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FSSP Superior Distinguishes Fraternity from SSPX, Eschews “Traditionalist” Label

(Image: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at an ordination of FSSP priests in Wigratzbad, Germany, 1990.)

The usually cautious and reserved Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) has now given its current opinion concerning the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and on its possible formal re-integration into the structures of the Catholic Church. Father Bernhard Gerstle – the head of the German district of the FSSP – just gave a 24 April interview to the German Bishops’ official website in which he explains many of the positions and opinions of his priestly fraternity. (Father Gerstle is the same priest who, in 2016, made a politely critical statement about the papal document Amoris Laetitia.)

Father Gerstle explains, first of all, that he himself split off from the SSPX because of the “illicit episcopal consecrations” in 1988 which, in his eyes, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger tried to forestall. (Interestingly, and just in the recent past, there have been voices saying that Cardinal Ratzinger, as pope, later removed the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops because he realized that he had contributed to the intensification of that earlier conflict. Worth noting is that, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who has served as an official Vatican liaison to the SSPX, recently called this act of excommunication an “injustice.”) In Gerstle’s eyes, the 1988 breach happened due to a “lack of trust toward Rome.” He also claims that many more priests within the SSPX had disapproved of the episcopal consecrations, “but did not make the final step.” Thus, there were “only a few priests and seminarians who left the Society of St. Pius X at the time [in 1988].” Gerstle explicitly says that the foundation of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter happened “essentially due to Cardinal Ratzinger, [who was] then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

Image and caption courtesy of

Father Gerstle further distances himself from those smaller groups within the SSPX – whom he calls “hardliners” – who “reject the Second Vatican Council to a large extent, for example with regard to religious freedom or as to the decree on ecumenism.” Some of them, he says, also doubt the validity of the new liturgy. Gerstle makes it clear, moreover, where the Fraternity of St. Peter stands with regard to the Second Vatican Council:

The Fraternity of St. Peter, however, has accepted to study without prejudice the conciliar texts and has come to the conclusion that there is no breach with any previous magisterial statements. However, some texts are formulated in such a way that they can give way to misinterpretations. But, in the meantime, Rome has already made here concordant clarifications which the Society of St. Pius X should now also recognize. [Emphasis added]

Additionally, Father Gerstle insists that for the FSSP, the new 1983 Code of Canon Law is the standard. In his eyes, the SSPX has here some more reservations. For the FSSP, explains Gerstle “there is not a pre- and a post-conciliar Church.” “There is only the one Church which goes back to Christ,” he adds. Gerstle also insists that the FSSP does not “wish to polarize or even to promote splits,” but that they wish to instill in their own parishes “an ecclesial attitude.” Certain (unnamed, unspecified) abuses in the Church should only be criticized in a “differentiated and moderate way.”

Father Gerstle also distances himself from the concept “traditionalist” when he says: “This notion I do not like at all to hear. We are not traditionalists, but simply Catholic.” As Catholics, he says, “we appreciate tradition,” but without “completely blocking organic adaptations and changes.”

The worthy celebration of the traditional liturgy, together with a loyal teaching of the Catholic Faith, is at the center of the work of the FSSP, according to Gerstle. “Salvation of souls” and “eternal life” are their Fraternity’s own concern. Unfortunately, adds the German priest, “the Four Last Things have been widely neglected in the Church, with the effect of a belittling and attenuation of sin and of a loss of the practice of sacramental confession.”

Father Gerstle sees that “one cannot simply introduce everywhere again the old liturgy and, so to speak, impose it upon people.” “Both rites thus [with the help of the “reform of the reform”] should enrich each other,” explains the priest. Certain elements of the new liturgy could be “enriching for the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.”

Moreover, Father Gerstle also explains that, in the German district, there are growing numbers of faithful who are interested in the traditional Tridentine Mass. Some of the FSSP Masses have “100 to 180 faithful” in attendance. He admits, however, that the FSSP has not too many vocations. “All in all we have a good number of incomers [16 new priests in 2016 and currently some 100 seminarians altogether], but it is not so that we are under pressure due to high numbers of vocations.”

At the end of this interview, Gerstle explains that the SSPX faces a dilemma: either Bishop Fellay chooses unity with Rome and will have a split within his own organization, or he will choose unity within the SSPX and will not have unity with Rome.  The German priest explains, as follows:

I think that the current Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, will have to decide between unity with Rome and unity within the Society of St. Piux X. The realists within the leadership will then hopefully realize that there is no alternative to a reconciliation with Rome.

UPDATE: Over at his blog, 1P5 contributor Matthew Karmel (a.k.a. “Radical Catholic”) has published a full translation of Fr. Gerstle’s interview.

UPDATE (27 April): We reached out to Reverend Father John Berg, the Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, asking him to comment on the recent Father Gerstle interview. We asked specific questions, such as whether this Father Gerstle interview represents the official position of the FSSP, whether the FSSP’s priests only celebrate the traditional Latin Mass and whether the FSSP has any restrictions on public criticism of the Second Vatican Council by virtue of their foundational documents. Father Berg responded promptly, saying that he has no comment about an article written about an interview in another publication and that his views on the official positions of the FSSP are to be found in an interview he himself gave to Latin Mass Magazine in 2013.

216 thoughts on “FSSP Superior Distinguishes Fraternity from SSPX, Eschews “Traditionalist” Label”

  1. I know this is a formative member of the FSSP, but these represent his own opinions. I know others in the FSSP who would explain things differently. I can’t say anymore than that.

    • There are definitely a few “others”, but as time goes by, their priests seem, for the most part, to be more and more taking the approach that Gerstle does here. “No contradictions in Vatican II. Nothing to see there. Nothing wrong, per se, with the Novus Ordo – it’s just a failed experiment.” See, for example, this talk given by Fr. Nolan, FSSP (fast forward to the 47:18 mark to see his take on the New Mass and to the 59:00 minute mark for his take on the documents of Vatican II). You will see a young priest with the same approach as Gerstle. According to Father Nolan, “Whatever the Holy Father decides to do with the liturgy is entirely his prerogative.”

      • “Whatever the Holy Father decides to do with the liturgy is entirely his prerogative.”

        The truth is, though, that this brand of ultramontanism can be found just as readily with most sedevacantists – the difference is, they don’t recognize any post conciliar popes. They are for an autocratic pope with vast, vast powers, so long as he exercises them in a tolerably traditional direction. And this is why, say, NovusOrdoWatch has no problem with (say) the 1955 Holy Week reforms of Pius XII, something more and more traditional Catholics are increasingly critical of, and would rather dispense with. (And that ‘reform’ by its very nature calls into question the very idea of Pius XII as a “traditional pope.”)

        And that ultramontanism was thick as weeds in the generations before the Council. No one ever seems to have stopped to ponder what might happen if such an inflated papacy were ever to get into the hands of liberals. At some point, we are going to have confront the question of just what the Pope’s powers over the liturgy – even of the Roman Rite! – really are, and where the limits are. Because limits there must be.

        • “At some point, we are going to have confront the question of just what the Pope’s powers over the liturgy – even of the Roman Rite! – really are, and where the limits are. Because limits there must be.”

          That point seems to have passed 48 years ago. I think the majority decided that there are no limits. That’s an absurd decision historically and theologically, but few seem to have challenged it.

          I’m pretty sure those same people will rethink their lack of challenge if there is ever a restoration of actual Catholic liturgical practice to the Church at large.

          • Well, I don’t think anything definitive has yet been said; and there is nothing to keep a future Pope (or Council) from defining this question in such a way as would make impossible future acts like those of 1970 or even 1955 possible going forward.

            Are we ready to undertake such a definition now? No, not really. But some day, we may be, when we are climbing out of the wreckage finally.

          • I am of a mind to hope we DON’T see an attempt to undertake a final “reform of the reform” now. speaking in purely human terms, I think it is a disastrous time to attempt to put a period at the end of the sentence.

            I’m not sure the “sins of the Canaanites” have reached their full fruit yet and we might better wait till they do and are driven from the Church first.

            And yes, I think it is coming. Maybe not immediately. Maybe in 20 years if my generational math is right, as I think it might take that long for this generation to die in the desert. Heck, the NON-commies had to wait 70 years in Russia…

            I personally believe we will get an actual Catholic Pope or one who is bad at first who converts and who decides to do something that triggers a schism, that is, makes de jure what is already de facto.

            I can see the Germans and likely many in Latin america and some in the USA following them into a new, “Orthodox-style” “Catholic Church”.

            That Kirchensteuer ain’t gonna be given up without a fight.

          • I am of a mind to hope we DON’T see an attempt to undertake a final “reform of the reform” now. speaking in purely human terms, I think it is a disastrous time to attempt to put a period at the end of the sentence.

            I completely agree.

            Given present formal defections from the German Church and political trends within Germany broadly, I do actually expect some revisiting of the Kirchensteuer in the 2020’s. Probably not to be abolished, but to be modified in a significant way – a step by step process of dismantling it for a Church rapidly running out of followers and shedding political influence – in what will be, after all, a Germany in which non-religious will constitute a majority (and Islam, perhaps as much as 15-20%) on present trends.

          • Now, now. Have pity in us hermits. Desert spirituality would be devastated if our habitat were littered with modernist corpses. Let the mods breath out their last in landfills of big cities.

        • “Whatever”…is the problem, not the existence of authority.

          The Pope DOES have authority to make changes.

          The problem is those changes must not contradict dogma.

          We are a Church of 24 rites. All are different in some ways. Changes have occurred throughout history.

          These are facts.

          The problems are real and the fixes are not easy, but to suggest that a Pope has no authority to make any liturgical change is simply not Catholic. Indeed, the Church may make very significant changes to very important issues of faith, some having relevance for merely a time. Haydock’s commentary on Chapter 15 of the Book of Acts and the Council of Jerusalem comes to mind.

          But a Pope cannot change dogma of the faith.

          Hence the greatest issue for me today in the Church after the trendy topic of divorce and remarriage is extra ecclesiam nula salus and Ratzinger’s lecture in ’58, book in ’68 and recent statements.

          • “Not contradicting dogma” is the minimalist view. It must also not contradict Tradition, and so be in continuity with it! I could add lots of traditional Eastern prayers into the Western liturgy not contradicting dogma, and yet it would be contrary to the Western tradition. These problems have occurred because ultimately the Roman Church didn’t appreciate its own rite, and forced many liturgical changes on many rites not its own (i.e., the Latinizations of the Eastern rites, and the attempted suppression of the Ambrosian and Mozarabic rites). It’s no wonder that in 1969 a new rite was devised, and the previous rite de facto outlawed.

