Bovine manure alert…

Bp. Fellay says “Cardinal” Müller wants SSPX to fight the Modernists! — An Inconvenient Reality Check

On March 3, 2017, during a visit to Poland, the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, Bp. Bernard Fellay, gave one of his famous “Rome update” conferences, in which he brings his followers up to speed on what’s happening in the neverending story of the doctrinal-canonical negotiations between the Vatican and the Lefebvrist SSPX. In essence, these sermons typically contain the same content every time, more or less. For details on this phenomenon, see our post on Bp. Fellay’s last major update in August 2016:

However, there is always one startling bit of Vatican news the SSPX Superior shares that distinguishes one update from the next and that makes for an explosive headline every time. For example, in the past it was the announcement that the SSPX doesn’t have to accept all of Vatican II, or that the Vatican approves of their ordinations, or that the Vatican had appointed Bp. Fellay a judge of the first instance for the SSPX.

This time around, Bp. Fellay had the following extaordinary anecdote to share: The prefect of the Vatican’s so-called Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Cardinal” Gerhard Ludwig Muller, reportedly wants the Society of St. Pius X to help the Vatican fight the Modernists!

The web site of the SSPX’s U.S. district reports as follows:

Why did Rome change [i.e. why do they no longer demand the full acceptance of all of Vatican II]? Bishop Fellay offered his opinion that it is due to the gravity of the situation in the Church; the real chaos that is now running loose within her. Bishop Fellay illustrated it by reporting the comments of Cardinal Muller asking the SSPX to join his fight against the modernists. Meanwhile, the Congregation for the Religious still considers the SSPX as schismatic and yet Pope Francis says that the SSPX is Catholic.

(“Bp. Fellay Discusses Prelature Rumors”, SSPX U.S. District, Mar. 7, 2017)

Bp. Fellay gave his conference in Spanish, and it was translated simultaneously into Polish. The full audio of the Spanish/Polish is available here:

A transcript of the Spanish and an English translation can be found here:

Here is the excerpt of Bp. Fellay’s verbatim words corresponding to the summary quoted above:

We must ask: Why have they changed? I will give my opinion: It seems to me that the reason for this change of attitude is because of the gravity of the current situation in the Church. It is a contrast. They treat us better because the Church is getting worse. They see evil things in the Church. So they are forced to recognize what we are doing and they do not like it but it is not on the same level that what we defend is Catholic [this last part is not coherent in the original Spanish either –N.O.W.].

For example, the last time that I encountered Cardinal Muller, who is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he said to me: “We of the Congregation of the Faith hope that you enter the Church” — we already are of the Church — “We wait for you so that you may help us fight the Modernists.” They are very upset about all of the heresies that abound today and they look at us as a help in combating these heresies. But this is only one Congregation, although it is a very important one, the Congregation of the Faith. But at the same time, others, other Roman dicasteries, think differently. For example, the Congregation for Religious considers us schismatics. And the Pope says: “No, they are Catholics.” It is chaos.

(Bp. Bernard Fellay, in “Nuevo Sermón Acuerdista De Mons. Fellay”, Non Possumus, Mar. 5, 2017; translation by Novus Ordo Watch)

Now, this is just nuts. Anyone who has been following recent events can see that something doesn’t add up here. The head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is suddenly concerned about Modernism? Really? Let’s remember that we are talking here about “Cardinal” Gerhard Ludwig Muller. That’s the guy who loves ecumenism and believes Protestants are part of the true Church. He loves liberation theology, denies Transubstantiation, denies the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and denies the bodily Resurrection of Christ. That “Cardinal” Muller wants to have the SSPX in his church to fight Modernists? Which is more absurd — for Muller to say it or for Fellay to believe it?!

