Recently, Bishop Williamson broadened his permissive liberalism by approving attendance at the Masses of sedevacantists. Before quoting his words on this, let’s step back a little and get the Big Picture on his position:

We start our analysis back when he taught a Truth that he now contradicts. On December 13, 2014, Bishop Williamson wrote that no one should ever attend the new mass. Here are his words:

Take for instance the Novus Ordo Mass. ... [I]t is as a whole so bad that no priest should use it, nor Catholic attend it. ... [I]f I say that the new Mass must always be avoided, I am telling the truth ....

Eleison Comments #387 (emphasis added).

Further, in a conference on the new mass, Bishop Williamson correctly stated that even if the new mass were valid, no Catholic should ever attend it. Here are his words:

The new mass is in any case illicit. … If it [the new mass] is valid, illicit, may I attend? No. I may no more attend a valid, illicit [new] mass than I may attend a satanic mass.1

But then on June 28, 2015, Bishop Williamson contradicted himself and publicly stated the opposite:

Do whatever you need to nourish your Faith. … I would not say that every single person must stay away from every single novus ordo mass.2

Later, Bishop Williamson further explained his position that if a Catholic has no traditional Mass to attend, he should attend the new mass. Here are his words:

I’m sure you ask yourselves: “What kind of world are my children going to have to grow up in? How are they going to keep the Faith?” Very good question. By prayer and Charity and by frequenting the sacraments, so long as they are still available, so long as it’s at all still possible to reach the sacraments. And some Novus—I’ve got into quite a lot of controversy for saying this, but it’s true—there is no question that some Novus Ordo Masses are valid.3 And if they’re valid, then it’s defined by the Council of Trent that grace passes, “ex opere operato”, is the strict phrase.4

Thus, because the new mass is the principle liturgical expression of the new religion of the conciliar church,5 Bishop Williamson is advocating the participation in the services of a new, false religion. This is ecumenism!

Archbishop Lefebvre called the new mass an example of ecumenical, interreligious worship (i.e., “communicatio in sacris”). Here are his words:

These new masses are not only incapable of fulfilling our Sunday obligation, but are such that we must apply to them the canonical rules which the Church customarily applies to communicatio in sacris, with Orthodox Churches and Protestant sects.6

Because Bishop Williamson is so ecumenical as to recommend attendance at the conciliar religion’s new mass, it should not surprise anyone that Bishop Williamson is also ecumenical enough to offer Mass and confirmation in a chapel of the feeneyite sect7 (which denies the consistent teaching of the Church that there is Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood).

Bishop Williamson has now continued further down the same ecumenical path. Having encouraged his followers to attend new masses and after he offers Mass in the chapel of the feeneyite sect, it should not surprise us that Bishop Williamson is ecumenical enough to have recently told Catholics to attend the Masses of the sedevacantists (who are inherently in schism, as discussed below). Here are his words, responding to a question at his September 25, 2016 conference in Texas:

Question: “I’ve heard some people ask one another, for example, “If there were no other priest available, would you go to a Mass offered by a sedevacantist [priest]?” Well, sedevacantists not believing there is a pope, I should think, would be pulling out the prayers for the Pope—out of the Missal—and just really not saying them.

Well, doesn’t it say in the Quo Primum that, basically, any omission from the official Missal of the Church is to be considered, I would say, an illicit Mass, so to say?”

Bishop Williamson: “Oh well, the Mass will be valid or not valid according to the Consecration. It’s not pulling out this word of that, that’s going to invalidate the Consecration.”

Question: “What I mean, though, is by changing the actual formula, would it affect whether or not you could say you fulfilled your Sunday obligation?”

Bishop Williamson: “Oh, no, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. You’ve got to do what you can. God doesn’t ask the impossible. He does ask the possible. The sedevacantist Mass is available. It’s close enough, and so— is it a devout priest? Is he a raving madman? Does he have the Faith? Sedevacantism is dangerous, but if there’s no other Mass available, I wouldn’t exclude attending it.

Maybe some people would take a harder line than that. If he’s a dogmatic sedevacantist and slants everything towards sedevacantism and insists that souls attend only the Masses of sedevacantists—beware! He’s beginning [sic!] to go too far. But not all sedevacantists go that far. So, you’ve got reasonable [sic!] sedevacantists and then you’ve got fanatical sedevacantists. You might think twice before attending the Mass of a fanatical sedevacantist; but a reasonable sedevacantist, if necessary, I’d say one could attend. It’s not this prayer missing or that prayer missing, it’s the whole push towards error which—towards clear error. So, no. A Mass which clearly pushes towards liberalism, like many novus ordo Masses, those you can’t attend.8

Sedevacantism is Schism

By encouraging his followers to attend the Masses of sedevacantists, Bishop Williamson promotes attendance at the Masses of schismatics.