          • Hello RTHEVR,

            Once upon a time – this was in the 1870’s, I think – Pius IX was approached with a proposal to add St. Joseph to the Canon. He declined to do so, he said, because he did not think he had the authority to do so. Remarkable, when you think about it, given just how expansively he is known to have believed his papal writ to run.

            Whereas Pope John XXIII made that very change with scarcely a hesitation. And not even a century had gone by since Pius IX’s refusal.

            Therein lies a tale.

            There is no question that the *some* locus of power over the Roman Rite resides with the Pope. Fr. Hunwicke (no fan of 20th century reforms he!) put it thusly not long ago:

            I agree with a lot of what has been said but would remind readers that we get our knickers in a bit of a twist if we categorically deny that the Bishop of Rome has an authoritative locus as far as the Roman Rite is concerned.The popes who composed for the classical sacramentaries thought they did. Many in Rome thought that S Gregory I’s byzantinisation of the Ordo Missae was rather questionable.

            And he has a point.

            The liturgical blogger The Rad Trad offers, however, what seems like a good corollary to that, at least in the context of the Roman Rite:

            The purpose of the liturgy, especially during the great periods of the year, is to united the faithful to God so that they might know Him and save their souls. He gathers them to Himself and to His new Jerusalem, the Church, and to His Body, again, the Church. The belief and the sensus fidelium of the Church is diffused among the various rites and usages the Church enjoins and has practiced through out the ages. Christ’s Body, the Church on earth, is much like His physical body when He was present among us in flesh in that it is organic and prone to growth. I recall years ago reading interviews with both a prominent sedevacantist and a priest of the FSSPX. Both were asked if a pope could create a new rite of Mass and both answered “In theory, yes, but the New Mass is bad, so we reject it.” I think a more prudent reply excludes the possibility that the pope, or any bishop, can create a new liturgy or discard large portions of the old liturgy. Many of the additions to the Roman rite over the years—introductory rites in the Office, hymns, prayers before the altar, the offertory, the monastic choir ceremonies, the Eastern feasts imported etc—were just that, additions, neither replacements nor fabrications. If we concede this point, then we lose part of the sensus fidelium and instead embrace the inner-mind of some dodgy bishop. Worse yet, we lose the greater meaning of the mysteries and lessen the Sacraments, turning them into transmission channels for grace and nothing more. To retain the sensus fidelium and keep the faith, we ought to guard the liturgy of the Church with Davidic fortitude lest we embrace Christ as we want Him to be and not as He actually is.

            The irony – the one lost on so many traditionalists – is that it was the Masher of Modernists himself, St. Pius X of blessed memory, who established the precedent that a Pope could and ought to do just that, when he overhauled the Breviary in 1911, and arguably also did so in his reversal of the order of sacraments, and arguably was contemplating doing much, much more with a possible general reform of the Missal itself before his untimely death in 1914.

        • This trajectory ultimately started with St. Pius X. Recall that before his reign, the average Catholic layman had Holy Communion a few times a year and that’s also where the “active participation” business started and was almost diametrically opposed to Leo XIII praising the praying of the Rosary during Mass.

          On the sole basis of papal authority, Divino Afflatu altered the Psalter arrangement that went back to the 4th century, if not the morning Psalms prayed by Our Lord Himself… and completely destroyed the breviaries of the Dominicans and Carthusians as well as their calendars, which alone preserved the ancient Roman liturgy from before the Gallican elements became infused in the Roman Rite. It’s only surprising it that it took 5 decades to apply the same logic to the Missal.

      • And yet my FSSP parish priest advised me to stay away from the NO ‘Mass’ altogether as a danger to Faith. I think there is room for many opinions on the actual documents of VII, their interpretation, and how all this shakes out in the pew.

        Surely even in ‘the old days’ there were priests and bishops who had slightly different ways of expressing the Faith?

    • I see your point, but, I’d add that this statement carries weight precisely because of the position of the man giving the interview. He is not a rank-and-file member. The question is whether Father is speaking these words now as more than himself, that is, as the house organ. Others might disagree, surely, as you say. But if that combined with the statement of Fr. Gerstle indicates a forming “split” in the FSSP ranks, not so good.

        • Regardless, there is room for another traditional priestly fraternity. Perhaps if a group wanted to split from the FSSP they would find support and vocations.

          • schism begets schism. Do you really think it would be a good idea to have 30,000 warring “traditional” sects?

          • There are already many new groups dedicated to saying the Traditional Mass exclusively, more being founded too. Schism doesn’t mean “being in union with the Superior of the FSSP.”

          • New groups being founded is great. But new splinters are not.
            I assume you meant to write that “schism doesn’t mean not being in union with the Superior if the FSSP.”

            If you are a religious, you owe obedience to your superiors in all things but sin. These guys get elected every few years, not for life. A priest who can’t ride out a storm in a teapot, such as this interview, would be very unlikely to succeed as a founder of anything but a group in schism with the pope.

            There are no human silutions other than prayer, tears, and faith that God will deliver us in His timing and in His way. Truth warned us that tares would grow up with the wheat. Has anyone here matured in the Faith or changed an opinion in the past 40 years? If so, aren’t you glad nobody pulled you up and threw you into the fire before your ears were full grown?

          • The FSSP is a priestly fraternity, not an order. A priest or group of clerics are free to join or leave, to start a new fraternity or found a new group if they wish.

          • Point taken – strictly speaking it is a Society of Apostolic Life for clerics. But they take the same basic vows as religious.

            They do leave the Fraternity, wth the Fraternity’s blessing, to answer calls to ministries other than the FSSP’s primary charism but they don’t waltz in and out quite so easily as you make it sound. Unless they want to go rougue into a canonical No Man’s Land, there is a process of discernment and direction with superiors as well as cooperation with a local ordinary before such changes are made.

        • There are some genuine tensions within the Fraternity itself, you know – even if that wasn’t what Fr Gerstle was speaking to.

        • You missed to whom I was referring. I wasn’t referring to any specific speaking of a split by Fr. G, in either priestly group. I was answering a specific previous comment wherein that poster said that Fr. G’s opinion was one, but others in the FSSP had another. If that is true, there is a split opinion on the subject matter at hand. Whether it is a big split is another thing. But it would mean there’s varying opinion on a matter of utmost importance.

        • There has already been at least one split within the SSPX. That occurred in early 2009, when Richard Williamson led a number of his supporters, fellow travelers, and “useful idiots” within the SSPX further astray by founding his own “church,” following the release of a falsehood-infested, anti-Jewish interview with Swedish television just a day after Holy Mother Church had publicly announced the lifting of the excommunications on him and Fathers Fellay, Tissier, and Galarreta (though the interview had been recorded 2 1/2 months before). The release of said interview led SSPX to oust Williamson from its ranks.

      • Fr Gerstle may well speak for a sizable slice of the German district, but I have doubts that it would be as representative of some other districts.

    • I’ve had the same experience. Some priests in both societies can’t seem to get past 1988. Others (mostly the younger ones) have gotten over it, and just want to help save souls.

  2. I was attending the FSSP for some time, and wound up with the SSPX. The only problem that I saw with regard the SSPX were faculties. That problem is now resolved, and I am most comfortable with the Catholicity of my new home. Regardless of how they are or are not viewed in Rome.
    Father Gerstle should consider his own words. “some texts are formulated in such a way that they can give way to misinterpretations!” This is a council of the Catholic Church he is talking about. While pointing out the obvious, Vatican II was NOT a doctrinal council, nor did it by its own admission define anything, what makes Father Gerstle think any Catholic should consider lending an assent of ‘mind and will’ to any document open to interpretation, until that interpretation is at least made crystal clear? It is precisely that kind of sloppy approach that has me where I am, with others following.

    • Good thinking RM. I am also to benefit from the SSPX, they are building a new church right next to my home town in Ohio. We are beyond excited! ? Deo Gratias!

  3. Sounds like the FSSP, at least in Germany, is going along to get along. Does not bode well for the TLM.

    • at least in Germany

      That may be the key qualifier here.

      There’s a considerable difference (and, one hears, tensions) between FSSP priests formed at Wigratzbad versus those at Lincoln; but also between regional districts; and Germany has a reputation as a more moderate district.

      • I know P. Gerstle. He baptized my son. He is definitely more moderate. He is a good priest, but not what folks call a ‘Tradtionalist’. One must realize that in Germany, the Catholic Church exercises a lot of power on the use of churches, etc. through the State. Traditional Germans have to walk a tightrope between the German bishops who utterly dislike the TLM and who try to shut it down left and right, and the state which is used by the Church to attain its ends. There are many more open to the TLM in the US than in Germany. The Stuttgart-Rottenberg diocese is trying to kick the Fraternity group out of the modern concrete bunker it was given to celebrate the TLM and not provide anything for them. Meanwhile in the same city, the SSPX built a brand new baroque church for their worship because it has so much money. P. Gerstle and the Fraternity has had to suffer a lot to remain loyal to the Holy Father. Continual Schikanierung is the best way to describe how the German bishops and dioceses treat the FSSP.

        • Thanks very kindly. FRLBJ, for those details. Everything you say seems to underline what I have heard, in greater detail.

          Germany may well be a harder environment for the Fraternity to operate in than France. Which is saying something.

          • And harder yet than the USA.

            Folks can say that Gerstle should spit out something different. If he did, Germany might then look like any number of other nations where there is effectively no TLM at all.

            Not saying he shouldn’t put things differently, just stating the probable cost.

          • Oh, for all its problems, the USA has to be the easiest place for an Ecclesia Dei society or order to operate; and likewise for diocesan priests to introduce a TLM. (Luc Perrin made this point not long ago, too.) The Fraternity has parishes in 37 dioceses, which is more than any other country, and that is not a coincidence.

            It’s not all hunky dory here – some dioceses are still pretty bad about this – but we do actually have it better here than pretty much anywhere else, in this respect.

          • What I heard (which I’m not sure if it’s true) that the FSSP Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Lincoln is no longer accepting seminarians because they’ve ran out of places to assign them. This is what you get when your bylaws require you to work for the diocesan bishop.

          • I have not heard that, Chris. Interesting. I’ll have to look into that. The seminary website says they are now accepting vocations for fall 2017, but perhaps that’s not accurate.

