Rorate Caeli

German District Superior: "for that we are grateful"

Editorial of the May 2012 issue of the monthly of the German District of the Society of Saint Pius X, Mitteilungsblatt, penned by the District Superior, and former SSPX Superior General, Father Franz Schmidberger:

Stuttgart, April 20, 2012

 Dear friends and benefactors, dear faithful,

We hold fast, with all our heart and with all our soul, to Catholic Rome, Guardian of the Catholic faith and of the traditions necessary to preserve this faith, to Eternal Rome, Mistress of wisdom and truth.” 

 “We refuse, on the other hand, and have always refused to follow the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies which were clearly evident in the Second Vatican Council and, after the Council, in all the reforms which issued from it.” 

 In this statement of Abp. Lefebvre of his epochal declaration of 21 November 1974 are contained two inseparable fundamental principles: on one hand, the rejection of the spirit of the Council, of some of the declarations of the council and of some of the reforms that arose from the Council – and we have devoted ourselves with all our force to this task since the foundation of the Fraternity in 1970. On the other, unbreakable relations with Rome, insofar as it portrays eternal Rome. We cannot expect, however, that after the conciliar and post-conciliar collapse everything will be perfect again in the Church Militant within one day. The Church has in her bosom both saints and sinners. Amongst her human imperfections can even be counted errors, if they do not directly oppose the revealed truth. A Church Militant filled with saints only is the heresy of Jansenism, which has been condemned expressly by the Magisterium. Of course every Christian has the duty to fight sin and error, each according to his possibility and his position in the Church; however, we must always start with ourselves and align our lives with the principles of the Catholic faith.

 During and after the Council, the following slogan was issued time and time again: Ecclesia semper reformanda est – the Church is always being reformed. This statement is ambiguous and was shamefully abused by those who want to reform. It is only Catholic when we mean: the Church is always to be reformed in its members, the life of faith and morals must always be renewed, and even the discipline of the Church is sometimes to be adapted to new circumstances. But the structure of the church is God-given and cannot be altered nor “renewed” by man.

Let us then not forget in the heat of our battle the first principle of Abp. Lefebvre: the Church was founded by Christ on Peter. To him he entrusted the keys of heaven, to him he gave the mandate to feed the sheep (Mt. 16, 18ff; Jn 21, 15ff). And the field of the Church may be filled with tares, so full that one can hardly see the wheat – the Church has the promise of eternal life; the Lord is with her all the days until the end of times (Mt. 28, 20). It is His Church, not ours. We do not have the right to dispose of her. We cannot see the Church in a too human, too political, or too diplomatic way. However much St. Athanasius, in the fourth century A.D., saved the faith in the divinity of Christ, however much he safeguarded the survival of the Church – he was but a tool of Divine Providence, with which the promise of the Church’s perpetual existence was to be accomplished. Had he flinched from this mission, God would have called upon another tool. And it is like this with Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X that he founded: the founder and his work have significantly contributed to upholding for the Church the true Holy Mass, the doubt-free sacraments, and the deposit of the faith during stormy times. And yet, the great confessor-bishop, the priests that he ordained, the bishops that he consecrated, they are but unprofitable servants (Lk 17, 10), who are in the service of Divine Providence and promise. How much grace, greatness and joy lay in this being allowed to serve! And yet, the tools do not possess the promise of eternal life, but the Church does, as the Mystical Body of the Lord. And this is why we hold fast, with all our heart, to eternal Rome, and why we want to be neither heretical, nor schismatic, but simply Catholic.

 If Rome now calls us back from the exile to which it expelled us in 1975 with the abrogation of the [canonical] approval [of the Society], and even more in 1988 with the decree of excommunication, then that is an act of justice and without doubt also an act of authentic pastoral care of Pope Benedict XVI. And for that we are grateful.

 With priestly benediction in the risen Lord and His most Holy Mother.


 Father Franz Schmidberger
[Translation by "The Anonymous Translator"®.]


  1. "If Rome now calls us back from the exile to which it expelled us in 1975 with the abrogation of the [canonical] approval [of the Society],..."

    I thought it was the local bishop who abrogated the Society and not Rome.

  2. Br Anthony T.O.S.F said...
    "I thought it was the local bishop who abrogated the Society and not Rome."

    Perhaps Fr. is referring to the suspension, a divinis, of Paul VI ?

