SSPX German Superior Fr. Schmidberger on Benedict XVI in Germany: Coincidence?

During an interview the SSPX Superior for Germany, Fr. Franz Schmidberger, made and interesting comment about the Holy Father’s visit in Germany.    Original German.

He gave an opinion about the style of the Papal Masses.

The following is from the translation provided by our friends at Rorate who are deeply tapped into SSPX veins.

Q: What do you as the District Superior think of a celebration of the Eucharist in a football stadium with a colorful opening act and with both boys and girls serving as altar servers?

Fr. Schmidberger: All those mass meeting have in them the danger of an “event”, that is they lack the sacral character, dignity and sanctity. And also, in the whole history of the Church, there have never been any female altar servers, simply because this service at the altar is connected in a remote way to that of the Priest, and according to the will of our Lord this is reserved for men. Female altar servers is an invention made by liberal churchmen, for whom the spirit of the times is more important than the faith and the consciousness of the Church, the “sentire cum Ecclesia”.

This is a rather clever answer, given the Communiquè of the Holy See: Meeting between CDF and the SSPX during which the “Doctrinal Preamble” was consigned.  In that we read this:

This preamble enunciates some of the doctrinal principles and criteria of interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary for guarantying fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and to the sentire cum Ecclesia, while leaving open to legitimate discussion the study and theological explanation of expressions and particular formulations present in the texts of the Second Vatican Council and of the Magisterium which followed.


I think Fr. Schmidberger has a good point.

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  1. Robert of Rome says:

    I, too, think Fr Schmidberger makes good points.

  2. asperges says:

    Female altar servers is an invention made by liberal churchmen.. Exactly. I had to attend a parish NO Mass yesterday evening. That was one of the many unnecessary irritants which make the old and new rites (except on the rarest of occasions) still very different from each other.

  3. David2 says:

    Just imagine … the SSPX reconciled … and Fr Schmidberger put in charge of organizing the Holy Father’s next visit to Germany!

  4. “…in the whole history of the Church, there have never been any female altar servers”

    Is the past 40 years not part of the history of the Church? There have been female altar servers because many of us see them at Mass in a Catholic Church. This is not me advocating them may I just state!

    Watching some of the coverage from Germany this week, it has made me wonder how on earth our Holy Father is a product of the German Church! He really is a light, and no dim light at that!

  5. 1987 says:

    Fr. Schmidberger is indeed one of the brightest men in the SSPX and in the German Church, God give him health. I am happy to live in a country where there are no female altar servers, except for the Jesuits’ and Franciscans’ Masses. As far as I know, they do it without the permission of the bishop, which is needed according to the legal norms of the Church.

  6. sea the stars says:

    What was for most painful to observe at last Thursday’s Holy Mass in the Olympiastadion was that practically nobody in the stands kneeled at the consecration. That, and the reception of Holy Communion itself was also chaotic and undignified. So I would have to say such a venue as a sports arena is simply not appropriate for the Holy Mass.

  7. anna 6 says:

    In each of the liturgies, there have been high moments…especially when the Holy Father has been giving his powerful addresses. But there have also been times when the beauty and simplicity of the profound events that are occurring have been obscured by over-production and trivial music.

    My hope is that the German church will be able to see the contrast in these two divergent approaches, and will learn from our professor-pope the right way- the fruitful way to worship the Lord.

    I am confident that he has changed many hearts on this trip.

  8. Tom Piatak says:

    Look at the prior question and answer:
    Q: Do you recommend to your faithful to participate in the services held in connection with the visit of the Pope – or do you rather dissuade against them?
    A: We have not issued any special outlines in this respect. They all know our reservations against the new Liturgy and these regretfully hold also for the masses held by the Pope.

    How can there ever be unity with a group that forbids its members from attending the Ordinary Form of the Mass, the Mass attended by 99% or so of the world’s Catholics, and even Masses celebrated by the Holy Father?

  9. benedetta says:

    If we are invited, as it were, to consider, from ones claiming to be within or claiming to disagree or even despise the holy Faith, clowns or puppetizing the liturgy, new or divergent celebration of the Eucharist, non-kneeling at the consecration, singing of banal ditties as if triumphant anthems continuously of a certain chosen era, rejection of the sacrament of confession generally, then, we should not flinch from an invitation to consider, especially by proposal from our Holy Father, or also from groups with disagreement, a renewed possibility towards sentire cum Ecclesia, nor should we reject it out of hand without respectful listening and consideration of our joint responsibilities. It is not helpful to divest all our discourse of meaning and consequences for communion altogether.

