Dissent Among Dissenters
The Society of St. Pius X has finally officially ousted “Bishop” Richard Williamson from their ranks of their apostate Bishops. Williamson was a vehement holocaust denier who made his views public in 2009. His views were blasted to the world on the very same day that Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication from the Bishops of the SSPX, which brought great embarrassment to the Holy Father. Although Williamson apologized to the Holy Father for causing an issue, he never actually retracted his statement.
In my personal opinion, though I think it was a wise move to remove him from the Society, I have to wonder if anyone sees the irony in this. According to the Catholic Herald, a statement from the Society reads (emphasis mine),
“Bishop Richard Williamson, having distanced himself from the management and the government of the SSPX for several years, and refusing to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors, was declared excluded from the SSPX by decision of the superior general and its council on October 4, 2012. A final deadline had been granted to him to declare his submission, after which he announced the publication of an ‘open letter’ asking the superior general to resign.
This painful decision has become necessary by concern for the common good of the Society of Saint Pius X and its good government, according to what Archbishop Lefebvre denounced: ‘This is the destruction of authority. How authority can be exercised if it needs to ask all members to participate in the exercise of authority?”
As Catholics, “Obedience” needs to be our middle name if we wish to grow in the spiritual life and become Saints, which is proven by their example. St. Pio of Pietrelcina said, “Where there is no obedience, there is no virtue; where there is no virtue there is no good; where good is wanting, there is no love, there is no God; where God is not, there is no Heaven.” Obedience is central to what it means to be a Christian.
What absolutely slays me about this expulsion from the SSPX is that they who are demanding obedience are themselves the most visibly disobedient “catholic” group in recent history. The irony! Call me a Catholic nerd, but this is comedy to me!
Dissent begets dissent. This is most prominently seen in Protestantism, but the SSPX is following close behind. Without being connected to the visible head (i.e. The Pope in union with the Invisible Head who is Christ), the body can turn and frankly, do very dumb things.
Saint John Climacus said that “He who follows his own ideas in opposition to the direction of his superiors needs no devil to tempt him, for he is a devil to himself.” How true this is. At heart of this issue with the SSPX and Williamson, we see the refusal to be obedient and the fruits that accompany that choice. St. Teresa of Avila said that, “The more we see that any action springs not from the motive of obedience, the more evident is it that it is a temptation of the enemy; for when God sends an inspiration, the very first effect of it is to infuse a spirit of docility.”
Discord is the rotten fruit of disobedience. First you will see it within yourself and then it will pour out into your relationships and into your community. Disobedience is the spawn of pride. Great pride led to Lucifer’s great act of disobedience which ultimately led to him being kicked out of Heaven by the Archangel Michael. Disobedience is what brought death to the world through the sin of Adam. Conversely, a singular act of obedience destroyed death and restored life in the New Adam – Jesus Christ. Mary, the New Eve, was obedient and in doing so, crushed the head of the devil. This is the power of real obedience.
Pope Saint Gregory the Great said, “By the other virtues, we offer God what we possess; but by obedience, we offer ourselves to Him. They who obey are conquerors, because by submitting themselves to obedience they triumph over the Angels, who fell through disobedience.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to be on the winning team.
As Thomas a Kempis said…