Radio Interview with Bp. Sanborn

Williamson Watch:
More Commentary on the “New Mass” Fiasco

Bp. Richard Williamson

Once more we return to the controversy surrounding Bishop Richard Williamson for remarks he made on June 28 of this year about the licitness of attending the “New Mass” of Paul VI (aka Novus Ordo Missae) in certain exceptional circumstances. Because of the seriousness of the question and the standing Bp. Williamson enjoys among people who consider themselves uncompromising, militant traditional Catholics, more commentary on the matter is fitting.

Formerly with the Society of St. Pius X (until his dismissal in 2012) and now a “wandering” cleric, Bp. Williamson is a key figure in “resistance” traditionalism. He is viewed by some as the “last great hope” and “true ideological successor to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre”, whereas the other three SSPX bishops — Bernard Fellay, Alfonso de Galaretta, and Bernard Tissier de Mallerais — have, according to such perception, “betrayed” the work of the Archbishop. It is all the more remarkable, therefore, for such an individual to come out and tell his adherents all of the following — and then some:

  • You can go to the New Mass under certain circumstances
  • The New Mass is a key part of the New Religion and the worldwide apostasy
  • Stay away from the New Mass!
  • The New Mass is wrong as a whole
  • If it nourishes your Faith, you can go (this “seems” to be the “absolute rule of rules”)
  • You cannot cause scandal by going to the New Mass
  • Archbishop Lefebvre said the New Mass is a danger to the Faith
  • There are Eucharistic miracles in the New Mass
  • The New Religion, of which the New Mass is a key part, is dangerous and strangles grace
  • The New Mass can build your Faith
  • The New Mass does harm in itself
  • Decide for yourself
  • Ask a priest you trust and heed his advice — maybe
  • The rite of the New Mass was designed to get you away from the Catholic Faith
  • If you can trust your own judgment, use your own judgment
  • All of this is just his opinion and “almost heresy”
  • Maybe none of this should be said in public

Are you dizzy yet? If Williamson is trying to dispel confusion, he’s definitely not helping. His answer includes everything from “Yes” to “No” to “Maybe” and “Don’t ask me.” You can view the video of the bishop’s talk, as well as our own commentary, here:

In late July, Bp. Donald Sanborn, rector of and professor at the sedevacantist Most Holy Trinity Seminary in Brooksville, Florida, contributed to the discussion with a blog post that clearly and systematically refutes the errors of Bp. Williamson on this very topic:

Stephen Heiner of Restoration Radio has now sat down with Bp. Sanborn to discuss further the theological position taken by Bp. Williamson on the “New Mass” and also the Modernist Vatican II religion as a whole, which is at the origin of all this confusion.

You can download or stream online this informative radio program free of charge here:


Restoration Radio: “Williamson Watch”
(Bp. Donald Sanborn / Aug. 4, 2015)

This show is not simply a rehashing of the blog post Bp. Sanborn published in July, it also includes more discussion about the person of Bp. Williamson himself and his alarming subjectivist and Protestantized theology. Bp. Sanborn is eminently qualified not only to speak on traditional Catholic theology but also on the person of Bp. Williamson, whom he knows well from his time in the SSPX (both he and Williamson were ordained priests by Abp. Lefebvre in 1975 and 1976, respectively).

One of the arguments Bp. Williamson brings up to justify his position on the Novus Ordo Missae is that of alleged “Eucharistic miracles” in the Modernist “Mass”. Bp. Sanborn explains well why these are false miracles, but there is another point we would like to bring up in connection with this: How does Williamson claim to know that these reported miracles are genuine and not fake? Is he relying on the Vatican II Church to tell him this — the same church whose canonizations he doubts, whose teachings he rejects, whose laws he denounces, whose marriage annulments he sneers at? The same church which has introduced a new, apostate religion whose job it is to undermine and destroy Catholicism? Seriously — is this the basis on which he accepts alleged miracles as genuine? Or is it simply his own, fallible discernment, his mere “opinion”, so to speak?

In either case, the former SSPX bishop is demonstating not only his poor grasp of Catholic theology (whether a Mass is valid or Catholic is never determined by a posteriori empirical observation or subjective conviction but always by a priori Catholic theological principles, which are objective), he is also opening himself up to being deceived precisely by false miracles — against which Our Blessed Lord issued dire warnings: “For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.” (Mt 24:24).

Other Scripture passages, too, are very applicable here:

“Who answering said to them: An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.”

(Mt 12:39)

”And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.”

(2 Thess 2:8-11)

False miracles are nothing new in salvation history — Pharaoh’s wizards worked them against Moses and Aaron, albeit to no avail: “And Pharao called the wise men and the magicians: and they also by Egyptian enchantments and certain secrets did in like manner. And they every one cast down their rods, and they were turned into serpents: but Aaron’ s rod devoured their rods” (Ex 7:11-12). How much more deceptive must things be with the Antichrist, who will deceive even the elect, if it were possible!

The key point to remember is — and this Bp. Sanborn points out forcefully — that Almighty God works miracles only in confirmation of the truth, not of falsehood. But a Eucharistic miracle in the “New Mass”, if it were genuine, would give credence to the Modernist religion, to a “bastard rite” (Abp. Lefebvre’s words), to “a key part of the new religion” that “does harm in itself” (Williamson). Impossible! 

