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FSSP Priest Interview Reveals Divisions within Fraternity April 25, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Basics, foolishness, General Catholic, huh?, Latin Mass, priests, Restoration, Revolution, sadness, Society, SSPX, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.
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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.

Sick with No Time to Post, uh……Post April 18, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, family, sadness.
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I’m snowed in at work as usual and I’m coming down with the same bronchitis that has ravaged my family.  Even got the boy, who needs more prayers, not only is he sick but the anti-seizure meds are causing severe behavioral changes.  He tried to cold cock my wife the other day. We’re giving him Vitamin B which is supposed to help (and it has) but he’s still not himself.  We’ll have to see what we do, I think they’ve got him overdosed because he had a really bad seizure, but it’s the only one he’s ever had.  We’ll figure it out.

Anyway, I’m ready to call it quits.  These fit my mood today for some reason:

Been there, done that. But it was……ummmmm…….someplace just outside Nuevo Laredo, not Ciudad Acuña.  I don’t recommend it.  Good place to end your life, especially these days, let alone what it does to your soul  ¿Sabes?

Gentle Reminder: Switch from the Angelus to the Regina Caeli April 17, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Latin Mass, Liturgical Year, Our Lady, priests, religious, Restoration, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Victory, Virtue.
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I remembered this year, to start praying the Regina Caeli, as opposed to the Angelus, on Easter day.  Sometimes in the past, it’s taken me a day or three to remember.  I’m sure most of you have not had this problem, but if any have, here is your reminder.

To beef out the post a bit, a few pictures from Good Friday:

It was nice having a religious priest present during Holy Week

I pray you are enjoying this glorious Octave.  I think next year I will take off less time before Easter and more time after.  I’ve taken off most of Holy Week for years, but I feel ready for a change.  I’d like to enjoy the great feast more, and not just go back to work the day after Easter. I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of Christmas.  I wish I had the time to take off the entire week of Easter, but that’s not going to happen.  Oh for the days when working men had every great feast day off work, a true holy day holiday!

Thank You For Your Prayers My Son’s Tumor Has Shrunk March 24, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, thanksgiving.
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There were a range of options of what might come out of my son’s follow-up MRI for the brain tumor discovered after he had a massive seizure 6 weeks ago, and aside from a total miracle (the tumor being completely gone) we got about the best possible option – the tumor is smaller and certainly appears both benign and stable.  The shrinkage was probably due to swelling associated with the original seizure going away, but that means this tumor isn’t aggressive and isn’t growing at any appreciable rate.

So now we’ll just keep on keepin’ on, my son will get MRIs at three month intervals now and he’ll continue on the Keppra anti-seizure medication.  He’s been doing awesome, his reading has gotten at least back to baseline and in fact is probably surpassed where he was before the seizure.  It was a blessed day all around.  I thank all of you so much for your prayers and ask if you would continue them, since this is still a serious situation and eventual surgery remains a strong possibility.  But the longer that can be put off the better, and if prayer we hope it will never be needed.

Thank you all again, from the bottom of my heart, from a terrible shock and of course worry this has turned out just about as best as could have been imagined.  And we of course thank God that He has seen fit to insure that my son is at least stable and that his health can be pretty easily managed so we may – I pray – enjoy our time together for many years to come.

 

A Little Peak at Why Texans Love Their State So Much March 10, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Art and Architecture, awesomeness, family, foolishness, fun, General Catholic, history, Latin Mass, silliness, Society, Victory.
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I lived in Idaho for a year and worked at a place that, because it was such a craptastic nightmare of pollution and amazing danger, had to recruit across the entire nation to bring in a flood of new engineers to replace those who constantly left.  So I wound up being a new hire working with people from Arizona, California, Michigan, etc.

Now I was actually replacing a previous UT grad who just bled “Texas is Awesome” all over the place.  He DROVE 24 hours or so back home at least every 2 or 3 months.  He bragged Texas up one side and down the other.  After he left and they hired me, I was fairly homesick.  I, too, lamented having to leave Texas and especially Austin (OK, a, it was different then, and b, I was all of 22), and probably described how awesome it was.  And it drove my co-workers nuts.  They kept asking me, “what’s so great about it, what’s so great about it?”  I had a hard time describing it.

I think those who haven’t lived here for an appreciable length of time can comprehend the extent of the love affair many Texans – natives or transplants – have for this place.  As to the why…….it’s hard to explain.  Texas has its own, very dramatic, history. It was an independent nation.  It is huge.  The food is varied and awesome (Whataburger!).  The women are gorgeous, prettier than any other state I’ve been to, though some other southern states come close.  Cowboys, the oil industry, the ranching, Hispanics that have been in Texas longer than Mexico has been a nation, the huge wide open sky which some easterners used to tall trees and narrow vistas find oppressive.

It has the most varied geography of pretty much any state in the union including maybe even Alaska and California.  You can be in deep East Texas piney woods that look like Alabama, the Rocky Mountains, or flat unbroken scrub brush desert.  But the heart of it all, the prettiest, best part, to me, anyway, is the Hill Country.  I fell in love with the Hill Country in college and have adored it ever since.

The people are generally awesome, too, but we are getting too many and the urban areas have become more and more generic Top 10 market type places. So don’t think about moving here!  There’s snakes everywhere and black widows and you have to rinse the sand out of your coffee cup every morning and its hotter n’ blazes n……..

