SSPX German District Superior: “If Rome now calls us back out of exile…”

In the April Mitteilungsblatt (newsletter) of the SSPX in Germany, the District Superior (former Superior General) of the SSPX, Fr. Franz Schmidberger, wrote:

[…]

Wenn Rom uns nun aus dem Exil zurückruft, in das wir 1975 mit der Aberkennung der Approbation und noch mehr 1988 mit dem Exkommunikationsdekret verstoßen worden sind, dann ist dies ein Akt der Gerechtigkeit und zweifellos auch ein Akt echter Hirtensorge Papst Benedikts XVI. Und dafür sind wir dankbar.

[…]

If Rome now calls us back out of the exile into which (in 1975 with the withdrawal of approval and even more in 1988 with the decree of excommunication) we were cast, then this is an act of justice and undoubtedly also an act of the real pastoral care of Pope Benedict XVI. And we are grateful for it.

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

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38 Responses to SSPX German District Superior: “If Rome now calls us back out of exile…”

  1. Random Friar says:

    This is a great sign. Maybe it be a good omen!

  2. Andy Milam says:

    This is good news, good news indeed!

  3. oldcanon2257 says:

    May is the month of Our Blessed Mother. Please pray for her intercession for the regularization of the SSPX.

  4. Mike says:

    Let’s hope and pray that regularization of SSPX comes soon. I have never stepped into one of their chapels, but I remember June 30, 1988 like it was yesterday. That healing–on both sides–will be a triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

  5. Nun2OCDS says:

    Let us pray “That they all may be one.” Amen.

  6. Centristian says:

    A very admirable sentiment expressed by Father Schmidberger. I stand impressed and encouraged.

    St. Peter and St. Pius X, pray for us.

  7. ContraMundum says:

    Why should he be grateful if this is an act of justice? I see no sense of contrition, no sense that this act of pastoral care was an act of mercy. Apparently, he believes that Benedict XVI is merely giving SSPX its due, and admitting that the rest of the Church has been wrong since at least 1975.

    If that is indeed what he means, I do not see it as a hopeful sign, but a delusion destined to end in disappointment.

  8. TravelerWithChrist says:

    I am hopeful. After spending time in a Traditional Latin Mass for the past 2 years, I can sympathize with SSPX – the beautiful traditions of ornate altars, ad orientum, the language, and more were changed to ‘attract the protestants'; meanwhile Catholics were forced to suffer through until the TLM was allowed back. There is such a difference between the NO and the TLM. I pray they will come back under Papa, and I pray a good bishop is assigned.

  9. Geoffrey says:

    “Why should he be grateful if this is an act of justice? I see no sense of contrition…”

    I feel the same way. The lifting of the excommunications confused me greatly, as I had not seen any signs of repentance that the SSPX regretted the actions that excommunicated themselves in the first place. However, as a Roman Catholic, I submit to the judgment of the Roman Pontiff. He is far wiser than the rest of us!

  10. Centristian says:

    ContraMundum:

    Well, yeah, but I’ll cut him some slack in light of the bad attitude from the very beginning. Yes, when the bishop didn’t renew the charter of the SSPX back in the 70s and it was dissolved thereby, and Rome denied Archbishop Lefebvre’s subsequent appeal, the archbishop should have submitted to the will of God expressed in the will of Peter and said “Roma locuta est, causa finita est.” Granted.

    But let’s be frank and honest, why didn’t the bishop just renew their charter? Why didn’t Pope Paul cut them some slack when Archbishop Lefebvre appealed to him? At that stage of the game, the Society of St. Pius X wasn’t doing anything wrong, as far as I can see. They were just going along, forming priests in the time-tested manner and celebrating the liturgy in the older style, with approbation. Then suddenly, no, they couldn’t do it anymore. Why on earth not?

    Even I am forced to admit there was some inexplicable bad will on Rome’s part back then. If Pope Paul could have brought himself to just say, as Pope Benedict is now saying, “okay, fine, if you guys want to cling to the ’62 Missal, go ahead, knock yourselves out; the pre-Conciliar ways can be preserved within your Society and you can enjoy whatever growth the Holy Spirit permits you to enjoy,” we wouldn’t be in this mess right now. Alas, with Pope Paul and Archbishop Lefebvre it became personal and, pardon my terminology, but a major pissing contest ensued, and as a result of two clashing titanic wills, we have a great big mess today.

