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

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

Maike Hickson April 24, 2017

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 Katholisch.de 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.”

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.

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

  1. “We’re studying the “Catechism of the Crisis in the Church” by Fr. Gaudron in adult catechism class here. We’ve just started the chapter on the priesthood.
    There are many many seemingly insignificant differences (along with obvious ones) between the “old” and the “new” which are actually important. I won’t go into them as you can read the book.

  2. Perhaps Fr. Gerstle would be better advised to consider the conduct of his German Bishops’ Conference confreres, instead of dwelling upon his perceived difficulty with SSPX. The drift of Mother Church, since Vatican II has brought us to St. Gallen Group and its adherents and Bergoglio. From whom God preserve us.

  3. What are Fr. Gerstle’s thoughts on Amoris Laetitia: Like the leader of Opus Dei, is Fr. Gerstle in favor of admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion as proposed in Amoris Laetitia?

  4. Maybe the FSSP can hire Bill O’Reilly to spin-up his “No Spin Zone” to finally clear up Vatican II. Maybe call it the “Bill’s Hermeneutic of Spin.”

    The FSSP realizes their raison d’être vanishes when the SSPX gets canonical approval. Then, all the public prostrations to the Novus Ordo and the Council will redound to naught. They’ll be neither Traditionalist, nor wacky leftist 70’s situation-ethics purveyors. They’ll be the proverbial “lukewarm” of the Apocalypse.

  5. I respect the FSSP and their priests.
    Yet Father Gerstle’s comments might be the result of years of being too cozy and coming into “full communion” with the conciliar church
    Something the SSPX should consider before making any decisions.

  6. [From the combox at 1Peter5]

    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.

  7. Too many fssp priests have one foot in Tradition and the other in Modernism. No surprise here.

  8. Of most felicitous memory, Canon Gregory Hesse, STD STL served 15 years as a Vatican canonist and theologian, secretary to one of the very few traditionally-friendly post-V2 cardinals and a collaborator with the SSPX in Europe who included among his closest clerical friends both FSSP and ICK priests.

  9. Be careful of all German priests, even those that call themselves Traditionalists. Even the Germans that stayed with the SSPX after 1988 seem to be relatively liberal. I’ve known five rather well, and three of these are tainted with liberalism, two quite strongly.
    I suspect that the terrible thrashing they got in WWII, combined with the mass brainwashing that followed, and continues to the present, has given them a fear of world opinion, and a guilt trip, that just hammers the manliness out of them from birth.
    I could point out at least five half truths or complete falsehoods in Fr. Gerstle’s words, but I’m not going to bother.

  10. FSSP Priest Interview Reveals Divisions within Fraternity

    April 25, 2017
    Posted by Tantumblogo

    I got sent a link to the following post this morning by reader TT. It’s an interview of the rather small German province of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the organization of priests dedicated to the traditional Mass that was founded by some who “broke away” from the SSPX at the time of the illicit consecrations of 4 bishops in 1988.

    This interview is already being picked up as fodder for the endless (and tiresome) SSPX/FSSP debates that have been raging for almost 30 years. For those who already feel the FSSP is hopelessly compromised, the interview is being taken as proof of the correctness of that view. For those with internal knowledge of the Fraternity, as it is typically called, however, this interview only reiterates the divisions already well known within this society of priests.

    I’ll add comments to the post I copy below, because I think there are some important things to clarify/note, but I’d like to make one point clear at the outset: every grouping of more than a few individuals is going to have disparity of belief. Once you get into the hundreds, like the FSSP, there is going to be a whole range of belief. Given that, generally speaking, both acceptance of a more stridently traditional outlook (or a certain, sometimes severe, hostility to Vatican II) and friendliness/sympathy for the SSPX varies inversely with the age of the priest and their closeness to the original point of division in 1988. That is to say, older priests in the Fraternity, especially those who were present in 1988 and made the decision to leave the SSPX, generally tend to be more accommodating towards the post-conciliar ethos and hostile towards the SSPX. Younger priests are generally more hardcore “traditional” and more friendly towards the Society.

    This is not a universal rule and there is infinite nuance, even within individual priests!, but that’s probably the broad norm. I would also add that there is, as I understand it, a certain division of belief between priests of the Fraternity in the Americas, and those in Europe, with those again in Europe tending towards being the less ardently traditional, or the more accommodating. Having said that, I concur with a commenter at 1Peter5 that this is far from an inspiring interview. While I think the interview is being presented in a fairly negative light by Maike Hickson at 1Peter5, I think I can also say these are some of the most unhelpful comments I’ve seen from an FSSP priest in print, perhaps less for what they say (esp. on reflection) but for the sense they seem to convey of accommodation, of being (to quote some commentary I’ve seen) “modernist lap dogs who will do anything so long as they can continue to offer the ‘old Mass’”. Then again, I find myself defending the priest quite consistently below – I think that while he exhibits an attitude far different from what I’d like to see expressed, it’s not entirely surprising given his past.