  3. Very significant. Again, Fr. Schmidberger is offering the SSPX faithful a way to think about -- and accept -- canonical regularization.

    I am wondering whether, and if so, how, the SSPX faithful will be incorporated into the canonical structure. I guess we have to wait and see.

  4. Rorate, as usual you are 10.

    Pax Christi!

  5. He did, but then on appeal to Rome, Paul VI threw them under the bus.

  6. Beautiful letter written by a faithful priest. May Our Lord bless him and all members of the Society always and forever!
    Last paragraph; "Justice". Yes, justice is what this is all about. Justice to faithful priests, justice to Archbishop Lefebvre, justice to all faithful Catholics who have been, and are,faithful to Tradition, the True Mass, and who have suffered so much all these years, and are still suffering. Justice is what is just and proper without any more delay or unjust demands from the modernists. Justice is from God, a gift for His faithful children. Justice will triumph. Deo Gratias!

  7. Rev. Fr. Pluger, first assistent of the superior general, just held a speach on Apr. 29 in Hattersheim/ Germany, that had the same tenor as this foreword or as the words of Fr. Simoulin.

    So now it is no longer rumors. There is an imminent agreement.

  8. Dear Br. Anthony, TOSF

    What happened was, grosso modo:

    * Nov. 1974: on request of then Pope JPII, a commission conducted a visitation at Écône. The commission consisted of: Cardinals Garrone, Wright, Tabera; Abp. Descamp and Bp. Onclin.

    * The members of the commission asked nasty questions to seminarians and staff and spread errors about the faith, even about fundamental questions (i.e. resurrection of our Lord). From this stemmed the notorious Declaration by Mgr Lefebvre of 1974, written after unsuccessful recourse in Rome against what was happening against him and the Society.

    * A letter, dated May 6, 1975, and signed by the above-mentioned Cardinals, informed +Lefebvre that because of his Declaration (and the fact that he would not change it or take it back, and if he would rephrase it, it would still be carrying the same message) they could not give a positive judgement on the FSSPX.

    Therefore, and (!) with full approvement of the Pope (!), Bp Mamie (local Bishop in the diocese where the SSPX was created) would get the permission to withdraw the approval of the SSPX etc.etc.etc.

    When this letter from the Cardinals arrived, also a letter from Bp. Mamie arrived, withdrawing immediately the SSPX's canonical statute, forcing it to empty the seminary and send home the seminarians as well as the staff during the year.

    This resulted in +Lefebvre sending a letter to Pope JPII (dated: May 31, 1975) that was answered by a letter of His Holiness (dated June 29, 1975), as well as official recourse by +Lefebvre to the competent authorities at the Apostolic Signatura.

    Anyhow, the approval of Pope JPII of these things (as is shown in the letter, sent by the Cardinals) is the reason why it is said that "Rome" abrogated the Society.

  9. It is clear that they are moving toward an agreement, and try to prepare the faithful.

    I find it fascinating that this is all culminating at the end of the present Rosary Crusade. If this happens, as it appears it will, just as the Rosary Crusade comes to completion, I personally will have no doubt that this is due to the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and thus in accord with the positive will of God.

  10. There is, no doubt, some serious groundwork being laid for the faithful by many leaders in the Society. In fact, I heard similar statements at mass the other day by my SSPX Priest.

    God Be Praised!!

  11. IM said...

    Dear IM, sorry not sure bout all you are saying, as don't recall reading this before, but surely you mean Pp Paul VI ? Easy mistake given the longevity and disastrous legacy of JPII's 'reign'...! ;)

  12. Isn't "Ecclesia semper reformanda est" a Protestant slogan?

  13. Tim,
    I don't understand your question...SSPX Faithful into the canonical structure?
    True many attend FSSPX only Masses. This is true for me in some respects, I will/have attended FSSP & ICK Masses as well.
    Most SSPX'ers are not part of the FSSPX...i.e. you need to be a 3rd Order or some part of the Religious life.
    Many claim we are in schism or outside due to where we attend Mass and take the Sacraments...if this is true the other side of the coin must be as well..i.e. those who attend only liberal and heretical services by an 'approved' Catholic Priest..
    Personally, I have always considered myself a Catholic in search of the Truth and Adhering to what my forefathers had...

