The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (In Latin: Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri - FSSP) is a group of traditionalist Catholic priests and seminarians in good standing with the Holy See.
According to Canon law
, the FSSP is a "Clerical Society of Apostolic Life
of Pontifical Right." It is not an Institute of Consecrated Life
, and members take no religious vows, making the same promises of chastity and obedience as diocesan priests and, in addition, swear an oath as members of the Society. The Fraternity's Pontifical right status means that it has been established by the Pope
and is answerable only to him in terms of their operation (through the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
), rather than to local bishops. A local bishop still governs the Fraternity's work within his respective diocese. In this sense its organization and administrative reporting status are similar to those of religious orders of pontifical right such as the Jesuits
The FSSP consists of priests and seminarians
who intend to pursue the goal of Christian perfection according to a specific charism
, which is to offer the Mass
and other sacraments
according to the Roman Rite
, as it existed before the Second Vatican Council
. Thus, the Fraternity uses the Roman Missal
, the Roman Breviary
, the Pontifical
(Pontificale Romanum), and the Roman Ritual
, according to the editions of 1962
, the last before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council
This older form of the Mass, known as the Tridentine Mass (promulgated by Pope St. Pius V and Pope John XXIII), is now collectively known as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, by decree of Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
Following from its charism, the Fraternity's mission is twofold: to sanctify each priest through the exercise of his priestly function; and to deploy these priests to parishes. As such, they are to celebrate the sacraments, catechise, organise youth groups (e.g. Boy Scouts
or similar), preach retreats, organize pilgrimages
, and generally provide a full sacramental and cultural life for lay Catholics who are likewise drawn to the rituals of the 1962 missal. In order to help complete its mission, the Fraternity has built its own seminaries
with the goal of forming men to serve the Fraternity.
The FSSP was established on July 18
at the Abbey of Hauterive
, Switzerland by twelve priests, twenty-four boys and a score of seminarians (led by Father Josef Bisig
) who had formerly belonged to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
's Society of St. Pius X
; they were unwilling to follow that movement into what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
defined to be a schismatic
act and grounds for excommunication latæ sententiæ
due to the consecration of four bishops
without a papal mandate. Father Josef Bisig became the Fraternity's first superior general.
The FSSP's current superior general is the Very Rev. John Berg. The Vicar General and Assistant is the Very Rev. Patrick du Faÿ.
The Fraternity is divided into three districts and three regions:
- German-speaking District, Superior: Father Axel Maußen
- French (France) District, Superior: Father Vincent Ribeton
- North American District, Superior: Father Eric Flood
- Belgium-Netherlands Region, Superior: Father Hervé Hygonnet
- Southern Cross Region, Superior: Father William Define
The Fraternity has two seminaries:
They also operate a boarding school, St. Gregory's Academy in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania.
As of January 2005, the FSSP included 194 priests and 115 seminarians in 50 dioceses spread among Australia, Austria, Benin, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Nigeria, Poland, Switzerland, and the USA.