Msgr. Pozzo Interview: "Where Are We With the SSPX?"
Read what Archbishop Pozzo had to say about the SSPX in Zenit on February 26, 2016.
We here present some extracts of Archbishop Pozzo's interview, given to Luca Marcolivio and published today in the Italian online version of Zenit. Archbishop Pozzo has been working on the reconciliation of the SSPX in the Pontifical Comission Ecclesia Dei for some years, especially after having been appointed Secretary, for a second time, in 2013.
It is not always easy to know exactly what Archbishop Pozzo really means to convey to the press when he speaks about the SSPX.
These comments are to be taken in light of the following elements given by Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta in his January conference published today.
On July 2015, Rome made another offer to the SSPX.
The SSPX Superior General’s intention before answering this proposal from the Congregation of the Faith was
to write an exhaustive explanation to make it very clear how we are and how we act, what we preach, what we do, what we do not do, and what we are not ready to do, in order to find out if the Society really is accepted 'as it is'."
About the status of the Society of St. Pius X
The SSPX is still in an irregular position, because it has not received canonical recognition by the Holy See. As long as the Society has no canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise in a legitimate way the ministry and the celebration of the sacraments. According to the formula endeavored by the then Cardinal Bergoglio in Buenos Aires and confirmed by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the members of the SSPX are Catholics on the path toward full communion with the Holy See. This full communion will come when there is a canonical recognition of the Society.
What steps has the Holy See taken?
Following the lifting of the excommunications in 2009, a series of meetings were initiated between doctrinal experts appointed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, after the motu proprio of Benedict XVI, Unitatem Ecclesiae (2009), and experts of the SSPX to discuss and exchange views on major doctrinal issues underlying the dispute with the Holy See: the relationship between Tradition and the Magisterium, the questions of ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, religious freedom, and of the liturgical reform, in the context of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.
We are now at a stage that I believe constructive and oriented to achieve the desired reconciliation. The gesture of Pope Francis to grant to faithful Catholics the opportunity of receiving validly and lawfully the sacraments of reconciliation and anointing of the sick by the bishops and priests of the SSPX during the Holy Year of Mercy is clearly a sign of the will of the Holy Father to favor the path towards a full and stable canonical recognition.
What obstacles remain?
I would distinguish two levels. The proper doctrinal level concerns some differences about individual topics proposed by the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar Magisterium relating to ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and the world religions, religious freedom, especially in the relationship between Church and State, and some aspects of liturgical reform. There is also the level of mental and psychological attitudes, which is to move from a position of polemical and antagonistic confrontation, to a position of listening and mutual respect, esteem and confidence, as it should be between members of the same Body of Christ, which is the Church. We need to work on both of these levels. I think the rapprochement undertaken has borne some fruit, especially for this change in attitude by both parties and it is worth pursuing that.
Even on the issue of the Second Vatican Council, I think that the SSPX must reflect on the distinction ...between the authentic mens of Vatican II, itsintentio docendi, as shown by the official Acts of the Council, and that I would call the "para-council", i.e., the set of theological guidelines and practical attitudes which accompanied the course of the Council itself, then pretending to cover themselves with its name, and that the public, thanks to the influence of the media, overlapped often as the true thought of the Council.
Also as regards the Lefebvrian criticism on religious freedom, at the bottom of the discussion it seems to me that the SSPX position is characterized by the defense of traditional Catholic doctrine against the agnostic secularism of the State and against secularism and ideological relativism but not against the right of the person not to be constricted or obstructed by the State in the exercise of the profession of religious faith. However, these are issues that will be a topic for discussion and clarification even after the full reconciliation.
What appears crucial is to find a full convergence on what is required to be in full communion with the Apostolic See, namely the integrity of the Catholic Creed, the bond of the sacraments and the acceptance of the Supreme Magisterium of the Church. The Magisterium, which is not above the Word of God written and transmitted, but serves it, is the authentic interpreter also of previous texts of the Magisterium, including those of the Second Vatican Council, in the light of the perennial Tradition, which develops in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, not with a novelty contrary (which would deny Catholic dogma), but with a better understanding of the Deposit of Faith, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and in the same judgment (in eodem scilicet dogmate, eodem sensu et eademque sententia, cf. Vatican Council I, Const. Dogm. Dei Filius, 4). I believe that on these points the agreement with the SSPX is not only possible, but necessary.
I do not think that the SSPX has denied a doctrine of faith or the truth of the Catholic doctrine taught by the Magisterium. The criticisms concern instead statements or claims regarding the renewed pastoral care and ecumenical relations with other religions, and some issues of prudential order in the relationship between Church and society, Church and State. On liturgical reform, I will only mention a statement that Archbishop Lefebvre wrote to Pope John Paul II in a letter dated March 8, 1980:
About the Mass of the Novus Ordo, despite all the reservations that one has to do about it, I never claimed that it is invalid or heretical."
Therefore the reservations about the rite of the Novus Ordo, which are obviously not to be underestimated, do not refer either to the validity of the celebration of the sacrament nor the line of the Catholic Faith. It would therefore be appropriate to continue the discussion and clarification of these reservations.
About the gesture of Pope Francis
The Holy Father encouraged the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei from the start of his pontificate to pursue a less official and less formal [dialogue] with the SSPX. In this context, the soothing and magnanimous gesture of Pope Francis on the occasion of the Year of Mercy has undoubtedly helped to calm further the state of relations with the Society, showing that the Holy See has at heart the rapprochement and reconciliation which will also need a canonical form. I hope and wish that the SSPX shares the same feeling and the same will.