ZENIT: Pont. Comm. “Ecclesia Dei” makeover & new threats to SSPX

From ZENIT with my emphases and comments:

Pius X Society: Restructuring of Ecclesia Dei Imminent
Faces Threat of New Excommunications in Germany

By Kris Dmytrenko

TORONTO, JUNE 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- An announcement that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will now oversee discussions with the Society of St. Pius X is imminent, says the society’s general superior.

Bishop Bernard Fellay revealed to ZENIT that the congregation told him to expect the publication of a statement issued "motu proprio" (on his own initiative) by Benedict XVI on the new structure of Ecclesia Dei before June 20. [We wrote about that here.]

The bishop confirmed that he met June 5 with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. During a visit today to Toronto, the general superior explained that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, established precisely to oversee the process of healing the society’s separation from the Church, will remain a distinct entity within the Church’s dicastery for doctrinal matters.

"According to what we have heard," noted the bishop, "most probably, one of the monsignors of the congregation will be the executive head of Ecclesia Dei.  So it will be very tightly united with the congregation.[So, perhaps Mons. Perl will not be remaining that long?]

Along with three other bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 without Vatican approval, Bishop Fellay had been automatically excommunicated, only to have the penalty lifted in January by Benedict XVI.

The Society of St. Pius X still lacks the canonical status required for the legitimate exercise of ministry, which, according to the Pontiff in a letter sent in March to all the Church’s bishops, will only be granted when the society accepts the authority of the Second Vatican Council, along with the magisterial teachings of popes since the council.

Since 2000, the pontifical commission has been led by Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, whom Bishop Fellay describes as "very friendly" to the society. The bishop shared that, even after his June 5 meeting with Cardinal Levada, he remains unsure how the expected changes will affect negotiations with the Vatican.

"I don’t know [Cardinal Levada] enough to really answer the question. […] When we were received it was very courteous. He was gentle. […] I don’t frankly know what and if there will be a real change."  [I suggest that the SSPX leadership tread a bit carefully with Card. Levada.  It is not at all clear that his Eminence will be as friendly, personally speaking, to the reintegration of the SSPX as is Card. Castrillon.  I don't doubt that Card. Levada will support the Pope's project, but he may not be as personally interested.  The choice of the "vice-president", if that same structure remains in the future, is very important.]

[Meanwhile, north of the Alps...] New excommunications

Most pressing for the new Ecclesia Dei leadership will be averting a new series of excommunications. On June 27, Lefebvrite Bishop Alfonso de Galaretta is scheduled to ordained three priests and three deacons in the society’s Zaitzkofen seminary in Bavaria, Germany. Bishop Gerard Muller of Regensburg has warned the society that, until the issue of canonical status is resolved, the ordinations lack proper authorization and would thus merit disciplinary action[Yes... it would.  However, given the Holy Father's approach to lift the excommunications of the SSPX bishops, given his clear will in this matter, were bishops in Germany to impose canonical penalties, they would be demonstrating little more than defiance of the Pope's intentions in regard to the SSPX.  Unless... I don't know... this is some sort of "good cop bad cop" tactic being played.]

"Our bishop is waiting for Rome to advise on how to respond," said diocesan spokesperson Jakub Schotz earlier this month. "But it will almost certainly result in the excommunication for these priests and the bishop who ordains them."  [Hang on.  If the priests would be excomminicated, shouldn't the SSPX bishops also be excommunicated? The priests, as everyone knows, are automatically suspended a divinis.  But, at this moment, should additional censures be added at this juncture?]
                                                                                                                                                 
Bishop Fellay counters that the Society of St. Pius X already delayed subdiaconate ordinations in Regensburg earlier this year, and that he believes that the Vatican now "has no basic problems" with the upcoming priestly ordinations[Hmmm.... I don't buy that.  I don't think that the Holy Father or the PCED - which is still  competent as I write - would want to see this spanner thrown into the works, but neither would they be content to see these additional acts of disobedience.]

