Fiammetta Venner, a specialist in French political fundamentalism and author with Caroline Fourest of “New Soldiers of the Pope”, attended on 21 January, the issuance of the Swedish television during which Richard Williamson held about Holocaust deniers. Accuses the Vatican of seeking to destabilize and Benedict XVI.
The Vatican accused you of having mounted with Swedish television a "conspiracy" against Benedict XVI, through the broadcast of Richard Williamson about three days before his return to the Catholic Church. Can you tell how this interview was held with Williamson and what was your role?
Fiammetta Venner: I read that in the Italian press. I thought it was a joke but the Vatican communique to the world at large, seriously accused us, Caroline Fourest and myself of being behind a "conspiracy against the Pope." The supposed conspiracy was proved by the fact that we are opposed to "clericalism" – which seems to be present in integrist circles - and that we could be close to the Grand Orient de France.
The truth is slightly less romantic, unfortunately ... As writers, we have written a book on the “New Soldiers of the Pope that specifically talks about the integrist current that the Pope wants to reconcile. A Swedish team was preparing a documentary about the arrival in Sweden of the Fraternity Saint Pius X and interviewed me. She asked me my opinion on some representive figures in the Lefebvre movement. I have confirmed that Bishop Williamson held views that deny the holocaust. They interviewed him and he explained that the gas chambers did not exist, facing the camera.
Do you know if the release date of the interview was set specifically to interfere with the announcement of the reinstatement of traditionalist bishops?
Fiammetta Venner: The interview was filmed in November 2008 but the film was scheduled for weeks to be broadcast on January 21. Bad luck for the Vatican, which had decided to announce the reinstatement of Willamson on the same day. This is, of course, a chance. Neither I nor the Swedish television knew in advance the agenda of the Vatican. But more importantly, it does not alter the case. If observers and journalists have no trouble of knowing about belief negationist Williamson, how the Pope can claim have only just discovered them?
The Pope asked Williamson on Wednesday to withdraw his remarks. This will apparently be sufficient?
Fiammetta Venner: That is for Catholics to say. What I can say, as an analyst, is that the reinstatement of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1998 raises problems which go far beyond what Bishop Williamson. Most Catholic traditionalists feel a certain nostalgia for the time when we prayed for the conversion of the soul of the Jewish deicides [the prayer for the Jews, as amended in the wake of Vatican Council II]. The act of restoring the spirit of that prayer, even in other ways, is a huge concession to the fundamentalist wing. The question is whether the "unity of the Church" will be at the expense of those who remain committed to Vatican II,and to ecumenism.