Concerning a statement by Abp. Müller on the “schism” of the Society of St Pius X

Source: DICI

Concerning a statement by Abp. Müller on the “schism” of the Society of St Pius X


muller_1On December 22, 2013, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave the following answer in an interview that he granted to the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera:

Corriere:  Since the negotiations failed, what is the position of the Lefebvrists? 

Abp. Müller:  “The canonical excommunication of the bishops for their illegal ordinations was revoked, but a de facto sacramental excommunication remains for their schism;  they put themselves out of communion with the Church.  After that we are not closing the door and never will, but we are inviting them to be reconciled.  But they too must change their attitude, accept the conditions of the Catholic Church, and the Supreme Pontiff as the definitive criterion for membership.”

This statement by Archbishop Müller is nothing new;  it repeats what he already said in October 2012, in the interview that he granted to the German radio network NDR:  “From a pastoral perspective, the door is still open,” while clarifying:  “No compromise is possible on the level of the Catholic faith, in particular as it was correctly formulated by the Second Vatican Council.  Vatican II is not in contradiction with the whole of the Church’s tradition;  strictly speaking it is opposed to certain erroneous interpretations of the Catholic faith.  We cannot negotiate the Catholic faith;  no compromise is possible.”  And he insisted:  “The Society of St Pius X knows the requirements that it must accept.  I think that from now on there will be no new discussions.”  Quite obviously, the Society of St Pius X denies no article of the Creed and professes the entire Catholic faith;  to call this into question is to make a false accusation.  It only opposes all the novelties which have been altering the Catholic faith for the last fifty years.

What is new in Archbishop Müller’s answer, however, is the assertion of a schism.  In fact, this is the first time that a high-ranking Roman authority has spoken about schism:  “The canonical excommunication of the bishops for their illegal ordinations was revoked, but a de facto sacramental excommunication remains for their schism;  they put themselves out of communion with the Church.”

(In the first part of his answer) “The canonical excommunication of the bishops for their illegal ordinations was revoked, but a de facto sacramental excommunication remains,” one might think that Archbishop Müller is repeating what Benedict XVI declared in his letter to the bishops dated March 10, 2009, explaining the lifting of the “excommunications,” in which he distinguished between the disciplinary and the doctrinal levels, stating that the members of the Society of St Pius X, although henceforth not excommunicated (on the disciplinary level), had no canonical status because the doctrinal disagreement continued:  “The fact that the Society of St Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons.”  And Benedict XVI insisted:  “Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers—even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty—do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.”

However the Pope did not speak about schism, as Archbishop Müller does today.  (“A de facto sacramental excommunication remains for their schism;  they put themselves out of communion with the Church.”)  One might even add that Roman prelates have rejected not only the term but also the reality of schism with reference to the Society of St Pius X.

Thus, in a letter dated May 3, 1994, Cardinal Edward Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, replied to a foreign correspondent:  “As far as your question is concerned, I would like to point out immediately that the Dicastery for ecumenism is not concerned with the Society of St Pius X.  The situation of the members of that Society is an internal affair of the Catholic Church.  The Society of St Pius X is not another Church or Ecclesial Community in the sense that this Dicastery uses those terms.  Certainly, the Mass and the sacraments administered by the priests of the Society of St Pius X are valid.”

On November 13, 2005, Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, explained to the Italian television network Canale 5:  “We are not confronted with a heresy.  We cannot say in correct, exact, precise terms that there is a schism.  In the fact of consecrating bishops with a papal mandate there is a schismatic attitude.  They are within the Church.  There is just this fact:  there is a lack of a full, a more perfect—as was said during the meeting with Bishop Fellay—a fuller communion, because the communion does exist.”

In May 2008, the same prelate questioned by Vittoria Prisciandaro for the Society of Saint Paul, declared:  “… as we often said in the Ecclesia Dei comission, it is not a question of a true schism but rather of an abnormal situation that arose after the ‘schismatic act’ by Archbishop Lefebvre when he conferred the episcopate without a papal mandate, contrary to the express will of the pope.”