In his 879-page dogmatic theology mammoth Katholische Dogmatik (1st ed. 1995), “Cardinal” Muller barely mentions Modernism at all. The word is not found at all in the index of subjects, and in the index of persons, there is only a single page referenced for the name of Pope Pius X. Muller talks about Modernism only on a handful of pages, and only in passing for the most part. Even where he has a subheading titled “Condemnation of Modernism” (“Stellungnahme gegen den Modernismus”) in his section on the sacraments, he devotes only a single brief paragraph to the topic (8th edition [2010], pp. 643-644; cf. pp. 102-103). From this alone we can see: An anti-Modernist crusader, he ain’t!

None of this is really surprising, though, if we consider Muller’s educational history: He wrote his doctoral dissertation under the German Modernist “Cardinal” Karl Lehmann, himself a student of the Modernist Vatican II peritus Karl Rahner. To add insult to injury, Muller’s doctoral dissertation was on the theology of the Protestant heretic Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Now there‘s the perfect man for the job of prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — appointed to this post, by the way, in 2012 by “Pope” Benedict XVI, another Rahner admirer, himself suspect of heresy by the Holy Office as far back as the 1950s.

When Benedict XVI called Muller to Rome to become CDF prefect on July 2, 2012, the Society of St. Pius X’s German district released a press statement that accused Muller of heresy. The SSPX German district’s expert on dogmatic theology, Fr. Matthias Gaudron, wrote the press release, of which the following is an English translation:

Press Statement from SSPX Germany

The Church has always regarded it as one of its most important tasks to faithfully defend the deposit of the Faith entrusted to her by Christ and the Apostles and to defend it against errors, in order to be able to pass it on intact to future generations. Rightly so, the post of Prefect of the Congregation is one of the highest offices in the Church.

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X in Germany has therefore been taken by surprise that the Bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, was appointed to this office. The SSPX wonders whether a man is suitable for office who has in his writings and public speeches repeatedly offended against Catholic doctrine.

The following points are:

  • Bishop Müller denies in his book The Mass – Source of Christian Life, the real transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. According to him, bread and wine remain what they are but are the means to integrate the believer into the fellowship of life with Father and Son. This is similar to the Calvinist doctrine that the bread and wine are not changed, but are a means of grace.[1]
  • Contrary to the Catholic teaching that the transubstantiation of the gifts is accomplished by the utterance of the words, “This is my body … This is the chalice of my blood,”[2] Bishop Müller says the question of the precise point at which the conversion occurs makes “no real sense theologically.”[3]
  • In his dogmatic manual, Bishop Müller denies the dogma of the virginity of Mary at birth,[4] in other words, the doctrine that Mary gave birth to her Son without injury to her physical integrity.[5]
  • In a eulogy for the Protestant Bishop Dr. Johannes Friedrich, Bishop Müller said on October 11, 2011: “Those Christians too who are not in full communion with the teaching, the means of salvation and the apostolic-episcopal constitution of the Catholic Church, are justified by faith and baptism and incorporated fully into God’s Church as the Body of Christ.” This contradicts all of Catholic Tradition and in particular the teaching of Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis.
  • Contrary to the Catholic doctrine of the necessity of conversion to the Catholic Church, as it is still taught explicitly in the Second Vatican Council,[6] Bishop Müller in the same speech referred to the so-called “ecumenism of return” as “absurd”.

The SSPX would urgently ask Bishop Müller to make a statement on these controversial positions and to correct them. There are no personal aversions which lead the SSPX to take this attitude but simply the desire for an unadulterated proclamation of the doctrine of the Faith.

In addition, since Bishop Müller has made no secret of his negative attitude towards the SSPX in recent years, the SSPX sees [in this appointment of Bishop Mueller] no positive signal for the willingness to discuss the question of the canonical recognition for the time being. The SSPX hopes that the new prefect may – in the context of discussions within the universal Church – find a more positive attitude towards the SSPX.

Father Matthias Gaudron, SSPX dogmatic theologian

[Footnotes:]

[1] “In reality, the body and blood of Christ does not mean the physical components of the man Jesus during his lifetime or in the glorified corporeality. Body and blood of Christ’s presence here means rather having the character of the medium of bread and wine. “… We have” fellowship with Jesus Christ now, mediated by the food and drink of the bread and wine. Alone in inter-personal relations can something like a letter of friendship between the people be established and at the reception, one can say the affection of the addressee can be seen and embodied.” (The Mass – Source of Christian Life, Augsburg, St. Ulrich Publishing Co.: 2002, pp. 139f.)

