RELIGION

Traditionalist Bishop Excommunicated From Catholic Church For Unsanctioned Ordination

03/20/2015 12:43 pm ET | Updated Mar 20, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

British Bishop Richard Williamson was automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church on Thursday for conducting an ordination ceremony unsanctioned by the pope, according to news reports.

Williamson, 75, consecrated Father Jean-Michel Faure a bishop during a ceremony in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, on Thursday, the feast of St. Joseph. Canon 1382 in the Code of Canon Law dictates that a bishop who ordains another bishop without papal consent incurs a latae sententiae, or automatic, excommunication.

By canon law, Faure, 73, will also incur automatic excommunication for participating in the ceremony.

Vatican officials did not respond to The Huffington Post's request for comment on Friday.

The excommunication is only the latest bump in the bishop's controversial career. Williamson was previously excommunicated in 1988 for receiving his own unsanctioned consecration from French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who founded the Society of St. Pius X. Lefebvre, and three other bishops he ordained on the same day as Williamson, were also excommunicated.

The Society of St. Pius X was formed in 1970 in response to what Lefebvre saw as unwanted modernizing reforms introduced by the Second Vatican Council. The society has been called "ultra-traditionalist" and has been on tenuous terms with the Catholic Church since the 1988 consecrations.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications in an effort to initiate reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X. Williamson subsequently caused an uproar, however, when he appeared in a television interview saying he believed no Jews had been killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust.

The Society of St. Pius X expelled Williamson in 2012 for criticizing the reconciliation efforts with the Vatican, saying the bishop had failed “to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors."

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