Thursday, January 16, 2014

Official Statement by SSPX to Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller's Charge of Schism

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, soon to be a cardinal of the Catholic Church and Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, announced on 22 December 2013 during an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, in which he claimed that it would a "sacramental de facto excommunication" continues for the SSPX  "due to their schism".
To this false claim, the Society of St. Pius X. clarifies its position:

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Roman authority has spoken about schism:  “The canonical excommunication of the bishops for their illegal ordinations was revoked, but a de facto sacramental excommunication remains for their schism;  they put themselves out of communion with the Church.”
(In the first part of his answer) “The canonical excommunication of the bishops for their illegal ordinations was revoked, but a de facto sacramental excommunication remains,” one might think that Archbishop Müller is repeating what Benedict XVI declared in his letter to the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)

Text: German translation of a post from 13.01.2014, published on the website, the official news agency of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X. is published, the official news agency of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X.
Image: Dr. Meier Hofer


  1. Very nice summary of quotes from high churchmen saying the SSPX is not in schism.

    (I think you meant to write Card. Hoyos saying: "…without a papal mandate…")

    1. As I was reading I was thinking, I wish Alan Aversa would comment on AB Muller's statements here and how in fact he represents the VaticanII Popes and the Magisterium. All of the doubletalk about cannot make compromises to the Faith and pastoral vs. doctrinal when in fact it is obvious that it's the other way around. Using knives and swords analogies haven't all of them double speaking fallen on their own petard? Doesn't that sum up the SSPX raison d'e tre?

    2. The very existence of the Society is an embarrassment to the people who are in power now.

    3. And he's embarrassed because he's 'lying'. Or is it just those 'listening' to him 'lie are embarrassed? He should be saying 'the faith has already been negotiated and can't be re-negotiated.' And instead of "Strictly" speaking it is opposed to some erroneous misinterpretations he should be saying ' the Church was wrong now it's right etc.' 'well, only about 'certain' things.' ...Peace, Tancred

  2. As Muller has taught that even the heretic Lutherans are already members of the Church, how can he have any credibility when he claims that some of those who hold the full Catholic faith are in schism?

    1. They are on the edge of a knife, are they not?

    2. On the double-edged sword of truth ☺

    3. It is The Vatican which is on the edge....... of the abyss.

  3. Thank you for this concise and clear summary...maybe you can meet with ArchBp. Mueller and explain it all to him v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, and remind him of #1792 of the Catechism:

    "Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct."

    IMHO, the Archbishop is in violation of more than one point of the above section and really should do more research before making any statements on the SSPX to ensure he is in line with Church teaching.

  4. This column takes lots of time doing very little; it equivocates, dodges, argues around, ultimately insists that SSPX isn't schismatic, but holds to the true Catholic faith.
    Unfortunately, the Society lacks the appropriate authority to make such declarations. For all that I think the Society has done a great job of encouraging discussion regarding ambiguous portions of Vatican II, I'm forced to admit that the Society..cannot be construed as fully Catholic.

    Being fully Catholic ultimately includes holding oneself--and one's organization--to account to the Pope. Ultimately, though the Society's membership apparently prays for the Pope--I've read that before--the Society does not hold itself accountable to the Pope, but insist that the Pope must hold himself accountable to the Society.

    As much as I dislike saying it, it seems to me that such a situation can only lead to one conclusion: The Society's view can only be viewed properly as inherently schismatic, thus the Society inherently holds itself in a state of schism.
    If the Society wishes to be reconciled, it'll need to accept Rome's direction.
    Any other inherently sinful and places the souls of the Society in grave moral danger.

    1. Yes, they need the guidance of an Apostolic Commissar so they can get to abusing the Liturgy, promulgating heretical doctrine and promoting sodomy like the Jesuits do.

  5. I think what we see here is the SSPX is guilty of the sin of "Tradition". This, of course, is more nasty than promotion of abortion, promotion of homosexuality, the promotion of worldliness. If Crd. Muller was really more concerned with the promotion of the salvation of souls, then there very clearly would be no question about schism as applied to the SSPX (it is apparent they are not in this light).
    I do think all this is nonsense though as Card. Muller is just a guy, and not the Pope as the Germans have repeatedly pointed out. It is equally interesting that Card Muller agrees, as there have been no punishments for the Germans who have defied (and defiled) him repeatedly and regularly. It is almost like the Germans say to the world, "lets do the opposite of what Muller tells us to do, and what the Church teaches.... and that will show Muller (and everyone else) who is really in charge............ no one!

