Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bishop Williamson Sees the Light [Or So He Says... And I Have a Bridge in Brooklyn that's for Sale]

Edited 3:09 p.m.

A few days ago in an interview with NPR, I said that I was sure Williamson would soon announce that he had "seen the light" and turned away from his Holocaust denial. And, as predicted, it has come to pass.

I am not sure if his SSPX colleagues had read him the riot act or threatened to throw him in the nearest river but it seems that that is precisely what has happened.

I give it as much gravitas as I do his claim the Holocaust is a myth.

[Added: In other words, lest there be any doubt: I do not take anything he says seriously. Were he do wish me a good morning, I would look out the window first to see if the sun were indeed up.]

Remember that one of the first people he contacted upon his return from Argentina was David Irving and his sidekick so-called Lady Renouf.

Here is the full text of his statement.

The Holy Father and my Superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, have requested that I reconsider the remarks I made on Swedish television four months ago, because their consequences have been so heavy.

Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them.

On Swedish television I gave only the opinion (..."I believe"..."I believe"...) of a non-historian, an opinion formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available and rarely expressed in public since. However, the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St. Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused. To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said before God I apologise.

As the Holy Father has said, every act of injust violence against one man hurts all mankind.

+Richard Williamson
London, 26 February 2009.


Rebecca said...

I think you're being too kind to call this "seeing the light." I think that this mainly falls into the category of the "non-apology apology" - "I'm sorry if I what I said hurt your feelings." He's worried about the consequences of his words, not with whether he spoke the truth or not.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Of course you are right. Note that "seen the light" is in quotation marks. Of course it is a non-apology apology.

If he had really seen the light would he be cavorting with Irving and Renouf... doubtful

StGuyFawkes said...

Bp. Williamson said, "To all souls who took honest scandal from what I said before God I apologize."

"Scandal" has a serious technical meaning in canon law. The text suggests the real possibility that he was put on notice of a fresh excommunication for acting in a sinful way that could lead other Catholics astray.

By the way, has anyone considered the possibility that the man is simply in need of medication? His excellancy is starting to remind me of Britney Spears during her head shaving period.

Guy said...

I came to the same conclusion Rebecca did. Dr. Lipstadt, would it be possible to edit the post to make it more explicit that you do not view this as an adequate apology? I read your words as though you were sincere. I fear other less forgiving individuals would come to a similar conclusion.

J. Christopher Pryor said...

This is hilarious. No one can be mistaken on the title now, I hope.

Guy said...

Thanks Dr. Lipstadt. An 1,000% improvement! :)


Williamson MUST beleive:

1. In the historical uniqueness of the Nazi Holocaust.

2. That the Holocaust marks the climax of an irrational Gentile hatred of the Jews.

After that, he MUST fully cooperate with the "Holocaust Industry" (Finkelstein, dixit) and support the millitary actions taken by Israel in Gaza.


Albrecht said...

There is a certain remarkable circumstance about this non-apology apology. According to a report in the German daily Die Welt, it has not been published by Williamson himself neither by the FSSPX - instead it has been brought to the world by the Papal commission Ecclesia Dei, the same body led by Cardinal Hoyos which steered the reversal of the excommunications of the four SSPX "bishops".

I gather they would really like to believe the world that Williamson has recanted.

Rebecca said...


He's being required to adhere the established canons of historical research and acknowledge a fact - that the Holocaust occurred.

In addition, he's being required to assent to the Second Vatican Council, including the declarations in favor of religious freedom and rejection of anti-semitism.

Your reference to the "Holocaust Industry" is contemptible and your reference to Gaza is completely irrelevant. You should take your anti-semitism somewhere else.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Every once in a while I post an unambiguously antisemtic comment or email just to remind people what is out there... such it is with Macnealon's.

You should only see the comments by him that i reject....


"...required to adhere the established canons of historical research and acknowledge a fact - that the Holocaust occurred."

I adhere to the the established canons about the fact that holocaust ocurred and do not agree with Irving and others "revisionists". But, with Karl Popper (a nazi?) I also think that historical knowledge grows by conjectures and refutations. There is no "facta dogmatica"... in human sciences.