And in the Süddeutsche Zeitung dated September 25, 2009, he explained:  “From 1988 until the year 2000 all the dialogues were broken off.  They were not resumed until the year 2000 and a new process began, followed very closely by Cardinal Ratzinger, then a member of the Ecclesia Dei Commission.  In 2001 in a consistory presided over by the Holy Father, all the cardinals present accepted the process for the reentry of the Lefebvrists into communion.  In the presentation at the consistory, on the basis of a Note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was said that the excommunicated brothers did not have a heretical or schismatic character.  They were certainly the result of a schismatic action.  As far as their position with regard to the Second Vatican Council is concerned, they expressed difficulties about the text of certain documents and especially about certain interpretations of the Council.  The greatest difficulties were related to the Decree on Religious Liberty and ecumenism.”

Furthermore one might note that in the sermon he gave during the episcopal consecrations on June 30, 1988, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was anxious to tell the faithful precisely what his intention was in performing that act:  “You must understand that we do not want, for anything in the world, that this ceremony be a schism. We are not schismatics.  If an excommunication was pronounced against the bishops of China, who separated themselves from Rome and put themselves under the Chinese government, one very easily understands why Pope Pius XII excommunicated them. There is no question of us separating ourselves from Rome, nor of putting ourselves under any foreign government whatsoever, nor of establishing some sort of parallel Church as the Bishops of Palmar de Troya have done in Spain. They have elected a pope and formed a college of cardinals. It is out of the question for us to do such things. Far from us be this miserable thought of separating ourselves from Rome.  On the contrary, it is in order to manifest our attachment to Rome that we are performing this ceremony. It is in order to manifest our attachment to Eternal Rome, to the Pope, and to all those who have preceded these Popes who, since the Second Vatican Council, have unfortunately thought it their duty to adhere to grievous errors which are demolishing the Church and the Catholic Priesthood.”

Anyone who might find it paradoxical to hear Archbishop Lefebvre reject the term “schism” during the very ceremony of episcopal consecrations would be well advised to read what Rev. Fr. Héribert Jone, O.F.M. Cap. wrote in his Moral Theology, no. 432.1 (The Newman Bookshop, Westminster, MD, 1945):  “A schismatic is someone who, as a matter of principle, does not want to be subject to the pope…, but someone who simply refuses to obey the pope is not schismatic, even if it is for a long time.”

And on this point the reader may benefit from the judgment of Saint Augustine:  “Often, too, divine providence permits even good men to be driven from the congregation of Christ by the turbulent seditions of carnal men.  When for the sake of the peace of the Church they patiently endure that insult or injury, and attempt no novelties in the way of heresy or schism, they will teach men how God is to be served with a true disposition and with great and sincere charity.  The intention of such men is to return when the tumult has subsided.  But if that is not permitted because the storm continues or because a fiercer one might be stirred up by their return, they hold fast to their purpose to look to the good even of those responsible for the tumults and commotions that drove them out.  They form no separate conventicles of their own, but defend to the death and assist by their testimony the faith which they know is preached in the Catholic Church.  These the Father who seeth in secret crowns secretly.  It appears that this is a rare kind of Christian, but examples are not lacking.  Indeed, there are more than can be believed.  So divine providence uses all kinds of men as examples for the oversight of souls and for the building up of his spiritual people.”  (De vera religione, inAugustine: Earlier Writings, translated by John H. S. Burleigh [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1953], 231.)

It is all the more surprising that in the recent response of Abp. Müller to the Corriere della Sera, he says immediately afterward, with regard to the liberation theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez:  “Gutiérrez has always been orthodox.”  In fact, Abp. Müller co-wrote a book with him, On the Side of the Poor: Theology of Liberation, which was published in both Spanish and German.  As the English journalist William Oddie reported in The Catholic Herald on July 6, 2012, citing the American Vatican-watcher John Allen, “Every year since 1998, Archbishop Müller has travelled to Peru to take a course under Gutiérrez….  In 2008 he accepted an honorary doctorate from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, which is widely seen as a bastion of the progressive wing of the Peruvian Church. On that occasion, he praised Gutiérrez and defended his theology.  ‘The theology of Gustavo Gutiérrez, independently of how you look at it, is orthodox because it is orthopractic,’ he said publicly. ‘It teaches us the correct way of acting in a Christian fashion since it comes from the true faith.’”  Now we understand:  if Gutiérrez is orthodox—and even “orthopractic”—in Archbishop Müller’s view, the Society of St Pius X can only be “schismatic.”  That is the whole difference between liberation theology and traditional theology.  But in this context, it is necessary to recognize that the use of the word “schism” is the result of an entirely arbitrary decision.

