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Schismatic traditionalist Bishop Williamson plans to ordain another bishop

February 22, 2016

Bishop Richard Williamson, the traditionalist prelate who was dismissed from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) in 2012, plans to ordain another bishop for his schismatic group.

Bishop Williamson told followers that on March 19, he will ordain Father Thomas Aquinas, the prior of a traditionalist monastery in Brazil, as a bishop. In 2015, on the same date, he presided at the episcopal ordination of Father Jean-Michel Faure, also in Brazil. Bishop Williamson said that new bishops are needed to sustain “the resistance.”

Bishop Williamson was one of the four bishops ordained for the SSPX by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 in defiance of orders from the Holy See. That illicit ordination led to the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishops that he had ordained. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI lifted those excommunications, in a bid to repair the split between the SSPX and the Holy See.

Under Church law the new ordinations will be regarded as valid but illicit. Canon law stipulates that anyone involved in the ordination of a bishop without approval from the Holy See incurs automatic excommunication.

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  • Posted by: loumiamo - Feb. 23, 2016 12:57 PM ET USA

    But that sounds like apostolic succession is never broken, which I know is not true--the Lutherans and the Anglicans do not have valid ordinations, do they? Can u help once more?

  • Posted by: phil L - Feb. 23, 2016 12:30 PM ET USA

    No, even an excommunicated bishop can preside at a valid (albeit illicit) ordination. Thus the danger of schism: a bishop who breaks with the Church can ordain his own successors and perpetuate the split.

  • Posted by: loumiamo - Feb. 23, 2016 10:47 AM ET USA

    Williamsons ordination of a new bishop will be valid but illicit. Is it because Benedict lifted his excommunication that validity is granted here, and absent that dispensation Williamson's ordination would be both illicit and invalid?