David said...

"There is no "facta dogmatica"... in human sciences."

But there is such a thing as the inescapable preponderance of evidence, an avalanche so crushing that to go against it one must either be willfully ignorant of it or reject it duplicitously. No one can simultaneously assert that the 16th President of the United States was named Shirley Temple *and* expect to taken seriously as a scholar. Similarly, no historian seeking to be taken seriously can claim -- as Irving is now recommending Williamson claim -- that the existence of mass genocide is somehow only really established as true for the Action Reinhard camps but suspect everywhere else (Auschwitz included) without declaring himself a duplicitous fool. The evidence is crushing in its preponderance -- just as the evidence of the antisemitic origins and aims of the Holocaust denial movement is crushing.

And I should also add, nobody can cite Stürmin' Nürman Finkelstein as if he were a serious scholar without looking at least a little foolish. It would be like calling Yogi Berra an expert on Shakespeare.


I´ve put a previous message with a link to Prof. Finkelstein´s webpage and the title of his book THE HOLOCAUST INDUSTRY. Norman Finkelstein is a Jewish.

If the post was censored -the owner of the blog is entitled to do it- I think she has a wrong conception of freedom of speach or is afraid to debate ideas with someone like Finkelstein.

I respect Dr. Lipstadt because of the legal batle she won against Irving. But I don´t share other views.



Guy said...


At the risk of putting words into Dr. Lipstadt's mouth, my guess is that both of your alternatives in your false dichotomy are incorrect. Dr. Lipstadt's on record as affirming the freedom of speech even to Holocaust deniers. Furthermore, she is famous for "debating ideas" with David Irving, a man who is a greater opponent than a random Internet troll such as yourself. My guess is that she is less "afraid" of debating you as she is uninterested in debating you and unimpressed with your arguments.

Rebecca said...

As I understand it, Professor Lipstadt is completely uninterested in debating Holocaust deniers. She did not debate David Irving - he sued her, and lost the suit.

And also, historical knowledge grows through research in primary sources and by putting this research into a framework of understanding. I don't see "conjectures" as playing a part at all. Raul Hilberg and Saul Friedlander have done research on the sources that tell us about the events that are now called the Holocaust - David Irving, on the other hand, has engaged in outright lies and flagrant misuse of sources. If Bishop Williamson is interested in really learning about what happened, he should read Hilberg or Friedlander, instead of making phone calls to David Irving.


I would like to say some words:

(1) I said before, and I repeat, that I adhere to the established canons of historical research about the holocaust. What Williamson said is revisionist nonsense, in which many people beleive.

(2) Much has been written on the epistemological question of objectivity in history. Objectivity in history is posible; but hard, sometimes elusive; and it is allways opened to refutations (Popper).

(3) The existente of the holocaust is a historical fact. That means, it is not: (a) a religious dogma for a catholic; (b) a self-evident philosophical principle; (c) a result of a simple mathemathical operation; (d) a direct and present sensible experience, for every human been.

(4) Do you want to persuade people about the historical fact of the holocaust? I think that the first step is to remeber what I said in number 3. The second, is to avoid “name calling”, and other “ad hominem” arguments. I think, that a respectfull, “socratic”, and pacient dialogue, is the only way to persuade people that beleive in “revisionists” like Irving, that they might be wrong.

(5) There are multiple uses of historical facts. And the holocaust is used to defend diverse political positions. I agree with Norman Finkelstein´s book “The Holocaust Industry”.

(6) The persistent political use of the holocaust is, in my opinion, a context that maybe explains the overreaction in the Williamson´s case. This overreaction is usefull to hide, someway, the terrible facts that took place in Gaza.

I apologize if I offended someone. English is not my native language and I don´t use it very often.

With respect,



PS: two important distinctions:

- "Geschichte" is not "Historie"; we usually know the second by the first;
- there are micro-social facts and macro-social facts (usually, not very easy to establish).

Please, more Popper and less Comte.