            Just to be clear: If true, this is not because of anything Bishop Conley is doing or requiring (as he has been quite supportive of the Fraternity). It would be (if true) because the FSSP restricts itself to only entering dioceses where the bishop allows it – and suddenly, no bishop is interested in erecting a new FSSP apostolate.

            Going the SSPX route has its own pluses and minuses. The plus is obvious. The minus is that they do not reach a lot of Catholics that the FSSP does, because of wariness about the Society’s canonical irregularity (an expression I use for lack of a better one).

          • I will say that I do not agree with some of what he says, and I find it disappointing. I also think he really believes what he is saying. I would rather he had remained silent (or evasive) on some of these points, which I suspect will result in some grumbling within the Fraternity. I also think that he is in error to say that the FSSP has taken a definite position on the Council.

            But for all that, you are right to observe that he walks a real tightrope, a very hard position that is difficult to appreciate over here in the USA.

      • It’s nonsense isn’t it! The tradition has always been to remain for at least ten minutes after Mass to make one’s thankgiving. And in plenty of silence, unlike the modern Catholic Churches that are more like social clubs after the mass with so many people yabbering to each other in the Church.

        • We must be careful of “the past.” Habits do grow. There is no silence in my FSSP Church after Mass as the Rosary starts about 2 minutes after Father leaves the Sanctuary. For the High Mass later in the morning, the Rosary is prayed before Mass – again no room for private prayer before or after. Yet we are as Traditional as we can be! These are local habits to be sure but do they represent a ‘change’ or a destruction of the traditional ‘silence’ or are they simply the only way to get the parish together to pray to Our Lady?

          • I think that praying the rosary is an excellent way to give a thanksgiving. The destruction of silence I was thinking about considers the endless chatter of people in the Church after Mass, who give no thought about the importance of giving any kind of thanksgiving. Thankfully, being an SSSPX Mass attendee, I do not suffer this experience.

          • Stuff like that reflects, I think, the fact that Trad. parishes, such as mine which does not even have its own building, must rent space in two.different churches for Sunday high mass & one weekday low mass, a different church yet again for First Friday devotions & high mass, & other feast-days (ex. Ash Wed.), &, every single hour we would need/want a kitchen or hall; top that off with parishioners coming from a radius of about 45 min. travel time.

      • Why not the TEM? The Catholic Church has allowed certain parts of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass to be prayed in English for the past 52 years, at least.

          • There’s nothing in Quo Primum to forbid per se a vernacular rite – after all, there were in 1570 eastern rite liturgies employed by particular churches in communion with Rome which made use of vernacular tongues, admittedly in sacral form (Koine Greek, Aramaic, etc.). Rites or uses which came into being in 1370-1570 were suppressed, but not because of use of vernacular per se (very few of them did, I believe), but because of questions of their orthodoxy.

            I do think Pius V (FWIW) would be appalled by the Pauline Missal – but above all because of questions of its doctrinal orthodoxy.

          • I think standardizing the ROman Rite liturgy in the 16th century was necessary due to the rise of “Reform” heresies and practices.

          • Allowing SOME vernacular as called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium is in no way the same thing of the de facto ban on Latin in the Novus Ordo, which is the unfortunate reality. It does make a certain amount of sense for the propers to be in the vernacular, even if they should still be chanted. Requiring the entire Mass to be in the vernacular does invoke an Anathema of Trent Session XXII and the unfortunate response from many a pastor is that his flock “doesn’t understand Latin” and comes perilously close to the point…

          • The problem here is twofold: 1) Sacrosanctum Concilium fails to specify exactly how much of the Mass must remain in Latin, or which parts, just as it fails to specify what and where vernacular can be employed; and 2) even if it had done so, Paul VI (or any future pope) was not bound by its prescriptions – just as he clearly was not bound by a number of things it recommended. Ultimately, it was the pope’s decision, and his authority that was in play. The blame really must go to Paul VI.

          • Oh yeah the blame undoubtedly goes to him, may God have mercy on him. Mostly he seems to have given Bugnini and the Consilium too much slack on the leash. The anecdotes about him saying Bugnini was telling him the Consilium was unanimous in approving things they were deeply divided on while Bugnini was telling the Consilium that the Holy Father wanted x,y,z comes to mind…

          • I think Bugnini did manipulate Paul VI (and the Consilium), but I also think Paul VI was content with the missal he ultimately got. At least there is plenty of evidence to support that hypothesis.

        • They’ve allowed a lot of bad things in the past 52 years. That would be one of them. The FSSP priest recommended more silence after Holy Communion, not a different language.

        • Interesting remarks. The Missal for the Anglican Ordinariate, which I have, is 100% traditional, although translated into cranmerian style English. Although the calendar is more or less modern, the Mass formulars are very traditional and when I celebrate this form I use the old lectionary, purely because it fits the Masses better than the new lectionary does. Latin has virtues that no venacular has or even can have regardless of the quality of translation, and the AO Missal is really of the highest quality and in my personal opinion should be allowed to be used by all english-speaking priests, not just those converts of the ordinariate. However, I do believe – from personal experience – that just impossing the TLM will not work at least for another generation, when many souls will have been lost. The AO Mass would be a perfect blueprint for re-traditionalising the majority novus-ordo parishes and making them again open to the eventual transition to TLM, as well as, which is the most necessary thing at the moment, re-catholicising them.

    • I think his his 2 or 3 examples of enrichment are, in fact, alarming, and, at the very least, entirely unnecessary. His advocacy of these only underlines his own contention that he is not a Trad and, in his attitude of intellectual subservience to the modern magisterium, he has come to think of traditional things from the vantage point of the new. To wit:
      1. Silence: this has been pushed extensively by Ratzinger for reasons that seem germane only to he NO, where cacophony rules the day. To me it has no practical relevance to the TLM, whether the mass be low or high, especially low, where silence is the key attribute.
      2. Lectionary “enrichment”: Good Lord, why? The main arguments for this expansion imply that the lessons are primarily didactic and that, in the interests of imparting the faith in its completeness, more is always better. But does even the NO employ this principle without prejudice? Absolutely not! For it is the very act of selecting scripture to include that the modernists reveal themselves, carefully omitting anything that contradicts a modernist outlook (imprecatory psalms for instance) or fosters a traditional understanding of the faith. Any expansion of the lessons entails a conscious choice, and this choice will be guided by philosophical agenda, trad or mod. Tradition has given us the readings of the old mass. An attitude of humility will seek first to plumb all their riches before adding or subtracting from that wealth.
      3. As to updating the Sanctoral cycle, I suppose I would be open to that, assuming all post-Vatican 2 canonizations be submitted to review according to traditional standards, employing, for instance, the Devil’s advocate.

      The TLM is still precariously endangered. There is absolutely no sound reason for further endangering it with “enrichments” from the spiritually impoverished NO. To even suggest this reveals this priest’s recklessness … or fecklessness.

        • Would you like to say that directly to the quite orthodox Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Prefect of the Catholic Church’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments? He made the same point in his 31 March 2017 address to the Colloquium “The Source of the Future,” on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum.”

          • I love & respect Cardinal Sarah. Judging from his person, & position, I’ve comforted myself, rightly or wrongly, by thinking he’s trying not to be too extreme in his choice of words.

      • The Devil’s Advocate and formal trial wasn’t used before Urban VIII in 1634. Canonizations were entirely local affairs before Alexander III forbid anyone to canonize without the consent of the Roman See in 1170… Peter has the keys or he doesn’t.

        A multi-year lectionary is not needed. What is needed is less 16th and 17th century Italian Confessors on the universal calendar, especially when they displaced 3rd and 4th century Martyrs to commemorations. A decent feature of the 1970 calendar, unfortunately tainted by other innovations, is the emphasis on local calendars. The balance between the sanctoral and temporal should be re-established in place of the emphasis on the ferial since 1962. The pre-1955 Holy Week should be restored. Though I’m particularly fond of 1948, that’s all too complicated to return to any one year of the Missal and needs a new issue. In the meantime, simply allow the use of any edition of the Roman Missal ad libitum would solve many problems.

        The TLM is not really endangered. Way too many diocesan Ordinaries have welcomed the FSSP in with open arms, including former heterdox havens such as Los Angeles. The energy of SSPX is needed in the Church to counteract the heterodox elements (Cardinals Marx, Kasper, Cupich, etc). Outside, they are marginalized and alienated from natural allies (Cardinal Sarah, Burke, etc).

        • The Devil’s Advocate and formal trial wasn’t used before Urban VIII in 1634. Canonizations were entirely local affairs before Alexander III forbid anyone to canonize without the consent of the Roman See in 1170… Peter has the keys or he doesn’t.

          That is a fair point. The Church has varied how it conducts canonizations over the ages.

          The difficulty is that we rarely find instances where there were serious questions, on a systemic level, with an entire set of canonizations in the way there may now be with much of the post-conciliar period. And this is a fraught question, because the note of infallibility has been taken to apply to canonizations. I don’t have a clear answer on that; each alternative that occurs to me has difficulties. But that does not reduce the concern many of us have over the canonization of, say, John Paul II, given certain (unrepented, so far as we know) acts and expressions on his part that were on their face indifferentist in nature.

          • It would indeed be far more prudent to not let popular enthusiasm carry a canonization (as it did more than a few in the first millennium) and have an arbitrary fifty or one hundred moritorium for a better sense of perspective… the Saint is in heaven for eternity, after all and doesn’t matter to them…

      • A truly authentically Catholic updating of the calendar was always operative in the Church. Alas, the John Paul II and Francis era canonizations by their sheer volume and scarcity of genuine miracles have tainted the trust that one used to have in that process.

    • he means things like broadening the Lectionary, updating the calendar and having more silence for prayer after reception of Holy Communion.

      I would have to see what he has in mind, but I would be concerned even at the improvements he suggests as represented here by you. I think the new lectionary is a disaster from start to finish; certainly a multi-year lectionary (which was, I should note, expressly called for Sacrosanctum Concilium, and not just a Bugnini innovation) is a very bad idea. One does wish, perhaps, for addition of certain post-1962 saints (Padre Pio, etc.) added to the calendar – which should not be frozen in amber in this respect! – but I would be wary of doing anything else, save to actually reverse certain 1955-62 reforms (restore the second confiteor, the entire original Holy Week, some of the suppressed octaves and feast days, etc.).

      But I thank you very much for your sense of the interview in the original German: troubling still, but perhaps slightly less so than represented here by Maike.

