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…
“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.
“If Fr. Gerstle is an example of anything it is what happens when men lose their fervor for the truth; nothing more, nothing less.”
And so it is. Stick a fork in it. It’s done!
A good article. Quite balanced, really.
Regarding the wanting to avoid a “formal break with Rome,” it is true that Archbishop Lefebvre never desired a permanent break with Rome, properly speaking. And yes, it had always been required by the Archbishop and then Bishop Fellay (until 2012) that Rome return to Tradition,…..but….. Bishop Fellay has explicitly expressed the worry that the SSPX will go into schism if it remains on its own. He expressed this to Pope Francis, and of course the Pope agreed with Fellay’s worry about the SSPX may possibly going into schism.
Fr. Gerstle does represent the opinion of some of the FSSP clergy. But Louie is quite right to point out that Fr. Gerstle’s views don’t necessarily represent the views of other FSSP pastors. The are some FSSP pastors who are appalled at what Pope Francis is doing to the Church. Unfortunately, they can’t speak out about it in an overt manner, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worried.
I am unaware of any activity of the FSSP here in Spain as the NO Bishops don’t allow the Traditional or Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass to be publicly celebrated. Same applies to SSPX. I have read that they fly into Cork, Ireland, twice a month but can this be described as active ministry?
Maybe Fr. Gerstle can point to exactly where Pope Francis has shown any true regard for the salvation of souls or, indeed, any tenderness (ref: TED talk) towards the flock of Christ’s One Holy Catholic & Apostolic Church on earth? Hasn’t he said that there is no Catholic God & no Hell? Doesn’t he always surround himself with undesirables, e.g. Abortionists, Population Controllers, LGBT activists, Environmentalists, Muslims & other pagans, Atheists, etc. to whom he readily shows warmth & conviviality which he withholds from hard-hearted Pharisees, i.e. the faithful Catholic laity (priests & religious also)?
After PF practically destroying the FSSP, their District Superior in Germany is now showing signs of a complete u-turn. Is this the result of what PF is trying to do with the Knights of Malta (more power to Fra. Festing for deciding to attend election in Rome after being ordered not to) or has the German Church Tax Collectors & NWO Mafia worn him down to accepting everything the FSSP fought against re VII when his fraternity was formed?
It is vital that the FSSP as a body tells the public if Fr. Gerstle continues to speak on their behalf or has separated himself from their community by publicly vocalising his personal opinions.
It is unlikely that the FSSP will tell the public that if Fr. Gerstle continues to speak on their behalf, then he will have separated from their community. That’s not how the FSSP works. That doesn’t man that the FSSP are weak; it just means that they have to be careful. They have survived in the Conciliar Church because they don’t rock the boat. They are very good at providing the Traditional sacraments and Mass, as if Vatican ll never happened. I attended an FSSP parish for many years until recently. I know of what I speak.
“And you are coming to realize, I think, that the Christian life is a combat. The Christian is a soldier, the Christian is a militant. We are in the Church Militant, and consequently when you arrive at the age of ten years, twelve years, you have to struggle. Struggle against whom? To fight against evil, sin, which is in the world, the sin which is manifested on all sides in the world, scandal. For what is scandal? Scandal is the act, which leads to sin. And many scandals are everywhere, everywhere – in reading material, in that which can be seen, in that which can be heard. And alas! it all stirs souls up to go away from God instead of bringing them towards the Good Lord. So you will have to make decisions from now on by yourselves, and to say, “This is good. This is bad, I cannot do it.” We have to make choices during our whole life. And it is precisely to make choices that you need the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
You need this help, a help quite particular, brotherly, I could almost say maternal, on the part of the Holy Ghost, who watches over your souls. See how the Holy Ghost came down on the Virgin Mary and transformed her life, the life of the Mother of Jesus. The Holy Ghost descended on the first Christians even visibly, changing their lives. He descended on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. And behold, the Apostles, who were timid, fearful men, who feared persecution, who shut themselves in, hid themselves during the persecution of the leaders of that time – the scribes, the Pharisees – the Apostles became valiant soldiers, heroes, witnesses, martyrs. They dared to confront anyone. To those who said to them, “You do not have the right to speak,” St. Peter answered, “Non possumus non loqui – we cannot fail to speak. We have to speak; you will put us in prison.” He was chained, St. Peter; and then St. Peter was delivered by an angel. And they have all done the same thing the holy popes, the Apostles, all the successors of the Apostles, and those who have resolved to follow the Apostles in this testimony that they gave of their faith. Many of them have given their blood, as a consequence, to testify for their faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the Holy Ghost; without the Holy Ghost they would never have been able to do that. It is the Holy Ghost who has penetrated them, and who has given them this strength, this courage that comes from God.”