  14. I have now been with SSPX 30+ long years of waiting. It has always been our hope that one day the SSPX would finally be recalled to Rome. I have also long realised that when that day came, it would not be a perfect Church which would do the recalling (full of tares as Fr S states), and that the real work of restoration would begin. I feel that for the last 40 years the SSPX has been in 'boot camp' awaiting the call of the Commander. If now is the hour that we must go into battle, then so be it. But I am under no illusions that it is into battle we will be going. I feel like a solider awaiting a beach landing...
    Our Lady of Fatima Save us!

  15. I would agree with you, Paul M. and I appreciate your military imagery. The hard work lay ahead but I am anxious for the battle to begin in earnest. The finish on many of the beads of my Rosary is worn off.

    When the Society is "regularized," what are our marching orders? Of course we must continue to pray and live the Faith as we would do anyway.

    We now sit and wait and pray to see how things unfold. If the Society is regularized, may it be God's will, we first rejoice but what next for us as laymen?

  16. IM,

    Paul VI, not John Paul II, was Pope in 1974/1975/1976. Paul VI's pontificate only ended in 1978.

    It was Paul VI, not John Paul II, who, on appeal, confirmed the local bishop's decision to abolish the SSPX.

  17. Dear all, especially Marty Jude and Prof. Basto,

    Indeed, it was H.H. Pope Paul VI. My mistake, it was late night after a long day!

    Thanks for clarifying that!

  18. Brian,

    The problem with leaving them in the structure they already have, is their current structure is is a pious union, or at best a society of common life. Either one would make the SSPX completely subject to the local ordinaries, which is something the SSPX really, really wants to avoid. That's why a new structure like a personal prelature or ordinariate, etc. is needed.

  19. Doc said: The problem with leaving them in the structure they already have, is their current structure is is a pious union, or at best a society of common life. Either one would make the SSPX completely subject to the local ordinaries, which is something the SSPX really, really wants to avoid. That's why a new structure like a personal prelature or ordinariate, etc. is needed.

    That is not what I am talking about. What I mean is that if the Pope declares that the SSPX is Catholic with valid and licit sacraments, it will be undeniable that they are in full communion with the Catholic Church. It is difficult to imagine a future pope reversing that.

    As for the issue of their canonical status, I pray that our Holy Father just leaves the structural situation undefined, as it is now. Give the matter more time for prayer and study. The SSPX will not have any reason to split over that situation.

    Although the undefined canonical structure is far from ideal, and many will protest that it is just giving away the farm to the SSPX, I believe it is the best course to ultimately resolve this problem.

    If resolving this situation is the ultimate goal, tolerating an ill-defined canonical status is strongly preferable to a split in the SSPX, which will lead to an intensification of this decades long problem. Positions will become more heated and entrenched, and there will be an even greater likelihood of an eventual schism. Certainly many will immediately throw that "schism" label at those SSPX who do not agree to whatever structure is cooked up.

    If they are declared to be in full communion with the Catholic Church, the threat of schism will vanish. Pope Benedict XVI will have done a great work and begun the process of healing a deep wound. After a decade or three, a future pope can negotiate some kind of structure.

  20. Sorry, Theresa, our blog is not a consultation service - and, in fact, we regard with great concern those bloggers (and forum-"experts"), especially laymen, who consider themselves apt to answer such questions online authoritatively. It is a serious and non-traditional trend.

    As always in such cases, our suggestion to you is to ask and consult with the priest in your community - from what you tell us, it is a very traditional community, so the Priest, who knows you and your family well, will certainly provide the best responses to you.

    Thank you for your readership.


  21. You don't suppose all these communiques and public statements are intended to put pressure on Bishop Fellay, not the faithful? That perhaps he has not made up his mind, or they feel he has not? I am thinking--perhaps you have, too--of the statements he has made regarding the seriousness of the doctrinal divisions. I am thinking especially of his Candlemas sermon in which he described the terminus of the discussions. 'They ask, Are you for tradition? We answer yes, and we show them our arguments from tradition. They say, are you sure you are for tradition? We answer, yes, and we show them all our arguments again. They do not answer the arguments, they say, the Council is tradition now, you must accept it.' Remember that? He sounded so frustrated. Perhaps it is Bishop Fellay who is the intended audience for all these reasonings from his staff, amplified by their public position.


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