      To my knowledge – and I have this on very good authority – the period of “impartial study of the documents of the Council” (vorbehaltloses Studium der Konzilstexte) is by no means over.

      That is *my* sense as well. This may be a bit of wishcasting on Fr Gerstle’s part.

  4. Interesting but I wonder what pew sitters will support. The SSPX church I’m fortunate to have so near is packed at every mass and the traditional mass RC church is too. I suspect the common pew sitter has little desire to participate in the mainstream, NO RC church and will not support reintegration that diminishes what they find in traditional alternatives.

  5. What we see here is the well established method of truth concealment known as ‘get along, go along’ or turning a blind eye. Disappointing.

  6. This is a disappointing interview, which will only add to the impression that the FSSP are simply lap-dogs of the modernists, who will accept anything in return for permission to say the old mass. I did not hold that view before, but this interview has certainly nudged me in that direction.

    As usual when someone is trying to defend an indefensible position, Father says things which jar which common sense. He says the Church “cannot impose” the old liturgy. I do not recommend such an imposition, but I do not recall Father speaking out about how the Church was happy to brutally impose the new liturgy, (with disastrous results).

    He talks of “misinterpretations” of the documents of Vatican II. He is being coy here. “Misinterpretation” is exactly how the modernists work, as Father knows full well. They wink at fidelity, at the same time as ensuring language is sufficiently ambiguous for their own purposes. Look at the contemporary Amoris Laetitia for example – a textbook example.

    In any case, anyone who would claim that Vatican II does not represent a rupture, and that there is no obvious difference in the Church pre- and post-Council, is obviously soft in the head. The Church today is largely unrecognisable from the Church at the start of Vatican II. How it worships, how it speaks, how it teaches, what it teaches, how it regards itself and how it regards false religions are all completely changed. Only a liar or a fool would say different. Catholics from even just 60 years ago – never mind 2,000 years – would not recognise the Church today and would not accept it as Catholic.

    Father is uncharitable to the SSPX when he speaks of them rejecting Vatican II “to a large extent”. The SSPX does not reject the Council “to a large extent”. Bishop Fellay himself has said ~95% of the Council is acceptable, but the problems come when the documents break with authentic Catholic teaching.

    It is not acceptable for Father to simply say “Rome has issued clarifications – deal with it”. If a document is rotten, then the document must be fixed or discarded – otherwise error will continue to occur. To some degree, this is now a moot point, as the Ecclesia Dei commission (Archbishop Pozzo) has publicly stated that the documents of Vatican II are not binding on Catholics and it is possible to reject or criticise them and remain Catholic.

    I suspect the motivation behind this interview is to appease the German Bishops, many of whom are not Catholic in any meaningful way. Perhaps the FSSP are being put under pressure in some German dioceses, and this interview is intended to make them seem fluffy and non-threatening to the modernistic quasi-Catholicism which exists in Germany (which is really money-driven protestantism, in all but name).

    Alternatively, maybe Father is jealous that the SSPX continues to outstrip the FSSP in vocations? But then, saying the FSSP “are not traditionalists” wont help redress that balance.

    For the record, there is one FSSP priest based in my country, who also left the SSPX at the time of the consecrations. He speaks highly of the SSPX and strikes a very different note from this interview.

    The ghost of Vatican II will eventually be exorcised from the Church when clergy “of a certain age” go to their eternal reward. The only question is what level of devastation will be wrought in the meantime.



        Such names they call us
        That’s not what we are
        We are Roman Catholics
        At the front of the war.

        Some just go AWOL
        Others defect
        Copying our stance
        Then say we’re a sect.

        A lot like in England
        Saint John Fisher’s day
        When his brothers said, “yes”
        This Saint replied, “nay”.

        All alone in the Fort
        St. John Fisher stood
        Preserving, defending
        For the whole all that’s good.

        Not just for himself
        Those attached to what’s old
        Or reformers, reforming
        Pretending they’re bold.

        We’re simply preserving,
        Once again the True Fort
        While those with new orders
        Relinquish support.

        And with promises made
        To men hungry for power
        They mock, stand and point
        At us in the tower

        Hoping for all
        Diverse democracy –
        When in fact their new fort’s
        A kleptocracy.

    • Well said. I would extend further by saying that the Catholic content of the V2 documents was a smoke screen for the poison. Amoris Laetitia is also dressed up in some orthodox language but anyone with a sensus fidei knows it to be nuclear. All the bishops who signed the supposed “no breach with magisterium” documents of the Council then went on to interpret and implement them in their diocese in the most modernist way. 2500 bishops signed their approval and 2500 bishops went on to misinterpret the council? This is what many neo-conservatives say. This is a contradiction in every way and requires constant spin in order to keep the lie going.

    • Father is uncharitable to the SSPX when he speaks of them rejecting Vatican II “to a large extent”. The SSPX does not reject the Council “to a large extent”. Bishop Fellay himself has said ~95% of the Council is acceptable, but the problems come when the documents break with authentic Catholic teaching.

      I think it’s fair to say that the attitude of many Society clergy (to say nothing of the laity!!) is a good deal more hostile to the Council than this expression, and one can find a fair number of expressions in the public arena along these lines over the years – and certainly Lefebvre’s declaration in 1974 is hard to read as anything other than extremely critical of the Council. “We refuse, on the other hand, and have always refused to follow the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies which were clearly evident in the Second Vatican Council and, after the Council, in all the reforms which issued from it.”

      I also think there are more than a few FSSP priests whose attitudes to the Council’s documents might be expressed in more critical postures than that seen here with Fr. Gerstle. At the risk of a generalization, my sense is that the North American and French districts of the Fraternity tend to be more traditionalist than the German district – with exceptions notable in each region, of course.

      • The differences are vastly overstated. At the local level, it seems most SSPX and FSSP are quite friendly. I’ve seen District officials (not the Superiors, mind you) much less parish level priests more than amicable with each other. Getting down to brass tacks, the major difference between FSSP and SSPX is the protocol of 1988 which Abp. Lefebvre signed before he repudiated it… and FSSP signed.

        Fraternity priests are quite ok with being critical about the Council documents and especially the common interpretation of them to their flocks. They just do so without polemic and interpret “in the light of tradition” which should be acceptable to any Catholic.

        • The differences are vastly overstated. At the local level, it seems most SSPX and FSSP are quite friendly.

          That’s been my sense as well.

          Fraternity priests are quite ok with being critical about the Council documents and especially the common interpretation of them to their flocks.

          That’s also been my sense.

        • What the superiors say, as an (quasi) official position, is never the same as that which the members of said community think. Politics in the Church always plays a role, whether it should or not. My personal experience of many priests, in both fraternities as well as in “normal” orders and dioceses in the Germanophone world, is that they are open and admiring of the two fraternities and there is little hatred or judgement. We are all priests working to the same end – saving of souls.

    • Alternatively, maybe Father is jealous that the SSPX continues to outstrip the FSSP in vocations? But then, saying the FSSP “are not traditionalists” wont help redress that balance.

      I think here, Fr. Gerstle is speaking of German vocations, which I believe have been less robust than in, say, France or America.

      In fact, in 2016 the FSSP ordained 16 total, as Maike’s article notes, and I believe they are on track in 2017 to ordain 24 this year. You will be hard pressed to find a diocese anywhere on the planet that will ordain so many.

      The Society does quite well in terms of vocations (and bully for them on doing so), but it should be noted that they have consistently had a high dropout rate, even after ordination – sometimes as high as 50%. The Fraternity has generally done a good job of very high retention, aside from the Prot. 1411/99 episode in 1999-2000.

    • Gabriel, you summed up my thoughts on this interview exactly, thank you. I will continue to donate and support the SSPX. Their efforts to stand up for the True Mass and strong traditional teaching is what is needed; not feel good, sitting on the fence, trying to straddle both sides effort Father put forth in this article.

    • Well said Gabriel. It is good to see that there are still plenty of Traditional Catholics who can see clearly. The current talks will lead to the dissolution of the SSPX, in time – it is really up to Rome how long that will take – my guess is within 12 months of re-integration the SSPX will be just a memory.

    • Jesus said : ” FROM THEIR FRUITS YOU SHALL KNOW THEM”. He also said: ” A good tree produces good fruit, a bad one produces bad fruit.” Well, WHAT DID VAT. II produce? The results were simply DISASTROUS in EVERY ASPECT of the Church’s functions. Would ANYONE DRINK from a glass containing pure, crystal water to which a small drop of arsenic poison had been added? And would then anyone KEEP DRINKING from this glass because it had only a small amount of poison in it. The drop would be much less than 5 % of the water content in the glass! The very 6 PROTESTANT “OBSERVERS ” but who ACTUALLY were VERY ACTIVE in the formulation
      for the DESTRUCTION of the Catholic Liturgy in the catholic Church during VAT. II, expressed their EXCEEDING HAPPY DISPOSITION at the outcome of VAT. II deliberations. It says a lot when apostate heretics are pleased with the results they had achieved through their significant input reflected in the final documents of Vat. II. When Satan shows his pleasure about an outcome, you can be sure that the outcome is not PLEASING to God. One does not need a PhD. in Theology to come to this conclusion! Just look at what Pope Paul VI, himself said about the DRASTIC changes he was approving in Vat. II. Then look at what Pope J.P. II said following Vat. II, regarding the widespread of HERESIES all over the globe. Then also look at what Pope Benedict said about the same disasters in the Liturgy following Vat. II. Many so called ” Catholics ” are still drinking from that glass containing pure water mixed with a drop of poison. And untold many of them had become so sick through the years right up to TODAY, only, now more poisonous drops have been added to the mixture with fatal results. Keep the FAITH, whole and entire, no matter what, to the end. God have mercy on us poor sinners.

    • ‘ “Misinterpretation” is exactly how the modernists work, as Father knows
      full well. They wink at fidelity, at the same time as ensuring language
      is sufficiently ambiguous for their own purposes. ‘

      So true.

  7. The statement, “we accept Tradition, without completely blocking organic adaptations and changes,” spoken like a modernist. What happened to our Lord’s words, “I the Lord do not change?” As for Ratzinger, all you have to do is to look at how he continued onward with the Assisi pagan prayer meetings, disastrous ecummenism and circus stadium Masses, to see how “orthodox” he was. I guess Father can conveniently overlook Ratzinger’s, disastrous views and influence he held during the VII process. The Germans have always been comfortable with Protestantism, it seems.

