The Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) is an ultra-Catholic priestly fraternity founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 in protest against what Lefebvre saw as the liberalism of the Second Vatican Council.1 It is known for rejecting many of the ecclesiastical reforms institutionalized by the Second Vatican Council, and maintaining the Tridentine Mass among its followers. The present superior general of the Society is Father Davide Pagliarani, succeeding Bishop Bernard Fellay.2
Bernard Fellay (born 12 April 1958) is a Swiss bishop and former superior general of the Society of Saint Pius X. In 1988, Pope John Paul II announced that Fellay and three other bishops were excommunicated for being consecrated bishop by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, an act that the Holy See described as "unlawful" and "schismatic."3 Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer, who co-consecrated these four bishops, were also excommunicated. At that time, only 29 years old, Fellay was the youngest bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.
In January 2009, at Fellay's request,4 the Congregation for Bishops, on instructions from Pope Benedict XVI, rescinded the excommunication.5 Among the others whose, excommunications were lifted by Pope Benedict XVI, was Bishop Richard Williamson "a notorious Holocaust denier."6
The SSPX has a mission in Moscow and in St. Petersburg, Russia.7 In November 2017, the SSPX, together with the Fatima Center were organizing a conference in Moscow, celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the Fatima apparition. The event was attended by notorious SSPX bishop Bernard Fellay.7
SSPX splinter groups ("SSPX Resistance")
The "SSPX Resistance" is a loosely organized group of Traditionalist Catholics that grew out of the concern that the dialogue between the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and the Holy See was leading the SSPX to accept the Second Vatican Council as a condition of the Society's recognition by Rome. The SSPX Resistance has continued to celebrate the Tridentine Mass and the pre-Vatican II (but post-Trent) rites, though independent of both the Catholic Church and the SSPX. They see themselves as holding true to the founding principles of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, opposing any drift towards liberalism and modernism perceived as having crept into the SSPX.
Bishop Williamson was the most prominent dissenter, challenging the authority and governance of the society publicly on multiple occasions. Williamson served as the de facto bishop for various groups of the faithful and clergy sympathetic to Williamson and opposed to recent developments within the society.
The British Bishop Richard Williamson (*1940), originally an Anglican, was received into the Catholic Church in 1971.8 Williamson entered the International Seminary of Saint Pius X at Écône, Switzerland, and in 1976 he was ordained a priest by Lefebvre.9 Williamson subsequently moved to the United States, where he served as the rector of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Ridgefield, Connecticut from 1983, and continued in that position when the seminary moved to Winona, Minnesota in 1988.910
On June 30, 1988, Williamson and the three other priests were consecrated bishop by Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer. On July 1, 1988, Cardinal Gantin issued a declaration stating that Lefebvre, de Castro Mayer, Williamson, and the three other newly ordained bishops "have incurred ipso facto the excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See."
In 2009, Williamson was charged in Germany for Holocaust denial, a case in which he was legally represented by Maximilian Krah, a corporate lawyer and today AfD MEP (as of 2019), as well as fellow SSPX adept.6 In 2010, Williamson was condemned to pay a €10,000 fine during a verdict, which was attended by the repeatedly condemned holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck.
In the UK the SSPX had been faced by an extreme splinter group, which wanted to make radical Bishop Williamson as head of the Society.11 After having been sluiced down by Britain's SSPX’s District Superior Father Morgan, this group split off, and went on pursuing its own path, including attacking the established SSPX leadership. According to the magazine Searchlight:11
They have attacked Bishop Fellay, portraying his position as a deceit that allows liberals within SSPX to hoodwink the members. When a purported SSPX member said that this group ‘is full of crazy people ... weirdos, losers and misfits’ with whom he did not wish to be associated, the leader of these extremists simply impugned the member’s motives. The same person also dismissed the accusation that these individuals were "Right Wing" (which in this context means ‘extreme right wing’), as distractions of the devil. This is hardly the response of a rational mind.
Among the British crowd of this SSPX splinter group, Searchlight identified Gregory Taylor, head of the London Oratory School, "the school of choice for the children of Tony Blair, Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman."11 As new premises to hold "the rebels decamped to Earlsfield Library in south London where a Spanish priest brought in by Bishop Williamson performs Mass for Taylor and the activists in the Mission."11 Bases were set up in Glasgow and Kent, which, according to Searchlight were led by Alun Rowland and Michael Rooney, both members of the British National Party.