Bishop Fellay, SSPX (2004):
“I have given you some ideas for why I say we cannot have an agreement at this time or say that everything is fine. Everything is not fine. And when we bring these things up in Rome, they say to us, precisely, that these things are the things which it will discuss with the Society of Saint Pius X once it has signed an agreement. I say, “Wait, wait, wait. Look at the way you’ve treated the Fraternity of St. Peter, and so on.” Events and experience have proven that once you have signed on, Rome says, ‘Shut up.'”
You write, “..the SSPX may possibly going into schism.”
This is not possible since the SSPX is nothing more than a continuation of the Church and faith as defined by Christ. In the past there might have been a questions, but with Bergoglio and his modernist toadies, it must be clear that it is that sect that has veered away from the true Church and Catholic faith. I would argue, again, that perhaps Bergoglio ought to ask Bishop Fellay for himself and his sycophants to be “regularized” to be in communion with the true faith.
“The accusation of separation and of schism made against us because we refuse to participate in the protestantization of the Church is ridiculous! It is, however, deserved by those who foment that same protestantization. Among them are those who have for a long time fallen away from the Catholic Faith and yet, in common with all the heretics of history, work to try to make the Church become like them and conform to their ideas. We cannot understand how intelligent people can state that they “prefer to err with the Pope rather than to be with truth against the Pope.”
If one day they shall excommunicate us because we remain faithful to these theses we shall consider ourselves excommunicated by Freemasonry. Our consolation will be that we remain in the company of God and of all the martyrs who have given their lives to keep the Faith.”
“And then you have those who say : “Come on now, will you ever have a legal situation in the Church ? Can you not ask, or do something in order to obtain a legal status in the Church ? It’s not normal, your situation. Because, after all, don’t you have the impression – and this is another question that journalists often ask me – of being a little bit outside of the Church, of being a little bit schismatic ? Don’t you have that impression ?”
These people are haunted by an official, legal status. So we tell them : “No, it is not us who are in schism. They are in schism. It is those who change something in the Church, who move away from Tradition, or from the doctrine of the Church, who are schism. But not those who continue with Tradition.”
I agree. So why does the leadership of the SSPX worry that the SSPX might go into schism? Archbishop Lefebvre built in safeguards to make sure that schism doesn’t happen.
Several people have commented that this German FSSP priest does not speak for all FSSP. I would like to ask those FSSP supporters just exactly what does the FSSP disagree with what Fr. Gersrle said? I think in a round about diplomatic way he made clear the FSSP position. V2 may not be infaillable but it certainly isnt heretical. The NO may not be ideal but it certainly is valid. And the last point he makes is that in order to be a part of modern Rome one has to agree with the first two points above. I doubt there are many SSPX priests and lay supporters who would agree with those statements.
“”Ecclesial attitude” my asperges.” You tell ’em, Louie.
To be fair, Fr. Gerstle’s doesn’t say Pope Francis is concerned for salvation of souls, but that the Pope is fond of claiming to be. He is correct. Here are just a few I found.
“You have to study and to proceed looking always for the salvation of souls, which is not necessarily found outside of justice; indeed, it is with justice.” – Pope Francis, Nov 5, 2014
Pope Francis to Rota: salvation of souls is highest law – Jan 23, 2015
“Pope Francis said the changes in the annulment process were motivated by “concern for the salvation of souls,” and particularly “charity and mercy” toward those who feel alienated from the church because of their marriage situations and the perceived complexity of the church’s annulment process. – Sep 8, 2015
“Attention to people is the underlying theological and ecclesial motive for this formation course,” the Pope said, adding that spiritual health and “the salus animarum (salvation of souls)” of the persons entrusted to them “is the end of every pastoral action.” – Nov 18, 2016
Ana, there are quite a few traditional Masses in Spain. Both the SSPX and the ICKSP (ICRSS) are present in several spanish cities.
