Rorate Caeli

Schmidberger interview

Interesting interview with Fr. Franz Schmidberger, former Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) and current District Superior for Germany, including some stern words about comments made by Bishop Richard Williamson: Kathnews (in German).

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    Father Franz Schmidberger: “The Church has entered calmer waters.”

Kathnews Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Greschner in an exclusive interview with Fr. Franz Schmidberger FSSPX.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Stuttgart (kathnews exclusive). The theological discussions between representatives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX) are under way. More than 20 years after the illicit episcopal consecrations by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre there is some movement in the difficult relationship between the Holy See and the fraternity. Kathnews Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Greschner spoke with Father Franz Schmidberger, Superior of the German District of the Fraternity. The main topics were the current status of the discussions with Rome, the liturgy, and the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.

Fr. P. Franz Schmidberger was born on Oct 19, 1946 in Riedlingen. After studying mathematics at the University of Munich, in 1972 he entered the seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X at Ecône. There, in 1975, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. In 1979, Schmidberger became Superior of the German District of the Fraternity and, in 1982, became Superior General of the Fraternity. From 1994 to 2003, he was active in the leadership of the Fraternity. In 2003 he was appointed Rector of the seminary in Zaitzkofen. In 2006 he again became Superior of the German District.

Benjamin Greschner: Reverend, what is your assessment of the current status of the theological discussions between representatives of the Fraternity of St. Pius X and the Holy See?

Father Schmidberger: According to the rather meager available information, the theological clarification discussions have begun well. For the first time we are able to unhurriedly bring our reservations about the statements of the II Vatican Council and developments after the council to the competent authority. These discussions will certainly continue for a lengthy time, perhaps years. But maybe our discussion partners will be able to quickly determine that it is not possible to deny that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X is Catholic, even though there may be areas of disagreement. That would represent enormous progress. The very discreet nature of the discussions is absolutely necessary for success, nothing good causes an uproar and nothing good comes from an uproar.

Benjamin Greschner: Recently in a video interview, Bishop Richard Williamson commented about the discussions. He expressed himself rather negatively and was obviously unconvinced that they would result in an agreement. What do you think about his comments? Do they represent the official position of the Fraternity?

Father Schmidberger: Bishop Williamson's opinion of the discussions in Rome are regrettable, because they certainly do not represent the position of the Fraternity. On the other hand, meanwhile, it is necessary to clearly warn against exaggerated optimism with respect to the discussions. Bishop Fellay has said it would be a miracle, if they were to conclude truly successfully.

Benjamin Greschner: In your judgment, how realistic is an agreement between the Holy See and the Fraternity of St. Pius X? In 1988 as Superior General, you were previously involved in similar discussions. Has the situation changed since then?

Father Schmidberger: An agreement between the Holy See and the Fraternity could only mean one thing: that Rome accepts the voice of the preconciliar Magisterium. The Fraternity has never developed a unique position of its own, but has instead made itself a mouthpiece of the Popes, especially those from the time of the French Revolution up to the II. Vatican Council. Since 1988, the situation has changed to the extent that Rome now takes our objections seriously and is looking for answers.

Benjamin Greschner: In your opinion, which are especially in need of clarification and discussion on theological or magisterial grounds? Are there any topics that you would describe as “hot potatoes?”

Father Schmidberger: The question of the new liturgy is doubtless a point of discussion, but then so is ecumenism, the roll of other religions, and the relationship of the Church to the world. As “hot potatoes” I would especially describe the question of religious freedom and also the question of doctrine.

Benjamin Greschner: A year ago, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of your Fraternity's four bishops. Has this decision of the Holy Father had a positive effect on the work of the Fraternity?

Father Schmidberger: The lifting of the decree of excommunication removed barriers and brought more Catholic faithful to us. On the other hand the uproar in the press has raised some new barriers. I believe, however, that this courageous decision made by the Pope has positively affected not only the Fraternity and its work, but in fact the entire Church.

Benjamin Greschner: How do you you assess the current mood in your priories and establishments? What do the faithful and the priests think about the discussions with the Holy See?