"We cannot just now say, ‘stop breathing,’" he argues in defense of the society’s continued administration of the sacraments. "We need to breathe. And, definitely, if the Pope was so good to take away the excommunications, that mean he doesn’t want us now to die."  [Of course not!  He wants the whole shooting match to be brought back into clear manifest unity. And some want to muck up that vision.]

The society is planning to proceed with the ordinations, despite Bishop Fellay’s concern that new excommunications could "jeopardize everything" and derail the society’s discussions with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith[And if they German bishops are so dead set against the reintegration of the SSPX - perhaps because of the furor raised in Germany on account of the bizzare statements of B. Williamson - they might be putting great pressure on the Bishop of Regensburg to toss that monkey-wrench.] Central to those talks will be the society’s unambiguous condemnations of the Second Vatican Council, particularly in reference to the council’s affirmations of religious liberty, ecumenism and the separation of Church and state.

While the Swiss-born superior general prefers to resolve these doctrinal issues before he accepts canonical status in the Church, he insists that he is open to reaching a provisional compromise position with the Vatican.

"If Rome gives us enough guarantee, so to say, of survival, I think probably we would certainly consider it," he said. "We have no problem with the Church recognizing us, of course."

* * *

Kris Dmytrenko is an associate producer of the Toronto-based Salt and Light Television Network. Salt and Light will air an exclusive interview with Bishop Bernard Fellay on the Sunday, June 28, episode of Witness, hosted by Basilian Father Thomas Rosica.

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40 Responses to ZENIT: Pont. Comm. “Ecclesia Dei” makeover & new threats to SSPX

  1. Mike says:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20011025_chiesa-caldea-assira_en.html

    One thing that the SSPX wants clarified, and that I hope IS clarified, is how the Vatican can recognize as valid a Liturgy which does NOT have the words of Insitution. How can this be? Why in the West would the Mass be completely invalid if the words were not said, but in this Eastern liturgy it’s considered valid even if the whole liturgy does not have those explicit words. WEIRD!

    Is this decision part of the universal ordinary magisterium? I don’ understand.

  2. Ron says:

    I for one am so tired of Bishops who are so quickly to discipline and excommunicate the “traditionalists” but the heretical “liberals” can run rampant preaching and teaching their heinous errors with no only no censure or discipline but in fact with approval and acceptance!

    Excommunications for ordaining priests who – or most of whom – probably have a good will to be fully orthodox and to be faithful to Christ and the tradition of His Church? Really? In a day and age when we say the Church needs vocations?

    Oh but let the heterodox spew forth, let them lead souls away from Christ, and no one quite cares; let them destroy the liturgy with all sorts of abominable ideas and theories; the Bishops do not lift a finger of discipline.

    Sorry for the frustration but I don’t get it. I’m not SSPX and I’ve never been to an SSPX chapel in my life but from my point-of-view, SSPX is a lot closer to orthodoxy, if not entirely in it, than many of these heretics running wild. It just gets old. Really, where are the true Bishops? Who will stand up and start disciplining all of these priests, lay people, even Bishops who are denying the Faith or who are at least causing scandal?

    Sincerely,

    Tired and frustrated :)

  3. Allen Murphy sfo says:

    Father, I thought the excommunication as a result of an ordination not approved by the Vatican was automatic, latae sententiae, and not debatable as to whether or not the bishop applies the penalty or am I mistaken? Your blog is great. Allen Murphy sfo

  4. RBrown says:

    Allen Murphy sfo,

    Consecration of a bishop.

  5. Al Huntz says:

    personally I would rather see Msgr. Calkins go than Perl. I have had better luck dealing with Perl than Calkins. In my own humble opinion.

  6. Jack says:

    Out of interest when the SSPX is fully integrated back into the Church, would it not make sense to merege them with the FSSP? (yes I know there is bad blood between them). Also I agree with Ron about the SSPX’s Othordoxy, its just an Idea but couldn’t they be used as a sort of anti-modernist inquisition ? I know it sounds somewhat extreme but desperate times call for desperate measures.