[2] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1375, 1377

[3] The Mass – Source of Christian Life, p. 142

[4] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 499, 510

[5] “It’s not about different physiological features in the natural process of birth (something such as the non-opening of the birth canal, non-infringement of the hymen and the non-occurrence of labor pains), but the healing and redeeming influence of the grace of the Saviour on human nature, which was injured by original sin. The content of the dogmatic assertion, then, does not concern physiological or empirically verifiable somatic details” (Catholic Dogma, Freiburg, 2003, p. 498). In truth, the traditional teaching does refer to precisely such physiological peculiarities.

[6] “Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it” (Lumen Gentium 14).

(“SSPX calls on new head of CDF to retract his heretical positions”, Catholic Conclave, July 5, 2002; formatting adjusted; minor improvements to translation made by Novus Ordo Watch.)

The SSPX German district has since removed this press release from its web site, but a cached copy of the original can still be viewed at this link.

This is an incredibly damning indictment of the Vatican’s “enforcer of orthodoxy”! This makes all the more shocking the fact that so many supposedly “traditional” Catholic web sites and blogs now treat “Cardinal” Muller as though he were a defender of orthodoxy simply because he opposes the idea of permitting publicly unrepentant adulterers to receive “Communion”! He is as much of a Modernist as all the rest! In fact, he is even more dangerous than the more open ones because he cloaks his heresy under an appearance of orthodoxy: “There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition” (Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 9).

In addition to the press release penned by Fr. Gaudron on the appointment of Gerhard Ludwig Muller, the German SSPX district superior himself weighed in as well. At the time, this was Fr. Franz Schmidberger, who had once been the Superior General of the SSPX (1982-1994). In a video interview published on Sep. 18, 2012, Fr. Schmidberger commented on the latest developments in their negotiations with Rome, and he used the opportunity to accuse the new CDF prefect, “Archbishop” Muller, of “heterodox teaching”. The video is only available in German, but for those who understand the language, we make it available here:

A brief summary of the interview in English can be accessed here.

In addition to accusing Benedict XVI’s newly-appointed “orthodoxy enforcer” of heresy, Fr. Schmidberger also lamented that Muller was “almost antagonistic” towards the SSPX, based on the first-hand experience the Lefebvrists had had with him in his diocese of Regensburg.

Such are the facts about Gerhard Ludwig Muller.

But, not to worry — Bishop Fellay assures us now that this “Cardinal” Muller is concerned about Modernism in the church and wants to enlist the help of the SSPX to fight it! After all, he is “very upset about all of the heresies that abound today” that he himself has spent a lifetime spreading! Who could say no to such an invitation, especially when the “Pope” himself, whom Bp. Fellay denounced as a “genuine Modernist” in 2013 and who has been causing all the chaos Muller and Fellay are bemoaning, has confirmed that the members of the SSPX indeed “are Catholics”? After all, Francis would know, because, as Bp. Fellay himself acknowledged in an interview in May 2016, “doctrine is not that important to him”. What could possibly go wrong?!

“It is chaos”, Bp. Fellay says. He is right. But let’s remember what he himself said on December 26, 2016 in Lima, Peru: “…more and more confusion is established in the Church, and beginning with the Sovereign Pontiff. It is he who really — I do not know why, but the ideas he has — it is he who actually establishes this chaos” (source). This echoes what Bp. Fellay said about Francis three years before: “…the situation of the Church is a real disaster. And the present Pope is making it 10,000 times worse” (source).

Given all this, how much sense does it make for Bp. Fellay to give any credence to Francis’ assertion that “the SSPX is Catholic”? And how can the head of the Lefebvrists possibly believe that “Cardinal” Muller is opposed to Modernism and genuinely seeks the assistance of the SSPX to counteract the chaos? Hello?

“Bp.” Muller fighting the Modernists at World Youth Day 2005

Let’s look at what else Bp. Fellay had to say in his conference given on March 3, 2017:

Therefore there is much contradiction and we see that there is a great struggle between the bishops, between the cardinals, all of this is a new situation. We are used to seeing ourselves on one side and Rome on the other: We the conservative Catholics, they the Modernists. But today the situation is different. Rome is no longer one, it is divided. And in such a way that some see that things have gone too far. And they say “we must do something, we must resist.”

Also, at this moment, since two years ago, I receive messages from bishops that tell me: “Do not change, do not change, resist!” Few dare say it in public but there are others. I visit bishops, and a certain number, a lot really, tell me this, that they agree with us.

One wrote to me: “We are many in the hierarchy that think like you.” Regarding religious liberty, ecumenism, Nostra Aetate. I encountered an archbishop who said to me: “I discovered the Traditional Mass with Pope Benedict, before that I was totally modern. But now I see that the New Mass has touched upon the substance of the rite.”

Another archbishop said to me: “I have a generation of priests that I have lost, I cannot do anything. Therefore I work on the formation of new priests.” And he has two principles: for theology, St. Thomas, the Summa of St. Thomas. And for spirituality, the Traditional Mass. These bishops want the diocesan priests to teach the Traditional Mass. They are few compared to the others. But the number is growing. This is something that is not seen but that exists.

(Bp. Bernard Fellay, in “Nuevo Sermón Acuerdista De Mons. Fellay”Non Possumus, Mar. 5, 2017; translation by Novus Ordo Watch)

This is the kind of thing that Bp. Fellay says every single time he gives an update on the dealings with Rome. Don’t believe it? Then have a look at what Bp. Fellay said in a conference given at the end of 2002:

There are our friends in the Vatican who are strengthening a movement in favor of the old Mass. How strong is it right now? – Not strong enough yet, but it is encouraging that the idea of granting this Mass as a necessary means to relieve this terrible crisis of the Church is winning favor even in the Vatican. And so we have to nurture it.

This summer a French bishop brought to Rome 250 petitions from the French diocesan priests asking for the liberation of the old Mass. Wise enough to know the peril of the situation, the bishop did not provide the names, especially of the young priests, well knowing that if he did they would be persecuted. So, there are bishops, not only in Rome but also in the field, who are starting to think rightly. From France, I’m aware of a vicar general who brought this petition before his bishop and inquired what he thought about it. The bishop said, “Give it to all our priests so they can sign it.” There is a whole work being carried on which is not yet visible, but which is growing slowly and steadily. Certain people in Rome say, “Stick to it. Don’t give up; don’t give in.” Amazing. Yes, even after the agreement of Campos, our friends in the Roman Curia are not asking us, “Why don’t you sign it?” On the contrary, they say, “Don’t sign it! …Ask for more.”

We have to persevere; we have to pray. Any victory is one of grace, a victory of the supernatural. The resolution of this crisis will not be accomplished sheerly by the abilities of human diplomacy. We have many friends, but not only friends. The enemies of the Church who are within her know what they are doing, and we have to realize that.

(“SSPX Update: Conference by Bishop Fellay”, SSPX U.S. District, Dec. 19, 2002; italics removed; underlining added.)

Sound familiar? His Excellency spoke these words on December 19, 2002. That’s over 14 years ago! Ladies and gentlemen: Bp. Fellay has been telling these same anecdotes for over fourteen years! With some variations here and there, the essence of the story is always the same: “There are clergy in Rome and in the world who think like us! We have friends inside and outside the Vatican! They say we need to keep fighting! They tell us not to change! They want us to resist! They say we have to be careful! They want us to help them fight against heresy!” etc. It’s always the same story, and look at where the SSPX is now after all these years: The situation in the Vatican and the church at large is worse than ever, the “Pope” is the driving force behind all the heresies and chaos, and yet the SSPX has never been closer to “full communion” with them and is now enticed by a feigned assurance that they are needed to “fight the Modernists”!

What is this if not complete madness?