Schismatics are those who refuse to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to be in communion with those members of the Church who acknowledge his supremacy. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.39, a.1, respondeo. That is exactly what sedevacantists do, viz., they refuse to submit to the current pope, asserting that he has no authority over them because he is not “really” the pope.9

In contrast to the sedevacantists’ position, traditional Catholics have a duty to recognize that the current pope has authority over us. Even though we frequently cannot do what the pope commands us, we must acknowledge his supremacy, as St. Thomas teaches we must. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.39, a.1, Respondeo. We do what the pope commands us to do, whenever we can do so in good conscience.

Thus, sedevacantism is always schism and sedevacantists are always schismatics. Moreover, schism severs a man from the Church. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.39, a.1, ad 3 (quoting St. Jerome). A particular sedevacantist’s schism is “material schism”, if he is not interiorly culpable for his false and (objectively) sinful position that we have no pope. By contrast, a sedevacantist is a “formal schismatic”, if he is interiorly culpable (because he “knows better”).10

Because we must not be ecumenical (as Bishop Williamson encourages us to be), this is why Archbishop Lefebvre stated we cannot have any relations with the sedevacantists. Opposing what Bishop Williamson now encourages, here are Archbishop Lefebvre’s words:

So what is our attitude? It is clear that all those who are leaving us or who have left us for sedevacantism or because they want to be submitted to the present hierarchy of the Church all the while hoping to keep Tradition, we cannot have relations with them anymore. It is not possible. …

[W]e really cannot make another choice if we want to keep Tradition. We must be free from compromise as much with regard to sedevacantists as with regard to those who absolutely want to be submitted to the ecclesiastical authority.”

Archbishop Lefebvre’s conference in Flavigny, December 1988—quoted from Fideliter March/April 1989 (emphasis added).


Whether Bishop Williamson calls a sedevacantist “reasonable” or “fanatical”, sedevacantism is always separation from the Catholic Church and is always schism (either material or formal). Thus, Bishop Williamson’s approval of attending the Masses of those schismatics is a further extension of his ecumenism approving the attendance at the conciliar church’s new mass and attending Mass in a feeneyite chapel.

  1. Bp. Williamson conference on YouTube at 49 seconds and at 2 minutes 38 seconds.
  2. June 28, 2015 conference.
  3. Bishop Williamson here assumes that some new masses are valid. This would automatically mean that the new mass has a valid Offertory, Consecration, and Consumption of the Victim (Communion). For purposes of this article, we leave aside—but do not grant—his unsupported assumption.

    His assumption is rash because the conciliar “offertory” is so radically different that it falsifies the Traditional Offertory and might properly be called an “anti-Offertory”. This is like former Pope Benedict XVI’s description of Vatican II as an “anti-Syllabus”, because it is the opposite of Traditional teachings (and falsifies those teachings).

    Also, Bishop Williamson here implicitly makes the unsupported assumption that some conciliar ordinations and consecrations are known to be valid—which is a necessary assumption to support his supposition that some new masses are definitely valid. But the truth is that the validity of all conciliar “ordinations” and “consecrations” is inherently doubtful. For a thorough explanation of this, see these Catholic Candle analyses:

  4. May 20, 2016 conference (emphasis added).

    See also our explanation of how Bishop Williamson abuses the teaching of the Council of Trent.

  5. See analysis showing that the conciliar church is a new religion (with its own false worship).

    Also, as everyone knows who has read Bishop Williamson’s writings for even a short time, the bishop has continually (and correctly) stated in the past, that the conciliar church is a new religion.

  6. Archbishop Lefebvre’s November 8, 1979 conference.
  7. Bishop Williamson’s confirmation conference at the feeneyite chapel of Fr. Galvin Bitzer.
  8. Quoted from a September 25, 2016 conference in Houston, Texas (emphasis added).
  9. We should not confuse the sin of schism (which is refusing submission to the authority of the current pope), with the sin of heresy, e.g., rejecting as a matter of principle the authority possessed by the papal office (e.g., that a pope is infallible when speaking ex cathedra).

    Here is how St. Thomas explains this distinction:

    Heresy and schism are distinguished in respect of those things to which each is opposed essentially and directly. For heresy is essentially opposed to faith, while schism is essentially opposed to the unity of ecclesiastical charity. Wherefore, just as faith and charity are different virtues, although whoever lacks faith lacks charity, so too schism and heresy are different vices, although whoever is a heretic is also a schismatic, but not conversely. This is what Jerome says in his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians: “I consider the difference between schism and heresy to be that heresy holds false doctrine while schism severs a man from the Church.”

    Summa, IIa IIae, Q.39, a.1, ad 3.

  10. See our more complete explanation of the schism of sedevacantism.