  7. Paul Haley says:

    What do the SSPX and their adherents have to do to prove their Catholic Faith? I know the buzz words – accept Vatican II and the magisterium of popes since the Council but have they not said they accept Vatican II in light of Tradition and the legitimate magisterium of popes since the council as seen in consonance with the magisterium of popes before the Council. It just seems to me that there are bishops who will never accept the SSPX period, no matter what the holy father’s intentions are. In the meantime, the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church – it boggles the mind.

  8. Ron says:

    “It just seems to me that there are bishops who will never accept the SSPX period, no matter what the holy father’s intentions are. In the meantime, the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church – it boggles the mind.”

    If you ask me it seems that to “accept Vatican II and the modern Magisterium” means, to most people, accept the commonplace interpretation of the Council and do not challenge the status quo. They raise, however, legitimate and important questions that NEED to be answered. The nature and authority of the Council itself is in particular in important question not to mention issues with ecumenism, religious liberty, etc. They are Faithful to the Magisterium but just want to understand how it jives with Tradition. Is that so bad?

    The problem, it seems, is that to many Bishops and many in the Church SSPX represents a continuity that they want to believe the Church has left behind; there is a serious orthodoxy that they think jeopardizes their creative, open inquiries that challenges everything but asserts nothing. That if you ask me is the issue: a view of orthodoxy that asserts truth and refuses compromise.

    I

  9. ED says:

    Cardinal Levada was a disaster as Archbishop of both Portland, Oregon and San Francisco. He has absolutely no sympathy for the Latin Mass. He was looked at in a brighter light cause he was put next to Cardinal Mahoney out here. On a positive note he’s not much of an activist, so if the Holy Father pushes him he will do as hes told. The word beauracrat has Cardinal Levadas picture all over it.

  10. Timothy Clint says:

    Does the Holy Father usually issue a Motu Proprio when he decides some matter of reformation of commissions? I just wonder if there is something more to the MP. With all of the talk about excommunications from various German Bishops, perhaps the Pope is planning to announce some sort of temporary faculties to the SSPX. Just a thought.

  11. Mark82 says:

    Umm…will they also re-excommunicate the ordaining bishop after the pope just lifted the previous excommunication?

  12. Theodorus says:

    It’s just quite ironic that those bishops often claim that the Society of St. Pius X is not Catholic, and yet they are so eager to “excommunicate” them. So after all, the clergy of the SSPX is Catholic enough to “merit” excommunication?

  13. wolskerj says:

    “We have no problem with the Church recognizing us, of course.”

    The question is, will they recognize the Church? It seems they, like many of our separated brothers, they have spent so much time and energy justifying what they know to be a great evil – separation from the Body of Christ – that the issues that led to that separation have become of almost secondary importance.
    I find it hard to optimistic about this.

  14. Michael says:

    Allegedly, Archbishop Lefebvre backed out of the agreement he had crafted with Cardinal Ratzinger when he became convinced it was a trap that would end ordinations for the traditional rite. Is this scenario playing out now? It almost seems as if in drawing the SSPX closer that those who desire its destruction (like the German Bishops) are acting to strangle it. Will Rome protect the SSPX from those who would destroy it?

  15. irishgirl says:

    Ron-what you said [your post at 7:59]!

    Theodorus-you’re spot on, too!

  16. Biff says:

    Is Zenit still an arm of the L.C.? Fr. Jonathan’s appearance on Fox’s Red Eye’s was near scandalous.

    I think if they FSSPX is shrewd, they could play this very well. Even the slow will be able to pick up on the unfairness of the German bishops.

  17. Steven says:

    It is clear that the modernists have lost the match. It is clear that the “Catholic” faithful have no problem with the SSPX. On the contrary, they are losing their patience with the modernists. Most people want more faith, not less. The old modernists are still barking, but they should be ashamed of themselves. The only thing the modernists achieved, was the virtual destruction of the Church.

  18. Hidden One says:

    From what I know of Cardinal Levada, as Archbishop of San Francisco he made all the right enemies and they still hate him. Also, we know who appointed him to the CDF and that said man cares a great deal about the CDF. Oh, and that man also happens to have been Cardinal Levada’s superior at the CDF.

    In any case, ED, what good does it do to unnecessarily speak poorly of a man ordained?

