He has a point:
Cranmer [a stylistic first person I] has no time at all for the Holocaust-denying Richard Williamson – the newly incommunicate ‘bishop’ of the Society of St Pius X – who has caused Pope Benedict XVI more than a little trouble over recent months. His beliefs are undoubtedly repugnant, nonsensical, ahistorical and offensive. He may even be guilty of bringing the Roman Catholic Church into disrepute and disobeying the Holy Father.
But to hear that the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony, has banned him from even entering church is to elevate the man’s sin to the status of the rebellion of Lucifer.
The Cardinal said:
“In the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Williamson is hereby banned from entering any Catholic church, school or other facility, until he and his group comply fully and unequivocally with the Vatican’s directives regarding the Holocaust.”
Schools – fine. Other facilities – fine. The Cardinal’s back garden – fine. But ‘banned from entering any Catholic church’?
Is church not supposed to be the place for sinners? Does it not welcome murderers, liars, thieves, adulterers, homosexuals, paedophiles, rapists, readers of ‘The Tablet’ and Tony Blair – indeed, all who may be in need of the grace and mercy of God? Is their attendance not necessary for the church to exist? Is it not the church’s very raison d’être to be ministering to sinners and urging them to repent? Where else may one access the sacraments? How else may one encounter the outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace? How is Bishop Williamson to confess? Is reconciliation to be effected by text or email?
Excommunicate, by all means: the Apostle Paul set out very clear directives and conditions upon the matter. But banning a man – any man – from church because of his rebellion and sin is a gross abuse of ecclesial authority and a fundamental misunderstanding of missiology and soteriology.
But on the other hand, if Williamson wanted to take another position, an accommodation could be made. See Cranmer: Bishop Williamson ‘banned from entering any Catholic church’