Rumblings in Germany against the SSPX and Pope Benedict’s efforts?

A few notes about the SSPX in Germany.

I am wondering if there isn’t a coordinated effort to spoil the detante and talks which must take place between the SSPX and the Holy See.

First, there comes this from CNS via Catholic Review:

Regensburg Diocese warns excommunication looms for Lefebvrist priests

By Jonathan Luxmoore
Catholic News Service

OXFORD, England – Officials in the Diocese of Regensburg, Germany, have said plans by the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X to ordain new priests without Vatican consent at a local seminary will lead to their excommunication.

“This will be uncanonical, since they have no entitlement to conduct their own ordinations,” said diocese spokesman Jakub Schotz.  [True.  And did they just realize this recently?  Why put their foot down now?]

“Our bishop is waiting for Rome to advise on how to respond. But it will almost certainly result in the excommunication of the priests and the bishop who ordains them,” Schotz said.  [So, are they consulting, or have they made up their minds?]
The spokesman was reacting to an announcement by the society that it would ordain three priests and three deacons in its seminary at Zaitzkofen in Bavaria June 27, along with another 18 at its headquarters in Econe, Switzerland, and at Winona, Minn.

In a statement, the Zaitzkofen seminary rector, Father Stefan Frey, said the society now had “provisional legal status” in the Catholic Church pending a “definitive canonical ruling” on its future, and had not been told to “put a stop to ordinations.”  [If such a status exists, hopefully they will be able to demonstrate that the Holy See agrees.]

He added that the new priests would be ordained by Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta of Spain, “without direct church permission” because of the “grave state of emergency” facing the church. [we know the tired old argument] He denied that the move constituted an “affront against the pope.”

However, the statement was rejected by Schotz, [So, this guy is the "spokesman".  But does he really speak with such authority?] who told Catholic News Service June 5 the new ordinations would be viewed as “a provocation against the whole Catholic world.”

“The society lives by itself in a closed circle, so it poses no danger [?] as such to our diocese’s 630 parishes, which are full of Catholic vitality,” said Schotz, whose diocese is one of three in Pope Benedict XVI’s former Munich and Freising Archdiocese. [Ummm… no.  Regensburg is actually its own diocese with its own bishop.  They are in the province of Munich, but the Archbishop there can’t govern Regensburg.]

But everything they say and do shows there’s no goodwill to belong to the wider Catholic family,” [Pretty hostile] he said. “A Catholic group can only form part of the church by accepting the authority of the pope.”

The announcement of the ordinations follows a January decision by Pope Benedict to lift excommunications of the society’s four bishops, including Bishop de Galarreta and controversial British-born Bishop Richard Williamson.

In a June 1 Vatican Radio interview, Bishop Gerhard Muller of Regensburg said he had warned the Zaitzkofen seminary the ordinations would violate canon law and create a “dangerous situation,” and had asked the Vatican to “prescribe how to proceed.”

He added that society members, who are known as Lefebvrists, so-named after their founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, appeared unwilling to “face the consequences” of accepting papal authority. [I wonder if this is a fair statement.]

“There can only be one seminary in this diocese,” the bishop said. “If they wish to live in communion with the local bishop, as they claim, they must be bound by church discipline.”“Although associations are possible within the church, there cannot be a fenced-off community, a church within a church.”  [I suppose the Holy See really should make these determinations.]

In a letter to the world’s bishops, made public March 12, the pope said the Society of St. Pius X did not yet have canonical status in the church or exercise a legitimate ministry.

A spokeswoman for the German bishops’ conference said June 5 it would be the decision of local bishops to react to the society’s actions.


Next comes this from a WDTPRS reader (edited):

In Germany there is currently an open war between the bishops and the Fraternity of St. Pius…

I never was in favour of the fraternity, but in the last months I am hesitating about having a quick judgement against the FSSPX. I try to be true to catholic teaching, I was raised up with the new liturgy ­ and, by the motu proprio of the Holy Father I become clearly in favour of a reform of the reform in the spirit of the writings of Benedict XVI.