One might therefore readily conclude that the recent statement by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith makes any “reconciliation” impossible.  But then how are we to understand this apparently contradictory statement:  “We are not closing the door and never will”?  The interview with the German radio network NDR in October 2012 clarifies the difficulty:  “From a pastoral perspective, the door is still open;  but no compromise is possible on the level of the Catholic faith, in particular as it was correctly formulated by the Second Vatican Council.” In other words, the door is open pastorally, but it is shut doctrinally.

He adds in the same interview:  “Vatican II is not in contradiction with the whole of the Church’s tradition;  strictly speaking it is opposed to certain erroneous interpretations of the Catholic faith.  We cannot negotiate the Catholic faith;  no compromise is possible.”  Archbishop Müller recognizes, in spite of himself, that the Second Vatican Council can assimilate everything pastorally, but that the traditional doctrine on religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality, etc. cannot be assimilated by the first pastoral and non-dogmatic Council in the history of the Church.  This is what was demonstrated by the doctrinal discussions between the Roman theologians and those of the Society of St Pius X between 2009 and 2011.

(Sources:  Corriere della Sera/NDR/Süddeutsche Zeitung/archives – DICI dated January 11, 2014)

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17 comments on “Concerning a statement by Abp. Müller on the “schism” of the Society of St Pius X

  1. “In other words, the door is open pastorally, but it is shut doctrinally.” It seems to me to be a good thing that the struggle has gotten this far, this clear, to be able to boil things down to this single clause. The fight is about doctrine, and about specific points of doctrine, not about ‘obedience.’ Considering the ordinary man and woman, the liberal position on ecumenism, collegiality, and religious liberty is so contradictory, so defeated, so compromised, so insincere, so inauthentic, that our ten year olds could stand toe to toe and make the case for tradition. Anyone who pays bills knows that two plus two cannot equal four and at the same time equal five, unless you are a robbing banker, and to hell with ‘equality’ in both religion and math. Statements like this from the Prefect can only make it easier for the NEXT administration to see their way through to addressing the doctrinal issues, finally. Because if they are not addressed, and perhaps most of all the evangelical inertia caused by ecumenism, of which the best elements in the novus ordo church are ever more aware, it is clear that the Church as we know it will disappear, even for those who are content to take a salary for being museum curators. Collegiality and especially ‘religious liberty,’ are more difficult to grasp, but the more secularism is exposed, the easier it will become. We must be ready to make the case on every street corner and blog that rather than separation of Church and state, there must be moral coherence, not separation, between Church and state, if we are to survive this crisis.

  2. Seems that such must apply to the Orthodox and Coptic Christians; they may no longer be “formally excommunicated,” but they are, nonetheless, still in a state of “de facto excommunication” for their ongoing schism and refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff, Vicar of God.

  3. One cannot compare the situation of SSPX to that of the Orthodox. The Orthodox are in formal schism, validly defined and promulgated almost a thousand years ago, and the Orthodox have no desire, despite the kowtowing of the Vatican II neo-church, to return. The SSPX situation is entirely different, since the SSPX has held to real Catholicism while the conciliar newchurch has placed itself into “de facto” schism by it’s gravely heretical teachings. Muller and his cohorts are the ones who are in de facto ex-communication. Yet their disorientation is so diabolical that, either they can’t even understand their heresy, or they refuse to understand it. They are (anti) pope worshipers, even in the face of the most blatant heresies, especially those of Bergoglio and JP2 and Ratzinger. These men like Mueller are old enough to know that synogogue worship, koran kissing, interfaith prayer meetings and the like are forbidden to Catholics. They act as if the Church began with Vatican II, and in one sense they are correct—their Newchurch did begin with the hijacking of the council by modernist periti, Ratzinger playing a leading role.
    “Come out of the whore of Babylon, my children.” It is the SSPX that is trying to save the souls of heretical Rome, not vice versa, by seeking to remain in the structure of what passes for the visible church.

  4. The funny thing is alot of the “Orthodox” have more in common with the SSPX (Eg liturgical solemnity, being against joint prayer services with false religions like Islam, talmudic Judaism and with heretical sects like the protestants, upholding burial instead of “legalizing” cremation outside of a mass disaster) than they do with the religious relativism, the protestant inspired novus ordo, toleration of sodomites etc found in the Vatican II church. I’m not implying the SSPX is schismatic like the “Orthodox” are, just on some issues they share the same things that modernist Rome doesn’t.