    Archbishop Lefebvre should have obeyed the Pope, on the one hand…and the Pope should have just let the Society be, on the other hand, with both men trusting in the the Providence of the Holy Spirit.

    So if Pope Paul’s present day successor is saying to Archbishop Lefebvre’s present day successor, “hey, our forebears messed this up; let’s just go back to square one and have a do-over,” and if Archbishop Lefebvre’s present day successor responds, “okay, fine, let’s…but you guys shouldn’t have been such jerks about it back then,” alright. Let them get their little dig in. At least, now, some on the Lefebvrist side seem to have gotten the news flash that Pope Paul is dead and that Pope Benedict is no Pope Paul. That’s actually major progress!

    I’m beginning to think this reconciliation could actually happen. I didn’t realize, to be quite honest, that there existed any sort of a division between the ugly “we HATES Rome” conspiracy-theory fright fest of the SSPX and the spirits of reason and moderation. Back when I was with the Society, they were all mixed together as one. Now, from what I am hearing, it seems like something new has been happening. From what I’m hearing, I say; my ear is no longer to the rail as it once was.

    But if the Addams Family element are coalescing around Williamson and the better angels are reaching out, together, to clasp Peter’s hand…this could actually be interesting. I guard my optimism, but it could be that a split will at least occur, and part of–perhaps the better part of–the Lefebvrist community can and will be regularized within the Church when all is said and done, to the benefit of both sides.

  11. anilwang says:

    ContraMundum, please don’t read between the lines, especially things that are not there.

    He has expressed his gratitude at the Pope’s pastoral care. What does that say to you?

    WRT justice, if you know the history of the SSPX, there was a lot of pressure by liberals to shut down SSPX seminaries and shun TLM. Had TLM been protected and the NO not been such a mess in the 1980s, the SSPX would never have felt threatened and Lefebvre would not have felt forced to consecrate bishops to keep TLM alive after his death. Fear caused them to be excommunicated. Charity (on both side) allowed the excommunication to be lifted. Now the SSPX and Vatican are on the same side of the issue and the Vatican sympathizes with their fear, it would be unjust for both not to be fully reunited.

  12. Texas trad says:

    Centristian: I agree with you (except for the boy talk). I have been going to the SSPX for 10 years, and for the first time I really think this will happen. Knowing the bishops slightly and a lot of the priests pretty well, I am convinced most will follow Bishop Fellay if an accord is reached. Bishop Williamson will not. He has been quietly organizing his own fraternity for some time and will most certainly spin off. The SSPX parish I have attended until recently in Texas, will most certainly split apart. I believe about 1/3 of the SSPX worldwide will not follow Fellay to Rome, I am sad to say. My experience is that about 1/2 of SSPX attendees are really sedes hiding out in SSPX. They are certainly showing their true side at this time. Some of the women in my ladies luncheon group say they believe a big split will come to the SSPX. We will see, but Schmidberger has made two positive announcements in one month about the hopefulness of an accord. Anyone who has read his interviews during the doctrinal talks, knows that he was vehemently opposed to an agreement and was less than restrained in making his point about that. This is a new Schmidberger we are seeing. I am so hopeful for a positive announcement soon. Several of us are going to Rome if there is a celebration as there was when the Anglicans processed into St. Peter’s square to kiss the pope’s ring in January. Can’t wait. Ciao

  13. Centristian says:

    Texas trad:

    I’m so delighted by your post, truly. It is a new Franz Schmidberger, from what I remember of him back in the day (when we called him “Heinz Cheeseburger”…not to his face, of course ;^).

    At any rate, “boy talk” aside, it’s really good to hear that the moderates within the SSPX (they were always there, but were once upon a time tantamount to the Lefebvrist sin that dared not speak its name) have at last found their voice and are willing to leave the hardliners behind to partake of a new day in union with the better elements of the establishment. I think that once the better elements of the mainstream Church and the better elements of the SSPX get together and mingle and each discover that the others aren’t creatures from outer space as reported, but instead all men and women of good will who love Jesus Christ and His holy Church, the screwier elements of the mainstream Church and the screwier elements of the SSPX will suddenly have a formidable united force for good to fear and contend with. I’m sure there will be a few bumps along the way as there are in any good marriage, but I think this could become just that: a good marriage.

    Love can build a bridge…between your heart and mine. Love can build a bridge, don’t you think it’s time? Don’t you think it’s time?