    Although in watching these gatherings, even with the so-called elevator music (which of course involves, no active participation, as pleasant as it was to some whose tastes run along those lines), I did not find necessarily that in the one with the more elaborate choral music in the cathedral there was that much more sanctity, dignity or reverence, nor was there much increased ability for active participation as the acclamations and sung aspects were composed and required technical proficiency and rehearsal. At both, people did sing hymns in German apart from the sung portions of the Mass which went to the choir. I did not find that the stadium gathered lacked in sanctity, dignity, reverence, completely though I agree that there is always that risk and one cannot help but speculate when one runs into not so much these occasions but occasions where very strange things happen and involving consecration or other elements as to why we dissipate our communal prayer to this degree, why thwart the desire among the faithful towards communion by these means at this time in history. Though in my experience a gathering great or very small can equally run that risk. In fact I was struck by the observation that in a huge stadium people seemed very intent on listening to the Holy Father’s sermon, the readings and the prayers, and when the electric guitar eventually switched off, there was silence whereas in a large gathering it could have devolved into something else. And the congregation, as large as it was did in this participated actively, as keeping silence is something that does require an active disposition and not a passive one especially in such a place among great numbers, and did sing when the music was not a guitar solo. The evidence is there that there is a hunger among great numbers to investigate, for sentire cum Ecclesia and that people are able to hope in this despite whatever else may be occurring all around. I pray for unity.

  10. catholicmidwest says:


    Your quote says, “We have not issued any special outlines in this respect. They all know our reservations..” That is NOT forbidding them to go. I don’t know where you get that out of what he actually said, unless you add some hidden premises of your own.

    I’m not SSPX, nowhere near it, and I personally think that the Church ought to be very careful with those football-style masses. Football style preaching is okay, but stadiums aren’t really appropriate for full masses no matter who says them. They encourage cults of personality and introduce oddities that are not appropriate for normal worship. Many people go not to worship the Lord, but to “see the celebrity,” and they sometimes walk away with “souvenirs” that end up getting tucked into dresser drawers or appearing on e-bay and the like because the situation is completely unmanageable in a football stadium.

  11. RichR says:

    Shortly after the fiasco surrounding the allowance of altar girls, Fr. Brian Harrison, OS gave a talk that sent shockwaves throughout the American theological community.

    Here is a link to that talk, and it is awesome. It’s $1.50, but well worth it.

  12. albizzi says:

    Tom Piatak,
    So far as the EF is now allowed to be said by every priest WITHOUT his bishop’s consent (thanks to our beloved Holy Father Benedict XVI), the union with the Roman Catholic exists in an undefectible manner, even if the EF is said exclusively of the NO.
    Everybody knows that the EF never was forbidden since our Holy Father said so recently. However many bishops said it was forbidden for 50 years and still are striving against the EF thus acting against the Pope himself.
    Who is struggling to destroy the Church’s unity, the priests who say the EF or these bishops?
    I remind you that there are other forms of rites in the middle east countries that are said exclusively. People of these countries who never travelled in the west countries don’t even imagine what the NO is. However they stay in the Church’s communion. Anybody to say the contrary?

  13. digdigby says:

    Never saw a ‘rant for sale’ on this blog before.

  14. anilwang says:

    Catholic with Attitude, yes you are correct that the last 40 years (you mean 20 years in the case of alter girls) are part of history, but that is not a measure of orthodoxy. To quote John Henry Newman, there are other criteria such as longevity and consistency with past doctrines, since heresy can flourish and be widespread for a time (e.g. remember the Arian controversy) even with the Church.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    I agree with Fr. Schmidberger. I have lived in Walsingham all summer and have refused to take part in the horribly irreverent and undisciplined outdoor Masses. When I mentioned the sacrilegious Communions to one of the priests, he stated that “he was not concerned about that”. We have become blase about the sacredness of the Mass and Father Schmidberger has the courage to speak what many of us know. We had two female altar servers this morning, which is very disconcerting to me. The lack of understanding, even among priests, is simply appalling. Ii sincerely hope for a complete reconciliation with the SSPX. We need them.

  16. Bender says:

    And what is Fr. Schmidberger’s main point with his reference to the “sentire cum Ecclesia”?

    It is that the SSPX will continue to presume to tell the Holy See what constitutes the Faith and what does not. The SSPX will continue to assert that IT is supreme, not the Holy See.