Now the bishop of Fulda, the Cathedral city of St. Boniface is going to urge the Vatican to issue new disciplinary steps against the fratermnity. [Doesn’t that sound diametrically opposed to what the Holy See wishes to accomplish with the SSPX?] The reason for that is a newly consecrated chapel of the FSSPX in Fulda. The consecration has taken place during the celebration of St. Boniface’s feast day. [The SSPX doesn’t help matters when they do things like this.   Do they simply expect the local bishop to do nothing in the face of their activities?  At the same time, does this always have to be cleaned up after the fact?] Bishop Algermissen has declared earlier that Catholics are "not allowed" to join masses of the FSSPX or to receive any sacraments by priests of the fraternity. And he strongly objected against the consecration of a chapel in his diocese without his permission. (Which, so far, seems to be clear and just.)  [Fair enough.]

Now it seems as if he tries to urge the Vatican into a decision against the FSSPX.

I wouldn’t have seen a necessity to inform you about what is going on in a far off German diocese, but I worry about the Holy Father and I cannot wipe away the suspicion that this goes not only against the FSSPX but against the pope himself. They try to impose the pressure on the Holy Father.

(And at least I would be glad if the same bishops who claim that others have to agree to every document of »the Council« were themselves clear defenders of Catholic truth.)

We know from other reports that SSPX Bp and Superior Bernard Fellay was recently in Rome and went to the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio to meet either with the CDF or the Pont. Comm. Ecclesia Dei, or both.

I suspect that some of this was brought up.

The open hostility of some bishops will not help to heal this break in the Church’s unity.

It didn’t work before, which is why Pope Benedict tried a different tack.

Some dioceses perhaps didn’t read those news reports.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Marn says:

    There is a official statement of the german fsspx homepage, which say that P. Schmidberger did try to get an permission from that bishop to consecrate that chapel. And there is more interesting information in their statement!

  2. Bob K. says:

    Hey what about Fr John Jenkins who gave an award to a pro abortionist leader, and had a great time of it. While letting a fellow priest who was defending the faith get thrown in jail. Shouldn’t he be excommunicated to?. I’m getting pretty sick of all the anti-SSPX jargon going around. Did Notre Dame a 1000 Rosary Crusade. No!, they gave an AWARD to a pro-abortionist leader!.

  3. chironomo says:

    “A Catholic group can only form part of the church by accepting the authority of the pope.”

    I’m reminded of a particular scene in “Jesus Christ Superstar” where, after the crowd tells Pilate that they have no King but Caesar, he replies to them:

    “What is this newfound respect for Caesar? Up to now, it has been noticeably lacking…”

    I recall that in the days, weeks and months following the release of Summorum Pontificum, accepting the authority of the Pope was not terribly in fashion in these very same Dioceses. Or is it only necessary to accept the authority as a principle, but not really so much in practice?

  4. Fr Smith says:

    One wonders if this is another example of the Vatican not doing its homework. Does anyone in Stato know that this is in the works over in Germany? Has no one from Stato called the Bishop to say, “Don’t even think about it”? I also find it incredible that a bishop would be dumb enough to threaten excommunication of someone whom the Vatican has just lifted an excommunication. Incredible.

  5. mrsmontoya says:

    Certainly there is a coordinated effort involved, but not necessarily among the human beings performing the actions. Stubborn ‘human nature’ gives the great enemy of the church plenty of opportunity to throw things off track, without people themselves deliberately working together.

  6. Hidden One says:

    Anyone know if our German Shepherd is planning on visiting Germany anytime soon?