    • Yes, it is ironic. It seems that the Orthodox don’t want to reunite with Rome at this time is because the Vatican II church is not “orthodox” enough, certainly not as orthodox as the SSPX. Really, I have to go with the sedevacantists now. Bergoglio is not even ordained a priest, except in the Novus Ordo. He talks like he is not even Catholic. He does all he can to diminish the papacy, acting like a layman. Being Catholic is not like being Italian or Irish, after all. Too many people are calling themselves Catholics who do not hold to the most basic articles of the Faith. It is becoming painfully obvious that the Vatican II church is a heretical, schismatic sect, while the SSPX is holding to the true Faith. Christ did say that His Church would be reduced to a remnant when He comes again. This must be what we are seeing happening now.

  5. cf, the BLEEPS! have a have a problem you may not have reckoned with, yet.

    If all the successors are illegitimate, now, when and if a “real” pope ever does show up, just WHO will there be to elect him – your Aunt Gert’s Rosary and Altar Society?

    Just askin’ !

    : – )

    PS: Bergy is a one man recruiting department for the BLEEPS! I realize that. But we’ve had clinker popes in the past, too. Benedict IX was a real doozy! And one of his fairly recent predecessors wasn’t even ordained.

    • to gpmftrad: I don’t know the answer to that question. All I know is that the popes since Roncalli have been apostates all.. An apostate is not a Catholic, ipso facto, and is self ex-communicated. So those “popes” are not and were not popes. Bergoglio is not even a priest, but a “presider.”
      It’s in God’s hands–it is His Church after all. We can’t solve this dilemma, and neither can anyone else but the upper hierarchy, who I pray will receive the grace to recognize their error and convert.
      Then again, there is the issue of Gregory XVII, Cardinal Siri, who was elected pope in 1958 but threatened with such dire consequences that he stepped down for the USSR’s choice, Roncalli. It happened again when they gave us Montini, who was also being blackmailed by the KGB about his active homosexuality.
      It all seems pretty far out, but it is probably all true, IMHO. Nothing in the 20th century was as it seemed, from Remember the Maine to Pearl Harbor to 911, so I believe that no evil is impossible. One can understand by looking at the rotting “fruit” of Vatican II, the beauty of which Bergoglio praises so effusively.
      All we can do is find valid sacraments, which ARE available, and pray for the Church.

  6. And, St. Francis, look up an article on Christian Order by a feller named Larson who explains that the Orthodox are pantheists. (Check the archives there.)

    That one goes much deeper than schism.

    • gpmtrad,
      I wasn’t defending the Orthodox, merely pointing out that they have a few more things in common with traditional Catholicism than they do with Vatican II Catholicism. You rightly point out that Jorge is a good recruitment tool for the BLEEPS, but that’s no more of an excuse for people to become BLEEPS than it is to become protestant, Orthodox etc. No matter how bad things are in the conciliar church it’s still the Catholic Church. There is no other place where salvation can be found. I probably won’t live to see the Church get back to tradition, but it will happen, either five days from now or five-hundred years from now. Until then, all we trads can do is live and preach the orthodox and traditional Catholic faith.

      • st. francis:

        “No matter how bad things are in the conciliar church it’s still the Catholic Church. There is no other place where salvation can be found.”

        That is the problem. The conciliar church is NOT the Catholic Church. How could it be? We must not make an idol of the pope, since antipopes have already occurred about 40 times in the past. The true Church is now “in eclipse,” as our Lady told us she would be at LaSalette. Our Lady also said, in the same sentence, that “Rome would lose the Faith and become the seat of antichrist.”

        It’s catacomb time again, my friend. Trust your own intelligence, and the compelling evidence of the illegitimacy of the conciliar “anti-church.”

  7. “…have a have a….”

    Nice, huh?


  8. Well, cf, we have Our Lord’s promise about hell not prevailing but the BLEEPS! argue, to their own destruction, that He was wrong.

    Can’t have it both ways.

    The office of the papacy, like the Church Herself, is a divine institution. There were no guarantees given that the office’s occupants would be remotely holy, although a large number of pontiffs have been so, nor that the physical organization itself would be free of all the tempestuousness and turmoil to which flesh is heir.

