MENZINGEN, Switzerland, JAN. 27, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the communiqué made public today by the superior-general of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, in which he apologizes for statements made by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the society, in which he denied the extent of the Holocaust.
On Saturday, the Pope lifted the excommunication of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 without papal permission. Bishops Fellay and Williamson were among the four.
* * *
We have come to know of an interview given by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Fraternity of St. Pius X, on Swedish television. In this interview he spoke of historical questions, in particular on the question of the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis.
It is evident that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesial authority if it is not a question of faith and morals. Our fraternity does not claim any authority over other questions. Its mission is the propagation and restoration of authentic Catholic doctrine, as found in the dogmas of the faith. It is for this that we are known, accepted and appreciated throughout the world.
With great sadness we acknowledge the extent to which the violation of this mandate has damaged our mission. The statements of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any way the position of our society. For this, I have prohibited him, until further notice, from speaking publicly on these political and historical questions
We ask for the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act. As we recognize how imprudent the statements were, we affirm with sadness that they have directly affected our fraternity by discrediting our mission.
This is not acceptable, and we declare that we will continue preaching Catholic doctrine and administering the sacraments of grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Menzingen, Jan. 27, 2009
Bishop Bernard Fellay