  7. Ligusticus says:


    (ASCA) – Citta’ del Vaticano, 10 giu

    La Congregazione vaticana per la dottrina della fede ha discusso questa mattina su come dare avvio al dialogo ”dottrinale” con la lefebvriana Fraternita’ Sacerdotale San Pio X, ai cui quattro vescovi – tra cui il negazionista mons. Richard Williamson – papa Benedetto XVI ha revocato in febbraio la scomunica.
    Secondo quanto riferisce l’agenzia francofona I.Media, i cardinali dell’ex-Sant’Uffizio – a cui papa Ratzinger ha affidato il dialogo con i lefebvriani in vista di un loro eventuale reinserimento, in futuro, nella struttura della Chiesa – hanno discusso di un testo ”volto a precisato il quadro del dialogo dottrinale con la Fraternita”’.
    Questo dialogo dovrebbe partire dalla necessita’ ”dell’accettazione del Concilio Vaticano II e del magistero dei papi” successivo al Concilio Vaticano II.
    Secondo I.Media, il superiore dei lefebvriani, mons. Bernard Fellay, e’ stato ricevuto dalla Congregazione per la dottrina della fede lo scorso cinque giugno e, anche se non sono ancora stati definiti i ‘team’ che, dalle due parti, condurranno effettivamente il dialogo, e’ probabile che facciano parte delle delegazioni il domenicano svizzero p. Charles Morerod, neo-segretario della Commissione teologica internazionale e, per la parte lefebvriana, l’abate Gregoire Celier, co-autore di un recente libro di Benedetto XVI.
    Intanto, mentre il dialogo ”dottrinale” con il Vaticano muove i suoi primissimi passi, i lefebvriani hanno deciso di sfidare nuovamente l’autorita’ del papa, annunciando l’ordinazione nelle prossime settimane di almeno 21 nuovi preti in tre diverse parti del mondo.

    © Copyright asp/bra “

  8. Cel says:

    This also seems to give evidence that the SSPX should be given a more independent canonical structure once things get to that stage. Essentially these Bishops may be succeeding only in limiting their own authority over the activities of fraternity. A personal prelature may still be a long shot but it becomes more and more likely when things like this happen.

  9. Roland de Chanson says:

    It seems to me that the local ordinaries ought to keep their mouths shut and avoid empty threats of excommunication when the Pope has just lifted the previous excommunications. The negotiations are between the FSSPX and the Holy See.

    The danger that I see here is that should the FSSPX’s position be regularized, their parishes would fall under the jurisdiction of novus ordo bishops. This will asphyxiate the Society. Perhaps the viable solution is a personal prelature of some sort so that they report directly to Rome, an extraordinary jurisdiction for the Extraordinary Form, so to speak. The Church needs a garden where the Faith may flourish until the fleurs du mal of the Reformation redux in Rome have withered and died.

    I don’t have a rooster in this ecclesiastical cockfight. I’ve never been in an FSSPX chapel. But I wish them all the best

  10. james says:

    Can we really have the EF and the OF together, equal, if
    that makes sense? Can it ever work – really?? Think about
    it – one can not say there is unity in the two forms. Look
    at the prior thread on kneeling for Communion. The OF was
    thrust on the Church. Nothing organic really occured. It
    was not gradual.

    Can the Catholic Church have two forms of the Liturgy?
    To me, this is the ultimate question. We have priests who
    wear no collars, dressed like laity. A child would not
    know the difference. We have nuns dressed secular. Then,
    we have priests like the FSSP, and convents where the
    dress code is more traditional.

    We have priest writing articles in diocesan newspapers
    almost promoting the homosexual culture (i.e. Richard
    Rohr). We have Notre Dame praising Obama. And so on.

    Can we have two, three, six, a dozen “Catholic Churches”?
    Does this not confuse the children, potential converts,
    not to mention the secular world, who can use this disunity
    to point and say, “See, there is no unity in the Roman
    Catholic Church, no matter what the Creed says.”

    Hopefully I am making sense…. I am frustrated, obviously!

  11. Ottaviani says:

    He added that the new priests would be ordained by Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta of Spain, “without direct church permission” because of the “grave state of emergency” facing the church. [we know the tired old argument]

    Have not the events of this year only proved what has been brimming in the church for the last 40 odd years?