I would absolutely not trust the FSSP. I’ve seen two Masses celebrated by FSSP priests in Europe (a couple of years ago) that were supposedly Tridentine Masses but in reality were some awful combination of the traditional Mass and the NO. An abomination. And this was at some of their most well known churches in Europe (not some rural backwater).
” I doubt there are many SSPX priests and lay supporters who would agree with those statements.”
That doesn’t seem to be quite true anymore, sadly. (Or maybe I’ve just had bad luck lately to finding precisely such ones.)
The FSSP basically convinced my now 22 year old son that sedevacantism was the only logical logical choice among Catholics. Thats what the FSSP is.
Maybe you can inform me of a verified presence for ICK in Spain (preferably, of course, in the Diocese of Malaga) or within driving distance. Their website for Spain is for sale, & although they list they are in Spain, they don’t give any locations. When I emailed them about a year ago they never responded, so I took it they were not functioning here.
The SSPX have last year opened a monstrosity of a church outside of Madrid which has got very bad press & I understand not many followers. I have been told by one of their priests (prior to this centre in Madrid opening) that they are not welcomed by NO Bishops & he only had permission from Granada Diocese to celebrate Holy Mass on his way between Fatima & Poland. It was only a stop point & therefore only locals would be able to attend. He has since been transferred back to Poland. Both Madrid & Granada are great distances from where I live.
I was also told of TLM in Sevilla which is also a very long trip if one was to undertake the journey in one day, but again they never answered my email asking for confirmation. As the Mass was at 10 a.m. & the time taken to get there would be at least 4 hours I wasn’t prepared to undertake it without definite knowledge of it.
Spain desperately needs traditional parishes spread throughout the country. There really is no point in sending people on humongous journeys over mountainous roads – the NO Mass is valid even though we don’t like it, even Bishop Fellay admitted that on television. If PF further ‘reforms’ the liturgy then we certainly have a huge problem, & then it might be easier for me to relocate to Portugal, but that will depend on who follows PF. The four Cardinals have a duty to all Catholics to issue the formal correction & call for an imperfect council immediately.
I fear for those priests standing before Christ at judgment who “couldn’t speak out”.
In allowing oneself to be tied to a group wherein they can’t speak the Truth, they are complicit, severely compromised and are in collusion with the enemy.
Souls walk out the door and hear and read all the confusion, and are then easily led astray and this IS the present situation with the majority of those who call themselves Catholic. We must be obedient to God before men.
I’ve recently read 2 postings by a popular “trad” priest where he misled souls in a grave manner. One young man was asking where to go for seminary as he was concerned about following the Truth, and he advised him to attend a Novus Ordo seminary. I shuddered and was extremely saddened.
We cannot be complicit with evil and heresy, not one iota. We have to choose and not count the cost of following the Truth and thereby, Christ. Priests will answer for this and how can it possibly go well for them when no answers or excuses are acceptable?
Few are saved. Few. Few Catholics. The true Faith is underground and unhindered by heresy, agreements and compromise. It doesn’t mean one rejects the papacy, we yearn and pray for the day when we once again have a holy Pope to care for the flock. For now, we are like orphans wandering in the desert. The concept is so simple but blindness prevents us from seeing. We all must cling to the unadulterated Truth and pray for clarity and “Lord, that we may SEE.”
They don’t rock the boat because they can’t speak the Truth, and/or truly believe in the “hermeneutic of continuity” and the aforementioned heresies which are, in fact, taught in their seminary. If one can’t or won’t speak the Truth then they are complicit with the lie.
We have 2 religions here: the True Catholic Faith and well, different versions of something else.
To correct the claim “The NO Mass is valid” please read Res Sacramenti by Fr Denzil Meuli of Auckland New Zealand. Using the Henry Patrick Omlor writings, ROBBER CHURCH Fr Meuli was able to produce a watertight case, that demonstrated the words of Consecration over the Blood in the ICEL ceremony WAS NOT VALID. New Zealand parishioners raised the funds to send the document to Rome and to EVERY Bishop worldwide. Cardinal Stickler, endorsed the Meuli document, which attracted a handful of responses, but general silence from the hierarchy.
Some time passed when the Elders of the people changed the word “For All ” back to “for Many” part of the original mutilated text. Few, as the earlier post said, will be saved. Certainly by no other hand, that by his One Holy and Apostolic Church- Nulla salus statement. That re-engineering alone caught the Bugnini poster boys out, their own words convicted them of heresy- the denial of the Divinity of Christ Jesus, just like Luther, and Ratzinger and the others of old.
