St. Edith Stein to Pius XI…and B16?

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In light of the Holy See’s unilateral lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, without any censure for his denial of the horrors of the gas chambers… some might benefit from remembering the words of Edith Stein.

As a child of the Jewish people who, by the grace of God, for the past eleven years has also been a child of the Catholic Church, I dare to speak to the Father of Christianity about that which oppresses millions of Germans. For weeks we have seen deeds perpetrated in Germany which mock any sense of justice and humanity, not to mention love of neighbor. For years the leaders of National Socialism have been preaching hatred of the Jews. But the responsibility must fall, after all, on those who brought them to this point and it also falls on those who keep silent in the face of such happenings.

Everything that happened and continues to happen on a daily basis originates with a government that calls itself “Christian.” For weeks not only Jews but also thousands of faithful Catholics in Germany, and, I believe, all over the world, have been waiting and hoping for the Church of Christ to raise its voice to put a stop to this abuse of Christ’s name.”

Edith Stein, Letter to Pope Pius XI.


  1. Let me first say that I’m not defending what Bishop Williamson said. He denied something that actually happened, and with all due respect to his position, I respectfully state that he’s a nutter. However, it’s not a heresy to deny the Holocaust. It doesn’t prevent him from “coming back to the Church” because you can’t be excommunicated for saying such a thing in the first place. The Holocaust is an atrocious event in history, not a dogmatic or doctrinal teaching of the Church. It doesn’t prevent his re-admittance to full communion with Rome….which by the way hasn’t happened yet.

    The excommunications were just lifted. Now the real work begins to bring the SSPX and ALL the Bishops in union with Rome. They still need to be regulated. What this whole Bishop Williamson situation does cause is scandal. I also think too many people want this to fail so they’re focusing on Williamson and not the benefit this will have on the Church and the faithful involved with the SSPX.

  2. You make a good point Elizabeth. I just don’t trust the SSPX. They still consider the Church to be in error. Consider this reply from them to the lifting of the excommunication:

    Response From Leader of Society of St. Pius X

    The excommunication of the bishops consecrated by His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, on June 30, 1988, which had been declared by the Congregation for Bishops in a decree dated July 1, 1988, and which we had always contested, has been withdrawn by another decree mandated by Benedict XVI and issued by the same Congregation on January 21, 2009.

    We express our filial gratitude to the Holy Father for this gesture which, beyond the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, will benefit the whole Church. Our Society wishes to be always more able to help the pope to remedy the unprecedented crisis which presently shakes the Catholic world, and which Pope John Paul II had designated as a state of “silent apostasy.”

    Besides our gratitude towards the Holy Father and towards all those who helped him to make this courageous act, we are pleased that the decree of January 21 considers as necessary “talks” with the Holy See, talks which will enable the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X to explain the fundamental doctrinal reasons which it believes to be at the origin of the present difficulties of the Church.

    In this new atmosphere, we have the firm hope to obtain soon the recognition of the rights of Catholic Tradition.

    Menzingen, January 24, 2009

    Bernard Fellay

  3. That’s what the talks are for…”talks which will enable the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X to explain the fundamental doctrinal reasons which it believes to be at the origin of the present difficulties of the Church.” And since they are doctrinal issues I will leave those matters up to Rome to decide whether the SSPX need to change those views or not. I truly believe that Bishop Fellay wants to put things right for the SSPX and the people who are attached to them.

    An excommunication can easily be given in place for something else that is at the heart of a matter. That remains to be seen. As for the ’88 consecrations, however, that’s dealt with…so let’s pray for the complete union of our separated Brothers and Sisters with the Vicar of Christ.

  4. I imagine the negotiations will progress fairly swiftly. After all there have been a sizeable proportion of Catholics since Vatican II who have found it hard to embrace the spirit of the Council and some cannot even accept the letter. Sadly, there seem to be an increasing number of younger Catholics who have been influenced by this critique.

    I guess its not surprising as a rigid and fixed view is one psychological defence response to the uncertainty of the modern world. You find the same mechanism at work in fundamentalist Hinduism and Islam as well as ‘fundamentalist’ Catholicism.

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