  6. I have a couple of questions about Vat II: 1) When Paul VI was asked about the AUTHORITY of the Council, did he not reply that it was only of a pastoral authority, (except when repeating defined doctrine from the past)? Doesn't that mean that if one brings up inherently ambiguous texts among some of it's writings THAT THOSE WHO POINT OUT APPARENT CONTRADICTIONS WITH THE PAST MORE AUTHORITATIVE DOCRINAL TEACHINGS than the pastoral documents of Vat II THE TRADITIONALISTS HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT AN EXPLANATION OF THE CATHOLIC WAY TO TAKE THE AMBIGUOUS PASTORAL NEW DOCUMENTS? E.g. take the controversy on grace and freewill between the Dominicans and the Jesuits in the 16th century. You can't accuse either of being heretics in their theological interpretations of things left undefined. But on the other hand, it can be shown that the new pastoral documents represent a development of insight on certain pastorally important issues which were untouched by previous authority: such as HOW TO TREAT OTHER CHRISTIANS AND NON-BELIEVERS,WHAT PRACTICAL ATTITUDE IS NEEDED TO REACH THEM, SO AS TO BE ABLE TO BE HEARD BY THEM, AS WELL AS ABSTAINING FROM SOCIAL FORCE BY RESPECTING THEIR PERSONHOOD AND FREEDOM TO REACH THE TRUTH.

    And as for the Traditional Liturgy the well needed relooking and balancing of the immediate past of the Constitution on the Liturgy should not be a problem.BUT PAUL VI's actual RENDITION of the Constitution's recommendations was, well let's be honest EXTREME, SUDDEN, AND IMPOSED BY BUREAUCRACY. It also allowed TOO MANY OPTIONS which effectively made it possible to celebrate a Protestant way of worshipping and a more Catholic LOOKING worship service. IOW HIGHLY IMPRUDENT OF PAUL VI. It was to COUNTER THIS THAT LEFEBVRE CONSECRATED THOSE BISHOPS TO PREVENT THE LITURGY FROM LOSING THE THEOCENTRIC SPIRIT OF WORSHIP.
    In the Council when Paul VI asserted that no one could criticize a pope's decisions, HE IMMEDIATELY GOT STRONG PUSH BACK FROM THE COUNCIL FATHERS. If they only did the SAME WITH THE N.O.RENDITION THAT POPE IMPOSED ON THE CHURCH. Now it is not of DIVINE ORIGIN that the pope appoint every Latin Church bishop. Thus there CAN BE a rare exception to the Church law. Paul VI is the one WHO STARTED THIS BY FORCING THE BISHOPS TO ACCEPT IT. It just so happened that most bishops DIDN'T CARE THAT MUCH ABOUT HOW TO GRADUALLY ADJUST EVERY SINGLE CHANGE WITH LITURGY and to EXPLAIN EXACT WHY. Now it could have been an imprudence of Lefebvre also to "jump the gun" so to speak in consecrating four bishops without Pope JPII permission. But something like this happen with the Photian schism when eventually Rome backtracked and allowed Photius to remain Patriarch for 20 yrs. In the present situation, there is certainly fault on both sides. Bishop Schneider of Asana has proposed that the Pope settle in a new syllabus which way to come down on ambiguous and/or novel expressions of the Council texts. In other words, does such and such mean this or that? Answer me!

    1. Pretty much:

      Vatican II was not entirely infallible because it "ha evitato di pronunciare in modo straordinario dogmi dotati della nota di infallibilità [avoided pronouncing in an extraordinary way (newly defined) dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility]" (Pope Paul VI audience, 12 January 1966) and "In view of conciliar practice and the pastoral purpose of the present Council, this sacred Synod defines matters of faith or morals as binding on the Church only when the Synod itself openly declares so" (Council's General Secretary, 16 November 1964), which it never did for its doctrinal novelties.

  7. Just because the SSPX refuses to submit to the Roman Pontiff and refuses communion with the members of the Church subject to him, how does this make them schismatic?

    1. This blog asks that question of virtually all of the German speaking Bishops nearly every single day.

    2. That is indeed the question Bertrand. Considering a significant number of bishops and presbyters no longer teach the Catholic Faith nor do they bring the correct intention with them to The NO Mass, it is they who are de facto schismatics. And there is the contradiction today with a liberal modernist church - it is in conflict with the Roman Catholic Church.

    3. February 12, 2014

      The Society of St.Pius X (SSPX) concedes there are are factual errors in the books being sold by them.