    • Oh for goodness sake! Do you think we are not familiar with the power of a Pope? What your article as usual fails to mention is that Popes themselves are subject to Tradition. Holy Tradition contains within itself Scripture and Divine Revelation – this Pope trashes both.

      The sickness of Papolatry has taken hold of so many Catholics that they are no longer able to see the woods from the giant redwood standing in front of them.

      • Comrade, please chill.

        Who are you calling a Papolatrist? The author of the article is harder on the conciliar popes than anyone on this site has ever been, He once was condemned by the late Michael Davies for his assessment of Ratzinger’s modernist agenda. History has proved Mr Davies wrong. Davies was, I suppose, unable to see beyond Ratzinger’s “support” of the traditional liturgy and may have himself fallen into papolatry.

        If it is I, your humble comrade hermit, who is referenced as a Papolotrist, let me state for our gentle readers that as a rabid anti-Catholic fundamentalist Protestant for the first 45 years of my life, I crossed the Tiber with an extremely well-honed propensity for criticizing papal utterances.

        Yep, I’m sick of talk about avoiding schism because, as any honest person can see, the de facto schism has been a reality for more than half a century. And schism begets schism, so now we see schism among Trads. The “SSPX Good / FSSP Bad” atmosphere growing in these comm boxes is sad, sad, sad. Let’s stay in schism with modernists and not fight against each other. The FSSP needs prayer, not knee-jerk condemnation. The SSPX also needs prayer; there is more than a little bit of Lefebvreolatry surrounding their supporters.

        Our Lady of Fatima, help us.

        • Yes, let’s absolutely avoid this temptation for infighting. Utterly unhelpful. The FSSP priests I know and who play a key role in keeping the traditional faith of my family on track are wonderful and COMPLETELY solid. Period. On a separate note, I think Davies was very wise not to make an enemy of Ratzinger, for obvious reasons. Let’s keep a bit of healthy perspective here.

        • Your post is of great help to the Church.
          This is NOT the time for fighting amongst ourselves.
          Many, many good priests in FSSP, SSPX, and yes….. there are Diocesan priests who, as well are in a very, very big JAM right now, if you can imagine, especially for those who have permission to provide the TLM, as their bishop will not allow Traditional Orders into the diocese.
          If this continues, who will trust who anymore, suspicions and pious pride will rise, and our priests will grow weary and rightfully angry.

          May the Good Lord reward you.

  8. So, it was 1988, Archbishop +Lefebvre had asked God for a sign if he should move forward with the consecrations as Rome had ignored him.
    Pope St. John Paul II then met with representatives of all religions of the world and prayed for peace. He gave each their respective prayer rooms on Church property.
    It seemed as if God had given Archbishop +Lefebvre his sign.

    record scratch; freeze frame
    Father Gerstle:
    “So then I decided to leave +Lefebvre and join in with St. John Paul II in exchange for a canonically recognized order.”

    • Eh, this appears to have unfortunately not been accurate.

      Fidelity exposed in 1992 that the deed for Winona closed the month before the consecrations… and that one of the key benefactors donating money for that followed with the FSSP. Fr. Bisig had been removed as the rector of the German seminary 2 years before the consecrations because he stated his public opinion that the consecrations would be schismatic without the papal mandate (which is the first part of the rite, of course).. Fr. Bisig was not alone…

      • As astute of an historian and philosopher Professor E. Michael Jones is, I can hardly trust his work regarding the Society as he openly calls them schismatic and denigrates traditionalism in many publications.
        On a personal note, it is not difficult to see his animosity toward traditionalism as a movement in general, such as calling those, disparagingly Fatamists, who believe that the consecration was not complete and the third secret has not been revealed. I suppose then, pope Benedict falls into this Fatamist fanatic group.
        His work regarding the Jewish Question, laid out in the light of tradition and scripture, is his most stellar forte, epitomized in the gargantuan work “The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit. ”

        Ironically, for someone who scoffs at traditionalism, almost all of his invitations to speak to a Catholic audience are…. traditionalists.

        • So did Fulton Sheen. Much as with say… Photius, some can appreciate Abp. Lefebvre for his strengths and some decisions and be thankful he helped preserve the TLM… while at the same time we can be wary of some of his less scrupulous moments and recognize that even many of the saints were flawed, but for their love of Christ and His immaculate bride, the Church. Abp. Lefebvre was clearly playing both sides and knowingly ordained more than a few sedes, Williamson, and Cekada most notably.

          Even if I recognize SSPX lurking on the fringes likely allowed FSSP to foster, I still lament the episcopal consecrations done without papal mandate, and try to imagine what all of SSPX’s energy could have done if Abp. Lefebvre didn’t repudate the May 1988 agreement… could see John Paul II publishing the findings of the Commission of Cardinals and preempted Summorum Pontificum by decades, that reluctant bishops could have been forced to recognize that the TLM was never juridicially abrogated and couldn’t be…

          • Yeah, I have a vhs of Fulton Sheen praising some of the worst modernists under suspicion of heresy as up and coming standard bearers for a new Christology whose time has come.

            I agree, I was intentionally being a bit facetious and comical in my first post. No one completely has all the answers and makes the right steps all the time. I have met several FSSP priests who hold no delusions of the past fifty years. Yet, when nearly the entire Catholic world has their two minutes hate fixated squarely on the Society; we ought to take note and defend.
            Hell, why not, we’re all in the same SPLC hate group category 🙂

  9. Fear.
    Fear of Francis, may have caused these statements?
    He is to be feared, you know.
    If I were the head of the FSSP, forgive me Lord, but I may have made these statements as well, so as to protect this wonderful order of priests and those who seek the holy Mass and their good counsel.

    I suppose it does seem weak, but it may be prudent.

    • If weakness is at the root of what you call prudence, then it has nothing to do with prudence. It’s just more effeminate behavior on the part of those who are called to be MEN,

    • No, fear of the German bishops and the diocesan bureaucrats who actually run it all. Yes, prudent it is, and that is exactly what P. Gerstle would say himself.

    • I should think adherence to the truth and trust in God’s providential protection would take precedence over prudence. This seems to be worldly prudence not spiritual prudence.

  10. Very, very sad. Yet another example of traditionalist groups that should be working together electing instead for the circular firing squad option.

  11. Why does Bishop Fellay have to decide….why can’t the SSPX continue discussions
    with Rome ? If Bishop Fellay does not decide, the SSPX remains intact and if he
    decides to go with corrupt Rome his organization will split to the delight of Rome
    no doubt. Should Bishop Fellay accept the too-good-to-be-true offer from PF , it will
    also split the Society. Any definitive decision either way is harmful to the SSPX…
    Is this what Rome has in mind?

    • I suspect discussions with “continue” until Rome drops the requirement for any doctrinal preamble, at minimum. (Some in the Society would wish for even more than that, like some formal correction by Rome of conciliar expressions; I think Fellay and his superiors would not hold out for that, though).

      And because Fellay likely knows that this is still not in the offing even under Pope Hagan Lio, he can rest easy that he won’t be put to the test in this pontificate, I suspect.

        • I hear that they have reduced what they are looking for, but Pozzo recently said some things to suggest that some sort of doctrinal clarification is wanted. I gather that there’s something of an argument within the Holy See about this – which would not be surprising.

  12. Here:

    1} Do you believe Vatican 2 was a fraud and simply needs to be condemned by a future Pope?

    2} Do you believe a Pope has authority to make modifications to liturgy?

    3} Do you believe the SSPX is the only true Catholic Church?

    4} Do you believe the Ordinary Form constitutes a valid Mass?

    Gerstle gave us his name and location, so when answering, please give us same.

    There’s {lots} more to it of course, but a simple yes and no is good for starters.

    I’ll go first:

    1} No
    2} Yes
    3} No
    4} Yes

    Rod Halvorsen

      • We have 24 Rites in the Church. Various changes have been made to various liturgies since the beginning. Which Popes besides Bergoglio are guilty of wrongly changing {or allowing to be changed} which rites and which other liturgies besides the Roman Rite Ordinary Form are thus illicit along with it?

        • None that I can think of at all until the post-war period. Then you have Pius XII’s changes to Holy Week, which I believe must be reversed by any Restoration worth the name; and of course Paul VI (do you mean him when you say Bergoglio?). Paul VI acted completely contrary to Quo Primum and Trent, which is why I said valid but wholly illicit.

          Certain tiny rites were suppressed by Trent, but only if they could not prove an existence of at least two hundred years.

          I would prefer the Sarum Rite (which always used the TLM’s Roman Canon by the way) post-Restoration for England.

          • No, I meant Bergoglio as in his apparent announced intention to do some meddling in the future, that is, if he does it.

            The point is this; we have seen various whole RITES differ in various ways from the virtual beginning. To say that no changes have ever been made sort of ignores that. So for any Pope {in fact, all of them, including Pius V} to have accepted the existence of ANY different rites begs the question of the validity and licitness of the rites and the integrity of the Popes if one takes the position that “No changes have ever been made to the Mass before the NO”. You haven’t said that, but some very nearly say that. EVEN if a Pope didn’t actively change a rite, his acceptance of other rites that are not identical to his own is a free admission that differing rites can be both licit and valid.

            Popes have authority to approve whole RITES. They have done it. Just what in detail they CAN’T do is the unknown part.

            Now it is not a change in the liturgy text itself, but can hardly be ignored in the discussion is Pope Pius X and his opening of communion to the little ones. That is actually a HUGE change “to the Mass” even if it did not alter the texts. Then add his changes to the music. He is always cited as the perfect example of the perfect Pope of unchanging tradition, but one cannot say he left the Mass untouched by doing those things. In fact, he radically altered the Mass for many who didn’t receive before his pontificate and everyone after!

            There have been numerous changes to the Mass over time, some occurring after PV. Various Traditionalists will admit this but always with the caveat that they were not “significant”. Well, significant to whom? I and you might think altering the number of altar cloths {for example] is no big deal, {but changes even of things like that may be quite unsettling to some. Edit}

            Where I {and from your posts, I think, you as well} have real problems is with the Mass of Paul VI. For myself, I find it confusing. My wife continually says “Why didn’t they just introduce the vernacular?” To which I respond…Well, because they wanted to make real CHANGES…

            I agree, it is problematic to many folks. Just how the Church will “fix this” I have no idea. But to suggest that “no changes” have ever been made to the Mass after Pope Pius V and before Paul VI is just not accurate.

