Holy See Press Office Communique on the Society of St. Pius X

From VIS:

Communique on the Society of St. Pius X
Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) – Early this afternoon, the Holy See Press Office issued the following communique regarding the Society of St. Pius X:

“As reported by news agencies, today, 16 May 2012, an Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met to discuss the question of the Society of St. Pius X.
In particular, the text of the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, [Superior of the SSPX] received on 17 April, 2012, was examined and some observations, which will be considered in further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X, were formulated.

Regarding the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, their situations will have to be dealt with separately and singularly.

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

 

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39 Responses to Holy See Press Office Communique on the Society of St. Pius X

  1. Supertradmum says:

    Praise God…praying

  2. Wayne NYC says:

    May the Holy Ghost open all hearts.
    Let’s keep storming Heaven with our prayers.

  3. Papabile says:

    Ugh. That hit me in the gut. It’s the excuse not to go along.

    Let me be clear, I completely and entirely agree that after the release of the correspondence these Bishops must be treated individually.

    However, it need not to have been said in public.

    Who knows. Galleretta had couneled Lefebvre NOT to ordain in 88, but accepted it when Lefebvre made the decision. He may well have accepted any decision that Fellay would make. I have less faith that this would be true of the other two.

    However, now it will be seen as a divide and conquer strategy within the SSPX. I fear this could put the whole thing at risk.

    More rosaries to heaven….

  4. Aegidius says:

    Papabile, that is exactly why the Williamson guys leaked the correspondence and why the liberals within the CDF let out such statement. My confidence in the Holy Father who surely knows what is going on gives me hope that the dividers, be they left our right-wing, will not prevail.

  5. plemmen says:

    May our Blessed Mother intercede for the holy and obedient priests and Bishop(s) that desire reunion.

  6. Centristian says:

    How interesting. I can’t quite decipher what that language means, however. I perceive, though, that it means the position of Bishop Fellay has the weight of the official position of the SSPX as far as Rome is concerned, whereas the positions of Tissier, De Galarretta, and Williamson have the weight of…Tissier, De Galarreta, and Williamson. Together, though, that’s alot of weight.

    Although the other three bishops do not speak for the the SSPX the way Fellay does, they need only band together (just as they have done) against Fellay and, just as the SSPX have all declared a “Crisis in the Church”, these three bishops can, with their supporters, go ahead and declare that there now exists a “Crisis in the SSPX” enabling them to take extraordinary measures and assume for themselves the authority of the Superior General over the SSPX, effectively deposing Fellay, “until such time as he returns to his Catholic senses”. The Superior General of a priestly fraternity being nothing like a pope, however, they would most likely just vote to depose Fellay, outright, and elect a new Superior General to replace him.

    If that were to happen, it would be hard to speak of a reconciliation of the SSPX with Rome, really. It would amount, instead, to a reconciliation of Bernard Fellay and a number of individual Lefebvrist clergy and religious with Rome. The SSPX would then go off into, probably, permanent schism. The properties held by and in the name of the SSPX would not, of course, come with Bernard Fellay and those who would join him, but would remain with the legal entity that would still be known as the SSPX, now in the hands of Tissier, De Galarreta, and Williamson.

    The question would then become, what would happen to the lay Catholics who follow the SSPX, but who supported Fellay? Would they remain in the pews of SSPX chapels? Of course, many wouldn’t have the choice but to go elsewhere, as the clergy who serve many of those chapels will suddenly no longer be within the SSPX (having followed Fellay out of it).

    I’m still pretty amazed that Tissier and De Galaretta have sided with Dubya over Bishop Fellay. I fear for the mess they’re capable of making if Fellay cannot persuade them of the errors of their ways.

  7. petrus69 says:

    The three Bishops Tissier, de Gallereta and Williamson, have no legal power. They cannot depose Bishop Fellay, he is the sole decision maker for the SSPX. If they split they split from the SSPX. They are no longer affiliated with the Society. Archbishop Lefebvre made it clear they can only ordain and confirm. They have no legal status, even if they band together.

  8. happyhockeymom says:

    Ugh! Prayers and more prayers. Why did this have to happen with those 3 Bishops? Why oh why did someone have to leak the correspondence?