Father Schmidberger: As far as I can tell, the mood in our priories and establishments is generally quite good, and in general, our members welcome the discussions with the Holy See. However none of us are under any delusions.

Benjamin Greschner: In April 2005, with Joseph Cardinel Ratzinger, a prince of the Church was elected to the throne of Peter who represented a gleam of hope for many “traditional” Catholics. Already now, Benedict XVI has ruled the Church for almost five years. How do you assess these first five years of his pontificate?

Pater Schmidberger: The Church has entered calmer waters with Benedict XVI. The rehabilitation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the traditional form, the lifting of the decree of excommunication, and the doctrinal discussions with the Holy See are very positive acts of this pontificate. On the other hand we regret the visit to the Roman synagogue and especially the statement of the Pope that we and the Jews pray to the same God.

We Christians worship the most holy Trinity and adore our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, consubstantial with the Father. The Jews of today, in contrast, do not accept either of these fundamental truths of our holy religion. Since there is no other God than the most holy Trinity, no other Lord than Jesus Christ, we do not worship the same God as the Jews.

Things were different with the righteous of the Old Testament. They were open to the truth of the trinity and the divine sonship of the promised messiah. The Pope has distanced himself alarmingly from those words of the first pope, St. Peter: “Neither is there salvation in any other [than Jesus Christ]” (Acts 4:12). This goes for every person, for Jews and Muslims also.

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Thanks to a reader for the translation!

34 comments:

New Catholic said...

Our German translator is off duty... If any reader wishes to provide us with an accurate and adequate translation, please post it here and we will edit this post. I never feel that my own translations of German news items are good and solid.

NC

Crouchback said...

I dont do German. Fr Schmidberger is a good man, and I predict whatever he has to say will be positive.

Malcolm said...

If you put the URL in Google translator it is pretty accurate. Anyway, very interesting interview, he said that the doctrinal talks could take years, I sure hope that is not the case. We need to pray for these doctrinal talks daily!

Anonymous said...

Greschner, Benjamin: Recently, Bishop Richard Williamson spoke in a video interview about the talks (with the Vatican). He commented on the discussions rather snidely and did not appear convinced that they will reach fruition. How do you assess his statement? Is this the official opinion of the Brotherhood?

Father Schmidberger: The opinion of Bishop Williamson on the talks in Rome can only be condemned, because his opinion actually does not correspond to the attitude of the Brotherhood.

End Quote

Why is Bishop Williamson to be "condemned" for offering an opinion?

What constitutes "the attitude of the Brotherhood" (SSPPX)?

Has Fr. Schmidberger polled every SSPX priest? Or is the "attitude" whatever Bishop Fellay says it is?

I do not comprehend how it is that anyone in the SSPX has the right to silence or publicly condemn Bishop Williamson.

He has as much right to speak as any of the other three bishops which Archbishop Lefebvre and Castro de Mayer consecrated.

Anonymous said...

Why is anyone paying attention to Fr. Schmidberger? Is he running the SSPX?

On the other hand the upper echelon of the SSPX doesn't really care what the rank-and-file priests think. They have an agenda (for good or bad) and will pursue it.

J.G. Ratkaj said...

"Why is Bishop Williamson to be "condemned" for offering an opinion?"


I do not think that it is accurate to translate "bedauern" with "condemn". "regret" is rather appropriate.

Tim said...

Fr Schmidberger is the former Superior General of the SSPX, so he is by all means part of its "upper echelon"...

Anonymous said...

"Why is anyone paying attention to Fr. Schmidberger? Is he running the SSPX?"

He's not, but still he's member of the SSPX General Chapter and one of the highest-ranking members of the SSPX.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of reasons to condemn Bishop Williamson's opinions ... need I recount them?

Jordanes said...

Why is Bishop Williamson to be "condemned" for offering an opinion?

Read it again -- he said the OPINIONS of Bishop Williamson are to be condemned (or regretted as J.G. Ratkaj says), not that Bishop Williamson is to be condemned for offering an opinion. HUMONGOUS difference.