          • Thanks Comrades for all these examples of what some would call liturgical tinkering by past Popes. To be honest, I’m not sure that some qualify as changes to the Mass, but yes Rod, you and I do share a major antipathy to the Novus Ordo which, deriving from a series of sources other than the main and traditional Latin Church rite, departs for ideological reasons from what had been fairly minuscule and organic change over the centuries.

          • It has been perpetually the teaching of the Church that Catholics are bound to their customary rite. That is why, in the controversy regarding Greek versus Roman rite, which was settled by the Council of Florence under Pope Eugene IV, the Council solemnly defined that the Greeks are to confect the Sacraments of the Eucharist according to their customary rite and therefore, they must use the leavened bread. In the Roman Church they must follow their customary rite of their ritual church, which is the proper rite of the Roman Church.

            This is what the faith dictates and decrees. That is why it has always been regarded as an act of schism if even a Pope were to attempt to change the rites, to alter the ceremonies of the liturgy. The Popes have solemnly professed for so many centuries that this is not within their power. This is also taught by the official designated theologian of the Council of Basel [which eventually moved to Florence and became the Council of Florence]. This theologian, Cardinal Juan de Torquemada, was the theologian responsible in the formulation of the doctrines that were defined at Florence, as the one I mentioned earlier. Torquemada explains that if the Pope were to change the rites, or attempt to change the rites, he would be committing an act of schism.

            Thus, regardless of Quo Primum, it had been a well established teaching of the Catholic Faith that the Roman rite cannot be trashed and replaced with a new rite. To do so is contrary to the law of God as defined by the infallible Magisterium of the Church.

            Now, Monsignor Klaus Gamber (read Cardinal Ratzinger’s praise of him) in his work, “Reform of the Roman Liturgy,” makes a simple declaration yet devastating sentence to your excessively facile remarks above: “At this critical juncture, the traditional Roman rite, more than one thousand years old, has been destroyed.” (English trans. 1993; p. 99)

            Beyond that, however, when we look at “Quo Primum,” we see that Pope St. Pius V refers to the Roman rite as that rite “which has been handed down in the Roman Church.” He was clearly designating that the rite in the Missal that he codified is precisely that rite which is the customary rite, “the received and approved rite customarily used in the solemn administration of the Sacraments.” [Trent, Sess. 7, Cn. 13]

            In other words, the language of perpetuity in QP is addressing Trent’s decree concerning “the received [traditional] and approved rites of the Catholic Church.” Pius V knew full well that organic development of the liturgy was a fact of history. He was not intending to freeze every aspect of the mechanics of the Latin Rite; but he was safeguarding that which had been passed down entire and secure since the Apostolic Age. This is clear from his adding to the liturgical calendar the feast of Our Lady of Victory a year after issuing “Quo Primum” (after the Battle of Lepanto).

            Your argument is an old one, and frankly, wearisome at this point (almost 50 years after the Roman Rite’s destruction). If you have gleaned your argument from FSSP priests, it is only more evidence that they have caved completely and have become apologists for those who wrongly argue that the Novus Ordo is a mere “development. “

          • I think you make a LOT of assumptions as to my position on this that are not what I hold to be true. In fact, I think you are arguing some points I am not making, but are points stuck in your craw from your past experience.

            The Mass of Paul VI is worldwide the most common Mass prayed in the Church today. I am not in a position to reject that Mass in toto, nor proclaim it is invalid though I have a lot of problems with it myself that I refer to leave as questions for canonists and those who actually have the authority to speak on those matters, which I do not.

            My points above I thought were clear. You make a ridiculous statement and somehow attribute it to something you think I said or are making up that I said. At no time have I ever said a Pope has the authority to “trash” the Mass, nor for that matter, do I believe Popes have the right or authority to simply make any old changes they may personally desire.

            My point is that Popes have the authority to make certain changes to the Mass, have done so in the past and have done so since Quod. Can they toss out the canon and cook up something entirely new? Of course not.

            The debate among Traditionalists is whether the Mass of Paul VI is a “new Mass” and/or represents a “trashing” of the true Mass. I say the debate exists among Traditionalists because it is settled in the Church; the Church has clearly accepted the changes made, indicates no intent to call the changes a “trashing” of the Mass, has instituted them universally, and indicates absolutely ZERO intent to replace the Mass of Paul VI w/ the 1962 Missal version of the old Mass {or any other previous version}. That is where we are in fact. There is no debate about that at all.

          • Gamber, a liturgical theologian, makes it clear: the traditional Roman Rite has been destroyed. Period. And he isn’t alone.

            Your comments concerning Pius X’s changing the discipline for the reception of Holy Communion and his decrees concerning Church music as being examples of him “changing the Mass” are just plain silliness.

            Your fifth paragraph begins with a point that has never been denied by knowledgeable “traditionalists.” Your setting up a “straw man” position regarding the number of altar cloths is just plain snarky — and demeaning.

            The manufacturing of the post-conciliar rite may or may not have produced an invalid Mass “in se;” but the act is a schismatic one according to the decrees of the Council of Florence.

          • You declare that it is “silliness” to list as a significant change one that opens up the Mass to those for whom it was denied before.

            That is silliness.

            While I too have concerns and questions about certain aspects of the new Mass, as for the “may or may not”, it’s “IS”; the Mass of Paul VI is valid as defined by the Church Herself. You may not like that, but you have utterly no authority to make the determination. None.

            You are sounding more and more like either a Sedevacantist or a Protestant.

          • If you cannot see that a discipline about reception Holy Communion or a reform of Church music is not a change “in the Mass,” I really don’t know what to say.

            You refuse to address Gamber’s (and others) observations.

            You will not respond to my remarks about the Council of Florence.

            Your sedevacantist/Protestant comment regarding your labeling of me is nothing more than an “ad hominum” response to my substantive concerns.

            Let’s just end this “conversation.”

          • I believe your “substantive concerns” exist in large part because you seem dead set on reading into what I have posted.

            What is the point of addressing your reference to the Council of Florence? The CHURCH has ruled definitively in opposition to your suggestion that current Popes might be “in schism” for making changes to the Mass by Her inauguration of the new Mass!

            I understand your concerns and I see WHY you may have them, but for you to on your own authority reject what the Church has declared valid is simply Protestant, not Catholic. It sounds clearly like you are in fact rejecting the validity of the new Mass. That is no “ad hominem” attack, it is merely an observation of manifest denial of the Church’s authority on your part.

            Again, while not a change to texts, changes to WHO may receive are not small changes, they are changes of eternal significance. I hardly think that you believe that who is allowed to receive Communion is no big deal. As for the altar cloths, that too wasn’t a flippant statement tho I guess I could have worded it differently {I edited it}. There are those for whom such changes are important.

          • …the act is a schismatic one according to the decrees of the Council of Florence.

            Which would mean that Paul VI was in schism?

          • I point out the historical fact. We’re too close to the event for the Church to draw any conclusions (nor should we expect it in the middle of the Great Modernist Crisis). But if it doesn’t raise any questions in your mind, then that is your mind. For others, it is disturbing.

          • That’s just it. the Church has drawn conclusions. At the very least since every Pope since PVI has been on-board with his new Mass. So for there to be a future decision declaring PVI to be “in schism” {whatever that means re: a Pope…} would mean that every single Pope since then has been as well for they have all agreed with him and proven it in their actions and declarations and documents. This is a simple form of sedevacantist position. Schismatics cannot be Popes, after all so they have ALL been invalid under your assessment and thus the seat is empty. Thus, I suggested that you are fronting a sede position which you took exception to. Why, I don’t know, since you have clarified that quite well with your post here.

          • A Pope may have committed a materially schismatic act while the Church does not condemn him (especially in historical hindsight ) as a formal schismatic. But it would certainly cast a dark shadow of illegitimacy concerning the creation and promulgation of the post-conciliar liturgy.

            I will refrain from commenting on your further comments regarding me personally.

          • Think your position thru:

            A “materially schismatic act” like inaugurating an invalid Mass? Sorry, but that is not merely a “materially schismatic act”. THAT is a monstrous evil the likes of which has never occured in the history of the Church. Compounding it with foisting it on the whole Church, making sure it took root then dying and leaving successive Popes to join in the charade, which they HAVE done by choice and with total clarity and without reserve.

            If things are as you are proposing, it leaves us with only two options: apostasy of the Church or at “best”, sedevacantism.

            We either believe that the Church {as She has been described in her claims since the beginning} IS the Church or we are at best heretics and Protestants. Your position here provides no other reasonable assessment. I strongly recommend you reassess it if you desire to continue professing the Catholic faith.

            Look…many of us have deep concerns on what is going on in the Church. I strongly suspect you and I are in agreement on many things. And I have no personal grudge against you, but your positions when assessed reasonably, doctrinally and logically lead to the abyss of sedevacatism and heresy. Having said that, I’ll be first to say that many leaders in the Church have pushed people so hard in the past half century or more that they go so far as you are going, and THAT too is understandable at a human level.

            Trust in Jesus Christ. He has not left us no matter how bad things look. He hasn’t allowed a break in the continuous reality of His Church. Meditate on how grim things looked at the foot of the Cross.

            I do not mean to be insulting, but your positions leave no option than head-on confrontation.

            If Pope Paul VI was “in schism” then so were all the Popes since then. Schismatics are not Catholics. The seat would then have been empty since John XXIII {assuming you approve of him} or Pius XII {assuming you approve of him} or some other previous Pope.

            That is sedevacantism and whether you like the term or not, that is precisely your position here.

          • “Look…many of us have deep concerns on what is going on in the Church. I strongly suspect you and I are in agreement on many things. And I have no personal grudge against you, but your positions when assessed reasonably, doctrinally and logically lead to the abyss of sedevacatism and heresy.”

            I suspect you are right. I think the difference is that we have different views as to the state of the Church after 50 years of contradictory ecclesiastical teaching. I am trying to explain it without going into sedevacantism (and thus my anger at those who would accuse me of it). I have lost friends over that issue.

            “Materially schismatic” is, granted, a new term. But it is not outside the realm of theological possibility. Those in charge of the ecclesiastical machinery have used novelties such as “partial communion” to describe entities that cannot be simply dismissed. To bail ourselves out of the present moment, we are going to have to dig very deeply to explain obvious almost 60 years worth of contradictions in heretofore perennial Church teachings.

            I only ask that in having a discussion on a blog like this one, let’s try to be civil. For however I contributed to the incivility, I apologize. Let’s take a different tone going forward.