    Sometimes you have to tell the naked emperor that he has no clothes when 99% of his court will say that he does. If this isn’t the worse crisis in the church, then humanely speaking there can never be a state of emergency.

  12. j says:

    Seems like two totally different circumstances.

    The German Bishop’s declaration of impending excommunication and spin on doctrinal issues is ridiculous, inflammatory, pure politics, and a clear attempt to usurp the authority of the Holy See (or at least give the appearance)

    A Bishop complaining about an order, licit or not, setting up and consecrating a chapel within his Diocese without his consent is perfectly within his right and purview. I would be curious as to whether anyone knows of the progress in implementation of S.P. within Fulda and if the SSPX thus has a legitimate claim of “emergency” or “pastoral concern”.

  13. Irish says:

    I am not a member of the Society, but it seems terribly unreasonable to expect the Society to enter a state of suspended animation during the Doctrinal discussions. It’s obvious that Bishop Fellay has to walk a tightrope with his members, balancing those who want Communion with Rome and those who fear it. If he told Society members that everything was on hold until Rome approves, it would only feed the fear that the Traditions would be lost or compromised after Communion. He would lose his mandate to hold discussions and then the whole thing falls apart. Maybe that what the modernists want.

    I wonder if these bishops are more concerned about people seeing the traditional rites of consecration and ordination and then comparing their splendor to the modern versions.

  14. Aelric says:

    Re: Fr. Smith and Roland,

    Both of you appear to suggest that having a excommunication lifted by the Holy See for a canonical crime committed in the past (that is, receiving episcopal consecration without pontifical mandate) should render one immune (or less likely) to receive a canonical penalty imposed by a local ordinary for a canonical crime committed subsequently. Your sense of incredulity would seem only fitting should a local ordinary attempt to reimpose a penalty for the same past act.

    I do not know whether ordination of a priest by a bishop without jurisdiction (i.e. in a jurisdiction of another bishop) is a canonical crime or, if it is, whether said crime carries with it a penalty of excommunication either explicitly or “other just penalty.” That is for the experts in Canon Law: but if this act IS a canonical crime, then the Holy Father’s recent revocation of the excommunications for a past act have absolutely no bearing on the former.

    Put another way, the revocation of the excommunications was not a “free hunting” license.

    By this, I do not mean to suggest that I am particularly impressed by bishops who suddenly get “concerned” with canonical crimes when the SSPX is concerned, but snore through a “Women Priest” faux ordination or facilitate other heterodoxy.

  15. Origen Adamantius says:

    “If this isn’t the worse crisis in the church”

    It is difficult to have a true perspective on things when your are in the middle of it, however, I think we tend to over-inflate crises that we experience. The Diocletian persecutions, The Arian Heresy, the Protestant Reformation all have claims to the “worst crises” in the Church.

    As for Bishop Gerhard Muller of Regensburg, does he have a track record of being openly hostile toward the SSPX? Or does he sees these actions as a new affront in light of the ongoing dialogue?

  16. Roland de Chanson says:


    You are reading into my statement something I did not say. I never “appear to suggest” something. I say it. I merely pointed out that already murky waters do not need further muddying by grandstanding bishops enamored of seeing their physiognomies illuminated by the klieg lights.

  17. Aelric says:


    Yes, well we are all aware that folks can resort to the defense that words mean only what they say they mean.

    By writing “seem to suggest” I was attempting to be polite. I am not certain how else to interpret your words: “It seems to me that the local ordinaries ought to keep their mouths shut and avoid empty threats of excommunication when the Pope has just lifted the previous excommunications.” What else could you have meant than that an action of clemency taken by the Holy See regarding the past affect the consequences of a present-day and subsequent act by the SSPX? The phrase “when the Pope has just lifted … ” is either completely useless – if you did not mean to imply the meaning I took – or a non sequitur as I argued above.