    Sorry, that Judds song just popped into my head for some reason.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    I am so happy about this. For selfish reasons, I could then go to the SSPX Mass which is the one nearest me, and go to the priests for Confession. God bless them all.

  15. AM says:

    Hey, this word “sedes” used above, which I know means “sedevacantists”: how do you all say it? I’ve only ever seen it written. Say-days? or Seeds?

  16. Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian unity.

    Why?

    Because he realizes that it is surreal in the extreme to be entirely preoccupied with accusing each other about how we’ve sinned against each other, doing this even while we have stood under the cross, ignoring Christ Jesus’ blood showering down upon all of us while we — ourselves before God — were yet sinners, totally unrepentant, underserving of His forgiveness. Without exception.

    Our Lord desires unity. Really. He does.

    Today is the day of salvation.

    We all need to be in the Barque of Peter. It is Peter, as Father, who trembles the most.

    Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian unity.

    – Father George

  17. petrus69 says:

    Texas trad- I totally agree with you in that there are some faithful of the SSPX , who have sede tendencies and will leave if there is a reconciliation, but we should consider it a filtering phase of the Society. I have no doubt that there might even be some bishops leave as well–I pray not. I have been going to the same Society church since it’s consecration back in the ’70’s and seen people come and go. Our church is truly bless we have a tremdous pastor and good priests and brothers. I can say I don’t know of any sedevacantist attending our church, but we shall see. GOD BLESS

  18. Legisperitus says:

    I think Father George has said it all right there.

  19. robtbrown says:

    NB: Pentecost

  20. Centristian: “I think that once the better elements of the mainstream Church and the better elements of the SSPX get together and mingle and each discover that the others aren’t creatures from outer space as reported, but instead all men and women of good will who love Jesus Christ and His holy Church, the screwier elements of the mainstream Church and the screwier elements of the SSPX will suddenly have a formidable united force for good to fear and contend with.”

    This and your preceding post … Gold star stuff!!

  21. ghp95134 says:

    @AM:
    “say-day vakan-teest”. Both “sedan” (covered chair) and “sedentary” derive from sede (chair); so, think of those words when pronouncing sedevacantist.
    http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=sedevacantist&submit=Submit

    Cheerio!
    –Guy

  22. Bender says:

    If Rome now calls us back out of the exile into which (in 1975 with the withdrawal of approval and even more in 1988 with the decree of excommunication) we were cast . . .
    ________________

    Even in their move toward purported reunion, they still cannot resist continued disunity with such uncharitable and wholly false slaps in the face of the Church.

    “We were cast.” The Church did not cast you out, Blessed Pope John Paul II did not cast you out. You cast yourselves out into exile. And you have remained there entirely by your own obstinence.

    Such distortions of historical truth, combined with continued slaps at John Paul are NOT consistent with a true desire for reconciliation.

  23. Bender says:

    please don’t read between the lines, especially things that are not there
    _______________

    Well that is exactly the problem — what is not there.

    One thing that is not there — in the lines or between the lines or anywhere close to the lines — is the expression of a sincere APOLOGY by SSPX members to Pope Paul, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict, and the rest of the Church. What is not there, what is wholly lacking, are the words “We are sorry for the disunity and hostility and rupture that WE the SSPX caused entirely by our own doing.”

    There is no need to kneel in the snow for months on end, but one tiny little “We apologize” is not too much to expect.

  24. sparksj3 says:

    Bender,

    You wrote that the SSPX caused the “disunity and hostility and rupture” “entirely by [their] own doing.”

    It would be needless to rehash many of the particulars of the situation, a few posters above have done so, but frankly, even Our Holy Father disagrees with you. See the accompanying letter to Summorum Pontificum:

    I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden.

    The situation is tragic, but it is not simple by any stretch of the imagination.

  25. New Sister says:

    Centristian and Mr. Edwards, I have been surprised at how much of the “mainstream Church” is unaware of the SSPX – and I’m talking really involved people who give their time to various ministries and Evangelization. Amongst the laity, learning about the SSPX will be fresh and I think most (under-50 crowd anyway) will be open minded. I think it’s more the mainstream clergy that needs to mingle with the SSPX and be enriched by them, to un-do the suspicion that many were programmed to have during their formation – and vice versa.