    The US District Superior seems to be fully behind Fellay. What will that mean for the SPX chapels here? I have met a priest whom I have had some discussions with – very carefully – about one situation in my life. He has been very helpful and I would really like to have him as a spiritual director and confessor because he seems to understand me and tells me what I need to hear. But I have been waiting on all of this to be cleared up.

    Our Lady, pray for us!

  9. SonofMonica says:

    Does anyone truly understand why these three bishops are adamant about not wanting a personal prelature? Are they afraid of something, like a trap, or is it something else?

  10. Maynardus says:

    The various theories are interesting but my first thought was that the concern (and veiled but implicit warning) centered around the potential situation of between one and three acephalous bishops still floating around out there, formally un-excommunicated, and with – shall we say – less-ambiguous credentials than the Thucniks…

    I ‘m not exclusing the possibility of a split, if only involving one bishop and a relatively small number of “hardline” clerics; but I do think the likelihood of a “coup” by the three bishops not named Fellay – and a cohort sizable enough to pull it off – a is a bit of a stretch. But if such a rupture did occur, it wouldn’t necessarily require them to seize control of the S.S.P.X. as an entity; one would think that if their numbers were sufficient to even consider such a course the mere (credible) threat of such a split – leaving a diminished “rump” S.S.P.X. to reconcile with Rome – might be sufficient to cause both Econe AND Rome to reconsider…

    But again, I cannot really believe that something of that magnitude will transpire; not after hearing the words of the various district superiors and other significant voices within the S.S.P.X. who are obviously supporting the Superior General.

  11. ContraMundum says:

    @Papabile

    I read this a little differently. Tissier, De Galarreta, and Williamson did not need an excuse to further separate themselves from the Church; they were in the process of doing that already. If the Holy See had simply ignored them, that is what they would have continued to do, and it would have led inevitably to more distrust and hard feelings on both sides, so that whatever part they led back out would almost certainly never be reconciled with the Church. That may still happen, of course, but at least their statements will be addressed. However slightly, I think this improves the odds for their reconciliation.

  12. Melchior Cano says:

    @Centristian: I know what you’re saying, but I just don’t think it will be that bad. I think the repeated statements from a variety of local SSPX superiors (as pointed out by Fr. Z), and the general lack of support (at least publicly) for the other three bishops indicate that Bishop Fellay will likely be at the helm of a regularized Society made up of most of it’s current priests. If you haven’t seen it, Michael Miller at Catholic World Report has a great post on this and the varying climates: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/1349/the_sspx_and_the_electronic_grapevine.aspx

  13. RJHighland says:

    Happyhockeymom,

    I have been attending our local SSPX Chapel since our Diocesan Bishop relocated the only priest that celebrated the TLM and have been going to a local Benedictine Monastery for several years. The guidance that I have received from the priest that was relocated and the priests at the Chapel and Monastery have helped me so much in my faith and concurring inner conflicts than any of the Diocesan priests (NO) I have sought guidance from. They all seem to have a greater understanding of the necessity of perfecting one’s self here and penances that I were given were hard but helped get me back on track. I pray for this unification because I can not at this point in my journey going back to a Novus Ordo Parish in my Dioceses except to help bring Gregorian Chant (I am in the schola) and assist in bringing the TLM to a parish that has a desire for the mass of all time.

  14. kiwiinamerica says:

    Well there ya go.

    Even schismatics have schismatics, apparently. Makes things complicated, doesn’t it? What do you do with a schism within a schism?

    I guess Rome will continue on the path to perdition and the fullness of Catholic tradition and orthodoxy will have to rest in just three safe pairs of hands; those of their Excellencies Williamson, Galarreta and Tissier de Mallerais. Good luck with that, folks and enjoy the journey into outer, sedevacantist darkness.

  15. irishgirl says:

    Hoping and praying that this gets all untangled….and soon….
    Why can’t blabbermouths keep their traps shut and stop leaking things to the press?
    Sheesh….!

  16. JLCG says:

    What the Holy See is saying is that there is no such a thing as collective sin. When their excommunication was lifted it didn’t mean that their sins had been forgiven. It meant that now they are able to receive absolution. Each one of the four has to do his little Canossa.
    Their sins, if any, are personal. No collective absolution.
    This is also a warning to other clerics.

