussions with Rome in 2009 with the position that the doctrinal differences between the two parties must be resolved prior to any canonical regularization.  Then almost two years of discussions are held after which both parties cannot come to an agreement on the doctrinal discrepancies.  Nonetheless, soon after Bishop Fellay is willing to accept a canonical regularization so long as Rome accepts the SSPX “as is”.  Huh?


You may also listen to the Feb. 2, 2012 sermon here.  Start at the 39:50 mark if you want to hear Bishop Fellay’s statement quoted above.

Archbishop Lefebvre Forum: A Misnomer

In this post, I challenged the owner of CathInfo to debate my paper in which I tore apart Mr. Sean Johnson’s paper regarding the subject of active attendance at the Novus Ordo Mass.  I am not surprised that the owner turned down my challenge.  You may read his lame response here.  Perhaps the owner should refrain in the future from making ad hominem attacks and concentrate instead on making constructive counterarguments.  Nevertheless, the reality is that CathInfo has deviated from the line of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre because of the owner’s defence of Bishop Williamson’s advice to the lady in Mahopac, NY regarding active attendance at the Novus Ordo Mass.  Hence, CathInfo is a pseudo Archbishop Lefebvre forum.


There is another forum which claims itself faithful to Archbishop Lefebvre, so much so that it is called “Archbishop Lefebvre Forum“.  This forum houses Mr. Sean Johnson (forum name is Br. Athanasius T.O.P.) as a moderator.  You can guess, then, which side this forum takes on the debate regarding Bishop Williamson’s advice to the lady in Mahopac, NY.  However, Br. Athanasius T.O.P. and the forum owner (forum name is Samuel), to their credit, have allowed me some leeway in debating issues of contention.  They have allowed my paper to be published and have even put forth points of criticism, although these points are weak (listen to Episode 3 of Ecclesia Militans Radio where I spoke about a couple of these weak points).  In addition, unlike the owner of CathInfo, they have allowed Episode 3 of Ecclesia Militans Radio to be and remain published.  It is in response to this post made by Samuel regarding Episode 3 that I would like to make a few comments.


Samuel states, “A bit disappointing that no new arguments were presented in this rather long monologue, just the same old assumptions and prepackaged conclusions.”  But Samuel I don’t need new arguments because neither you nor Br. Athanasius have been able to successfully counter-argue the main thesis in my paper that Bishop Williamson’s advice to the lady in Mahopac, NY runs contrary to the position of Archbishop Lefebvre.  The counterpoints you brought up, especially the one regarding advising someone to steal a smaller amount, are at best poor reasoning.  They show the mental somersaults you perform in order to try to defend the indefensible.


Samuel states, “Unless someone can come up with some clear Church doctrine that proves what Tony is trying to present as a fact, I see no other option than to wait until the Church one day settles the matter for us.”  So let me get this straight, Samuel.  Until the Church finally pronounces on the goodness or badness of active attendance at the Novus Ordo Mass, its goodness or badness will remain open for debate. Is that what you are saying?  I think that it is precisely what you are saying.  Let us take a look at this post, which you wrote on October 6, 2016 (see here for the link to the full page).  You stated, “Likewise with the NOM, we can recognize and treat it as sacrilegious, but we cannot elevate this opinion (emphasis mine) to the level of a dogma.”  So to you, Samuel, the goodness or badness of active attendance at the Novus Ordo Mass is a matter of opinion.  Is this the level of certitude that the Archbishop held on this matter?  No!  First of all, I want to make clear that it is true that the Archbishop did not raise his position regarding active attendance at the Novus Ordo Mass to the level of dogma.  He knew he could not do that; I know I cannot do that.  However, one does not have to hold a position as dogmatic prior to promoting that position without fear of the opposite being true.  There are other degrees of certitude such as physical and moral certitude.  It is with a moral certitude that the Archbishop held (as do I) that active attendance at the Novus Ordo Mass is bad in itself (i.e., intrinsically evil).  Otherwise, he would not have had his seminarians sign a Declaration of Fidelity to the Positions of the SSPX in which they promised to never celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass and never advise anyone in a positive manner to take an active part in it.  Declarations are not written and signed as opinion pieces.  But to you, Samuel, that active attendance at the Novus Ordo Mass is bad in itself is merely an opinion.  You will wait instead until the Church makes a definitive pronouncement.  How then does your position (i.e., that active attendance at the Novus Ordo Mass is not bad in itself – taken from the fact that you support Bishop Williamson’s position) differ substantially from those who actively attend the Novus Ordo Mass themselves?


My friends, Samuel’s line of thinking is the type that results from straying from the clear line of Archbishop Lefebvre in defending the hazy line of Bishop Williamson.  As with CathInfo, Samuel’s forum is a pseudo Archbishop Lefebvre forum.  One cannot claim to be faithful to the Archbishop and deviate from his position on such a core issue as active attendance at the Novus Ordo Mass.


Samuel, the true followers of the Archbishop would most appreciate if you would change your forum’s name to “Bishop Williamson Forum”.  Please and thank you!