  26. dspecht says:

    Even in their move toward purported reunion, they still cannot resist continued disunity with such uncharitable and wholly false slaps in the face of the Church.
    “We were cast.” The Church did not cast you out, Blessed Pope John Paul II did not cast you out. You cast yourselves out into exile. And you have remained there entirely by your own obstinence.
    Such distortions of historical truth, combined with continued slaps at John Paul are NOT consistent with a true desire for reconciliation.

    if sth. is uncharitable and distortion of historical truth then it is your commetn here, bender.

    Even Centristian, not an sspx´er, admits that there was some cruel or unjust actions against the sspx. And sparksje3 also pointed to some right facts.

    And for the historical truth: We learnd in 2007 that it was always allowed to read the Old Mass – but before 1984 we were told the opposite (and even after 1984 and 88 we were told that the Mass were principially forbidden and you need to have a special indult) – and the Archbishop L. and others were persecuted (not only but also) because of celebrating this Old Mass in – alleged – disobedience!

    And he was persecuted for rejecting Communion on the Hands, for critizising the false reforms as Communion in the Hands, the new “offertory”-prayers, versus populum-celebration, misstranslation of the pro multis, introduction of female ministers and lectors, for critizising the new annulment-courts and – laws etc . — all things now even bishops and the Pope himselfe are thinking about ….

    He was called disobedient because he was not willing to support this “reforms” – “reforms” that now most of us critizise and even the Pope tries to re-reform…
    It was totaly UNJUST to persecute the sspx – whilst tolerating all the heretics, all the Mahoneys, Schönborns, all the clown- and easterbunny-masses, implementing all the above mentioned “refoms”.

    It would be an act of JUSTICE to grant a canonical status to the sspx.

    They fouhgt for the things we are now getting one after another (see above). The last thing we will get is a revision of some Vat. II texts. You do not agree, do not believe? – Wait and see!!

    Without the sspx no 2007-MP, no survival of the Mass (well, of course GOD is almighty and could have done it an other way – but in fact it was the tool, the secondary cause GOD used. Even non-sspx´ers admit that without the Archbf. L. humanly speaking there would be nearly no Old Mass now – and at least therefore no MP 2007).
    If sbd. should have to say “we are sorry” than for sure not the Archbishop and his followers for holding up the tradition but those who taught that the Old Mass is not allowed and now teach the opposite. That would be reason enouhg for an apology!

  27. Texas trad says:

    Centristian:
    Thanks for you reply. I do believe the sedes will leave SSPX . I have been astounded by some remarks I have heard toward Bishop Fellay, but hey! Bishop Williamson is just a click away and ready to sign people up. For a real delight, google Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery, Silver City, New Mexico. This cloistered monastery has a beautiful website you will love. I have a second home there and attend the daily TLM (there are 7 per day!) which is so beautifully done. There are 30 monks and 7 priests. It is high in the Gila National Forest in spectacular beauty. Please check it out. I will eventually live there full time. Two more announcements today from SSPX posted here. Anyone who has been with the SSPX very long sees how unusual it is for so many press releases. I am convinced more than ever that an announcement is forthcoming. For those posters here who say the SSPX is hateful to the popes, I have to say that I have never seen or heard that. His picture is in the chapel. I don’t go looking for discord too much as I am a convert who escaped a masonic family to become a Catholic, was expelled from the family and promptly disinherited. I have had all the internal fighting I need. Ciao

  28. robtbrown says:

    Bender says:

    Well that is exactly the problem — what is not there.

    One thing that is not there — in the lines or between the lines or anywhere close to the lines — is the expression of a sincere APOLOGY by SSPX members to Pope Paul,

    Was there an apology by Paul VI for his destruction of Catholic life?

  29. Imrahil says:

    I can only take things at face value, but at face value it is this: If the Holy See insists for an apology, there will be no reconciliation. But there can be reconciliation.

    There is after all such a thing as human nature and the “losing-one’s-face” feeling as the Chinese call it; on both sides for that matter. My own archbishop once used the image of “hitting someone with truth as if with a flanell right into his face”. Not that the Holy See wouldn’t be entitled theoretically to demand an apology, but I hope and pray the Holy See does not. It upsets me somewhat that in discussions about the SSPX, one can hear quite often (not here! this is a general comment, and I rather mean what in English is regrettably called liberals) an undertone such as: “Please, those in charge, make your demands hard enough; after all we don’t want them in”. I do not deny that my own undertone is: “Please, those in charge, demand not an inch more than necessary”.