  17. Papabile says:

    @Aegidius
    Your absolutely right on this. There’s no doubt in my mind where it came from, or even the particular British Priest it emanated from.

    With that said, I too have the full confidence of the Holy Father. I do not have confidence in the Vatican Press office or some people involved, particularly in Supremo (though I believe most of them are very good) or some in Clero.

    This worries me nonetheless.

    @ContraMundum

    There may very well have been that intention, but from that introverted world, it will be seen as bad faith by many, and others will celebrate.

    I think the statement, the way in which it was phrased, was less than artful.

  18. ContraMundum says:

    @kiwiinamerica

    I don’t think it’s helpful, or even accurate, to describe Fellay’s current situation as one of schism. He is in transition back to full reconciliation.

  19. ContraMundum says:

    I think the statement, the way in which it was phrased, was less than artful.

    Oh, come on. Once you saw “the Holy See Press Office issued the following communique” you knew that already! :-)

  20. Bender says:

    Unfortunately, in going their own way, they will take a lot of well-meaning but confused Catholics (confused about the Faith, confused about the Mass, confused about the Council, confused about the nature of the Church, confused about far too much) along with them.

  21. kiwiinamerica says:

    @Contramundum

    I understand your point and agree with you. I was simply musing out loud on the irony inherent in this situation.

    As we’ve seen repeatedly in the Protestant world, rupture leads to yet more rupture. When it has happened just once, it seldom stops and more splintering usually follows. I think we’ll see this phenomenon manifest itself with the SSPX, also. Fellay has always struck me as the most balanced and sane of the four bishops and I hope he makes it back to terra firma, together with a good number of his clergy.

  22. Hidden One says:

    By no means should we yet assume that all three SSPX bishops other than Bp. Fellay will fail to be reconciled at the same time as the SSPX. Nor should we assume that any who do not do so will not be reconciled later.

    Rather, we must pray, and fervently.

  23. SimonDodd says:

    It’s good news (and unusually adroit media management) that the question of SSPX has been separated from the question of Williamson. Besides, was it ever really considered realistic that any settlement could bring them all back? I had thought that even the starriest-eyed of optimists had hoped for no more than a deal that brought back the bulk of SSPX, accepting that there would inevitably be a rump of one size or another that would , as KiwiInAmerica put it above, split off and “enjoy the journey into outer, sedevacantist darkness.”

  24. Centristian says:

    “I had thought that even the starriest-eyed of optimists had hoped for no more than a deal that brought back the bulk of SSPX, accepting that there would inevitably be a rump of one size or another that would , as KiwiInAmerica put it above, split off and ‘enjoy the journey into outer, sedevacantist darkness.’”

    Oh, I suspect they wouldn’t be sedevacantists for long.

  25. Geoffrey says:

    Perhaps it is in reference to how it would all work out? For instance, if the SSPX are granted the status of a personal prelature, like Opus Dei, it can have only one prelate. What would become of the other three SSPX bishops? Auxiliary prelates of the personal prelature? Perhaps, if a personal prelature is created, Fellay will be named prelate; the other three SSPX bishops will be left out and negotiated with by the Holy See and through the new personal prelature? Just some thoughts…

  26. anilwang says:

    @Centristian

    Whatever is said in private correspondence doesn’t necessarily imply action. I’m sure you’ve had some strongly divisive heart to heart discussions with family members, but when a decision has to be made, you still stand united. All involved might even be surprised at this unity. That’s how families work.

    When all is said and done, separating the concerns of the bishops from Bp Fellay’s concerns is the right thing to do. The others may fall into line immediately, or they might eventually fall into line once the SSPX is fully integrated into the Church. Or they may look long and hard and realize that they’ve been sedevacantists all along. In any case, what the other bishops do or do not do does not necessarily affect what the laity or priests will do.

  27. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:
  28. AnnAsher says:

    This looks promising for Bp Fellay and his SSPX and Rome. Since he is Superior, if he comes home to Rome does he bring SSPX with him and dissenters must use a new name?