Anonymous said...

You can consider Fr Schimdberger the gray eminence of the SSPX. He's a very high-ranking and a very influential member of the Society, more than his relatively small media exposure may suggest.

Enoch said...

Anonymous wrote:

"Has Fr. Schmidberger polled every SSPX priest? Or is the "attitude" whatever Bishop Fellay says it is?"

Well, for one thing, the Society of St. Pius X is not a democracy. So it would be strange indeed if the leadership of the Society of St. Pius X polled its priests before it made decisive decisions on important matters.

Also, Archbishop Lefebvre did not hold the revisionist views of Bp. Williamson. And, in the years that I attended an SSPX chapel (in which I listened to the sermons of many different Society priests), never once did I hear anything even closely resembling Bp. Williamson's revisionist views.

Even so, I believe that there are a few Society priests who hold revisionist viewpoints. Thankfully, they are a minority.

Anonymous said...

There has ceased to be any real difference between the SSPX and the FSSP.

Lucius said...

Fr. Schmidberger said:„Da es keinen anderen Gott gibt als die Allerheiligste Dreifaltigkeit, keinen anderen Herrn als Jesus Christus, beten wir mit den Juden nicht zum selben Gott.“

"Since there is no other God other than the Most Holy Trinity, no other Lord other than Jesus Christ, we do not pray with the Jews to the same God."

I think this is poorly stated and as stated is not true and this is where SSPX gets in trouble and will get accused of prejudicial as opposed to theological anti-Judaism. It is the same God. God is who He is regardless of the deficient knowledge of Him of Jews, Muslims etc.

What differs is the Christian conception and knowledge of this God as opposed to the Jewish knowledge which is deficient because the Jews do not accept Jesus Christ and therefore refuse knowledge of God as Trinitarian as well as One.

Dan Hunter said...

"There has ceased to be any real difference between the SSPX and the FSSP."

If true this is good news.

Jordanes said...

There has ceased to be any real difference between the SSPX and the FSSP.

Except for certain matters such as whether or not one's fraternity is a Catholic community, and whether or not the fraternity's members are suspended a divinis. Apart from such irrelevancies, there's no real difference. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"I think this is poorly stated and as stated is not true"

So, the Church taught error before the Council?

The Catholics are indifferent nowadays, but believe me, claiming that we worship the same God is incredibly offensive to the Jews. No sane Jew would say that, ever.

Anonymous said...

"What differs is the Christian conception and knowledge of this God as opposed to the Jewish knowledge which is deficient because the Jews do not accept Jesus Christ and therefore refuse knowledge of God as Trinitarian as well as One."

Ultimately we all worship the same Gode, but some of us aren't aware of this, let's overcome the division, ut unum sint, hooray! Modernist babble. You can say that "deficient knowledge" nonsense about every cult, including voodoo, paganism, buddhism and Jedi.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Schmidberger says that anyone who does not acknowledge the Trinity, worships a false god.

The first Vatican Council says
"If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema."

IMO Father Schmidberger comes awfully close of denying this dogma.

Knight of Malta said...

I agree with Father that especially Muslims do not worship the same God as Christians, and unlike the God of the Old Testament, the very nature of Allah does not allow for a "begotten" son:

http://www.allah.org/

Whereas the Trinity is integral to the Christian faith, with Christ being the only "begotten" son (cf. John 3:16), though with God from the beginning (cf. John 1:1).

wsxyz said...

Fr. Schmidberger says that anyone who does not acknowledge the Trinity, worships a false god.

False. Fr. Schmidberger says that anyone who explicitly rejects the Trinity worships a false god.

Anonymous said...

