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Traditionalist Bishop Incurs Automatic Excommunication

ROME (CNS) – A traditionalist bishop who has denied the Holocaust has been automatically excommunicated along with the priest he illicitly ordained a bishop.

British Bishop Richard Williamson violated Church law when he ordained Father Jean-Michel Faure, 73, a bishop without papal approval during a ceremony in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, March 19, the feast of St. Joseph.

While the Vatican did not comment immediately, canon law provides automatic excommunication for the newly ordained bishop and for the bishop ordaining him in cases where the ordination goes against the will of the pope.

Bishop Williamson had been excommunicated in 1988 when he and three other traditionalist bishops were ordained against papal orders by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X.

Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications in 2009 as a first step toward beginning formal talks aimed at reconciliation with the group. However, there was widespread outrage at revelations that Bishop Williamson had denied the gassing of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. The Vatican said the pope had been unaware at the time of the bishop’s radical views on the Holocaust.

Bishop Williamson, who opposed the Society of St. Pius X holding reconciliation talks with the Vatican, was ousted from the society in 2012.

He and a number of followers did not support reconciliation with Rome because they believe the Vatican had strayed from the Catholic faith since the Second Vatican Council.

Father Faure, who was ordained a priest by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1977, was also in opposition to reconciliation and left the society in 2013.

In an interview posted on the blog “Non Possumus” March 18, the priest said he was willing to be ordained a bishop despite the penalties because “we cannot leave the resistance without bishops.”

“As Archbishop Lefebvre said, Catholic bishops are indispensable for the conservation of the true doctrine of the faith and the sacraments,” he said.

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