Bishop Bruskewitz's threatened excommunication of liberals and SSPX

May 7, 1996

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

Poor Rome! It cannot swallow the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) down, nor can it spit it out, as another United States bishop is presently learning. How well God built His Church!

It is now getting on for two months since Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, threatened to excommunicate in mid-May Catholics still belonging to any one of twelve different organizations, ten of them liberal, two of them the SSPX and its local Chapel in Lincoln. Of the liberal groups five are Masonic, two pro-abortion, one pro-euthanasia, and two pro-women priests and a married clergy, etc ....

By daring to remind these liberals that they are worthy of damnation, the good bishop caused quite a flurry in the national media. Non-Catholic liberals in our inclusive world objected to the very idea of excommunication, while Catholic liberals have themselves convinced that even if excommunication is a good idea, it cannot be deserved by themselves. On the other hand many decent Catholics rejoiced that at last a diocesan bishop was taking action to clean out the stables.

However, when the bishop added to his list of ten liberal groups the two so-called Traditional Catholic organizations, then nobody who thinks could take him seriously. So from the beginning his bomb-shell went off like a damp squib.

Cynical Nebraskans say he was only seeking publicity and advancement from Rome in the first place.. Other Nebraskans say he is sincere. Experts in Conciliar tactics might say he was imitating Paul VI by condemning liberals and anti-liberals together, so as to keep the Conciliar balance. But all such speculation as to Bishop Bruskewitz's personality or motivation is only of secondary interest. What matters is the principles involved. The Catholic Church runs on principles, not on personalities, because it is principles that make Catholic personalities, as too few Catholics realize.

Nor then is it a mere question of the SSPX. If Bishop Bruskewitz crippled his own initiative by including in his condemnation the SSPX and its local affiliate, it is not because the Society is of any significance in itself, nor because it consists of saints and wise men (Please do not laugh. Thank you for your co-operation), but because members of your Society, with all their sins and shortcomings, nevertheless are Society members because they profess those principles upon which alone a Catholic excommunication can be based. Hence by including Society members in his threat and so condemning their principles, the bishop was cutting the ground from under his own feet. This is what needs to be proved.

As Bishop Bruskewitz wrote to a friend of ours, he included the SSPX in his condemnation because it is "disobedient" to Rome and to himself, while he, no doubt, is "obedient". But what characterizes this Rome which he "obeys" and which the Society "disobeys"? No doubt the Second Vatican Council, without which the Society would never have risen up to resist. But what is at the heart of this Council making the difference between the Society and Rome? Notably, religious liberty. For if Rome were to return from the Vatican II principle of liberty for false religions to the old principle of toleration for them, with all that that return would entail, the Society would have lost the large part of its reason to exist, whereas if Rome abandoned many other Conciliar ideas, but not religious liberty, then the Society would still have a major reason to exist. Then what is the relationship between religious liberty and excommunication?

The Conciliar principle of religious liberty declares that the State has no right to coerce men in matters of religion. Prior to the Council, the Catholic Church always said that the State may abstain from coercing men in matters of religion, but it always has the right to use its power prudently to protect the Catholic religion and to suppress the public exercise of false religions. The difference between these two positions may seem small, but it is in fact enormous, like the difference between God being God and man being God. Which in turn needs proving.

If God is the Lord of all creation, then He is God also of the State, which is not outside of creation. If God is Lord of the State, then it too must, as State, worship and obey Him, in other words the State authorities must, as State authorities, protect and prudently promote His worship by His one true religion, as part of the duty of all creatures to render to their Creator what is His due. Therefore every State on earth is, as such, bound to use all prudent means, including the force at its disposal, to favour the Catholic religion. God is God, and Catholicism is, since Jesus Christ died on the Cross, His one and only true worship.

On the other hand if, as Vatican II declared, the State is bound to respect the dignity of the human person by leaving men free in the State to practise publicly false religions as they desire, then the State's first duty is to the freedom of man, and only after that comes any duty it may have to the God of the true religion. In other words, that State is no longer under the God of all creation, or, God is no longer the Lord of all creation. If there is a true religion, it no longer imposes itself on men but comes begging as some inferior for their lordly consent, on an equal footing with all false religions. In effect, man is God and "God" becomes some whining wimp.

Now modern man may, born and bred in liberalism, have a special difficulty in grasping that there are the real consequences of that religious liberty on which his nations are virtually founded, because he is dazzled by his own dignity. But in fact there is no comparison between the God of the Old Testament and the "God" of Vatican II, and the God of the New Testament is identical with the former, not with the latter! So this true God who thundered on Mount Sinai, who thrashed the money-changers out of the Temple and who demands that men practise His one religion and that States favour it accordingly, is obviously capable of driving false members out of His true Church. It makes complete sense that this God will excommunicate bad Catholics.

But how can the "God" who out of respect for human dignity makes no demand that the State bring pressure to bear on man's choice of truth or error, suddenly require that His Church bring pressure to bear? It is the same man with the same dignity confronting the same choice between the same truth and error. If the State, and "God" behind the State, must come cap in hand to beg consent to the Truth from such a man, how can this "God" and his "Church" do other than beg, cap in hand'? How can this whining "God" who has no thunderbolts for the State, suddenly have them for his "Church"'?

Deep down, liberals have no sense of the true God nor of the true Church because they have lost grip on Truth. "What is Truth?" asked Pontius Pilate, and put Barabbas alongside Jesus. Similarly Bishop Bruskewitz puts believers in the one Truth amongst Freemasons, abortionists, euthanasians and women-priesters. How can he be surprised if neither intelligent Catholics nor intelligent liberals take him seriously?

For if the Society deserves to be punished for its stand, then there is no Truth and no true God, but only a miserable makeshift, who then can have no thunderbolts for Freemasons, women-priesters or whoever. On the other hand if abortion and euthanasia deserve to be smashed, then there must be a Truth and a true God who on occasion uses thunderbolts, but in that case the Society which, against modern Rome, believes in such a God, cannot deserve to be excommunicated.

In brief, either God is God, or man is God. If man is God, then the Society is wrong, but there can be nothing wrong with activities of man such as euthanasia and abortion, and there can be no basis for condemning them. On the other hand if abortion and Freemasonry are damnable, then there must be such a God as the Society exists to proclaim, in which case it cannot be condemned.

Modern Rome was cleverer (and more crooked) than Bishop Bruskewitz when it singled out Society members as a target for excommunication, instead of crucifying them between thieves, but even when they were singled out, the "excommunication" of July 1988 bounced off, because God lends none of His force to measures condemning His Truth or its (until now, by His grace) faithful spokesmen.

That is why Rome will in a few days most probably hang Bishop Bruskewitz out to dry, which is why he were better to have said nothing in the first place. Dear bishop, try next time condemning the delinquents without the Society! Then you will be a real hero to all real Catholics, and then you will have thrown a real bomb-shell! In the meantime we must pray for Rome, because that is where Bishop Bruskewitz's real problem lies. Pray for the Pope to lead him in consecrating Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That is what the true God has decreed as the first step necessary to save Church and world.

Meantime, let us thank Him for His gift of the Society of St. Plus X, despite its human deficiencies. And enjoy in the enclosed VERBUM the commemoration in verse of Archbishop Lefebvre's enormous achievement. Objectively, no language could be noble enough to say worthily what he did.

May God bless you through Our Lady's month of May. In Christ her son,

+Richard Williamson