    Perhaps we can agree that:

    (1) If such an ordination is a violation of canon law, then the SSPX ought not to carry out the same and that, should the SSPX do so, the local ordinary would be justified in declaring the prescribed canonical penalty.

    (2) If such an ordination is not a violation of canon law, then the local ordinary ought to be more discreet by avoiding a threat of a canonical penalty that has no basis in law.

  18. Joan Ellen says:

    And Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, to whom shall we go?” John 6:69

    Frustrations. State(s) of Emergency. Not to mention the pluralisms…of believers believing, not as the Church teaches, but, as they so choose, including that our soul should be rendered to Caesar, as in psychology…aka atheistic humanism, the true crisis.

    Go where? For those who know God, the Father, atheisim is out. Or Jesus, the Son, Judaism is out. Or the Holy Spirit, Christian denominations are out, as the Holy Spirit, in fact, for sure, guides the Church.

    With the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the Teachings of the Church, SSPX is, for now, out. For some in the SSPX, maybe out forever. It would be helpful if some SSPXers looked for good in others, agreed with recent popes, bishops, priests and, especially, the Novus Ordo Missae and Vatican II, not the spirit of it/them.

    SSPX has the Traditional Mass. But, do all SSPXers wish to follow the Teachings of the Church? Have they all escaped Modernism? Do they all wish to do as the Church asks? To think as the Church thinks? Of course not. Does SSPX does have all of the answers? Does it have the fullness of faith? The Church does.

    To whom shall we go? I’m going to the Lord and His Church with her teachings to learn the faith, to live the faith- read avoid sin & practice virtue – and to pray for the faith and for faith as she teaches us to pray.

    Won’t I find my Catholic Identity there, as Peter said, as the Holy Father & Fr. Z ask? To lessen frustrations, to weaken the State(s) of Emergency? Doesn’t it help to be aware of the causes, and to talk of them, to flush the Truth out in the light of Tradition and the Hermeneutics of Continuity? Thanks, again, Fr.

  19. B. says:

    It is somewhat ironic that the German bishops tell all Catholics that they must not attend FSSPX masses while at the same time engaging in ecumenical liturgies with protestants where they tell them that they do accept protestants as real Churches, and one shouldn’t care about what the pope says in that regard.

  20. Roland de Chanson says:


    The FSSPX bishops were excommunicated by the Pope. Their excommunications were lifted by the Pope. I am sure the General is not going to have strategy dictated to him by a querulous colonel.

    Given the fact that neither of us has any particular expertise in the matter, let’s just see what develops. If all turns out well, there will be rejoicing on both sides and the Kiss of Peace will be exchanged between Bishop Muller and Cardinal Fellay.

  21. ssoldie says:

    Seeing the disunity in ALL of the Catholic church for the last forty years. I will leave the situation to Pope Benedict XVI and Bishop Bernard Fellay. Good grief! it seems the Rhine still wants to flow into thr Tiber, enough already

  22. RBrown says:

    One wonders if this is another example of the Vatican not doing its homework. Does anyone in Stato know that this is in the works over in Germany? Has no one from Stato called the Bishop to say, “Don’t even think about it”? I also find it incredible that a bishop would be dumb enough to threaten excommunication of someone whom the Vatican has just lifted an excommunication. Incredible.
    Comment by Fr Smith

    BXVI is anything but unaware of Germany’s situation. He also has Msgr Gaenswein, who is in constant contact with those in Germany.

    NB: When the pope visited Germany just after being elected, the German bishops told him that they didn’t want any part of the Greg Rite, FSSP, or the SSPX. And they no doubt realize that regularization of the SSPX will mean a loss of their power. It is not out of the question that they would want to disrupt any possible SSPX reunion with Rome.

  23. Steven says:

    Those German bishops and others want to be friends with protestants, jews, muslims and freemasons. But the SSPX is a bridge too far. What a beautiful example of post Vatican II ecumenism.

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