Dinoscopus sleeps, eats and blogs: Williamson Redux
After months of sensible silence in the genteel exile of Wimbledon, Bishop Richard Williamson, the Lefebvrist bishop whose Holocaust denial caused a media ruckuss and an endless headache for Pope Benedict last year has given an interview to a minor French politician of the extreme right, Pierre Panet. The French Catholic newspaper La Croix first posted the interview today.
It was published on Daily Motion on Tuesday, only days after Pope Benedict XVI visited the Great Synagogue in Rome. There is already comment on it here The interviewer, Pierre Danet was a candidate for the European elections on the anti-zionist ticket of the right-wing French comic and political activist Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.
Bishop Williamson said that he believed that the dialogue between Rome and the Society of St Pius X, working towards reconciliation, was a dialogue of deaf people. He also said that he was sleeping, eating and blogging in his “unexpected sabbatical year”. His blog Dinoscopus (a cross of Dinosaur and Episcopus) was public until last year’s bruhaha over Bishop Williamson’s Holocaust denial broke. In the interview he gives his oppinion on the State of Israel, Muslim Christian relations, Kant (a criminal), and some basic theology. He also discloses to the interviewer that he loves Beethoven.
Here is an unofficial translation and transcript of the interview:
Panet: My Lord, hello. Thank you for having accepted this interview. You haven’t done many interviews since February 24 2009 when you had to leave Argentina speedily. How are you doing?
Williamson: I’m doing well. This is an unexpected sabbatical year, but it’s rather agreeable.
Panet: When did you learn to speak French so well?
Williamson: Since my childhood, well good schools in England were still good schools, and the first foreign language we learned was French.
Panet: And you taught French also?
Williamson: Yes, I did.
Panet: Can you tell us about the case that is currently being made against you by the courts of Regensburg?
Williamson: It is for Volksverhetzung “racial excitement” because I put into question the 6 million Jews and to question that in Germany is a crime according to German law. Therefore they attack me.
Panet: How are you exercising your ministry at the moment?
Williamson: In sleeping and eating and also I do a blog every week which keeps me occupied with translations, but not much else for the moment. It’s rest.
Panet: Can you give me the link/reference for your blog?
Williamson: You have to access it by dinoscopus.com and dinoscopus is half-dinosaur and half-bishop in Latin. Scopus is the second half of “episcopus” and dino the first half of “dinosaur.” So dinoscopus.com. But then after one must obtain a password to get on it because we didn’t want it to be public.
Panet: Now some questions about current affairs. Some questions about the Middle East. There are some Christians in the Middle East. How do you analyse their situation in relation to groups in Israel such as Hamas or Hezbollah?
Williamson: I know nothing about the relationship between the Christians in the Middle East and these groups of the Arab resistance. All that I know is that there are fewer and fewer Christians in the Holy Land because they are chased out. They do not want them in the Holy Land, therefore out. There are no doubt many ways in which to make pressure, and they leave.
Panet: Does the dialogue between Christians and Muslims seem to you as difficult to establish?
There are two questions here. There is the question of peoples and the question of religions. On a question of peoples, good sense suffices for living together, doesn’t it? On the question of religions, for a Catholic who takes seriously the Catholic faith, it’s the only religion which is completely true. All other religions are more or less true, more or less false. Therefore on the religious plane there can be no agreement. It is not possible. But always, in the many of the countries of the Middle East, Christians and Muslims have lived together in peace for centuries because of the force of things. Each recognised that he would not convert the other, therefore we lived together.
There was a cohabition/co-existence. From time to time this was disrupted by a war. Now it is quite disrupted in all the Middle East and has been since 1947 one might say and we don’t know how it will end.
Panet: Now a question about Iran. What should a real Christian do in the face of all this Eastern current—the so-called Christian-Jewish-Lay—which advocates confrontation?
Williamson: The whole question is to know whether a war against Iran would be a Just War and for a Catholic according to the classic principles (and known for centuries) of the Catholic doctrine of Just War. Would it be just to attack Iran? I do not believe that it would be just to attack Iran, according to that Catholic doctrine.
Panet: The state of Israel: Does it have religious or political legitimacy?
Williamson: The question is obviously delicate. Let us say that many people believe it is legitmate. This does not necessarily mean that it is.
Panet: Three questions on faith. Should we not consider the New Testament in being in rupture from the Old Testament and among other things do you believe in the existence of a Chosen People?
Williamson: Well, those are two questions. Firstly, is there rupture between the chrysalis and the butterfly?