    So keep that in mind as you read the below, which many of you perhaps already have:

    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 Katholisch.dein 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.) [An important note of clarification. Fr. Gerstle may be the head of the German district of the Fraternity, but I think it a great leap to derive from that that he is speaking for the mind of the entire Fraternity. Words of Fr. John Berg, former Superior of the entire order, in Latin Mass Magazine from 2015 (which I haven’t to hand) were far different and conveyed a far more traditionally Catholic understanding.]

    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.”) [This little aside causes me to wonder whether the author is not trying to inculcate a bit of doubt, even resentment, towards Fr. Gerstle. Sure “some voices” may say that, but lots of others say that the excommunications were wholly right and just. Obviously Fr. Gerstle is going to have a bias since he left the SSPX over this matter. I am curious as to why Hickson chose to introduce this seeming rebuttal right here.] 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.” [For those of us who weren’t involved, I don’t think it is easy to comprehend the depth of feeling on both sides involved in the 1988 consecrations. This was an event so trying and so radicalizing I don’t think many today fully realize the effect these events had on the participants. As one who was directly involved and experienced that heart-rending time, I don’t find Fr. Gerstle’s comments out of place. There are many involved who share his views, and of course, many who don’t, but it’s not like he’s breaching some radical new concept no one’s ever said before, even those who are very attached to the traditional practice of the Faith.]

    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: [No, he gives his own opinion. Unless he directly stated he was speaking as the voice of the entire Fraternity as a matter of policy – which if he did, we can be certain Hickson would be trumpeting this from the rooftops – then he’s giving his opinion, which Hickson is taking to mean it is the policy of the Fraternity because of his position, but I can say from direct experience there are many Fraternity priests who do not conform to the views expressed in this para or the one below. As to the divisions within the SSPX, these are well known and I find pointing them out wholly unremarkable.]

    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] [I would say the situation now remains as it has been, vague, uncertain, and unclear. Some tradition-friendly individuals in the Curia have made clarifications, they have expressed their opinions, but that is far from saying there has been a wholesale clarification of the problematic aspects of Vatican II. Rome appears willing to say almost anything to get the SSPX regularized. But whether these stands hold after that occurs is anyone’s guess, but there remains a huge monolith of progressive-modernist opinion in the clergy and hierarchy that VII is perfect, the best expression of the Faith ever conceived, and that the Church was literally re-born in 1965. That remains an extremely dangerous ideology that has not been washed away by a few conciliatory comments from folks at the Ecclesia Dei commission.]

    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.” [We are only getting very partial and bifurcated comments. I don’t read German so I can’t go to the original and Google translate is too unreliable in such fine points. Having said that, I find these comments disappointing and far too conciliatory towards the post-conciliar construct. Then again, we do not know what pressures the Fraternity is under right now, but I understand they are considerable and the dangers great from those who would like to do to the ED communities what has been done to the FI’s.]

    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.” [This one I have no problem with. Some of the most informed readers of this blog eschew the term traditional, and say that what we practice is simply the Catholic Faith as it has always been believed, understood, and lived. There is nothing remarkable about “organic changes” either. VII was wholly inorganic.]

    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.” [I would hope this is uncontroversial. In fact, one could take from this a tacit rebuke of the post-conciliar construct, where the Mass is typically deplorable and the “teaching” counterfeit.]

    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.” [He’s just parroting PBXVI here, but I am personally extremely leery of any “enrichment” flowing from the NO to the TLM. I think there is virtually nothing in the NO that would “improve” the TLM.]

    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.” [The Fraternity is generally doing better in North America, where there is a certain pressure to grow the seminary. As for Mass attendance, the local FSSP parish is now attracting 1200+ on a typical Sunday. That is unusual, but the growth is consistent throughout, and I pray all the other tradition-oriented groups are experiencing the same or better.]

    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.”

    I find the first part of this analysis to be insightful, but I think anyone who has followed the situation even as casually as I have has reached about the same conclusion. I also think the second part is right, though I continue to have doubts as to whether now, with Francis in charge, is the right time. The man has a demonstrated track record of deliberately targeting tradition-embracing groups for destruction. But may God’s will be done.

    As for the interview, this is absolutely not what I would prefer to see from a leading Fraternity priest. But I’m not sure it confirms the fatal weakness of the Fraternity, either. Does having a regular canonical status involve some compromise? Absolutely*. And folks in the SSPX had better be FULLY cognizant of that fact when they sign their “deal” with Rome.

