About the F.S.S.P.

Origin of the Fraternity

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.

The Fraternity was founded on July 18, 1988 at the Abbey of Hauterive (Switzerland) by about 15 priests. 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 almost  228  priests and 164 seminarians in the Fraternity, including 8 seminarians from the UK.

Serving in the Dioceses

Since 1988 the FSSP has grown rapidly and is now present in 110 dioceses in Europe, North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. 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 392 members, including 228 priests working on 4 continents, and 164 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 Paul 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
Pope Benedict XVI has entrusted a personal parish to the FSSP in Rome in 2008. In July 2009, the Holy Father has granted a private audience of 15mn to FSSP Superior General Very Rev Fr John Berg and has met with several founders of the FSSP.

Statistics as of October 1, 2011

Brief history

•   18 July 1988: Founded as a clerical society of apostolic life
•   Liturgical books used: Roman Missal, Ritual, Pontifical, Martyrology and Breviary in force in 1962
•   July 1988: Private audiences with Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger
•   18 October 1988: Erected as an institute of pontifical right by the Holy See
•   Easter 1990: Cardinal Ratzinger visits the motherhouse (in Wigratzbad, Bavaria) and offers Mass in the Traditional rite
•   1995: first personal parish entrusted to the FSSP
•   12 September 1999: Pope John Paul II blesses the corner stones and crucifixes for the two new FSSP seminaries in Europe and in America 
•   8 October 199920 October 2001: the Superior General delivers an address at the Synods of Bishops in Rome
•   December 2000June 2002June 2005May 2008: Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos, President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission and Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, comes to bless the new Saint Peter Seminary and to ordain FSSP priests
•   29 June 2003: Definitive approval of the Constitutions by the Holy See
•   22 February 2007: Foundation of the Confraternity of Saint Peter, a society which gathers those who are attached to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter and who wish to support its charism through prayers and sacrifices
•   March 2008: The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is granted a personal parish in Rome
•   6 July 2009: Private audiences with Pope Benedict XVI


•   Total: 392
•   Priests (including associated
and postulating priests): 228
•   Deacons: 10
•   Non-deacons seminarians 
(including postulants): 154

•   Average age of members: 36 years
•   Deceased members: 5
•   Nationalities: 35


•   Located in: 4 continents ; 17 countries
•   Dioceses served: 117
      o   Europe: 67
      o   America: 44
      o   Oceania: 5
      o   Africa: 1

•   Canonically erected houses: 59
•   Personal parishes: 19
•   Mass centers: 204

Confraternity of Saint Peter

•   Total members (January 2011): 3487
     o   French speakers : 548
     o   German speakers: 483
     o   English speakers: 2456


•   Number of members

•   Number of houses

Priestly ordinations in the FSSP over the last 11 years


2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011



15 12 19 17 7 14 8 12 9 12 8 12

[Source: General House FSSP;]

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