  17. Bender says:

    As for the SSPX and female servers, there are indeed good historical/traditional reasons for not having them, but I would be interested in what their theology as a whole is with respect to woman?

    For example, do they also oppose the teachings of Blessed John Paul on the dignity and vocation of women as stated in “Mulieris Dignitatem,” or the principles set out by Cardinal Ratzinger in the CDF document “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world”?

  18. Anilwang:

    Thank you for your response. However, I was not disputing orthodoxy or indeed heterodoxy, but was merely stating that the past 20 years, as you corrected me, are in fact part of the history of the Church, to which the SSPX bishop did not seem to allude.

  19. asperges says:

    The objection to girl altar servers is, amongst other things, that (a) it breaks with tradition and (b) like Communion in the hand, it was born of disobedience by enemies within the Church.

    Sorry, but that’s the cold truth of the matter. It is nothing to do with the dignity of women, or in the other case, what might have been a practice in the earliest days of the Church. These are just red herrings. Neither Paul VI’s nor JP II’s decisions were in every case in such matters sound or welcome – if indeed they had much say in either, which I doubt.

  20. acardnal says:

    I do not agree with female altar servers or banal music. But regarding the venue, I simply ask what other venues can be used when there are tens of thousands of congregants?

  21. asperges and Supertradmum,

    Yeah I’ll admit, I’d love to see all boys on NO altars as I see when I go to the occasional EF masses during the years (and I’l be serving my 1st to boot as a torchbearer Oct 30th in my city!) , but being the 1st full generation of NO (born in the 80’s), I put up with it knowing the true purpose of the Mass and what it’s about. Unfortunately, not all parishes have boys that are willing to do altar serving and even the masses are woefully short staffed.

    I had to go to NO mass yesterday for obligation reasons and night shifts this weekend at work. This Sat evening, there was only two altar servers, one of them being a girl who commonly serves this mass, and one lector only (vs. the usual two). Furthermore, an acquaintance of my cousin and also a fellow alumnus from our high school attends this parish and does all 3 big lay ministries in the mass (serve, lector, EHMC). His most common mass is the Sat evening mass. Sadly sometimes, the only normally-scheduled altar server there is that girl and our acquaintance must do ALL 3 of his ministries in that mass (though they do without candles at the Gospel as he doesn’t robe up) in order to provide a 2nd server and a lector. So sometimes, this is a necessity in the NO, else who’d be serving the priest. If only we could convince young men to stop playing the damned video games and be virtuous servers of Jesus/God!

  22. Bender says:

    The objection to girl altar servers is, amongst other things, that (a) it breaks with tradition and (b) like Communion in the hand, it was born of disobedience by enemies within the Church. . . Neither Paul VI’s nor JP II’s decisions were in every case in such matters sound or welcome

    Yeah, either you believe that the Holy Father is Peter or you don’t. And where Peter is, there is the Church.

    This cafeteria approach to Catholicism doesn’t cut it.

  23. St. Rafael says:

    Yeah, either you believe that the Holy Father is Peter or you don’t. And where Peter is, there is the Church.
    This cafeteria approach to Catholicism doesn’t cut it.

    You have a profound misunderstanding about the nature of the papacy and Church teaching. It’s not a cafeteria approach when one disagrees with the Pope on prudential acts of governance or discipline. A Catholic cannot disagree with the Magisterium on doctrine and morals, but when it comes to choices in discipline, these are open to dispute, are not infallable and are not free from error.

    What you are advocating is papal idolatry. Catholics are perfectly free to agree or disagee with any act of governance or discilpine enacted by a Pope. These are not acts of the Magisterium. So if a Catholic disagrees on a certain point of governance, it’s his right, and changes nothing. Peter is still Peter, the Pope is still the Pope, and he can be right or wrong in his decision on some type of discipline for the Church.

  24. capchoirgirl says:

    Any post that quotes <i. The Incredibles is an excellent post in my book.

  25. irishsmile says:

    Our son is a priest who offers the N.O. Mass. Our 14 year-old grandson attended one session of ‘altar person training’ along with his best friend from the Catholic grammar school. Neither boy would go back because the altar training session was flooded with young females. Our grandson no longer verbalizes any interest in a possible vocation which he had done previously. Our local masses reflect this feminizing trend. It is happening at the expense of vocations. Excepting the priest, women dominate the altar at masses here as lectors… and identify themselves as ‘Eucharistic Ministers’. Just ask them. The men in our parish seem beaten down and overwhelmed just like my grandson at the altar training session. Many Catholic males have become very uncomfortable in this emasculating environment.

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