    Well I don’t post for a week then you get a novella. Lucky you. Sorry folks, posting is going to be infrequent for the foreseeable future. I had a very unusual situation for first 76 months of this blog’s history but that period is definitively order. I probably would not have posted today if this matter hadn’t hit so close to home. We’ve had a nightmare bronchitis/pneumonia go through our family that takes weeks to get over. I’m still fighting it but am back at work but also playing lots of catchup. Hope to get another post out tomorrow but who knows.

    *-but so far, only of a limited and generally unobtrusive (or undamaging) sort. The “gravitational pull” of an unreconciled SSPX probably plays a role in the limited nature of the compromises forced on the FSSP – which is why I fear regularization for the entire restoration of the Faith. But ultimately God is in charge and we have to want what is best for the salvation of souls, which everyone (not really, but lots) tells me is regularization. So it must be it.

  11. Update, 27 April: We [1Peter5] 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.

  12. Fraternity of St. Peter: A conciliar attitude on display

    Louie Verrecchio
    April 27, 2017

    A recent interview of the District Superior of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in Germany, Fr. Bernhard Gerstle, FSSP, is getting a good bit of well-deserved attention in traditional circles thanks mainly to his comments concerning the SSPX, the Second Vatican Council and the sacred liturgy.

    (An English translation of the German original is available HERE.)

    When asked in what ways the FSSP differs from the Society of St. Pius X, Fr. Gerstle said that one must first distinguish between “the moderates and the hardliners” within the SSPX.

    “There exists a larger number of moderate priests, especially within the German-speaking region, who want to avoid a permanent break with Rome and are interested in an agreement.”

    OK, let’s stop here…

    The truth is, no one in the Society (starting with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre) ever desired “a permanent break with Rome” properly speaking.

    Rather, what has always been the desire is for “Rome” (understood to mean the Captains of Newchurch, up to and including the pope) to return to Eternal Rome – the same from which the SSPX never departed.

    There exists a larger number of moderate priests, especially within the German-speaking region…

    Let’s be honest – a “moderate” in Germany is a Protestant everywhere else. Just sayin’…

    How, or to what extent, this might shed light on Fr. Gerstle’s perspective, I do not know.

    In any case, while I don’t doubt that Fr. Gerstle has some personal relationships with Society priests in his country, I wouldn’t take his insights on the internal affairs of the SSPX very seriously; especially in light of what follows.

    “Then there are the hardliners [in the SSPX] who largely reject the Second Vatican Council – for example, freedom of religion or ecumenism – and of these, there are some who even doubt the validity of the new liturgy.”

    While surely there are some SSPX priests that doubt the validity of the new liturgy, the suggestion that those who reject the Council’s treatment of religious liberty and ecumenism are “hardliners” that occupy some fringe within the Society is absurd.

    In other words, Fr. Gerstle’s credibility is about nil when it comes to his observations concerning the state of the Society.

    Where he may have credibility, however, is with respect to the state of the FSSP.

    On this note, he said:

    “The Fraternity of St. Peter, on the other hand, agreed to undertake an impartial study of the documents of the Council and has come to believe that there is no break with earlier magisterial teaching.”

    No break with earlier magisterial teaching?

    He can’t be serious.

    Fr. Gerstle goes on:

    “Nonetheless, some documents are formulated in such a way as to give rise to misunderstandings.”

    Ah, yes… It’s just a big misunderstanding; one that has continued for more than 50 years on the watch of several popes!

    If you listen closely to Fr. Gerstle you’ll hear the Benedictine refrain echoing in the background:

    Hermeneutic of continuity… Hermeneutic of continuity… Hermeneutic of continuity…

    He continued:

    “Since then, however, Rome has issued relevant clarifications, which the Society of St. Pius X should recognize.”

    Exactly what clarifications Fr. Gerstle has in mind isn’t clear. Be that as it may, it makes no difference whatsoever what he thinks the Society “should” recognize.

    Archbishop Guido Pozzo, speaking on behalf of Ecclesia Dei, has gone on record as confirming what so-called “traditionalists” have always known; the Council’s documents on religious liberty, ecumenism and relations with non-Christian religions bind no one.

    Commenting further on the distinction between the SSPX and the FSSP, Fr. Gerstle said:

    “Our apostolate always operates with the consent of local bishops and priests, and we work to maintain good relations. Almost everywhere we are active, our priests have a good relationship to the local ordinaries.”

    A good relationship with local ordinaries?

    Well I should think so given his endorsement of the Almighty Council!