    We are not here into politics where you hear an apology about five minutes after someone other has got upset. Not that I’d focus on the “Church is not politics” thesis; this is wrong in politics itself, and I’d regret it if the Church climate followed this bad example.

    The conscience of the SSPX (which from face value is a good one, besides) about these matters is best left to the Confessional.

  30. Texas trad says:

    Pope Benedict and Bishop Fellay are closer friends than most people know. There will be no request for an apology and no need to offer one. Neither one of them feels the need “to be right.” There is too much at stake. Pope Benedict knows that Bishop Fellay has suffered enormously while at the same time managing to expand the SSPX into a huge organization. These two have come to an agreement giving the SSPX autonomy from local bishops. They will answer only to the pope. Bishop Fellay would not agree to anything less. The SSPX will continue to growing leaps and bounds although I believe there will be some who will disobey Fellay and go their way toward SSPV. The SSPX has large financial resources, seminaries, schools, real estate, convents, benefactors, parishes and nearly 2 million faithful. All of this will remain under Fellay’s control. We should all be gloriously happy.

  31. robtbrown says:

    Public apologies are empty gestures that are little else than political theater.

    Even when Paul VI was gloriously reigning, there was a contingent of Cardinals who thought the SSPX had been persecuted.

  32. AM says:

    ghp95134, thanks. I just wondered how people pronounce “sede” and “sedes”. Or do you always say “sedevacantist” when you read “sede”? (Like reading “Christmas” when you see “Xmas” written. Or saying “Elohim” when you see ???? :-) )

  33. Sixupman says:

    Learned clerics are now [coming out] and considering afresh Vatican II, which has been elevated to the position, in many minds, of “Super Dogma”. That consideration is closer to Msgr. Lefebvre’s view and that of The Society.

    What is now required is a similar independent analysis of that which caused the ‘fracture’ and ultimately ‘The Excommunications’. It should centre upon the mindset and actions of that bishop and his cohorts who did not renew the status of Msgr. Lefebvre’s seminary, etc. Not to mention those in dicasteries who were [and are] vehemently SSPX and the TLM.

    Regarding +Williamson, he has been banished, like Napoleon, to Elba – aka the UK.

  34. Sixupman says:

    Mea culpa: Vehemently anti-SSPX and the TLM!

  35. Supertradmum says:

    What I do not understand at all are those who hate the TLM or the Latin language. I meet people daily who say they do not like the SSPX. Why? I am amazed. I can understand a preference for the NO, but not a hatred. I pray and fast that the SSPX help our Church love the Mass of the Ages.

  36. smmclaug says:

    I suppose if the Orthodox were on the verge of returning to union with Rome, some people around here wouldn’t be satisfied until they got a groveling apology and admission that everything was all their fault. Christian unity, one supposes, must wait for more important things, like the stroking of egos who have nothing personally to do with the issue at hand.

    And then they sit back and wonder why those ingrates won’t just return to Rome Sweet Home. Such a lovely place, after all.

  37. robtbrown says:

    Sixupman says:

    Learned clerics are now [coming out] and considering afresh Vatican II, which has been elevated to the position, in many minds, of “Super Dogma”. That consideration is closer to Msgr. Lefebvre’s view and that of The Society.

    I noticed a change in professors’ attitudes toward Vat II and the Montini Church during my years in Rome: 86-07. There were several reasons for the change, among which were Cardinal Ratzinger speaking and writing candidly about liturgy, doctrine, etc., as well as demographic changes.

    I know that there are factions within the Curia (and episcopacy) opposed not only to Summorum Pontificum but also to reunion with the SSPX, but, Deo gratias, they are not the pope. It’s a bit like the story told about Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet.

    When he brought in the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln polled his Cabinet. The Secretary of State stood and uttered his “Nay” unmistakably. The Secretary of the Interior followed suit. The Treasury Secretary and so forth: all against.

    Lincoln heard them each in turn, then he raised his hand and said…

    “I vote Aye. The Ayes have it.”

  38. robtbrown says:

    Supertradmum says:

    What I do not understand at all are those who hate the TLM or the Latin language. I meet people daily who say they do not like the SSPX. Why? I am amazed. I can understand a preference for the NO, but not a hatred. I pray and fast that the SSPX help our Church love the Mass of the Ages.

    Keep in mind what was often said many years ago in defense of Latin liturgy: Latin is the protector of doctrine.

    There are a lot of good people in NO parishes, but there are also many who think that doctrine (incl moral doctrine) is of little importance.