            The FSSP does take up collections for CHD (or accept the tax levy for the CHD collection which is still coming out of the pockets of the faithful). That’s part of my problem with them. To not do do so would be to cost them their chapel in any particular diocese; but to do makes them material cooperators in an arm of the USCCB which directly funds pro-abortion entities.

            Pax tecum.

          • Thanks for the info. I will bring that up to my Priests.

            When Priests say the Mystical Body of Christ is now representing the events of the physical Body of Christ during his life on earth and that Mystical Body is undergoing Crucifixion, it begs the question of just what the death of the Mystical Body would look like.

            Maybe we are finding out?

            Let’s not give up hope of the Resurrection.

          • Just what in detail they CAN’T do is the unknown part.
            Our Faith is not complicated at all [see Moses’ exhortation below]. They can’t go against the Sacred Deposit of the Faith = Sacred Scripture + Holy Tradition.

            Since the Structure of the Mass = Liturgy of the Word + Liturgy of the Eucharist – ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
            but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ [Mt 4:4 (RSVCE) –
            – any would be valid Mass has to stick to Church approved Scriptural texts and translations and, this is a hard one for the enemies to innovate around, the words for consecration are to be those which Our LORD spoke and his Apostle Paul confirms IN Scripture and has come down to us through Apostolic succession.

            11 “For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. – Deut 30:11-14 (RSVCE) –

          • I stand by the point made. you are speaking in generalities which i don’t dispute, in fact, I agree.

            I am saying that the outer extreme of what detailed changes can be made has never been stated in detail. The Church has not produced a theological “Excell” spread sheet that comprehensively details what changes can be made though we know some that CANNOT be made. Thus we have seen changes made that the Church considers wholly valid, even if some others do not, but nevertheless, we are not given any document that specifies each and every change that is allowed to be made to the Mass. So yes, there is an element of the unknown still present.

          • 1) What Mass changes can’t do is go against the Sacred Deposit of the Faith = Sacred Scripture + Holy Tradition.

            2) What Mass changes can do or be, provided 1) holds = innumerable, because:

            CCC 1201 – The mystery of Christ is so unfathomably rich that it cannot be exhausted by its expression in any single liturgical tradition. The history of the blossoming and development of these rites witnesses to a remarkable complementarity. When the Churches lived their respective liturgical traditions in the communion of the faith and the sacraments of the faith, they enriched one another and grew in fidelity to Tradition and to the common mission of the whole Church.

            … and that’s why it is an unrealistic to expect the Church to produce an Excel spreadsheet.

            Let me provide an example. Liturgical dances are not approved in the West but the refined swaying say an African does when presenting gifts is approved. Cf. Liturgical Dance & Cardinal Arinze

          • It sounds here like you are agreeing with me.

            I never said the Church SHOULD produce a spreadsheet.

            I am merely saying that no one knows just exactly what changes can be made. Not you nor I. That is left to the Church to decide. No amount of quoting generalities can make every possible change known. Thus, they are unknown.

          • That is left to the Church to decide. Bingo!
            There will always be changes and given CCC 1201, these changes are to be expected, some arising spontaneously. It is the Church’s duty to properly shepherd these changes, first at the diocesan level and as required, by Rome.
            And thank you for your comments here. They are well articulated and have provided me with another view and another way to present arguments on this matter.

          • “There will always be changes and given CCC 1201, these changes are to be expected, some arising spontaneously. It is the Church’s duty to properly shepherd these changes, first at the diocesan level and as required, by Rome.”

            Well said!!!

          • Great Stalin, you forget no one less than St. Piux X himself, who overthrew the traditional structure of the Breviary. That in iteslf was the single most siginificant change to the liturgy since at least St. Pius V if not St Gregory the Great. Who shall we trust after that ???
            Ah, and also Leo XIII who was the first Pope to introduce new prayers in the Mass (more exactly : the prayers to be said after Low Masses). AAAGH!!

          • The Leonine Prayers were not “new prayers in the Mass.” They were prayers commanded for a specific purpose to be offered immediately after Mass. The Breviary and the Mass are two different species of liturgical prayer and cannot be compared when speaking of liturgical changes.

          • I might add, it is both interesting and a terrible shame that they were not incorporated into the Mass of P. PVI.

            Just at the time they were most needed!

          • Regarding the Breviary – St. Benedict himself says in his Rule that his particular arrangement of the Psalms for his monks was not written in stone – he says that if there are monasteries who wish different arrangements they are free to make changes. Saint Pius X changed the Breviary of his time to make it easier for parish priests to say it. If you look at the Monastic Breviary, Matins for example, would be very difficult for a parish priest. Pius X’s changes made sense, and this is the kind of “development” that is good for the Church.

            As is pointed out, the Holy Mass is different. Making any changes (and to be very kind let’s call the destruction by Paul VI “change”) to the Holy Mass must be done with extreme care and caution – within the “holy” Tradition.

        • Comment cancelled. I did not see your longer post below. I have not the time to address it now, but hope to return to it later.

  13. Fr Gerstle: “One cannot simply introduce everywhere again the old liturgy and, so to speak, impose it upon people.”
    OK, but one cannot forget that the new liturgy, the Novus Ordo, was forcefully imposed everywhere on the people, accompanied with a widespread claim by many bishops saying that the old liturgy was cancelled and forbidden forever.
    Thanks God and Pope Benedict, this claim was exposed as it truly was: A shameful lie.

  14. Regarding Gerstle’s use of the term “Traditionalist”, I had to chuckle.

    One can take that a couple different ways.

    It was precisely because an FSSP parish was “simply Catholic” that we changed our membership to that parish…given the other option nearer to us…

  15. There is a key element to any discussion of what is going on with the SSPX and the problem with it remaining significantly (not completely) out of union with the Holy See. It is the question of authority.
    Even many so-called traditional Catholics have abandoned or failed to understand the centrality of hierarchical authority in Christianity. For example, consider the following:
    1) Christ did NOT teach Sunday worship. This developed within the Church as an addition to worship on the Sabbath. As the Jewish leaders sought to remove the Christians from their midst (they were viewed as heretics by the Jewish leaders) the APOSTLES authorized the celebration of Sunday as the Christian Sabbath. This believed the authority to do so was given to them by CHRIST.
    2) Christ gave His authority to forgive sins to His apostles. This is the normal mechanism established by Christ. Likewise, the right for the Church to bind under serious sin fasting and other penances. This all depends on the Apostolic authority.
    3) Each bishop has the right to regulate marriage and confession within his diocese. No marriage or confession is valid without the BISHOP’s authority. This is exercised by the bishop bestowing faculties to the priests wishing to celebrate these two sacraments in that bishop’s diocese.
    When we recite the Nicene Creed, we profess belief that the Church is One, Holy and APOSTOLIC. This means that we believe as faith that Christ gave His authority to His apostles and that this SAME authority was passed on through Holy Orders to their successors, the bishops. When the bishops in communion with the Pope legislate, it is as binding as if it came from Christ Himself.
    Archbishop Lefevbre said he actions were legitimate due to “necessity”. Whether or not you agree with his assessment of the situation, necessity doesn’t justify staying out of union with the Holy See because “the Vatican is duplicitous and we cannot trust them”.
    We don’t get to pick and choose what part of the Catholic faith we get to adhere to. It is just as wrong to not be obedient out of mistrust as it is to contracept, commit sodomy or abortion. Seek fidelity to Christ, even when it requires PERSONAL sacrifice and discomfort. You do not have to sin nor teach sin, but you don’t have the moral right to disobey legitimate Church authority because you don’t trust them.

    • Essentially, I agree.

      As an ex-Protestant, I see various Protestant veins running thru certain positions called “traditionalism” by their adherents.

      There is much akin to sausage-making in the administration of the Church. It has always been so. From “How to deal with a murder-conspiring, thieving Bishop who rejected the Real Presence of the Body and Blood and eventually committed suicide?” to how to deal with Kasper and his “serene theology”, it has ALWAYS been a mess, and…always will be…until Jesus returns.

      It is in fact that field of battle where our loyalties to Christ are tested.

      Jesus wasn’t joking when he said we would always have troubles.

    • Ah, but we also (parents, priests, and bishops) have the responsibility to pass on the Faith to those whom we have been given responsibility. To not do so is the sin of negligence. Obedience has the positive error of servility.

      One can legitimately argue that Lefevbre believed his disobedience was necessary in order to avoid sinning and harming others. He believed he had a duty and responsibility to those under his care. You can argue that this reasoning can be abused to justify whatever one wants- but this would be disregarding the uniqueness of the situation we were and are in. Describing this as “protestantism” is a false comparison. It also lacks charity for those who find themselves in what appears to be an impossible situation.

  16. “St. Vincent of Lerins asked what Catholics should do if the entire Church was infected by a “novel contagion”. He explained that, at such a time, the safe path is to cleave to tradition. He wrote:

    “What then will the Catholic Christian do, if a small part of the Church has cut itself off from the communion of the universal Faith? The answer is sure. He will prefer the healthiness of the whole body to the morbid and corrupt limb.”


    Disease has crept
    Along the branch
    Rotting from within

    A pestilence
    And blackened stench
    Mold that smells like sin

    And in a crook
    On branch near Vine
    There are some plants who sit

    Preferring Vine
    Accepting branch
    Their leaves and stems are split

    But years ago
    A faithful farmer
    Grafted growths to Vine

    Broke from branches
    Twisted cracked
    “These shoots I know are mine.”

    And to this day
    Forever more
    To Vine these stalks adhere

    Branching churches
    Priests and schools —
    Glistening grapes appear!

  17. This is sad and I don’t agree with him but for the sake of unity (not truth of course) where liberals are out to divide traditionalists, I suggest we don’t make a big issue of this. God bless both the FSSP and the SSPX.

    • “I suggest we don’t make a big issue of this. God bless both the FSSP and the SSPX”.

      To the point, I agree. I for one hope for their reconciliation and the assistance of whatever elements of the SSPX remain, to help the Church.

  18. I might quibble with this guy over a few things, but as for my FSSP priests, I have this to say;

    I thank God every single day for them. I pray for them every day. They preach, teach and model the Word of Jesus Christ. They uphold the Tradition under very difficult circumstances. They tell me when I’m wrong. They guide me to the right.

    I have no complaints.

    Rod Halvorsen

    • The ones I have met in the US and Poland seem quite solid. I would hesitate to take Fr. Gerstle’s comments as too representative of much.