It is quite frightening to see how much Williamson’s theology resembles that of Vatican II and the Neo-Modernists. For example, he effectively takes a line of “reject[ing] nothing that is true and holy in [false] religions” (Vatican II, Declaration Nostra Aetate, n. 2) and tries to find “elements” of goodness and truth in the Novus Ordo worship service that can “impel” towards Catholicism (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 8) inasmuch as they “nourish your faith.” This is straight out of the Modernist playbook! The SSPX and resistance traditionalism as a whole take this line again and again with regard to their position on the Vatican II Church, which they claim is somehow both the Catholic Church and a false church at the same time, and the “Pope” is the Vicar of Christ and Vicar of Satan at the same time, depending on whether he sides with “Eternal Rome” or “Modernist Rome” at a given moment — as determined, of course, by the SSPX “authorities”.

This is insanity! This is most definitely not supported by traditional Catholic theology (which is why none is ever cited, or only selectively, and appeal is usually made to what Archbishop Lefebvre thought, as though his ideas were somehow the measuring rod of orthodoxy or constituted any sort of authority to which we must submit). But the criterion of being a true Catholic can never be, per se, what this or that bishop thinks, but only complete fidelity and adherence to the Holy See (inasmuch as it is validly occupied, obviously), which is the bulwark of the True Faith and the ultimate guarantor of Faith and morals:

Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

(Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302)

Nor will We permit anything against the sanctity of the oath by which We were bound when, however undeservingly, We ascended the supreme seat of the prince of the apostles, the citadel and bulwark of the Catholic faith.

(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Qui Nuper, n. 3)

Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair [of St. Peter]; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion. Therefore, because of your special faith in the Church and special piety toward the same Chair of Peter, We exhort you to direct your constant efforts so that the faithful people of France may avoid the crafty deceptions and errors of these plotters and develop a more filial affection and obedience to this Apostolic See. Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this Holy See, venerate it, and accept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees.

(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Inter Multiplices, n. 7)

This is Our last lesson to you: receive it, engrave it in your minds, all of you: by God’s commandment salvation is to be found nowhere but in the Church; the strong and effective instrument of salvation is none other than the Roman Pontificate.

(Pope Leo XIII, Allocution for the 25th Anniversary of his Election, Feb. 20, 1903; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 653)

Union with the Roman See of Peter is … always the public criterion of a Catholic …. “You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held.”

(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 13)

What — Bp. Williamson didn’t tell you this? Maybe it’s time to tune out the self-appointed “theologians” and start listening to traditional Catholic teaching.

By the way, it is rather amusing and probably not coincidental that shortly after Williamson’s comments on the New “Mass” in late June caused a ruckus, the Society of St. Pius X published a video clarifying its position on the Modernist worship service, and it is: Don’t go!

The Society of St. Pius X, whether in its “official” edition with Bps. Fellay, de Galaretta, and Tissier, or its “more-SSPX-than-the-SSPX” edition with Bp. Williamson, engenders nothing but confusion and half-baked theology that ultimately centers on one man and what he thought: Archbishop Lefebvre, a man of contradiction and constant vacillation. This is not Catholicism. If there is one man around whom everything must center in the Catholic Church, aside of course from our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, the invisible Head of the Church, it is the Pope, the visible head of the church and Vicar of Christ. But this Abp. Lefebvre was not.

We will say more about the Bp. Williamson fiasco and its fallout in our next TRADCAST podcast, episode 007.

To help everyone sort through all this confusion and the difficult times we live in, we encourage all our readers to review, or perhaps read for the first time, the excellent contributions Cardinal Henry Edward Manning made in 1861 in his lectures on the deceptions of the Antichrist. Based on exhaustive research of the Church Fathers and centuries of approved Catholic theologians, His Eminence put together a well-balanced and theologically sound presentation of what would happen in the future (i.e. after 1861) with regard to the “seduction of iniquity” and the “operation of error” (2 Thess 2:10) that will be unleashed upon the world once “he who now holdeth … [is] taken out of the way” (v. 7). The result is a frighteningly accurate picture of our own times:

Take heart, however, because even though the times we live in be evil and ominous, nevertheless they are such a powerful confirmation of the truth of our Faith, for what God has long revealed would happen towards the end of time, is now gradually being fulfilled. Bp. Sanborn’s excellent lectures on the history of Christendom are highly useful and instructive in this regard, for they explain why all of these things are happening, and must happen, and what is to come.

Our Lord never promised it would be easy, but He did promise that He would assist us with His grace every step of the way: “For my yoke is sweet and my burden light” (Mt 11:30). Yes, God’s grace makes the yoke sweet, and the burden light — but a yoke and a burden we must carry. Our article, “Now What? How to be a Real Catholic Today” is designed to help steer you through these murky waters. No matter where you are in this world, or what your situation is, God will absolutely provide to you personally all the graces you need to obtain salvation — if we only cooperate with them. So pray especially for the grace of final perseverance. St. John Vianney once said that he who does not pray for this grace, will not receive it.

Regarding His Second Coming, Our Lord asked rhetorically: “But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). By the grace of God, let us all do our part so that the answer may be a “Yes” at least with regard to our own selves and those under our care!

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