    I mean, seriously, one can almost imagine him sitting on Cardinal Marx’s lap as the interview was being conducted.

    Fr. Gerstle went on:

    “We do not want to polarize or divide; on the contrary, we attempt to convey an ecclesial attitude to the faithful in the communities we serve. Those grievances and abuses which undeniably take place in the Church must be addressed, but this must be done in a differentiated and moderate manner.”

    “Ecclesial attitude” my asperges. What he’s describing is the conciliar attitude; one that places the highest possible priority on dialogue and religious diplomacy – quite unlike the attitude of that polarizing Jesus figure.

    Fr. Gerstle went on to reject the “traditionalist” label saying that while the FSSP treasures tradition, “we [do not] completely block ourselves off from organic adaptations and changes.”

    I suppose he means such “organic changes” as those concerning the Church’s view of the Jews in our time who are pleased to reject Christ yet are now considered to be one with us in the Cross (NA 4), or the heretic communities that we now understand as being used by Christ as means of salvation (UR 3), or maybe the newly discovered right that man has to practice whatever religion he chooses both publicly and privately – a right that comes from man’s own dignity, no less (DH 2).

    Then again, maybe Fr. Gerstle was referring to the “organic changes” that brought about the Novus Ordo Missae…

    On the topic of liturgy, Fr. Gerstle left little room for doubt about the nature of his attitude; dutifully referring to the Traditional Roman Rite numerous times as the “Extraordinary Form,” and even going so far as to suggest that “both forms of the Rite should enrich each other mutually.”

    “I am convinced that certain elements of the old liturgy could improve the new, and also that elements of the new liturgy could enrich the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.”

    If all that has been said thus far isn’t troubling enough, get this:

    “Concern for salvation of souls, as Pope Francis is fond of stressing, must remain our central concern.”

    Pope Francis is fond of stressing the salvation of souls?

    This tells us everything we need to know about Fr. Gerstle; the man is either a fool, a fraud, or some unfortunate combination thereof.

    What we don’t know is whether the views expressed in this interview represent the opinions of just one German cleric and perhaps some of the priests in his charge, or if they can be taken as the official position of the FSSP as a whole.

    For the sake of the faithful in their care worldwide, let’s hope that it’s the former.

    My sense is that most Fraternity parishioners (at least here in the U.S.) would say that many of Fr. Gerstle’s comments do not accurately reflect the views of their sacred pastors.

    In the end, however, I’m not sure that it really matters very much since the one thing we know for certain is that Fr. Gerstle, in spite of (or perhaps because of) his decidedly conciliar attitude, has risen to prominence within the FSSP.

    That makes him dangerous, and the FSSP suspect.

    Lastly, there are some who will, with the possible “regularization” of the SSPX in mind, point to Fr. Gerstle as an example of what happens to those who enter into agreements with Rome.

    I, for one, don’t believe that one necessarily follows the other; no more than I believe that keeping company with drunkards necessarily leads to alcoholism.

    If Fr. Gerstle is an example of anything it is what happens when men lose their fervor for the truth; nothing more, nothing less.

    But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. (Matthew 5:13)

    • “I am convinced that certain elements of the old liturgy could improve the new, and also that elements of the new liturgy could enrich the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.”
      If all that has been said thus far isn’t troubling enough, get this:
      “Concern for salvation of souls, as Pope Francis is fond of stressing, must remain our central concern.”

      Pope Francis is fond of stressing the salvation of souls?

      This tells us everything we need to know about Fr. Gerstle; the man is either a fool, a fraud, or some unfortunate combination thereof….
      I, for one, don’t believe that one necessarily follows the other; no more than I believe that keeping company with drunkards necessarily leads to alcoholism.

      If Fr. Gerstle is an example of anything, it is what happens when men lose their fervor for the truth; nothing more, nothing less.”

      Louie, I don’t agree with everything you say, but I do believe that, within the limits of your knowledge, the brilliance of the Holy Ghost inspires you.
      STUPID GERMANS!
      Your race is responsible for the Protestant Deformation. Your race is responsible for Kant, Hegel, Marx, Schliermacher, Nietsche, and so many others. Remember that…and shut the **** up!
      Until you do the VAST quantities of penance necessary to balance the scales of justice.

      Martin Luther: “We are the laughingstock of all the other countries, who look upon us as filthy pigs…”
      Yes, Martin, and YOU are the filthiest among them.
      And I am half German. Thank God it is only half. Still, stupid asses like this Fr. Gerstle make me think…
      Melius mihi erat, si natus non fuissem?
      Exsurge, Domine!

  13. As if any of this wasn’t news decades (in fact, a millennium or more) ago???

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