Persecution Rising

SSPX Goes on Trial in Britain

Martin Blackshaw


History Repeating Itself? (The Forty English Martyrs at Tyburn)

(Posted 07/15/09 Today, July 15, 2009, the SSPX goes on trial in Britain accused of being a threat to the peace and welfare of society. The venue for this show trial is, however, no legal court of the land but rather the Church of England’s Commissioners offices in London.

The question to be formally decided by the sitting Committee for church buildings (uses and disposals) is: Can we sell a building to the SSPX in light of the Bishop Williamson comments about the Holocaust, or, as one Liberal Democrat Councillor put it, can the Church of England sell a building to “the church of latter-day Holocaust deniers.”

Of course the question is academic, for it seems the SSPX is already considered guilty by association with Bishop Williamson and no amount of reassurances by Bishop Fellay or anyone else is going to change that verdict. Why? Because this is not about Bishop Williamson’s comments; this is about suppressing Traditional Catholicism.

I watched a recent interview with Bishop Fellay in which he deplored the loss of a number of rented properties around the world in the aftermath of Bishop Williamson’s damaging remarks. The Bishop also regretted that the SSPX was finding it increasingly difficult to buy property for the same reason, thanks mainly to a persecution by media.

Just how well orchestrated this universal persecution is can perhaps be summed up in the story of what happened when the SSPX tried to buy a redundant Anglican church (St. George’s) in Manchester, England, in March this year.

It begins, naturally, with a number of ill-founded media reports, at least one of which provided (unusually) an address for the above-mentioned Church of England offices to which protesters could send their objections to the sale. In most of these media reports the C of E Bishop of Manchester, the Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch, whose ecclesiastical state is void according to Catholic teaching, was cited as having expressed his own grave reservations about the sale.

In the meantime, the Jewish Chronicle raised the stakes by introducing comments into a report suggesting antisemitism on the part of the SSPX for no other reason than its adherence to the traditional theological and Scriptural teaching of the Catholic Church relating to the Jews. And in the event that readers failed to take the bait of this ridiculous insinuation the report concluded with a quote from the US website of the Anti-Defamation League claiming that the SSPX “is mired in antisemitism.”

So now the emphasis had been shifted from the domain of secular history to that of religious belief. Very revealing! If only they had had the objectivity to reveal that Archbishop Lefebvre’s own father died in a Nazi concentration camp. But I fear they’ll never be forthcoming with that information, and for obvious reasons.

Interestingly, Manchester has the second largest Jewish population in Britain. Also of interest is that the city’s Anglican Bishop, the aforementioned Nigel McCulloch, is Chair of Britain’s Council for Christian/Jewish relations.

In addition to this, Bishop McCulloch is an accomplished broadcaster and newspaper columnist who frequently addresses Parliament and the House of Lords on religious matters.

It came as no surprise, then, to discover that a number of Manchester City Councillors submitted protest letters against the sale of St. Georges to the SSPX, citing as their motivation an impassioned speech by Bishop McCulloch entitled ‘Hope not Hate.’

This speech was supposed to be intended to deter the Manchester electorate from voting for the BNP (British National Party, once known as the National Front) in the May European elections, but appears to have also intended a stirring of emotions against the SSPX.

That this Anglican clergyman identified the SSPX with such a despised political entity as the BNP is as inexplicable as his failure to mention that the SSPX has been a model presence in the Manchester community these past twenty years.

To properly grasp the central role being played by the influential McCulloch in this affair, one need only glance at the content of his own personal correspondence to the London Commission protesting the sale of St. George’s to the SSPX.

He writes, for example, that considering the number of objections from a wide spectrum of religious and local government representatives and members of the community, it is his belief that the sale would seriously damage relations with the local RC church and “the influential Jewish community”, both locally and nationally.

No doubt he was here echoing comments conveyed to him by two of the Presidents of the Council for Christian/Jewish relations, namely Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, then-Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, and Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Neither is a friend of Traditional Catholicism.

It is noteworthy that a total of six of the ten Presidents and Vice Presidents of this Council are Jewish Rabbis. It is equally noteworthy that Britain’s liberal Catholics have sided with a heretic prelate against their own in this matter. The SSPX is only in an irregular state in the Church—not cut off from the true religion like Bishop McCulloch.

At any rate, McCulloch further points out that Members of the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the CEO of Manchester City Council and a large number of City Councillors (the City Councillors he stirred up!) have likewise expressed strong opposition, given the views expressed by the ‘SSPX representatives’(?)

What he does not mention is that these Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords are most likely those very few who sit on the board of his Council for Christian/Jewish relations, not the greater majority of Britain’s politicians and Lords. It seems it’s not just liberal Catholics who employ ambiguity in their statements!

Then there’s the outright hypocrisy of all this. McCulloch notes that he is cognizant of the contribution of the Jewish community in the life of the city and of the fact that Manchester prides itself as a tolerant city with a multi-cultural, multi-faith community.

However, the overall content of 104 letters of protest received by the C of E Commission from the “multi-cultural, multi-faith community” of this “tolerant city,” letters ranging from politicians and prominent Jews to professional associations, clergymen, lay groups and individuals, amounts to little more than a catalogue of hate-filled graffiti against the SSPX.

Indeed, their overflowing bile is such that had it been any other minority religious group at the receiving end of all this, no small number would likely have been arrested by the authorities for incitement to religious hatred.

But, then, the SSPX is no ordinary minority religious group; it is a traditional Catholic institution which, by its doctrinal orthodoxy, stands, like its Lord, as a sign of contradiction against a tide of religious error presently sweeping the world. Its enemies are liberal ecumenists, tolerant to all but the orthodox.   

It has to be stated that some of the correspondence received by the Commission is based on ignorance and misunderstanding. For example, many Jews protest the sale because they are of the opinion that Bishop Williamson is personally attempting to purchase this church so that he can set up shop there.

The greater majority of the vitriolic submissions, however, have been penned by knowledgeable men like McCulloch, who, by the way, concludes his own letter by stating that the Chair of the Merseyside Council of Christians and Jews has looked through SSPX publications and felt that influential clergy within the SSPX appear to hold and propagate antisemitic views.

Who exactly these influential clergy are and what antisemitic views are propagated is anyone’s guess. Once again, McCulloch makes himself perfectly ambiguous.

And so this test case trial begins on July 15 with witnesses 104 against to 6 or 7 for. I say test case trial because it will set the precedent in Britain for any future sale of property to the SSPX.

Given that a media-driven campaign of calumny has already been successful in depriving the SSPX of properties in other countries, I would guess the outcome is fairly predictable in this case. There is no question that the global conspiracy to malign traditional Catholicism has been stepped up since the Pope issued Summorum Pontificum and lifted the excommunications on the SSPX bishops.

Who could have foreseen, though, that the imprudent comments of one of the very bishops of tradition would be used as the catalyst to begin that persecution of Catholicism in earnest? Bishop Williamson, I fear, has much to reflect on.

As for traditional Catholics in “tolerant” Britain, we can only count ourselves fortunate that the gallows at Tyburn have long ceased to operate, for in all else our persecution today differs little in method from that used to try and condemn Catholics during the so-called Reformation. Then, too, a majority of the British Catholic hierarchy betrayed their own.