From Fr Julian G Shurgold SIR – I concede to Kevin Morton (Letter, February 13) that my letter (February 6) may have sounded rather like the elder son in the Prodigal Son parable – I’ve always felt he had something of a raw deal – and I’m also prepared to concede that I was less than charitable in my remarks about SSPX members and Williamson in particular.
If I caused offence to those who are concerned solely with traditional liturgy then I apologise unreservedly, but there is one point where I am taken to task by Mr Morton which does need clarification. I am accused of alleging that the remarks made by Williamson were “completely in character” with the SSPX, and that this is an “utter fallacy [doing] damage to the Church”. I would agree, but the whole sentence actually reads “completely in character with a movement having its origin in the extreme Right of the French Catholic Church”.
The nuance is important, for ultraconservatives in the French Church were responsible (along with the army) for hounding the Jewish Captain Alfred Dreyfus at the end of the 19th century (he was sentenced to imprisonment on Devil’s Island for spying, but later found to be innocent when the guilty man finally confessed). Lefebvre was strongly influenced by Charles Maurras, whose fascist and anti-Semitic Action Française was condemned by Pope Pius XI in 1926; Maurrasians were active in promoting the collapse of civilian and military morale in 1940, welcomed the Nazis and helped to form the collaborationist Vichy government of Marshal Pétain. These are just a few examples.
Of course, I do not believe that all members of the SSPX are tainted in this way, but equally I do not believe that Williamson is untypical. I hope this clarifies my position.
Yours faithfully, JULIAN SHURGOLD Holy Family, Sutton, Surrey From Mr Paul Waddington SIR – In his letter published in your February 13 edition Fr Frank Downs states: “I cannot understand why the Holy Father is making such strenuous efforts to smooth relations with the SSPX.” Does Fr Downs understand the meaning of Christian charity? It seems not.
Yours faithfully, PAUL WADDINGTON By email