I am sure Fr. Schmidberger is very sincere, and that, if he reflects on what he said concerning God, the Jews and the pope's visit to the Roman synagogue, he will realise that he has made a mistake. I must also say that, theologically, the Jews and the Christians actually DO pray to the same God, although they do not accept Jesus Christ, the incarnate word, God and man, the second person of the Blessed Trinity etc. Jesus was a Jew and also went to the synagogue, joining in the prayers to the 'God of the Jews', who is also our God, the one, true and only God, and His prayer is a model for our prayer surely - I am thinking of the 'Our Father' here. Surely we should not regret that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ visited a synagogue ? He is the God of the chosen people as well as the gentiles, He, the saviour of the new covenant, is the fulfillment of the old covenant. We pray the psalms in the divine office and in the Holy Mass. Let us pray for those who have not yet grasped this, and also for the conversion of the Jewish people, our brothers and sisters.

Antonio said...

After studying mathematics at the University of Munich, in 1972 he entered the seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X at Ecône. There, in 1975, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

Are you telling me that Fr. Schmidberger was ordained under merely 3 years?!

Anonymous said...

"IMO Father Schmidberger comes awfully close of denying this dogma."

This had been the official position of the Catholic Church before the ecumenical lunacy has started, whether you like it or not. So, the Church erred?

Anonymous said...

"I am sure Fr. Schmidberger is very sincere, and that, if he reflects on what he said concerning God, the Jews and the pope's visit to the Roman synagogue, he will realise that he has made a mistake."

Father Schidberger is exactly right. We do not worship the same God as the Jews, and this is and was always the teaching of the Catholic Church. If you say this is wrong, then you say that the Church did not know what she was teaching about God. This attitude can hardly be called Catholic.

Jordanes said...

This had been the official position of the Catholic Church before the ecumenical lunacy has started, whether you like it or not. So, the Church erred?

Which magisterial declarations affirm that Catholics and Jews worship or pray to two separate Gods?

Anonymous said...

But this seems to conflict with Romans (1:19) "For what can be known about God is plain to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made." We should say to this that knowledge is of two kinds: one is speculative, and the other affective. Through neither of these ways did the world know God completely. Although some Gentiles knew God as having some of those attributes which are knowable by reason, they did not know God as the Father of an only begotten and consubstantial Son ‑ and our Lord is talking about knowledge of these things.

Again, if they did have some speculative knowledge of God, this was mixed with many errors: some denied his providence over all things; others said he was the soul of the world; still others worshipped other gods along with him. For this reason they are said not to know God. Composite things can be known in part, and unknown in part, while simple things are unknown if they are not known in their entirety. Thus, even though some erred only slightly in their knowledge of God, they are said to be entirely ignorant of him.


St. Thomas Aquinas, a lefebvrist theologian coming close to denying glorious achievements of the modern theology

Steve said...

It is one thing to say that Jewish knowledge about the God that they worship is deficient because they don't accept the fullness of his self revelation, but it's illogical and patently false to say that they do not worship the one true God who in substance is the same Father that Jesus taught us to worship. Jews indeed worship the same God.

Anonymous said...

"Which magisterial declarations affirm that Catholics and Jews worship or pray to two separate Gods?"

In the First Epistle of John the Holy Spirit tells you:

No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also.

Therefore they can't worship Father while denying the Son. If you believe that the Jews and Catholics worship the same God, you're either ignorant, heretic or bad-willing.

J 8,41:

They said to him, "We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.

To say that we worship the same God as the Jews is not only nonsense, it's a blasphemy.

Dan Hunter said...

How is it possible to pray to the One God and not pray to the Trinity?

That is like saying that I want my friend to come to my home to visit but I do not want his brain to come with him.

Is it possible to seperate the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity and isolate just one?

Anonymous said...

Were the faithful in the SSPX pews polled? If not, how can Fr. Schmidberger know their sentiments regarding these discussions?

Anonymous said...

Rome knows things have really have been in ruins since the end of the council. The fruits are killing the church in the west and maybe growing in the third world. SO THAT WHY THE POPE NEEDS THE TRADITIONALISH.

New Catholic said...

Steve, I could not have said it in a more succinct and accurate way.

NC

Jordanes said...

If you believe that the Jews and Catholics worship the same God, you're either ignorant, heretic or bad-willing.

Or an orthodox Catholic . . .

The writings of Holy Scripture, by the way, are not documents of the Magisterium.