  19. Ron says:

    These Bishops who are so against the SSPX actually, in a sense, just prove the SSPX’s premise, if you ask me.

    Pax Christi tecum.

  20. John6:54 says:

    Does obedience exist within the SSPX or just obidience with exceptions?

  21. Jack says:

    A Question for WDTPRS german readers, do your Bishops actually care about the salvation of souls? or are they just interested in ecclesial points scoring? I’d also like to echo Stephen’s point that I have no problem with the SSPX and that i’d rather consult them on matters of morality than my own Bishop

  22. Matt Q says:

    Thanks, Mike and Ron. You both brought up points I was ready to go off on, and you are so right. We ask the big WHY? The rupture with those people goes back to 1054. The SSPX, 1984. The schismatics are invited constantly to Rome for one event or another. Why not the Society? There is even a entire dicastery devoted to them, but the Society is treated like misbehaving delinquents at one of our worthless Catholic schools. Who is more Catholic, they or the Society? This two-faced routine with the Church has got to stop as it only adds to the claims of hypocrisy leveled against the Church from various corners, claims which really can be quite justified. I don’t believe the Eastern schismatics are any more worthy of my attention than the SSPX.

    It is also very telling as I have said elsewhere that these clergy in Rome work for their own self-interests. Why should the SSPX have to worry what Levada is like? He works for the Pope and is to bring about what the Pope wishes, not what the f he likes and doesn’t like. Since the Holy Father wants them in, DO IT. Maybe that’s why a lot of them became priests. They wouldn’t know how to work a real job and follow real orders. It hurts me to say this but this the one of the very reasons why our Church is so ineffectual today. The very tone of the article tells of the sand in the Church’s gears wastes time and produces less-than-praiseworthy product. Just sitting around all day agonizing over what shape a cloud looks like. Yes, tired and frustrated is right!

    = = = =

    Michael wrote:

    “Allegedly, Archbishop Lefebvre backed out of the agreement he had crafted with Cardinal Ratzinger when he became convinced it was a trap that would end ordinations for the traditional rite. Is this scenario playing out now? It almost seems as if in drawing the SSPX closer that those who desire its destruction (like the German Bishops) are acting to strangle it. Will Rome protect the SSPX from those who would destroy it?”

    )(

    Scary thought. We’ll get an idea as the negotiations progress, but only time will tell.

  23. Mitchell NY says:

    These German Bishops should worry about their own empty Churches and disgusted faithful who have left them in droves. With this kind of behavior I am beginning the Church and modernists should reform further and abolish the office of Bishop except for in title only and leave the parishes runnings to the Priests and lay people that the Bisops so often advocate. They deserve to be abandoned. I mean the Pope has made his wishes known on the SSPX and for what we know has not spoken about the upcoming ordinations. The Bishops should keep their mouths shut and fall in line with whatever the Holy Father decides, otherwise they should just resign and join the SSPX and wait for regularization.

  24. cji says:

    “Will Rome protect the SSPX from those who would destroy it?”

    SSPX will protect itself. Bishop Fellay knows very well about what the bishops think, he wants absolute independence from the local bishops.

    That is exactly the SSPX is demanding from Rome, if they don’t get it, they will stay outside.

    As far as the authority of Rome is concerned: in the whole Church history there was seldom absolute obedience, the local bishops tend to disobey, the religious orders tend to seek protection from Rome. But well going cloisters do disobey often. If the Society SSPX doesn’t disobey, it’s nothing new. In comparison to the disobedience and contempt of the modernists towards the Liturgy, Tradition and Doctrine of the Holy Mother Church, the disobedience against a certain code of the Canon Law is a much smaller delinquency. Canon Law is imposed by human beings, the divine moral law by God; the Faith by Jesus Christ, the Dogmatic by the Holy Ghost and the Holy Mother Church.

  25. Ron says:

    Matt Q, very well stated.

    I’d like to focus on one of your comments in particular:

    “This two-faced routine with the Church has got to stop as it only adds to the claims of hypocrisy leveled against the Church from various corners, claims which really can be quite justified.”

