Bishop Williamson, the Society of St. Pius X, and St. Mary’s Kansas

Written by Leonard Zeskind | 09 February 2009

Bishop Williamson, the Society of St. Pius X, and St. Mary’s Kansas
By Leonard Zeskind

The Zeskind Fortnight No. 11

February 9, 2009

I am looking at a copy of the title page from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious Czarist forgery that has been part of the anti-Semitic stock in trade for more than a century. This particular edition was translated into English by “Victor E. Marsden,” and was published in 1934. And it was “Item: 6012,” its price was listed as $5.00, and it was sold by the “Immaculata Bookstore” in St. Mary’s, Kansas in 1993. The Immaculata Bookstore being part of St. Mary’s Academy & College, which described itself as one of the “Traditional Catholic Schools of the Society of St. Pius X.”

This slip of paper is part of a trove of information given to me by a former devotee of the Society of St. Pius X. He had settled in St. Mary’s to worship and live as a traditional Catholic, but was disgruntled by the pervasive anti-Semitism he found.

One letter, sent to “Friends and Benefactors,” from the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, signed by Richard Williamson—the same Bishop Williamson now so much in the news--dated June 1, 1989, argues that, “there is a great deal of hard evidence that the so-called ‘Holocaust’ (sic), for instance, is largely a myth.”

Another dated November 3, 1991, quotes passages from the infamous Protocols while commenting on the role that “vile media” had in the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas’ appointment to the Supreme Court. In that letter, Williamson asks, “Might not women wearing trousers be contributing to this blurring and confusion of the sexes?” More forcefully he avers: “Truly, ‘I believe in the Holy Ghost and the Communion of Saints’ has been replaced by ‘I believe in the Holo Caust (sic) and the Emancipation of Women.’”

Bishop Williamson is not the only denier found in the Society of St. Pius X. For example, one of the members of the editorial advisory board of the Institute for Historical Review (the Holocaust-is-a-Hoax outfit), Boyd Cathey, received an advanced degree from a university associated with the Society. Cathey was also the North Carolina state chairman for Pat Buchanan’s run the Republican Party primaries in the 1990s.

Bishop Williamson’s deliberate ignorance of historical fact was most recently revealed during an interview with the Swedish media. But he has held those same ideas for at least two decades, and they were well promulgated. The notion that Pope Benedict XVI did not know about this before taking Williamson back into the folds of the official church is simply not believable. In fact, in the late 1980s the pope, then-Cardinal Ratzinger was involved in negotiations over doctrine and organizational matters with Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the Society of St. Pius X, according to an October 1992 edition of Fidelity, a a periodical devoted to traditional Catholicism. One of the sticking points between Ratzinger and Lefebvre at that time was whether or not the Society would accept Vatican Two doctrine, which had paved the way toward better relations between Catholics and Jews.

The Society refused to change. And so, in St. Mary’s Kansas, the Protocols were sold in the academy’s bookstore, and quoted in letters to the faithful. And the presiding Bishop denigrated the emancipation of women and denied historical fact with impunity.

A very obvious schism has developed in Catholic ranks, and debates over their church’s attitudes towards Jews are only one small issue. Many Catholics have been appalled at the recent turn of events. And there are those in the United States who argue that when the Pope demanded that Williamson recant his views of the Holocaust, the Vatican took a step away from the anti-Semites in the Society and made a step toward people who had expressed serious concerns. Maybe so. But in Ratzinger-Benedict’s XVI’s native Germany, Der Spiegel is having none of it. “A German Pope Disgraces the Catholic Church” was the headline of a February 4 article by its staff. In an interview with Salomon Korn, the vice-president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Korn concludes that, “As long as Pope Benedict XVI doesn’t send a clear signal that all Catholics must support the Second Vatican Council, things simply cannot return to normal.”

And it is on that small patch of ink that the truth of the matter resides.


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