Fr. Schmidberger, SSPX, on the Pope’s First Exhortation

Evangelii Gaudium:
grief for the faithful

»Evangelii Gaudium

Fr. Franz Schmidberger, Rector of the SSPX seminary in Germany presents an short analysis of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium published on November 24, 2013.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, at the end of the year of the Faith, published his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium on the preaching of the Gospel in today’s world. It is 288 points long and asks the reader and theologian to expend a great effort if he is to study this document somewhat carefully. Here also less could have been more. With the following commentary we wish to give a first and certainly incomplete overview of this document.

Part I

1. The occasion for this document was a response to the Synod of Bishops held last year in Rome from October 7th to 28th having for its theme the New Evangelization.

“I was happy to take up the request of the Fathers of the Synod to write this Exhortation.” (#16) At the same time this letter was presented as a kind of governing charter for the pontificate. This double objective, together with the loquacious nature of the pontiff, makes for writing that is not clearly structured; it lacks precision, succinctness, and clarity. One large paragraph, for example, is dedicated to the economic situation of the present world; a little further on in the document the importance of preaching is mentioned; even the preparatory details of preaching are surprisingly given. In different places the decentralization of the Church is presented as a theme but also ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue is extensively treated. The document even seems to contain contradictions. At one point it is emphasized that this document is not a social encyclical but then it speaks of the economic conditions of today’s world to such an extent that it almost resembles the social encyclicals of earlier popes.

2. The Pope speaks of the Church as if up until now little has been done in the Church regarding the preaching of the Gospel or it has been done in an incomplete way. He complains about an easy, lethargic, and isolated attitude. These constant reprimands are embarrassing. One gets the impression that up until now little was done for the transmission of the Faith and the Gospel.

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4 comments on “Fr. Schmidberger, SSPX, on the Pope’s First Exhortation

  1. Father Schmidberger writes, “What he seems to mean is that the Gospel has to be rooted in society and in the life of nations. But why does he not speak here of the Catholic State and Christian society as did his predecessors before Vatican II?”

    This is the heart of Vatican II, that the restoration of the Catholic state be abandoned in favor of secular democracy, and that affects everything else. In place of the goal of a society ordered by Catholic principles, we get one in which the weeds grow side by side with the wheat, reaped at death. In a later paragraph Father addresses this very error in modernism’s key misinterpretation of the gospel that thus favors secularism, and with secularism, ecumenism. Archbishop Lefebvre addressed the necessity of the Catholic state in They Have Uncrowned Him, of its centrality in evangelism and in the spiritual life of Catholics.

    How do we live this? We have to do what Father Rostand told us to do at the end of the conference on this topic in Kansas city two years past: we have to, as he said, ‘go out and run for office.’ That means we have to build a Catholic platform, organize ourselves, act. I do not know why SSPX did nothing at that conference to assist lay people in this regard, just a sheet of paper where those of us who were interested could have put our email address so we could have contacted each other, nor can I understand why SSPX has remained inactive in regard to the implementation of Father Rostand’s directive since that conference. Sometimes I feel that this lack of follow-through might be due to another point made by Pope Francis and emphasized by Father Schmidberger as positive, not as an attack: “Today we are seeing in many pastoral workers, including consecrated men and women, an inordinate concern for their personal freedom and relaxation, which leads them to see their work as a mere appendage to their life, as if it were not part of their very identity.” I am afraid that rings a bell, regrettably, in some cases.

    A rejection of secularism is what it all comes down to, in practical terms, and the elevation for the sheep of this world of the dream of the just Catholic state. This is the ‘mercy’ and ‘charity’ which Father Schmidberger cited as positive in Pope Francis’ remarks. It is love to give us an alternative to the hell we live in, an alternative in this life, not in the hereafter. I admit it is a much riskier and more energetic business than another rosary crusade.

    My new year’s resolution is to examine anew the distributists’ many interesting economic proposals, but this time not as they might be implemented in the secular state (as they have done) but how they might form the economic section of a platform for a Catholic third party like Hungary’s FIDESZ. I am not an economist, and I urge those with better credentials than I have to please, please take up this practical yet deeply spiritual work.

  2. Jan, I would urge reading through the arguments opposed to distributism and the actual history of characters associated with that peculiar movement.

    I, too, am no economist but I can still spot a dicey idea every once in awhile.

    TIA’s website (with my usual apology to Serv for mentioning it) has a number of articles about it.

  3. Well, the chief objection I have myself is that their initiatives have been applied in secularism, in which context they do indeed turn into mere (dangerous) socialism. For example, there was one project in my home town, East St. Louis, IL run by a secular jew with whom I briefly corresponded. Good luck trying to do anything sensible there without a firm foundation in the sacraments and the inculcation of virtue!

    But what is the objection when distributist projects are applied within the Catholic state? And where else may one turn to get alternatives to protestant economics? (That is, Free Market economics.) The Catholic state was not Free Market, it was regulated regarding commodities, and the application of ‘commodity’ was severely limited–only to those things we typically call commodities, never to human beings, to land, or to money. At least some of the objections to ‘distributism’ loosely defined come from the americanist heretics. Pius XI called them out. And he said that the economics of the Catholic state were indistinguishable from moderate socialism (all his terms–I’m tired of looking up the quote because people who otherwise love Pius XI immediately change the conversation when they see he actually said that, so what’s the darn point! We memorize our enemies: socialism, communism, islam. We never put secularism on that list.

    I hope in a couple of months I’ll be talking specifics–specific help in the housing market, in employment, in manufacturing, that a Catholic platform could offer. I’m calling it in general, distributism. Maybe that’s a wrong term. What I am meaning is an alternative to both the Democrat and Republican platforms.

    If you read Father Schmidberger’s remarks as a call to action, what do you yourself plan to do? Also, gpm, I forget what TIA stands for! This Chicago winter is costing me brain cells! I’ll probably remember in a little bit or google it.

  4. I guess we’ll have to agree to convivially disagree on this or that, this time out, Jan.

    I’ve always found it rather a disaster to bound off into the woods and up the hill if it meant departing from my duties of state. Every time.

    I would suggest that Dr. Rao is fulfilling his, where and how he ought, rather well. And that even includes successful intellectuals, entrepreneurs, lawyers, clerics, etc. who manage to congregate annually for a brief repast. It may be the ONLY time wisdom and common sense can be anymore found in Italy, at least since last March!

    Jan, most sincerely, you write well and movingly. If you have already done so, then please disregard the following, but I would suggest that you consider writing a book, either fiction or non-fiction. I’ve been at it myself for over a year, now, and I can only say that my admiration for what a good writer can achieve, and the great labor required, is much more now than before I began.

    Give it some thought. After all, just look at what that atheist homewrecker, Ayn Rand, achieved. And, THAT might be one way to prove me (and very happily, for both of us!) completely wrong as to the destiny of efforts to revive the Catholic State – ANYWHERE on the planet.

    Good luck, and don’t ever shrink from lambasting me whenever you deem necessary!

    : – )

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