    • So, I gather they are what I (and others) call “orthodox” or “authentic” (as opposed to modernist) Catholic Priests?

      • Far be it for me to use a term disparaged by some on this combox, but…they…are…”Catholic”.

        Look, I get your point as I use those terms as well, but to make a point, I want to in a way, prop up Gerstle’s use of the term.

        So in answer to your questions, yes, they are orthodox, yes they are authentic and no they do not support, foist, encourage or otherwise promote heretical teaching nor practice. There are no beach-balls on the altar at an FSSP Mass! There is no “Liturgical Dance”. There is no support for nor even any gymnasticated pseudo-support for homosexual relationships. There is no religious indifferentism toward Islam, Judaism or other religions. Yes, you will hear support for the Tradition and traditional interpretation of doctrine and Scripture. You will even hear {brace yourself, I know it might be shocking in today’s Catholic Church… LOL} CONDEMNATION of heretical doctrines and practices and condemnation of something called “sin”…that is an ancient and apparently less and less known theological topic among many these days. Regular confession is encouraged.

        The Mass used by the FSSP is the 1962 Missal {Latin} version and frankly, I think if you ask many FSSP priests, they will say they are just “Catholic”, too. Which is a term being used in a very different way than how it is being caricatured here, in that the inference is that there are many things that are going on in the Church today aren’t merely a different breed of “Catholic stuff” but are rather, not Catholic at all! I would not be at all surprised to find that in this way Gerstle intended to use the word.

        And by the way, one of the things they condemn is…schism, so those things that appear or near or border on schism are {rightly in my opinion} condemned just like they would condemn any other activity that might position a person in places where the true faith is potentially compromised or lost.

        • Rod, my question was directed at the idea there are some locally who celebrate the Mass of Pius V (TLM) and yet have no issues with the contents of VC2, the modernist insertions into the catechism and Canon Law, with the questionable statements and writings of Francis and are opposed to the dubia. For me all these things matter; not just the Mass, but the long established and Holy Spirit guides dogma, doctrine, teachings, prayers, practices, sacraments and disipline of the Church. All this together makes the Church the authentic/orthodox “Holy Roman Catholic Church.” So, when I ask that question I’m merely wanting to determine where they are really at I’m not trying to cause problems. Here in central Illinois, for example, the NO is the rule. And it has taken another step down the road to invalidity and toward an unsacramental Protestant prayer service with the replacement of the Nicene Creed with the weaker/less complete Apostles Creed. I know that both are valid prayers; but the Nicene Creed was specifically included in the Mass over the Apostles Creed because of its completeness. When I asked one of our priests about it, his ambuvalent answer was, “Oh, it is still an option.”

          • Whoa….

            Got it.

            Your situation there is disheartening.

            I’m not aware of that sort of thing going on here {that is, a regular change to the NO Mass being incorporated as normative} but I have witnessed an Indian dressed in modern-made feathers and suchlike dance at the altar allowed by our BISHOP. {I should add…maybe stuff like what you describe IS going on and I just don’t know about it…}

            This I found especially repulsive both because it was an intrusion into the Mass but also because, humorously in some ways, these folks were actually evangelized with the Latin Mass by what are known as the “Black robes” in their culture…cassock-wearing priests to-boot!

            ETA: I agree that “the Mass” ISN’T the whole thing. Some traditionalists seem to think that if the TLM is introduced, all will be well. Hardly. Tho when I point friends and family out to Catholic churches in areas I don’t live in I always look first for a parish where the TLM is prayed. Then I call the parish and “grill” the priest or others about their doctrine. But at least the TLM is a generally safer place to start than just the Yellow Pages….

          • The old Roman Rite (and related rites and uses) at least made orthodoxy possible without much work.

            Whereas the new Rite requires some real effort. It suffers from “optionitis,” and the removal of too many doctrinal guard rails, so to speak. And a guard rail isn’t a sure guarantee to keep your car from rolling down the embankment into the creek, but it will make it a good deal harder to do. A number of dissenting mid-century Catholic theologians had to grow up with the guard rails of the Old Mass, but at least they had to make a serious effort to drive off the road.

          • I think you should make contact with some and begin learning about their positions. You might be surprised at what you find.

          • Nor can I. You are asking a question that only the FSSP can answer. Ask them. It’s easy enough to do. I hope you do.

          • RTHEVR, I agree! I have met some FSSP priests and things are much different than what this priest says. This priest must be very prudent and make sure he doesn’t slip. I would like to know what his real opinions are.

  19. Felix the Shrine cat- a must read.. about Wigratzbad and FSSP….

    Felix is a cat of extraordinary intelligence and with great enthusiasm,
    he explores all things, animal, vegetable, and human in his
    neighborhood. What deepens his thought is a shrine and the creed of its
    guardians. His adventures around the vicinity of Lake Constance often
    bring him into dangerous situations. He has the uncanny ability to make
    friends who appear and save him just in the nick of time. As a teenage
    cat, he chafes at the strict rules which he is told to observe. He
    believes a “liberated” kitten shouldn’t have to be so shackled. Because
    of his endearing mannerism and cute tricks, he soon becomes the darling
    of the Shrine of “Our Lady of Victory” in the little village of
    Wigratzbad and of all the pilgrims as well. He asks about the Bavarian
    Shrine and Catholic teaching in an engaging way. He always tries to
    understand more completely what is explained to him. His best friend is
    a seminarian who becomes ordained and leaves Felix. His last order is
    to ensure that Felix becomes the ‘official assistant’ porter of the
    Seminary. Felix considers himself an expert in the CAT-e-chism, which
    he learns by heart as his little Marie memorizes it to prepare for her
    first HOLY COMMUNION. He considers it as his duty to know perfectly any
    CAT book. The charm and thoughts of our little feline bring the readers
    young and old into another world as seen by a furry four-footed

  20. I must differ with you Father Gerstle. As a Roman Catholic all of my 76 years, I am proud to to call myself a “Traditionalist”. I refuse to be otherwise, the impediments of Vatican II notwithstanding.

    • JNfrancis, St. Padre Pio referred to himself as being a Traditionalist. It is said he loathed being called a Conservative. This comes from a certain journalist covering Vatican ll who visited him during the Council. This example makes me proud to call myself and be known as a “Traditionalist”. Why some people don’t want to be branded what type of Catholic they are is cowardice. When ones claims Traditionalist there are those in the Church who will persecute you. So What!

      • In defense of anyone not wanting the label ‘traditionalist,’ whether applied to them, their parish, mass, or priestly order, is that it seems unnecessary – maybe redundant – because to us, we are simply & genuinely Catholic, whereas the NuChurch is, um…

        so its actually not anything LIKE shame; to the contrary

      • I had not heard that about Padre Pio, but I have no doubt that he would ask even more firmly today, “Just what is it, after 50 years of Revolution in the Church, are the conservatives ‘conserving’?”

  21. Is it the German connection dictating Fr. Gerstle’s view? Surely, the views/proto-doctrine expoused by his German hierarchy confreres must be anathema to him, enough for him to concentrate upon such aspects without recourse to criticism of SSPX. Traditionalists, more than ever, should at this time come together and avoid bickering. My only concern over SSPX is the problem of any deal with diabolical Rome.

  22. The FSSP must be very careful in expressing their views or they could meet the same fate as the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Any Traditionalist group is walking on thin ice at the present time. The SSPX does not want to walk on thin ice so they are asking for guarantees with no tricks.

    • The Franciscans of the Immaculate were not erected under the aegis of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, like FSSP. The Benedictines of Silverstream Priory are the latest to follow the procedure. When a small few American dissenters took against the FI turning to Catholic tradition, the Friars were exposed to Vatican ill treatment.

      The interview says very little of substance. I wasn’t aware FSSP vocations are somewhat low, but for its size, 100 vocations is better than most Conciliar orders or societies.

      • PE Sh, The 100 Vocations the FSSP has must be young men with the highest qualifications. The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter as I understand turns many young men away. I guess they know a true Vocation from God when they see and know one. The FSSP priests I have met are masters of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, they are true to their calling of being “Alter Christus”.

        • I think we need to remember to guard against judging individuals according to man-made divisions. I pray for the ‘church,’ that She be strong & growing; I think prayer for ALL the priests of ALL traditional orders as well as other individual priests, & there are still many, is in order.
          Also, lets place hope & prayer in the direction of ALL the (old &) new vocations, that they constantly receive the gift of Wisdom, &, are united in Christ.

          • c2, Scripture says judge the Spirits. And judge them we all do, whether or not we believe we are judging, We do it at every moment. As for Vocations I know priests who are bad and I know priests who are good. Bad in the sense that as Priests, that they will do anything to get out of administering the Sacraments. Good as in Priests, who dedicate themselves to Christ’s Priesthood without reserve. So there are some who are wise and some who are foolish.

          • Absolutely. I don’t like to see stuff like “well, the Institute of Christ the King are…blah blah etc.”
            Childish, narrow, inaccurate

        • I know, over-subscribed. A lack of care with vocations brought such disgrace on many Conciliar seminaries. Given who (Christ) a priest has to be, few is always better. Those I’ve seen have been highly skilled with both liturgy and homily. Re-heating the old SSPX-FSSP divide is something Catholics should avoid, no greater waste of energy.

          • PE SH, Few is better if they be good Priests. But few may mean we don’t have a priest. I am not re-heating clashes between the two Society’s, I have equal respect for both.

    • I have benefited so much from the FSSP.
      Time will fix everything in the Church, all we need is a bit of time here and our Lord will fix all, we must pray. As the late Fr. Malachi Martin said, “keep your eyes on the skies.”

  23. Thank you, FSSP, for speaking up and removing all doubt about being a quasi-traditionalist order of modernists who did not have the same intestinal fortitude–and true faith–as Archbishop Lefebvre and those who remained with him.

  24. We all need to be united in the search for the objective truth of the Divine Will and be careful not to get in a, “I’m right, you’re wrong posture”. The Scriptures reveal unchanging truth! The Holy Spirit informs the souls of those sincerely seeking God’s will for their lives.

  25. There are many good people in the FSSP. But the reason they don’t have as many vocations as the SSPX is because of “uncertain trumpets”, that is waffling priests, like this, who are seen as compromising with modernists. WAKE UP! The Church is on life support! NOTHING good came of Vatican II. Stop trying to pretend it was good, the faithful see through all of the decades of lies and false springtimes.


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