Seriously, Texas also has a deep Catholic heritage that the fading protestant majority has tried to minimize but which this video gives at least some recognition to.  It’s from the early 60s and is in good color.  You can see the fields of wild bluebonnets that are just about to start blooming, among the Indian Paintbrush and the Firewheel and Mexican Hat and others. There is even a brief shot of a TLM at an ancient mission in South Texas.  German immigrants, of which my wife is a pureblood descendant, get a mention.  Her father is one of the dwindling speakers of Texas German.

Texans I think will really enjoy this video, even though it is possibly a bit hokey and juvenile.  Outsiders will lament and gnash their teeth in great jealousy.  Clear streams with white limestone bottoms, oak and cedar trees, white rock cliffs and rolling coastal pastures, mountain laurels…….my wife and kids are going to Pipe Creek next week, and I have to stay and work. I know everything will be wonderfully in bloom. Waaaahhhhh!

Not Exactly What You Want to See Outside Your House at Night February 28, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, disaster, family, foolishness, Immigration, sickness, Society.
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So, this happened:

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That was the scene outside my house about 9:30 last night.  First rapidly approaching police sirens, then a loud crunch, then looking outside the window to find first one policeman with weapon drawn and then within seconds 2, 3, 5, 7, 8 police SUVs screeching to a halt.  Well.  I wonder what that’s all about.

Did I run and grab a handgun?  Yes, yes I did.  Forgot the body armor, though, but the police had things under control within seconds, so there’s that.  I mean, for a brief instant, I had thoughts of someone(s) bailing out of the wrecked car and running through my backyard, and finding no way out, then what?  But I’ve always had a bit overactive imagination.

Turns out it was a group of kids who have had many run-ins with the law. They were underage driving around with open alcohol containers and decided they didn’t want another serious misdemeanor on their record, so they tried to run.  They didn’t get very far.  The cops did not sound like these kids had committed violent crimes, they’re just very wild and unsupervised.  It was mom’s car they wrecked.

Really, though, what transpired was miraculous.  They hit a tree in our front yard, missing our mailbox by inches, but if they had gone 4 or 5 ft on either side they could have gone down one empty driveway straight into a concrete lined former creek now drainage ditch, or they could have smashed into my truck, chicken pen, and shed.  A bit further to either side, they could have driven into either our house or my neighbor’s.  So, Deo Gratias that about the most benign outcome possible occurred.  The kids were uninjured. Even though they hit the tree at about 20 mph, airbags did not deploy, for some reason.  Maybe someone pulled the fuse.  Even the tree is virtually undamaged, at least it appears to be, for now.  Trees are much, much stronger than automobiles, even large SUVs:

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Shorter post: just another night in south Irving.  I’d say the Tahoe is totaled.

This weekend’s earbug February 24, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, fun, silliness.
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Also from Pogo, the same guy who did the Star Trek/Picard video I posted last Friday.

This one is called Trumpular.  Not quite as good?  See what you think:

Please Pray for John Vennari February 22, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Four Last Things.
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I am told he is near death.  Please pray for John Vennari, longtime publisher and writer at Catholic Family News, who has evidenced his great concern for the Church and charity for others for decades.  He was diagnosed with cancer several months ago.  He entered the hospital again within the past few days.  I have never met him but have admired his work from afar for several years. May our Lord bless and sustain him in this most difficult of trials, and should this be his time to pass over from this life may his soul rest in the peace of the Lord forever.

Mr. Vennari was also a longtime collaborator of Fr. Nicholas Gruner (RIP) of the Fatima Center, who entered into his reward last year.

A Brief Update on My Son February 21, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Domestic Church, family, thanksgiving.
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Sorry I’ve been away from the blog the past few days, it’s mostly been work that’s prevented me from getting.  We did have some follow up on my son’s health situation.  The tumor board, which is a panel of 20 or so experts convened whenever a new tumor is diagnosed at Children’s Hospital in Dallas, met and reached the same conclusion the pediatric neurosurgery physicians had reached – they believe it is a “low grade” tumor that is probably not fast growing and may have been around for some time. He will receive further testing to establish a baseline and have a very intensive MRI done in a month to see if the tumor has changed at all.  If not, he’ll have another MRI every three months to continue to monitor its status.

So, provided he doesn’t have any problems develop that indicate the tumor is affecting him in negative ways, he’ll just continue on anti-seizure meds and be closely watched.  The doctor did indicate that ultimately, he’ll probably require surgery to remove the tumor. It’s not a certainty but it’s the greatest probability.  The hope is to put that off as far as possible.  Because of the location of the tumor, it’s very likely he would suffer vision loss of one degree or another if or when surgery becomes necessary.  So while his incredible recovery has been amazing and a blessing beyond description, this is not something he’s “gotten over.”  He has a very serious condition and it will require close observation for years to come.

Thank you again for all of your prayers.  Please keep my good boy in your prayers for the foreseeable future.  It is my fervent hope that through the many prayers being offered up Benedict may never have to have surgery and the tumor may simply be cured through God’s benevolence.  I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of spiritual support for my son – literally hundreds of people are praying for him.  I shall have Masses offered for your intentions and in thanksgiving for your generosity.

Unless something unexpected occurs, this will probably be the last update for some time.  That is my hope, at least.

Alright, I’m hooked……. February 17, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, foolishness, fun, Holy suffering, silliness, Society.
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………stupid Steven Crowder got me hooked on this earbug: