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About the FSSP

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is a Clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right, that is, a community of Roman Catholic priests who do not take religious vows, but who work together for a common mission in the world. The mission of the Fraternity is two-fold: first, the formation and sanctification of priests in the cadre of the traditional liturgy of the Roman rite, and secondly, the pastoral deployment of the priests in the service of the Church.

Origin of the Fraternity

The Fraternity was founded on July 18, 1988 at the Abbey of Hauterive (Switzerland) by a dozen priests and a score of seminarians. Shortly after the Fraternity’s foundation and following upon a request by Cardinal Ratzinger, Bishop Joseph Stimpfle of Augsburg, Germany granted the Fraternity a home in Wigratzbad, a Marian shrine in Bavaria that now lodges the Fraternity’s European seminary. In the same month of October there arrived a handful of priests and some thirty seminarians ready to start “from scratch”. There are currently over 260 priests and 145 seminarians in the Fraternity.

Serving in the Dioceses

Since 1988 the FSSP has grown rapidly and is now present in over fifty dioceses in Europe, North America, and Australia. The bishops of these dioceses have responded effectively to the clearly expressed will of the late John Paul II:

Respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See, for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.
Pope John-Paul II, Motu Proprio “Ecclesia Dei”, 2 July 1988

In Great Britain, various Bishops have already allowed FSSP priests to fulfil their Traditional ministry in Edinburgh, Reading, Bedford, and other cities. These priests are able to answer the requests of many other local communities throughout the United Kingdom, while other diocesan bishops give occasional or regular permissions for the celebration of the Traditional liturgy. By doing so, these bishops respond to the invitation John Paul II addressed to them in October 1998, on the occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei:

I invite the bishops also, fraternally, to understand and have a renewed pastoral attention for the faithful attached to the Old Rite.

As pastors of their dioceses, these bishops have learned that a plurality of rites causes not division but unity in diversity, as our current Holy Father, Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger), pointed out:

One has to realize that several forms of the Latin Rite have always existed … Up to the Council there existed alongside the Roman Rite, the Ambrosian Rite, the Mozarabic Rite of Toledo, the Rite of Braga, the Rite of the Carthusians and the Carmelites, and the best known, the Dominican Rite and perhaps others which I do not know. Nobody was ever scandalized that the Dominicans, often when present in parishes, did not celebrate like parish priests but rather had their own rite. We had no doubt that their rite was both Catholic and Roman. We were proud of the richness of having several rites.
Conference to the Ecclesia Dei communities
Rome, 24 October 1998

Growing Fast

The FSSP now has over 400 members, including over 260 priests working in all continents, and around 145 seminarians training for the priesthood in the Fraternity’s two seminaries, one in the U.S.A. and one in Bavaria. Our members are taught the philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas following the recommendations of Canon Law:

There are to be classes in dogmatic theology which are always to be based upon the written word of God along with sacred tradition, in which the students may learn to penetrate ever more profoundly the mysteries of salvation, with St. Thomas as their teacher in a special way.
Code of Canon Law, 1366, 2

In 2001, John Paull II again expressed his official support for the liturgical charism which he entrusted to the FSSP in 1988:

The people of God need to see priests and deacons behave in a way that is full of reverence and dignity, able to help them to penetrate invisible things, without unnecessary words or explanations. In the Roman Missal of St Pius V, as in several eastern liturgies, there are very beautiful prayers, through which the priest expresses the deepest sense of humility and reverence before the Sacred Mysteries : … they reveal the very substance of the liturgy.
Pope John-Paul II, Address to the Congregation for Divine Worship

A Few Figures

(Statistics as of October 24, 2015)

Members

Total: 421
Priests (including associated or postulant priests): 262
Deacons: 14
Seminarians (non-deacons): 145
Average age: 37 years
Deceased members: 8
Nationalities: 28

Vocations

International seminaries: 2
Preparatory seminaries: 2

As of 2005:

Bishops having conferred the Holy Orders: 33; including Cardinals: 7
Number of ceremonies of ordinations: 94; including 48 performed by bishops in their own dioceses

Year 2005:

Applications received: 73
New seminarians admitted: 34
Seminarians sent by and for their dioceses: 3

Increase

Initial numbers in July 1988:

12 members
12 places of apostolate in 4 European countries
Years of existence: 28
Average increase per year:

Ordinations in the FSSP in the last 10 years
2006: 14
2007: 8
2008: 12
2009: 9
2010: 12
2011: 8
2012: 11
2013: 11
2014: 12
2015: 15
Average: 11

Locations

Located in 4 continents, 16 countries.
Dioceses served: 121
Canonically erected houses: 71
Personal parishes: 34
Mass centers: 219

Confraternity of Saint Peter

Total members: 4,961

French-speakers: 831
German-speakers: 821
English-speakers: 3,309

Specific ministries

School chaplaincies: 21
Youth apostolate:

FSSP members present in Germany at the 2005 WYD: 51
Number of annual camps, retreats and pilgrimages for youth: 17
Military chaplains: 5
Hospital chaplains: 5
Preachers of spiritual exercises: 10
Priests forming seminarians: 26






(c) 2002-present FSSP