  29. AnnAsher says:

    Point of order, the SSPX was never canonically in Schism. JPII made threats but there was never taken the canonical steps of official notice, etc

  30. Centristian says:

    Geoffrey:

    A good question, although I suppose that the other bishops will have no official role, only a practical one, much as they do now. It is possible, however, that a reunion could change alot of things, if the other bishops were to go along with it, that is. Suddenly, they wouldn’t find themselves “SSPX” bishops, any longer, but, plainly and simply, Roman Catholic bishops.

    If they could manage to unshackle themselves from the idea that they are “SSPX” bishops and fully realize that they have become bishops of the Catholic Church, they could widely broaden their horizons if they permitted themselves to imagine themselves in the context of the Universal Church. Bishops Tissier and De Galarreta, that is.

    As for Bishop Williamson, however, his notoriety, I am afraid, has completely obliterated his prospects for a regularized episcopal career of any sort in the mainstream Church. On the remote chance that he should come along rather than go his own way, I can only imagine that he will simply be retired, and that will be that for him. He’s only a few years shy of mandatory retirement age, in any event.

    But anyone who knows Richard Williamson knows that it is highly unlikely that he would quietly settle for that. I suspect he will not reconcile and humbly submit to the silence of a quiet retirement (although I can’t think of anything that would do him more good). I suspect that even if Tissier and De Galarreta were to stand with Fellay (which doesn’t seem likely at this point), Williamson will not find himself able to. He’s too mired in paranoia about the official Church and sees the boogeyman around every corner and behind every door. And, he knows that he will be silenced if he does, whereas if he goes his own way he will be free, once again, to be as loud and atrocious as he pleases. I have to imagine that he is chomping at the bit, at this point, having been shut up and shut away for so long by Fellay.

    The thing I wonder about is the duplication of fraternities that exist for the purpose of preserving the pre-Conciliar rites. You’ve got the Fraternity of St. Peter, the Society of St. John Vianney (formerly the priests of the Diocese of Campos, Brazil), the Institute of Christ the King Eternal High Priest…and perhaps others, too; I’ve lost track. Now, if this reconciliation occurs, you’ll have the Society of St. Pius X, too. And what is the difference between them all? Would it, perhaps, be better to unite them all under one umbrella?

  31. robtbrown says:

    Geoffrey says:

    Perhaps it is in reference to how it would all work out? For instance, if the SSPX are granted the status of a personal prelature, like Opus Dei, it can have only one prelate. What would become of the other three SSPX bishops? Auxiliary prelates of the personal prelature? Perhaps, if a personal prelature is created, Fellay will be named prelate; the other three SSPX bishops will be left out and negotiated with by the Holy See and through the new personal prelature? Just some thoughts…

    I find nothing in Canon Law that says that a personal prelature can have only one bishop. The bishop-prelate is the Ordinary regardless of whether there are other bishops. NB: A diocese can have more than one bishop–either auxiliaries or emeriti.

  32. robtbrown says:

    Centristian says:

    A good question, although I suppose that the other bishops will have no official role, only a practical one, much as they do now. It is possible, however, that a reunion could change alot of things, if the other bishops were to go along with it, that is. Suddenly, they wouldn’t find themselves “SSPX” bishops, any longer, but, plainly and simply, Roman Catholic bishops.

    A member of a religious order who becomes a bishop remains a member of that order.

    Now, if this reconciliation occurs, you’ll have the Society of St. Pius X, too. And what is the difference between them all?

    There’s already duplication. What’s the difference between the Marists and Jesuits? Were the Salvatorians all that unique?

  33. SimonDodd says:

    Ann, Ecclesia Dei calls SSPX’s 1988 ordinations a schismatic act, and if SSPX isn’t in schism, why does it exist and how can it be negotiating to come back in?

  34. Centristian says:

    robtbrown:

    The Society of St. Pius X isn’t a religious order, however, but a society of common life. That’s beside the point, however. A Franciscan or a Jesuit or a Dominican or a priest of any actual religious order can be plucked from his community (while continuing to remain a member of his order) to serve as bishop someplace that is far removed from his community. He can be named a Vatican bureaucrat or diplomat or any number of things that take him away from the sphere of his religious order.

