A week or so ago, I wrote a post entitled “Williamson of SSPX — Yeah, That Helps” that generated a fair bit of debate.
In that post, I remarked about an admission by Bishop Williamson the the SSPX is defectible and could very well fail in its mission. This is what I wrote:
What interests me is the admission that the SSPX has no divine promise of truth and his acknowledgment that the SSPX may very well fail in its mission. If, as Williamson puts it, the Church of Rome has “departed the true Faith” and the SSPX might fail in its mission would that not mean that the “Gates of Hell” had prevailed against the Church? I am pretty sure that somebody pretty high up on the food chain promised that would not happen.
Perhaps Bishop Williamson is a CMR reader (not) because this week in his column he responds directly to the point I raised. He puts it this way:
A reader of “Eleison Comments” of two weeks ago had some reasonable questions. Here are some answers:
Q.1 If the Conciliar Church is proving defectible by its Conciliarism while the Society of St.Pius X is defectible by nature (not having the Church’s guarantees of indefectibility), then where is that indefectible Church?
Right to my point, eh? So in fairness, since I asked the question I should publish his answer. So what is the Bishops answer to this reasonable question?
A 1 Defectible plus defectible equals defectible. But defectible plus defectible plus God equals indefectible. In the Arian crisis of the fourth century, Pope Liberius was proving defectible by his support of Arian bishops while St. Athanasius enjoyed no guarantee of indefectibility. Yet the Lord God used both to carry the Church through until the Papacy came back to its Catholic senses. Even with the best of Popes, the Lord God alone is responsible for his Church’s indefectibility. In God’s good time he will rescue his popes from Conciliarism. Meanwhile the SSPX, amongst others, is playing the part of St. Athanasius, but even if the SSPX were to defect – God forbid ! – it would be child’s play for the Lord God to raise other carriers of his Church’s indefectible Truth.
Now I could follow up with some snarky remarks about defectibility arithmetic, but I will refrain. Rather, I will attempt to see what Bishop Williamson is saying. We all know the limits of the charism of indefectibility. The Church has had weeds among the wheat since its inception and always will until that time that the wheat is separated from the chaff.
What Bishop Williamson seems to be suggesting is that were the SSPX to fail in its mission, that God would have to raise up some other heretofore unknown group to carry the torch for indefectible truth. Now there is a can of worms. Were that to happen, how would your average person in the pew know which group has THE truth? Which group to follow? How can you know? Which truth?
We have been down this road before. Why would God put us in the position of having to figure out which group carries the truth? So should it now suffice us to say that God will simply raise up THE bearer of truth from a stone? But hasn’t Jesus already done that specifically so we would not have to wonder who has the truth? God gave us the stone — the rock — he gave us Peter.
I for one do not trust my own judgment to always know who is Athanasius and who is Arius. Above my pay grade you might say. So as far as it goes, I stick with the Pope and those Bishops in union with him. That is the only sure guarantee of truth and indefectibility.