The Tablet gets something right on Ecclesia Dei

It is not often that you have seen me write something like this, but in the new number of The Tablet, Robert Mickens has written a pretty fair blurb about the restructuring of the Pont. Comm. Ecclesia Dei

Here is an example of The Tablet being fairer than NCR, with my emphases and comments.

The anticipated motu proprio to reorganise the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” finally came out this week. It’s called “Ecclesiae Unitatem” and, as expected, it makes the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the commission’s president by statute. The commission was set up in 1988 after Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and another bishop illicitly ordained four men to the episcopacy for the renegade Society of St Pius X (SSPX). They all incurred excommunication. The original purpose of “Ecclesia Dei” was to help bring the priests and lay people loyal to the SSPX back into full communion with Rome. [Along with a couple other things, but that was a main part of the mandate.] Several priests immediately took up the offer and started the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP).  Others over the years have used the commission to found new religious groups exclusively devoted to the [so-called] Tridentine Mass. But the SSPX itself has never been interested in returning to “modernist” Rome because of the “unacceptable” changes it accepted following the Second Vatican Council. The stalemate did not show signs of ending until Benedict XVI was elected Pope in 2005. The new Pope displayed greater interest in concerns voiced by the SSPX. His first step was to issue the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum” in 2007, which restored the pre-Vatican II liturgy’s place in the universal Church. And in January the Pope lifted the SSPX excommunications. But before the Lefebvrists can be readmitted to full communion with Rome, they have to show they accept Church teachings from Vatican II to the present. [It remains to be seen what sort of acceptance that will be, however.] It will be “Ecclesia Dei”, now under the guidance of Cardinal William Levada, that will verify that. [Or at least organize it.]

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  1. antonb says:

    Dear Fr Z,

    Greetings from Down Under. I enjoy your blog a great deal. Much thanks Father for your work supporting the Church through your writings and willingness to share your faith and knowledge.

    A couple of questions regarding SSPX (or a whole topic perhaps and I ask these questions out of charity and a desire to know more about the current situation of the SSPX and its relationship with the Catholic Church). Who is the ultimate temporal authority for the SSPX at the moment given it’s not the Pope as they are not in communion with the Church?
    If the SSPX demand the Church reinstate “no salavation outside the Church” (as I was told by an SSPX priest awhile ago) where does that leave them and their members at the moment?

  2. reinstate [ ! ] “no salavation outside the Church”

    CCC #846 speaks to this topic.

    Our Lord founded the Catholic church.
    Our Lord said “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life”
    (John 14:6 )
    We need to take Our Lord at His word.

    One religion is not as good as another.
    Our Blessed Lord speaks of “Other sheep not of His fold” in the Gospel of John. Many of the heterodox set somehow morph this into meaning that all religions are therefore valid. If all religions are valid then the blood of the martyrs is in vain, and the first commandment can be ignored, as different religions have different gods. I am sure that this is not what Our Lord had in mind when he speaks in John 10:16.

    The Catholic Church alone contains the fullness of truth.

  3. @ inillotempore

    You do realize that “No Salvation Outside the Church” was never abandoned, don’t you? While the Church rejects the Feeneyite interpretation of this, it holds that those who recognize the Church to be necessary yet refuse to enter it or remain within it cannot be saved

    (Lumen Gentium: 14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.)

  4. Tiny says:


    I believe the SSPX is “not in full communion” at present because of certain political and historical circumstances, namely a lot of bad blood left over from the Pope Paul VI era. If today’s climate (one of continuity) had existed back in the 70s, I don’t think there would have been a “split”. Of course, the SSPX has the conciliator Bp. Fellay as superior general who is very favourable to reconciliation “when Rome calls I run”, so I think it’s just a matter of working out a practical arrangement with the new Curial organization.

  5. Dominic says:

    The SSPX (and its late founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre) have explicityly stated that they accept Vatican II “in light of Tradition.” This means that they accept all the Council’s documents insofar as they are in accord with traditional Catholic doctrine.

    If this isn’t acceptable to the Holy See, I don’t know what is. This should be the light in which all Catholics view Vatican II…I guess the rub is: How does one determine which teachings of Vatican II ARE in accord with Tradition?

  6. Paul Haley says:

    The Holy See wants to have doctrinal discussions with a Fraternity that has no canonical status and exercises no legitimate ministry in the Church. On top of that a bishop in this Fraternity predicts these doctrinal discussions may take another 30 years. Does anyone, other than myself, see anything incongruous with this situation?

    I had hoped that reasonable men would come to a solution, albeit temporary, that would provide for “canonical status and legitimate ministry” but, apparently, the principals involved are not reasonable men. Egads, and to think the salvation of souls hangs in the balance.

  7. moon1234 says:

    The tablet sure wants to put the smack down on the SSPX don’t they. I wonder what they will say if/when the SSPX are given an interim personal prelature?

    I don’t think the SSPX will be “forced” to “accept” the “teachings” of VII. What I think the SSPX wants is clarifiction of how the so-called “teachings” of Vatican II are in continuity with the previous teachings of the Church.

  8. moon1234 says:

    Who is the ultimate temporal authority for the SSPX at the moment given it’s not the Pope as they are not in communion with the Church?

    You may want to search the blog a little. The SSPX fully recognize the pope as the Leader of the universal church. Check out their website: and actually read some of their material. Then come back here and search the blog and you should be able to answer some of your questions.

    The SSPX are more “in communion” with the Church than the Eastern Ortodox, Greek Orthodox, etc. are.

  9. David says:

    Arnobius, what of those who are in a state of so-called “partial communion” with the Church?

    This appears to be where Rome places SSPX (along with the Orthodox, Protestants, etc.) The so-called “pre-Vatican 2 teaching is that you are either “in” or “out” of the Church.

    The waters have been muddied since V2, with the notion of “partial” communion.

  10. nw says:


    That’s the crux of the matter the media doesn’t get (ignorance and wishful thinking). The SSPX isn’t begging for Rome to restore communion. Having
    doctrinal agreement is the society’s precondition for accepting a
    canonical structure, not Rome’s precondition for regularizing the society.

  11. Arnobius of Sicca :
    Thank you for your insight and the quote from Lumen Gentium.

    We who worship with the M.I.C.M. are within the bosom of Holy Mother Church and should not be confused with sedevacantists and others who are not in full communion with Rome.

    In Christian charity, please pray for those who try and bully those of us who prefer the TLM.

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