Card. Lehmann: SSPX stresses Latin liturgy “only to disguise their true intentions”

This is in from CathCon.  This comes from Die Welt online.

Remember that Card. Lehmann was also an apprentice of the late Fr. Karl Rahner.  Unlike Fr. Ratzinger, Fr. Lehmann stuck rather closer to his mentor’s hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture when it came to the Council, backing more the Concilium side than the Communio side.

Kardinal Lehmann hat Mitleid mit dem Papst

Cardinal Lehmann suffers with the Pope

WELT ONLINE: Your Eminence, the Pope has revoked the excommunication of the four bishops of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X – just a few days before Holocaust Memorial Day. Does that show he has special feelings?

Cardinal Lehmann: Happy it was not.  Admittedly, much has been distorted in the media. This led some to the impression that Benedict XVI had lifted the excommunication, although he knew about the interview statement by Bishop Williamson, in which he denied the Holocaust. In fact the Pope did not know the utterances. However, if now the President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," the Colombian Cardinal Hoyos says, he did not know then I say: He did have the opportunity to present an accurate picture of Williamson, because he has already expressed his views on other more problematic issues expressed. You would actually need to have this knowledge.

WELT ONLINE: Do the four bishops represent positions that are contrary to the commandment of love and the “spirit of the Council”[Note the language of the amorphous "spirit". I have been warning all along that Vatican II or its fruits must never in some vague way be made into a "super-dogma" which no one is allowed to question or criticize.]

Cardinal Lehmann: The four bishops who Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated himself, I personally do not know at all. For me, however, it was always clear that the traditionalist movement of Archbishop Lefebvre was not primarily about liturgical issues[not "primarily"]

WELT ONLINE: What were they about then?

Cardinal Lehmann: They were at the core content and dogmatic issues. Above all, they were adamantly opposed to "Dignitatis humanae," the declaration of the Second Vatican Council on religious freedom, which they could never accept.  [This makes it sound as if SSPXers are against "religious liberty".  I believe I do not distort their position when I say that they are in favor or the rights of individuals to choose.  Their problems stem from how the Church which preaches the one True Faith works within a state that has religious pluralism.] When about 20 years ago today the Pope in his capacity as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith twice travelled to Paris and almost himself negotiated an agreement with Lefebvre – which Lefebvre at the last moment then had however signed – I was very sceptical. I felt the wording that it was more of a pastoral council, and not so much about dogmatic questions was much too soft. [!] The Lefebvre people have never reconciled with the Council’s message, that in questions of faith pressure can never be applied and the church renounces secular power[Okay… we are back to the real point, I think.]

WELT ONLINE: Did the Pope with the re-authorization of the old liturgy make a mistake and laid out on the floor the restorative forces of the Church?

Cardinal Lehmann: no. For the unbiased observer the decision of the Pope for greater liberalization of the Latin Mass and the question of "The Good Friday Prayers" now is put into a strange light. This has to do with the comments made by Williamson. Many now believe that everything lies down one path. [?] This is not the case – but that could be perceived as such and that’s a bad thing. I must say I’m sorry for the Pope, who, really had the best intentions . But obviously the Vatican’s political relationships and linkages were paid too little attention to.

WELT ONLINE: Again: Do the Lefebrve supporters represent questionable political positions?