    Question: in what way is the Church backing up her claim, in the modern world, to truly represent Christ, the Truth? When she backs down from those who mock the Truth or when she allows dissent to fester within her own courts, does that give a reliable witness to her integrity and her Lord?

    I know the Church has always had struggles, has often been imperfect. I don’t know, I may be way off.

  26. RBrown says:

    SSPX will protect itself. Bishop Fellay knows very well about what the bishops think, he wants absolute independence from the local bishops.

    Not absolute independence but merely the independence of a Personal Prelature AND carte blanche for the 1962 Missal (cf. Summorum Pontificum).

    That is exactly the SSPX is demanding from Rome, if they don’t get it, they will stay outside.

    They already have the liturgical component. Once they’re established as a Personal Prelature, they will be all but independent of an ordinarius loci.

    As far as the authority of Rome is concerned: in the whole Church history there was seldom absolute obedience, the local bishops tend to disobey, the religious orders tend to seek protection from Rome. But well going cloisters do disobey often. If the Society SSPX doesn’t disobey, it’s nothing new. In comparison to the disobedience and contempt of the modernists towards the Liturgy, Tradition and Doctrine of the Holy Mother Church, the disobedience against a certain code of the Canon Law is a much smaller delinquency. Canon Law is imposed by human beings, the divine moral law by God; the Faith by Jesus Christ, the Dogmatic by the Holy Ghost and the Holy Mother Church.
    Comment by cji

    The talks between Rome and the SSPX concern doctrinal matters, e.g., the status of non est salus extra ecclesiam.

  27. Maynardus says:

    To Ron’s comments and RBrown’s replies I’d add that the structure – which I believe was actually a Personal Apostolic Administration a la Campos rather than a Personal Prelature – was offered in 2000 and theoretically remains on the table. That assures their independence from unfriendly ordinaries, and the question of the liturgy has obviously been conceded (in the original 1988 protocol) and now codified via Summorum Pontificum.

    The S.S.P.X. has conceded little or nothing but in charity Pope Benedict XVI has confirmed the traditional Mass and lifted the excommunications, essentially risking the appearance that he is acceding to their demands; to say nothing of the scorn and opprobrium heaped upon him over l’affaire Williamson. If that doesn’t demonstrate a personal will on behalf of the Holy Father to get this done, nothing will.

    Perhaps he will in fact extend his charity even further by granting some sort of provisional arrangement, but I’d like to see the tiniest gesture of humility or deference from the S.S.P.X. first. Maybe that’s just me…

  28. Patrick says:

    Can an apostolic administration start an apostolate within a diocese without permission from the ordinary? I know a personal prelature cannot.

    Wouldn’t it be unprecedented to allow an institution to operate in a diocese without diocesan approval? It seems the only one’s who can do such a thing are the sui juris churches.

    Does anyone out there know for sure?

  29. Mike says:

    I have a question that I hope is not out of line here.

    It’s never been clear to me what is/is not allowed with respect to SSPX activities for Catholics in full union with Rome. In particular, I’ve been thinking about attending an Ignatian Retreat at one of the SSPX retreat houses. Would this be OK? Or is this something I should do only if/when the SSPX comes back into full union with Rome?

    Mike

  30. S. Tallent says:

    Yes, yesterday’s appearance of Fr. Morris on FNC was truly scandalous.

    Now, with respect to the SSPX: What happens if one of these “brave” bishops decides to excommunicate (probably the first time it has been done in their diocese in decades) and Rome repeals it or rebukes them.

    What of the excommunications in Lincoln Nebraska from 10+ years ago? Those included the laity

  31. AN says:

    Patrick,

    Archdiocese for the Military Services can do so, I believe.

  32. cji says:

    S. Tallent: “Now, with respect to the SSPX: What happens if one of these “brave” bishops decides to excommunicate (probably the first time it has been done in their diocese in decades) and Rome repeals it or rebukes them.

    What of the excommunications in Lincoln Nebraska from 10+ years ago? Those included the laity”.

    They can’t do that. The right of excommunication is now only in the hand of Rome, as far as I am informed.