    What the BLEEPS! end up becoming are prots. They, like the jews, seek a worldly exaltation when no such thing was ever promised. In fact, Our Lord promised only the exact opposite – torment and tears for all the labor poured forth. The Church is a redemptive action by its very nature. And that mean sacrifice, suffering and the bearing up against of all the horror hell can throw at Her.

    Which, right now, is most considerable.

    But we must never lose sight of Who is Head of the Church. And that She is only found in one place, regardless of who the temporary occupants on the throne of ultimate earthly authority happen to be.

    Christ never denied that Caiphas, a murderous, scheming, blaspheming liar, was indeed THE legitimate high priest.

    What makes BLEEPS! think they know better than God?

    Please, stay away from those folks. They’re poison. There are a couple of truly honorable exceptions – Michael Wilson and Fr. Cekada come to mind – but the lot of these folks are twisting canon law, twisting Scripture and anything else they can get their hands on to fit their agenda.

    • gpmtrad

      I assume that BLEEPS are people who go to the new church? In all ways the new church of Vat 2 is an entirely new religion, some sort of syncretic grouping of nominal “Christians.” Have you read up on St. Athanasius and the Arian heresy? Over 90% of Christians were in heresy in those days. It has happened before and it is happening again, only worse this time. Christ is punishing the Church, His Bride, for infidelity with the “whore of Babylon,” the modern world. With Freemasons Roncalli and Montini to destroy the Mass, the representatives of evil have apparently won. They may be the “visible” Church, but they are manifest and pertinacious public heretics, thus they have removed themselves from the Church, even though they still hold their positions. Like Christ Himself, the Church is fully human and fully Divine. At this most unfortunate of times, the divine aspect of the Church has been eclipsed from public view. That doesn’t mean that there is no Church now. Again, as during the 4th century, over 90% of Christians, now called Catholics, have been deceived and led astray by evil shepherds. One must pray that their eyes be opened.

      “…he who has eyes to see, let him see…”

      There is a danger of getting arrogant about it, uncharitable toward those in the Vatican 2 sect who would rather not see. Each of us who do see must, above all, work to save our own souls. As laymen, it is not our job to fix Rome–even those who worship in the Novus Ordo and truly cannot see the problems in it receive sanctifying grace as if the newchurch supper were a valid Mass.

      But we who have seen that the emperor is not wearing any clothes must be honest about the fact. It is not our job to clote him, as it were.

    • Christ never denied that Caiphas, a murderous, scheming, blaspheming liar, was indeed THE legitimate high priest.

      On point, gpm. Our Lord commanded that people were to do what he said, but not as he does. Our Lord obeyed the death sentence of Caiphas, as it came from His Father. And by that order, Caiphas killed the old covenant. IOW, God still works through the authorities He establishes.

    • Oh, sorry, I guess by BLEEPS you mean sedevacantists. BLEEPS is such a general term. Yes, they are a strange lot. Even Cekada, BTW, and the whole SGG edifice is embroiled in internal scandal. Their use of private judgement IS Protestant. Me, I gravitate toward the SSPX, since they have never steered me wrong, and they provide great benefits, retreats, etc. But at the same time, my eyes and ears can detect that the visible hierarchy is heretical and apostate. My confessor, an SSPX priest, tells me not to worry over much about the issue–that it is not what a layman should have to worry about, and to see to my own salvation while praying for the rest. Seems like good advice.

  9. It is right to have doubts about those in the hierarchy who display an attitude in non-conformance to the perennial magisterium. History shows that we have had bad popes in the past but the Church survived and eventually corrected Herself. Jorge may be acting like an impostor but he is still the pope and can still embrace the perennial magisterium with the help of the Holy Spirit. But it does little good for us to not realize the damage he is doing and has done to Tradition. When he acts with a modernist/progressive stance and persecutes those trying to hold fast to Tradition, he deserves to be criticized – otherwise how else will he be motivated to change?

    • phaley

      I agree that we must criticize the modernist hierarchy. This is best done by refusing to take part in their invalid “mass,” and not contribute to their support. It is a little more serious than a simple display of a non-conformist attitude–from the mouths of today,s neo-modernists one often hears direct contradictions of infallibly proclaimed doctrine of the past 500 years, especially the past 100 years. Also, they take part in “worship” in synagogues and each and every temple of every false religion, even kiss Korans. They are not only heretics but apostates. It’s more than a certain error in attitude or emphasis. JP2 deliberately weakened papal power in his quest for a new world order religion, and Francis is the farce that follows the tragedy.

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