Rorate Caeli

SSPX-Rome: Important - Father Schmidberger speaks on conditions and current status of negotiations with Rome
Updated: video with subtitles

Fr. Andreas Steiner, spokesman of the German District of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), interviewed Germany’s current District Superior and former Superior General of the Society Fr. Franz Schmidberger.

Fr. Schmidberger spoke on the most recent General Chapter, the current situation of affairs between Rome and the SSPX, and on the relationship with Abp. Müller (head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei).

[Click on "captions" for English subtitles]

Following is an adapted, but reasonably accurate, summary of the 17:21-long video.

On the first question, dealing with the General Chapter, Fr. Schmidberger remarks about the gain for the SSPX itself: “the General Chapter has provided us with a new unity within our own ranks, [a unity] which had suffered a bit in recent times; and that is a big grace of God, I would say”. Concerning the external aspect of the General Chapter, Father remarks that there are three points which must be demanded from the authorities if a visible union with Rome will be established. These are: firstly, that the SSPX will be given the freedom to expose the errors of Vatican II; secondly, that the SSPX will be allowed to only use the liturgical books of 1962; and thirdly, that there must always be a bishop in the Fraternity from within its own ranks.

The second question deals with the situation between Rome and the SSPX. Around Pentecost (of this year) people thought that a visible union was close, but, as Father remarks, the meeting of Cardinal Levada and Bishop Fellay changed this. The proposal that was presented by the Cardinal contained not only the proposal [translator's note: for a doctrinal preamble] that Bishop Fellay had sent to Rome earlier, but it added to that proposal new requirements to be fulfilled by the SSPX, but which the Bishop deemed unacceptable for the Fraternity.

These additional requirements consist, according to Father, of the recognition of the “licitness” [in German: Lizeität - translator's note: see also the foreword to the SSPX’s German District’s Mitteilungsblatt nr. 404 of September 2012, in which the same word is used, strengthening the belief that this words stems directly from the proposal of Cardinal Levada] of the new liturgy [translator's note: Father firstly presents the term Lizeität as “permissiveness”, but he then immediately interprets it as meaning “rightfulness”]; and also of the recognition of the uninterrupted continuity between Vatican II and all former councils and doctrinal statements of the Church. And that is impossible, according to Father, as there undeniably are ruptures with Vatican II and “we therefore cannot accept the hermeutic of continuity as such” [emphasis added by translator].

Following on that meeting, Bishop Fellay sent a letter to the Pope, asking him whether these additional requirements were wished for by His Holiness, or that they were his co-workers's demands. The Pope assured Bishop Fellay that he really wishes these requirements to be fulfilled.

The SSPX will send its concerns about these additional requirements to Rome in the hope that they can be resolved. Already with the doctrinal discussions it became clear that there are big differences between the teaching of the Church during the last centuries (represented by the SSPX) and the doctrinal concepts of the representatives of the current authorities in the church. As long as these are not resolved, Father says he believes that there will be no real exodus of the Church out of the current problems.

The third question, then, deals with the relation between Archbishop Müller, the current prefect of the CDF, and the SSPX. The Archbishop has not been very favourable of the SSPX when he was the local ordinary of the diocese in which the SSPX has its German seminary; however, what worries Father much more is the heterodoxy of the Archbishop in certain points of the Faith [translator's note: see this Rorate post, at number 2], whereas the head of the CDF is supposed to watch over the Faith and protect it.

Father Steiner then asked whether Fr. Schmidberger expects new excommunications if the SSPX does not fulfil the two abovementioned requirements. Father Schmidberger, however, thinks that that is very unlikely. He sees the Fraternity not only as a community of about 570 priests, some sisters and some Catholic schools, but – without wanting to come across as pretentious – he also believes that the SSPX is in a certain way the backbone of all those who want to keep the Tradition of the Church alive. For all those, the SSPX is in a certain way a point of reference. If this point of reference would be discredited in such a way, this would mean a huge “demoralisation” of the traditional and conservative forces in the Church. It would therefore be a tremendous catastrophe, not so much for the Fraternity, but for the Church itself.

Finally, the last question sought the opinion of Fr. Schmidberger as to whether the talks with Rome have had any benefit. Father believes that the talks have had huge benefits. Firstly, they have proven that the SSPX really does search a normalisation; that the SSPX regards its current situation in light of the current crisis, as being not normal; and every abnormality lingers for a normalisation. The current abnormal situation is, however, not the fault of the Fraternity; it is a necessity in the current crisis if one wants to keep the ancient liturgy, the ancient doctrine, the ancient discipline integrally and if one wants to live homogeneously as a Catholic on this fullness.

On the other hand, the discussions have shown that there exist doctrinal differences; and the deviations do not exist on the side of the Fraternity, but on the side of – one has to, sadly, admit this – those representatives of the Church that organise the Assisi meetings, that practise that which has been explicitly condemned in the past by the Church, by the Popes, by the councils.

And thirdly, the talks have led to a process of clarification within the Society. The Society does not agree with those that, out of principle, reject talks with Rome. Father ends the interview by saying: "The Fraternity has never worked for itself; it has never regarded itself as an end in itself, but it has always striven to serve the Church; to serve the Popes. Archbishop Lefebvre has always said this: we want to be at the disposal of the Bishops, of the Popes; we want to serve them, we want to help them lead the Church out of this crisis, to restore the Church in all her beauty, in all her holiness; but this can, of course, only happen outside of any compromise, of any false compromise. That is of great importance to us and we have in truth tried to resettle this treasure in the Church, to give it right of residence again. And maybe one or another has worked out in a certain way. The Fraternity has also, through these doctrinal discussions which I have mentioned, certainly made people think about the Second Vatican Council and about certain statements of this Council.”

[Translation: IM. Source:]