Today the leader of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, apologized to Pope Benedict XVI for comments made by Bishop Richard Williamson in which he denied the Holocaust during an interview on Swedish television last week.
According to Reuters, Bishop Williamson’s remarks sparked widespread criticism by Jewish communities, especially since they came on the eve of his reconciliation with the Catholic Church. On Saturday, the Holy Father lifted the excommunication of Bishops Williamson, Fellay and two other prelates from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) who were ordained by Marcel Lefebvre in 1988.
Bishop Fellay’s statement explains that last week, Bishop Williamson expressed his opinions “on questions of history, especially to the murder of Jews by the Nazis.” Bishop Fellay notes in his letter that a bishop’s authority pertains only to questions of Faith and Morals, not over “historic or other secular questions.”
The prelate then addresses the mission of SSPX as “the distribution and restoration of authentic Catholic teaching and how it is laid down in dogmas,” before expressing his apologies to Pope Benedict.
“We are deeply pained to see how much damage the violation of this mandate has done to our mission. … We ask forgiveness of the Sovereign Pontiff and of all people of good will for the dramatic consequences of such an act.”
Bishop Fellay also describes how he is placing restrictions on Bishop Williamson by prohibiting him from “speaking in public on political or historic questions.” He also adds that “these remarks in no manner represent the views of our fraternity.”