  33. stigmatized says:

    if rome really cared about them she would be working night and day to make sure mass in the old rite is available in all parishes so people could actually go to it. also she would not be threatening to excommunicate them again so soon. (how many excommunications can you withstand in one year anyway?)

  34. Jack says:

    stigmatized is absolutely right, Rome should be cracking down on Bishops who in their control freakary crack down the the Gregorian Mass whilst letting modernists run riot within their diocese, no wonder traditionalists often decide to bunk off to SSPX masses

  35. David Kastel says:

    The SSPX should submit to the Bishop of Regensburg since I’m sure the Bishop would be willing to to ordain these men to the priesthood himself in order to serve the needs of those of his subjects who desire the traditional rite.

    NOT!

  36. Rose says:

    Maynardus, I agree.

  37. Patrick says:

    This morning’s news bulletin from the Holy See reiterates that the SSPX have no canonical standing:

    “In response to the frequent questions that have been raised over recent days concerning the priestly ordinations by the Fraternity of St. Pius X, scheduled to take place at the end of June, suffice it to refer to what the Holy Father wrote in his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on 10 March this year: ‘As long as the Society (of St. Pius X) does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. … Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers … do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church’”.

    I really hope Bishop Fellay considers postponing the ordinations as a gesture of good faith toward the Holy Father. I can’t help but think that going through with the ordinations is a bit like a man who, while in the process of reconciling with his wife, goes to visit his mistress.

    S. Tallent, the excommunications in Lincoln Nebraska are legitimate and stand as declared by Bp. Bruskewitz.

  38. Johnny Domer says:

    Sometimes I feel as though…the SSPX bishops don’t exactly know how to act like bishops, at least in terms of their public comments. I mean, they say dumb things, they say unguarded things, they say imprudent things, they do a lot of interviews, they write weekly columns about things other than Faith and Morals–and not just Williamson, all of them. Tissier de Mallerais and Alfonso de la Galarreta have both said incredibly inflammatory things (Galarreta just recently said something dumb that it will certainly take decades for any reconciliation of the SSPX, or something along those lines). For example, even this little thing about Cardinal Levada seems a little incautious. The right thing to do would be to say, “I’m sure that Cardinal Levada is united with the Holy Father in desiring the reconciliation of the Society, and we look forward to working with him.” Why risk ticking off Cardinal Levada by publicly wondering whether or not he will be as friendly to the Society as Cardinal Hoyos? I know that some bishops nowadays are so guarded in their public comments that they just come off as weak, but I feel like the SSPX bishops could use a little coaching in PR.

    Maybe I’m being silly, but that’s how I see it.

  39. Nan says:

    From VIS:

    ORDINATIONS BY FRATERNITY OF ST. PIUS X REMAIN ILLEGITIMATE

    VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2009 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office published the following communique at midday today:

    “In response to the frequent questions that have been raised over recent days concerning the priestly ordinations by the Fraternity of St. Pius X, scheduled to take place at the end of June, suffice it to refer to what the Holy Father wrote in his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on 10 March this year: “As long as the Society (of St. Pius X) does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. … Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers … do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church”.

    In the same Letter, the Pope also announced his intention to change the status of the Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’, making it part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There is reason to believe that the definition of this new status is imminent. This constitutes a premise for launching dialogue with the leaders of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, with a view to clarifying the doctrinal questions, and consequently the disciplinary questions, which remain unresolved”.

    OP/ORDINATIONS/FRATERNITY ST. PIUS X VIS 090617 (230)

  40. Therese says:

    Stigmatized wrote: “if rome really cared about them she would be working night and day to make sure mass in the old rite is available in all parishes so people could actually go to it…”

    The Church has provided the means to get these Masses into every parish. It’s up to us laity to do the work, however. It’s not going to be easy, as we all know. But it must be done.

    NEVER TAKE “NO” FOR AN ANSWER. ;-)

    (And yes, where I live, a small group of us is struggling against heavy odds to do just that. But if I were to lay bets, they wouldn’t fall on the incumbents. Sooner or later, we’ll get there.)