The entire thrust of the “hermeneutic of continuity” red herring. as I realise, is “just more of the same, deception, by the same perpetrators, in the same places. wearing clerical garments” its not about “organic growth” – That happens in a garden with vegetables. We are being treated as objects or lambs to the slaughter, and all the weasel words spouted by the limp wristed ones make not one iota of sense, let alone truth.
Shut the gate on the NO Church- its over – until He comes in Triumph.
If the sacraments were for 2000 plus years, not broken before Vatican 2, why fix them? Therein lies the rebuttal of continuity. There is none in the NO machinations. Read Zechariah in the latter days – false Shepherd, withered hand and eye closed..its all there and we are living in it right now. One day to the month of May and Fatima’s 100th. Watch and pray.
The role of the Jews in infiltrating both the FSSP and SSPX must be seriously examined.
Before this is over, few will hold the True Faith. The Triumph must be around the corner. If it were not, no on will remain in the end.
Thank you for speaking the truth. Father against son, mother against daughter, brother against sister.
I’ve posted a reply with the proper contact details but the comment is apparently “awaiting moderation”.
For Masses in Andalucia, see this blog (you can also email them to confirm): http://misatradicionalandalucia.com/malaga/. (I don’t know to what groups the priests celebrating them belong…it’s possible they are diocesan, i.e. Novus Ordo. Best to email the blog owner for details.)
(Since my earlier replied was not posted – here it is again without the email addresses.)
Here is their (frequently updated) site: http://instituto-cristorey.blogspot.com. Under Santa Misa- Horarios you’ll see all their locations. I happen to know both their priests in Spain and can vouch for their orthodoxy and zeal. (Contact info is here: http://www.icrsp.org/Apostolats/apostolats-europe.php?apostolat=Madrid.)
The SSPX chapel is not “outside Madrid” – it’s pretty centrally located in the barrio Pacifico (near Atocha station). I agree, the architecture is monstrous and shocking. However, the Mass is perfectly valid and that’s even been confirmed a number of times by the Novus Ordo occupied Vatican (if that matters to you). It’s not a temporary chapel; they are there to stay (and have been for many years – in Madrid, that is.)
I don’t agree with you about there being no point to travel long distances for the traditional Mass. I would never attend a protestantized NO service. If you are Catholic, it should be an absolute priority to assist at the true Catholic Mass.
In some countries they never even adopted the change back to “for many”, so their “mass” is almost certainly invalid. (That said, any NO service can at best be considered of doubtful validity, thus needs to be avoided.) In Spain they only started to adopt the change in late 2016 (!), and I’d not be surprised if most priests were still using “for all”.
“the NO Mass is valid even though we don’t like it, even Bishop Fellay admitted that on television”
Are you willing to stake your salvation on Bp. Fellay’s opinion?
He says what is convenient to say in pursuit of his goals. Abp. Lefebvre said and wrote on many occasions that all Novus Ordo rites and sacraments must be considered of doubtful validity. (That’s why until a few years ago the SSPX always conditionally re-ordained any priests coming in to join them. They stopped doing it a few years ago, in order to please the apostates in Rome.)
13. Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that “there is one God, one faith, one baptism” may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that “those who are not with Christ are against Him,” and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate. …”
On Liberalism And Religious Indifferentism
Encyclical Of Pope Gregory XVI August 15, 1832
When I read such teachings as above I think: “So what is a Catholic to do when faced with the clearly opposite teachings of Vatican II? The only solution is to use your God-given reason and reject Vatican II and all of its rotten fruit.”
Could you tell me where is the source for Archbishop Lefebvre’s quotes?
I’m curious what the posters and Louie think about the 23 non-Latin Rite rites and the Anglican Ordinariate?
This entire catastrophe has been wrought upon us by a non-heretical but fiendishly interpretated pastoral council & a grossly tampered with but still valid liturgy. It must be rescinded by the next truly Catholic pope.
I stake my salvation on Our Lord’s promise to be with His Church until the end of time & that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against her. Also, Our Lady’s prediction that the Apostasy would start at the top & that when all seemed lost, then would be Her Triumph. I believe Her Triumph will arrive in this Centenary Year of Fatima which is very closely linked to Satan’s Last Stand (end of the hundred years given him by God to wreck His Church in October) against Marriage & The Family.