Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of Saint Pius X, has told SPIEGEL that his organization has "clearly distanced itself" from Bishop Richard Williamson. Nevertheless, he says the bishop's apology for his Holocaust denial is a step in the right direction.
Swiss Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX).SPIEGEL: Bishop, weeks ago you gave your colleague Richard Williamson a book so that he can read up on the Holocaust. Last week he published an apology which falls short of the Vatican's demand that he retract his Holocaust denial. Does Williamson's statement suffice in your opinion?
Fellay: It is definitely a first plea for forgiveness and, therefore, an important step in the right direction. One can always hope for better phrasing. At least the plea for forgiveness is honest, and the withdrawal of his words is genuine.
SPIEGEL: That hope seems unfounded. After his arrival in London, Williamson surrounded himself with people who have openly denied the Holocaust, such as the historian David Irving. Do you know why?
Fellay: I have the impression that Bishop Williamson is being used by these people. Information was deliberately fed to the media here. We're working against that as well as we can. I am totally against these connections.
SPIEGEL: But your influence on Williamson seems to be weak.
Fellay: We are in contact, he is in a priory of the society in London for the time being. But he is also a free human being. Sure, he has a superior, but he is free in his decisions. But he has to bear the consequences for that.
SPIEGEL: Will he return to his full duties?
Fellay: That is impossible under the current circumstances. He has damaged us and hurt our reputation. We have very clearly distanced ourselves. He was not ordained as a bishop for his own personal purpose but for the common good of the church, to spread the revealed truth.
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