But, among those who attend [their mass] regularly, one name stands out: Jeremy Bedford-Turner. Also known as Jez, he is the leader of the Iona London Forum, whose guest speaker in February was none other than Bishop Richard Williamson ... The other speakers did nothing to dispel the idea that this was a meeting of the British far right. Preceding Willimson was Nick Spires of the English Nationalist Alliance, and the former BNP parliamentary candidate Matt Tait. And in the audience were a miasma of right-wing extremists and Holocaust deniers, many with connections to the National Front, BNP, Blood and Honour groups, the Historical Review Press, the UK Independence Party and the London Swinton Circle. These are the kind of people associated with the Mission, and who may attend their meetings."11
According to Searchlight, other people who have frequented the Mission are the far-right British activist Derek Holland, Michael Fishwick and Gareth Hurley.
Holland has deep roots in far-right extremism. He stood as a National Front candidate at the 1979 general election. But he is far from being the stereotypical right-wing thug. Holland was a leading light in the NF’s Political Soldier wing, with his influential pamphlet, The Political Soldier: A Statement of 1984, providing the far right in Britain with a religious and spiritual ideology derived from the Italian philosopher Julius Evola. Holland’s role in the far right has received serious attention from academics, not least because of his prominence in providing the far right with a coherent ideological basis. Other activities that have gained Holland some notoriety include a fundraising visit with Nick Griffin to Colonel Gaddafi, and, in 2001, the founding of IHS Press, a publisher that has been accused of fascist and antisemitic ties.
Michael Fishwick has a similarly long association with the far right. He too is a former NF member and activist, and a Political Soldier alongside Holland and Griffin. Fishwick may have fooled some people in SSPX about his intentions, but our source reveals that quite a few suspect he is using Catholicism as a mask for his political objectives and have distanced themselves from him. If so, they can rest assured that their suspicions are well founded, because in the 1990s Fishwick tried to infiltrate the Animal Rights Movement ... Fishwick might not be the public mouthpiece of these extremists, but he certainly pulls the strings. His modus operandi clearly is to infiltrate an organisation ...
[Gareth] Hurley was the last official speaker at the 2003 neo-Nazi "Salem Rally" in Sweden, where the main theme was a declaration of war against “Jewish society”. He is also the editor of Final Conflict and prominent in the dissemination of extreme-right material.11
- 1. Jerome Taylor, "Bishop on the run: Holocaust denier back in Britain," The Independent, February 26, 2009, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/bishop-on-the-run-holocaust-denier-back-in-britain-1632397.html.
- 2. "New Superior of the SSPX - Father Davide Pagliarini," Gloria TV, July 11, 2018, https://gloria.tv/article/9bq9FBq6x8uL6NNc76641ve68.
- 3. "Apostolic Letter 'Ecclesia Dei,'" John Paul II, Vatican, http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_02071988_ecclesia-dei.html.
- 4. "Bishop Fellay: Summary of Recent Events, SSPX & Rome," Youtube Video, January 3, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz9RduZzw1Q.
- 5. "Decree remitting the excommunication latae sententiae of the Bishops of the Society of St Pius X," Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Vatican, January 21, 2009, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cbishops/documents/rc_con_cbishops_doc_20090121_remissione-scomunica_en.html.
- 6. a. b. Sebastian Fischer, Julia Jüttner and Philipp Wittrock, "Pope on the Defensive: The Intractable Brothers from SSPX," Der Spiegel, February 6, 2009, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/pope-on-the-defensive-the-intractable-brothers-from-sspx-a-605945.html.
- 7. a. b. "Fatima Conference in Moscow," Militia Immaculatae, November 10, 2017, https://militia-immaculatae.info/en/fatima-conference-in-moscow/.
- 8. Peter Walker, "Profile: Richard Williamson," The Guardian, February 25, 2009, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/feb/25/catholic-bishop-richard-williamson.
- 9. a. b. Anna Arco, "Lefebvrists face crisis as bishop is exposed as ‘dangerous’ anti-Semite," The Catholic Herald, March 5, 2008, https://web.archive.org/web/20080625234331/http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/articles/a0000226.shtml.
- 10. "Holocaust-denying bishop lived in Minn. for 15 years," mprnews, February 9, 2009, https://www.mprnews.org/story/2009/02/08/bishop.
- 11. a. b. c. d. e. f. Mark Pitchford, "Neo-Nazis, the Catholic Church and council property," Searchlight, October 5, 2013, http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/archive/neo-nazis-the-catholic-church-and-council-property.