Cardinal Lehmann: Certainly, I am sure. [In France the situation flames up because the SSPXers tend to be very conservative, even right wing (and you don’t have to go to far to be right-wing in France, btw).  The bishops, who ahve tended to be leftists, view the SSPX with also its political associations as a force to be feared on many levels.  This is changing with the change of bishops, but this is a factor in Europe which some Americans may not know about.] Which is why I absolutely do not see this primarily as a theologically motivated movement. They are partly in the tradition of the "Action française", the radical nationalist movement, which was formed in France around 1900, after the Dreyfus affair. This movement understood itself as militantly Catholic, was monarchist and anti-Semitic – which is why t Pius X. 1914 had already declared it as incompatible with the Catholic religion. [I think he just said that anti-Semitism is one of the motives of the SSPX.  This from a German Cardinal, in the super-charged environment of Germany with the leftist press.  We have to remember that he is aware of whom he is talking to.] The milieu of the Lefebvre supporters have not even today come to terms with the French Revolution. ["come to terms"?   So many wonderful things happened in France and the rest of Europe from the French Revolution, especially for the Catholic Faith and Church, right?  How does one "come to terms" with that?  Just give in?] But God be praised the group is very small. [It might be larger than the rest of the church-going membership of the Church in France.  And in Germany?  Are the churches packed?] And if they concentrate so much on the Latin liturgy, this is only to disguise their true intentions. [! "disguise their truuuuuue intentions"] The antitheses are too simple: collegiality of bishops is not in fact a loss of authority of the Pope, ecumenical effort does not to betray the truth.

WELT ONLINE: Is the anti-Semitism in the church still backing?

Cardinal Lehmann: Let’s put it this way: Whenever I have spoken in the last 20 years about the relationship between Germans and foreigners, or about our relationship to the Jews, the reactions were regularly much more numerous than any other theme. And above all: they were to a large extent very impertinent. There is still a large reservoir of distaste, even hatred. We still have a sizeable deposit of anti-Semitism and xenophobia, admittedly often uncritical, but so dangerous.

WELT ONLINE: Should the Pope with a gesture to make it clear how he stands to Judaism?

The Pope has rejected the remarks of Bishop Williamson. The church must continue along the path it has travelled for forty years. [read: the Church must refuse the SSPX fuller formal unity]  The Pope has spoken at the World Youth Day in Cologne in the synagogue as clearly and unambiguously as possible on the relationship of the Church to the Jews – there is nothing to be added. It would devalue his own statements if he is now tempted into quick gestures. You read the words of the Pope in Auschwitz. Such words do not need adding to in an inflationary manner.

I will leave the combox off on this one.  You can e-mail me with comments, which I will review and, perhaps, post here.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. From a reader:

    my, does CathCon have atrocious translators…

    You put one question mark in your blog post: “Many now believe that everything lies down one path. [?]” The original is “Viele glauben nun, das liege alles auf einer Linie.” A better translation would be “Many now believe that all this points in the same direction” or “all this proceeds from the same premise”. It has undertones of sinister cabals hijacking the Church and steering her into a – horrors! – conservative direction.

    If there is anything else German I could help you with, please don’t hesitate to mail me. I’m German but have spent quite some years in the US and am by now probably better informed about the state of things over there.

    And keep up your wonderful blog!

  2. From a priest reader:

    Fr. Z,

    I would like to make this comment about this statement of Cardinal Lehmann:

    “They [FSSPX] are partly in the tradition of the “Action française”, the radical nationalist movement, which was formed in France around 1900, after the Dreyfus affair. This movement understood itself as militantly Catholic, was monarchist and anti-Semitic – which is why t Pius X. 1914 had already declared it as incompatible with the Catholic religion.”

    I went up to the FSSPX house here in Lourdes on 24 February, the day of the lifting of the excommunications, and started up a good friendship with one of the FSSPX priests, and found that this young priest was disgusted with Bishop Williamson’s remarks. I find it personally offensive that this priest falls within the condemnation of Cardinal Lehmann.

    It is important for me to mention this, since it is likely that Cardinal Lehmann, as so many others, will make his way to Lourdes as a pilgrim, and stand next to this priest at the end of the candlelight rosary procession. Pehaps the Cardinal should think twice about who he is condemning. Marginalizing people with such ferocity is exactly how the laws started to change against the Jews. What is he thinking? I say this in the super-charged environment of France.

    I would like to sign that comment with my full name:

    Father George David Byers, CPM
    Chaplain of the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes

Comments are closed.