    If a Franciscan monk can be named Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, certainly a reconciled SSPX bishop could conceivably enjoy an ecclesiastical career that hasn’t got anything much at all to do with the SSPX, if he were open to the possibility.

  35. torch621 says:

    I noticed a few comments on a CNA article just about this situation that some are already attacking the Holy See (complete with the “modernist” slur) over this. I really hope nothing derails the process. We seem so close now.

  36. The Cobbler says:

    Let’s see…

    Pope Benedict was a player at the Council under dispute. He was (and is) also the amazing Joseph Ratzinger. As such it wouldn’t be unreasonable to surmise that he has more expertise on the SSPX’s objections and the matter thereof than the entire CDF. It certainly would be unreasonable to suggest that he’s not capable of weighing the theological discussion himself.

    The CDF certainly can help if they really want to and are really careful about it, but they can also muck things up terribly if they decide to make comments on the matter that the SSPX will construe as modernist. (They could conceivably make comments that really are modernist, though this is unlikely for the CDF as a whole, or they could say something that sounds modernist to the paranoid but is actually just mildly ambiguous and get the SSPX all worked up over a nondisagreement, or — well, there are options in between, such as stuff that the SSPX could take offense at that is nonetheless not only perfectly true but needs to be said at some point along the way, just maybe not here.)

    Benedict is pretty shrewd in some ways — he thinks about the Church long-term, even if he’s not always on top of how his remarks will be construed by the press or googling to learn what some cleric has been saying. Giving one last fantastic opportunity for any potential troublemakers in the curia, however important their place therein may be and however orthodox the bulk of the office in question is, doesn’t seem at first glance like a wise tactical move for someone taking as much care of the whole situation as he is.

    I can, however, think of a few things he could be up to. He could simply be figuring that any silly kerfuffle should be gotten out of the way before regularization rather than after. He could be sending the message that if the SSPX is going to come back they’re going to have to respect the office of people they don’t necessarily agree with. Or he could be preparing to let the CDF say what they want and then override all their objections to show the SSPX that he’s the only Church official they need be concerned about.

    Not sure if any of those are like him or not. Then again, all of the above is speculation on the part of a fairly distant observer (compared to any of the Rome-watching insiders or to our esteemed host, at least; or compared to anyone who knows Pope Benedict personally, or compared to anyone who’s studied his writings rather than merely read them from time to time because doing so is the intellectual equivalent of a brisk but refreshing walk).

  37. robtbrown says:

    Centristian says:

    robtbrown:

    The Society of St. Pius X isn’t a religious order, however, but a society of common life. That’s beside the point, however

    Right now, juridically, it is neither. But the question is whether there can be 4 bishops in a Personal Prelature.

    My point is that because there can be multiple bishops still members of a religious order and multiple bishops in a diocese, there is no reason why there cannot be 4 bishops in a Personal Prelature, with one being the Ordinary.

    BTW, I am told that the Motu Proprio would contain certain modifications.

  38. jhayes says:

    I wonder how deeply involved Cardinal Koch is with the discussions

    “Speaking at Rome’s Angelicum University on Wednesday afternoon, Cardinal Kurt Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which also oversees the Vatican’s relations with Jews, hinted that SSPX members would be called to accept a key Vatican II document that rejected anti-Semitism and laid the foundations for Catholic dialogue with Jews.

    Koch said that all Catholic doctrinal documents, including “the Second Vatican Council and all its texts,” are “binding” for Catholics. “You cannot be Catholic and not accept the Second Vatican Council,” he added.”

    http://www.religionnews.com/faith/leaders-and-institutions/Vatican-says-unity-with-traditionalist-SSPX-needs-further-discussions

  39. jhayes says:

    First suggestion I have seen that there may not be a resolution until after the SSPX has a meeting in July:

    “A questo punto, tutto sembra rinviato a dopo il capitolo generale che la Fraternità ha convocato per i primi di luglio. A meno di qualche nuovo colpo di scena che, lasciatemi aggiungere, non è del tutto ”

    http://blog.messainlatino.it/2012/05/lirrigidimento-vaticano.html