Society -- Vatican - Signals of Approach by Both Sides, But no Decision
Priestly Ordination of SSPX in Zaitzkofen
(Menzingen / Rome) Recently, the signals, which seemed to indicate that the talks between the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See have reached an understanding. The superiors of the SSPX have met since last weekend to exchange ideas. It should also consider the talks with Rome. They also didn't come to any concrete decisions. The conversation with Rome will continue. "The aim" of the SSPX "consists mainly in the formation of priests", according to an official statement of the Superior General of the SSPX, Bishop Bernard Fellay. This is "an essential condition for the renewal of the Church and the restoration of society".
Specifically, the positioning is defined in four points, the canonical recognition is "not" identified as the priority target, because the Brotherhood "as a Catholic work" has a "claim" to this.
The Catholic Church is ruled by a "great and painful confusion", which is encouraged by a "large number of shepherds", "up to the pope himself."
Subsequently, the four points in the text.
In the great and painful confusion that currently reigns in the Church, the proclamation of Catholic doctrine requires the denunciation of errors that have made their way into it and are unfortunately encouraged by a large number of pastors, including the Pope himself.
The Society of Saint Pius X, in the present state of grave necessity which gives it the right and duty to administer spiritual aid to the souls that turn to it, does not seek primarily a canonical recognition, to which it has a right as a Catholic work. It has only one desire: faithfully to bring the light of the bi-millennial Tradition which shows the only route to follow in this age of darkness in which the cult of man replaces the worship of God, in society as in the Church.
The “restoration of all things in Christ” intended by Saint Pius X, following Saint Paul (cf. Ep.h 1:10), cannot happen without the support of a Pope who concretely favors the return to Sacred Tradition. While waiting for that blessed day, the Society of Saint Pius X intends to redouble its efforts to establish and to spread, with the means that Divine Providence gives to it, the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Society of Saint Pius X prays and does penance for the Pope, that he might have the strength to proclaim Catholic faith and morals in their entirety. In this way he will hasten the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that we earnestly desire as we approach the centennial of the apparitions in Fatima.
Subsequently, the communiqué of the Superior General as an audio file in French
"With the new Pope, Pope Francis, we have now entered a new phase, a new situation, which is very interesting, but even more confusing indeed. I call it a paradoxical situation, because - if one wants to say so - it just aggravate the problems, which we condemn, in the Church. At the same time begin, especially in Rome, some voices are loud and acknowledging that something must be done. "
The recently signals were emitted by both sides, nevertheless, that gave rise to suspicions that a canonical recognition of the Fraternity could be imminent by Rome.
Signal of the SSPX
On June 21, the published Salzburger Nachrichten an interview with the Superior General of the SSPX, Bishop Bernard Fellay. Here the bishop sent remarkable signals in Rome: "No bishop shall be entitled to participate rise to the leadership of the Church, if he is not with the Pope and under the Pope." Likewise Bishop Fellay said, the SSPX "has always recognized the primacy of the Pope" and "did not want a separation from Rome for anything in the world."
The valid but illicit episcopal ordinations of 1988, was responded to by Rome with excommunication, said the General Superior, that the founder of the Brotherhood, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, that the consecrations might have "appeared from the outside" as "an act of disobedience," yet they were, however, seen as a "self-defense". Therefore, says Fellay, for the SSPX to affirm: "We are not schismatics, we are not separated from the Church."
Here, the SSPX and the reigning Pope and his immediate circle are not close. Both sides have made no bones about it in the past three years.
Signal of Regensburg Bishop Voderholzer
On June 22, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg made a public statement on this year's ordinations by the SSPX in Zaitzkofen. It is in his diocese where the international seminary of the Fraternity for the German-speaking countries and Central Europe resides. Bishop Voderholzer designated in the ordinations of the SSPX as "harmless". He signaled the fact that the ordinations are officially "tolerated".
In the past, there was a different sound. The incumbent Cardinal Prefect of the CDF, Gerhard Müller had criticized the annual ordinations as Bishop of Regensburg and Voderholzer's predecessor, as an "act of schism" and "provocation".
Since then, things have changed.
Signals from Rome
In early May the Catholic Internet newspaper Nuova Bussola Quotidiana wrote that Rome and the SSPX that things " have never been so close." It's an assessment that seemed to find indirect confirmation in May in reports from the German media, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungand and the Spiegel , whose evident intention of it seemed to be to torpedo any agreement.
On April 1, Bishop Fellay surprised the public when he was received by Pope Francis. The conversation was "good," it was said, coming from both sides. As the Bishop reported a few days later in a sermon, the Pope had recognized the SSPX without limitation as "Catholic" and encouraged the Society to establish a seminary in Italy.
Curial Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei , who is responsible for the traditional communities, had told the SSPX that it could proceed without problems on this year's ordinations. The Ecclesia Dei Commission reports directly to Cardinal Müller. It can therefore be assumed that the new course is also represented in its meaning.
2012 has been agreement already within reach
In 2012 the reconciliation between Rome and the Fraternity seemed well within close reach. The Superior General Fellay had then traveled to Rome in June in the conviction that they had reached an agreement that would lead to canonical recognition of the SSPX. At the last moment the agreement fell apart, for reasons still not exactly clarified: a chronicle of events .
Since then, there is still the persistent rumor, that this "failure" of the multi-year discussions had ripened Benedict XVI's intention to resign. He had been barely elected pope in 2005, and invited Hans Küng from the modernist side and Bishop Fellay of the traditionalist side for a personal interview to Rome. While he had no further steps with Küng, he began detailed theological talks with the SSPX.
Under Pope Benedict XVI. the SSPX was asked to the sign a "Doctrinal Preamble" that was highly controversial in the Society. It was sometimes even regarded as an affront because it demanded much more than was demanded from other Catholics as a commitment.
In September 2014 Cardinal Müller began the talks new
While after the failure in 2012 began a standstill, an unexpected sign of relaxation followed two years later by Pope Francis. It was initiated by Cardinal Prefect Müller, the end of September 2014. Bishop Fellay was received in Rome, wherewith the talks were resumed, although parallel, a confidant of the Pope to the faithful who receive the sacraments at the SSPX priests, even threatened with excommunication .
Late 2014 and early 2015 endowed Cardinal Walter Brandmüller and Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider from institutions of SSPX visits. Then Rome recommended the recognition of the community founded in 1970, " as it is ". There has since been no more talk of a doctrinal preamble. In autumn 2015 Rome presented the Society a new proposal. Since then it has been in question.
"Expression of will of the Pope" with personal prelature
Unchanged are the offer of Rome, the SSPX in the event of an agreement, to be canonically recognized in the form of a personal prelature. It's an offer that is certainly recognized by the SSPX as generous.
So far only Opus Dei has this legal form which ensures the community the greatest possible autonomy and independence from local bishops. With a bishop at the head of a personal prelature it has, unlike the other religious orders and communities, its own bishop.
The Opus Dei was recognized with the status of a personal prelature in 1982. Since 1994, Msgr. Javier Echevarria is the only prelate of a personal prelature in the Catholic Church. He is quite thoroughly opposed to the recognition of the SSPX as the second personal prelature.
According to Vatican legal experts commissioned by Pope Francis working on the offer for canonical establishment, the SSPX should - reportedly - be granted even more rights than the Opus Dei has currently.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Seminary of the Sacred Heart (Screenshot)
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