Williamson: Well, that is the exact relationship between the Old Testament and the New. Because St Augustin says the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old becomes clear in the New. [Williamson then quotes the Latin] Yes, that’s the Latin. It is one of those lapidary statements that St Augustine makes which says a lot in a few words.
Panet: What about the Chosen People?
Williamson: There was a Chosen People. The Old Testament had its chosen people. It was the Hebrews and in the moment of Our Lord’s death on the Cross, the Chosen People are no longer chosen according to the flesh or the physical descendents from Abraham… It becomes as St Paul explains clearly in his epistles… the Chosen People are chosen by the faith and descendents from Abraham is through the faith. This means all Catholics and all the Jews who believe and all non-Jews who believe. There are no longer Jews-elect and non-Jews-non-elect, it’s Jew and non-Jew elect if he has the Faith. Everything depends on a faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Williamson: Imagine an enormous F with a tiny R pressed against the foot of the F. That is faith and reason. Faith infinitely surpasses reason, therefore the supernatural exceeds the natural. Nature is this poor little world that surrounds us with creatures, the sky, the stars, the mountains, the tigers, man. That’s nature. The supernatural: it’s all heaven, it’s all God. The supernatural is infinitely more than the natural. Reason gives us a natural access to nature which is valid in and of itself and neither misunderstood, nor stamped on, nor crushed by the supernatural. [quotes from Aquinas] Gratia non tollit naturam. Grace does not crush nature. Grace is celebrated by nature. It’s God who has created nature so that man can arrive in heaven. Therefore it is not possible to have a war between grace and nature. It does not stand up. God created both. Equally reason faith, it is God who gives us both our reason and the gift of faith. The two are not contradicting each other. Good reason is perfectly aligned with real faith and it is only false reason which is not aligned with faith and false faith which is not aligned with reason. But the two in themselves are perfectly aligned.
Panet: How do you argue that one can intellectually conceive God but not feel his profound existence? It’s my body. Intellectually I can conceive God.
Williamson: Religion is not a question of feeling. It’s a question of intelligence and will. You have just said that your intelligence can conceive God, therefore your intelligence is the most important part. The feelings/emotions will follow at the end. You are perfectly entitled to say: ‘Lord I do not feel you in anything. I understand with my intelligence that you exist and that you are listening and I pray to you, without feeling it, but I pray.’
Panet: What about “numen” and “phenomenon”?
Williamson: The distinction that Kant makes is very dangerous because he concludes that we can only know appearances. Beyond that we cannot know anything. It’s the destruction of reason, theology, the destruction of knowledge and the destruction of the human spirit. And that is the disaster that surrounds us the whole world over. Kant: he’s a criminal of the first order. A criminal.
Panet: But he finds faith again?
Williamson: No, no, no, no. Listen. What I want exists. I want God. Therefore God exists. Does that seem good to you?
Williamson: Well, no. It is not the desire which creates the reality. You wish for a million euros in your pocket? Do you have them? No. They are not real. Just because I want God doesn’t mean he’s real. I want Father Christmas, that doesn’t mean he exists.
Panet: I’ll think it over.
Williamson: Place some confidence in your intelligence and don’t let it rot by the [word missing…I couldn’t hear it] of Kant.
Panet: And what do you know of the latest between the negotiations between the Fraternity [Society of St Pius X] and the Vatican?
Williamson: I think it will finish by becoming a dialogue of the deaf, because of two things. One: The two positions in themselves are irreconcilable. For example 2+2=4 and 2+2=5 it’s irreconcilable. Therefore of three things, one: either they say 2+2=4 , enounce reality and say 2+2=5 –that is to say the Fraternity would abandon the truth that God forbids us to do or that those who say that 2+2=5 convert and return to the truth or the two come half-way, that means everyone decides that 2+2=4 ½ . It’s wrong. Therefore, either the Fraternity betrays itself or Rome converts, or it is a dialogue of the deaf.
Panet: Still on questions of faith: Did Judas lose the pardon of God?
Williamson: He refused the forgiveness of God.
Panet: Do you mean if he had asked for it he would have received it?
Williamson: Absolutely. With repentance. If he had repented and thrown himself at the foot of the Cross, Our Lord would have forgiven him. Absolutely.
Panet: My last question: I believe that you admire Beethoven a great deal? Which is your favourite work, which touches your heart the most?
Williamson: The Third Symphony. The first movement of the Eroica.