Agreement with rome hardly conceivable at present

The German District Superior of the traditionalist Pius Brotherhood, Franz Schmidberger, currently sees little chance of an agreement with the Vatican. "From a human point of view, with the latest personnel decisions in Rome, there is not too much more to expect," he said in an interview with the Catholic monthly magazine "Kirchliche Umschau," which is published in Ruppichteroth, Germany.

Schmidberger was massively critical of the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, and of the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Bishop Arthur Roche. "What is the use of a motu proprio on the ancient liturgy if a few years later one of its worst opponents is appointed to a key position as far as the traditional Mass is concerned? Has not one made here proverbially the buck to the gardener?", he said with regard to Roche. Muller had emphasized several times in recent months that the Second Vatican Council was binding for a possible agreement with the brotherhood.

Schmidberger spoke of a change of heart in Rome. At a meeting on 13. June, the Vatican had presented the fraternity with a statement that the Pius brothers could not accept. For example, he said, Rome wants to oblige the fraternity to recognize the legitimacy of the new, native-language liturgy and to confirm that the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) stands in continuity with the Church’s previous magisterial tradition. "But how can one recognize as legitimate a liturgy that does not flow from the Catholic faith and does not lead to it?", asked Schmidberger. He added: "They want to impose on us the concept of the hermeneutics of continuity. And this at a moment when one book after another appears, bringing to light the obvious breaks with tradition."

Internal dispute beigele

On the dispute within the Fraternity of St. Pius X, the district superior said the community has overcome differences within its own ranks and has regained unity. "This fact is not changed by two or three snipers who have to ask themselves whether they really still count themselves to the brotherhood."The traditionalist bishop Richard Williamson had been temporarily excluded from the deliberations of the General Chapter of the Pius Fraternity in July. He is considered a fierce opponent of rapprochement with Rome.

Regarding the possible status of the Pius Fraternity within the Catholic Church, Schmidberger said that the most important thing would be the protection of the Fraternity by the Holy See and its independence from the jurisdiction of local bishops. The district superior considers a renewed excommunication of the traditionalists "hardly conceivable". This meant a "demoralization of all conservative and restorative forces in the Church". Schmidberger, however, said he would trust the new prefect of the faith, Muller, to take such a step. This is "really not our friend".

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