Personal prelature for SSPX?

From CNA with my emphases and comments.

Vatican could convert Lefebvrists into personal prelature, says Fellay

Santiago, Chile, Oct 22, 2009 / 01:03 pm (CNA).- In an interview with the Chilean daily, “El Mercurio,” the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, Bernard Fellay, acknowledged that the Vatican is considering the possibility of converting the Lefebvrist group into a personal prelature [get that?] as part of the discussions aimed at bringing about reconciliation. Fellay, who visited members of the SSPX movement in Chile, is one of four bishops whose excommunication was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI last January. Asked about the speculation that the Society of Pius X could be made into a personal prelature similar to Opus Dei, Fellay responded, “There is a lot of truth to that. I think the Vatican is moving towards that kind of canonical solution.

He also noted that the controversy unleashed by Bishop Richard Williamson’s statements on the Nazi holocaust “was a well-planned attack, not against the Society, but directly against the person of Pope Benedict XVI, in order to tarnish his gesture.”

All very consistent with what I have been writing for quite a while.

Remember, Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity, willing that we be stretched for unity’s sake without giving up anything essential in who we are as Catholics.

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  1. Jon says:

    I would think if anything, the model considered would be more akin to what’s been offered the Anglicans.

    The fact the Anglican solution was presented sans document with the SSPX talks beginning Monday would seem to suggest that very thing.

    Besides, I’m not mistaken, isn’t the existence of a personal prelature in a diocese, unlike the ordinariates, contingent on the approval of the local bishop? I can hardly imagine that arrangement becoming commonplace.

  2. mpm says:

    Fr. Finigan has an excellent post with some additional information regarding the coordination of jurisdictions between the ordinariates and the local dioceses. Based on his information, I don’t think there is a great difference in that respect between the two structures. Being in full communion, after all, is what it is, being in full communion.

  3. TNCath says:

    To whom do personal prelatures directly report? Is it the Holy Father himself, or is there a designated nuncio or Cardinal Protector who oversees the prelature?

  4. canis caeli says:

    The structure offered to the Anglicans is not covered in the Code. That’s why it’s good to be Pope, because then you become the Chief Canonist and can create law.

    I would be quite annoyed if a prelature was offered to SSPX. What then of the great majority of trads who do not attend SSPX chapels? I think there should be something like a universal ordinariate, offered to the world of Traditionalists which would encompass SSPX, FSSP, ICR etc. There would have to be a prelate to administer such a structure.

    Of course, a universal ordinariate is not covered in the Code either, that’s why it’s good to be Pope.

  5. canis caeli says:

    As to the structure offered to TAC, it appears that they have been offered an ordinariate type structure, not a prlature, but as is cuurently seen, it would be 30 or 40 ordinariates which doesn’t make sense.

  6. Athelstan says:

    I agree that the SSPX will not settle for a personal prelature. PP’s are subject to the authority of the local diocesan ordinary. I know P.K.T.Perkins pounds this point into the ground over at Rorate, but I believe he has a point here.

    Instead, what we’ll see is something closer to what was offered to the Anglicans, i.e., a personal ordinariate or even an apostolic administration, with its own ordinary and answerable directly to Rome, not needing the permission of a local bishop to set up shop.

    My guess is that the reporter misunderstood Fellay, or interpolated this poorly from what he said.

  7. Jordanes says:

    Bernard Fellay, acknowledged that the Vatican is considering the possibility of converting the Lefebvrist group into a personal prelature as part of the discussions aimed at bringing about reconciliation.

    However, further on in the article we find that Bishop Fellay has NOT acknowledged that the Vatican is thinking of converting the SSPX into a personal prelature.

    What he said was, “I think the Vatican is moving towards that kind of canonical solution.”

    He didn’t say it was in fact the “personal prelature” canonical solution, but a solution like a personal prelature.

    Anyway, it seems Bishop Fellay is not interested in accepting any such arrangements at this time. The SSPX wants to focus on the doctrinal talks first, and only then think about regularisation.

  8. Unity says:

    Friday, October 23, 2009
    Bulgarian Orthodox want speedy reunion with Rome!

  9. moon1234 says:

    Anyway, it seems Bishop Fellay is not interested in accepting any such arrangements at this time. The SSPX wants to focus on the doctrinal talks first, and only then think about regularisation.

    I think you are wrong here. The SSPX would be happy to accept any type of structure where they report only to the Pope and not the local ordinary. Why do so many people have a problem with this. It would really hold the local Bishop’s feet to the canonical fire so to say.

    I think what many people fear with this type of a structure for the SSPX is that many of the EF parishes would evaporate as many would return or start attending SSPX Masses, etc. The SSPX provide a certain comfort level that what is being taught, done is soundly rooted in Catholic Tradition. The ICRSS and FSSP also provide this comfort, but they are many orders of magnitude smaller than the SSPX.

    Also keep in mind that the SSPX WILL want to ordain new Bishops in the future. It would be suicide, as an organazation, to accept any type of structure that would make it difficult/impossible to ordain new Bishops. The Pope and Fellay don’t want the society to split. They want as many to be officially recognized as possible so as not to have another splinter group.

  10. patrick_f says:

    I hope the solution comes soon. It would certainly give more creedance to the rest of us who prefer the older ways.

    However, its only a bandaid. The reform of the reform needs to happy. Both the “Spirit of the council” and the SSPX, and those like them, will need to evolve with the Holy Father’s vision

  11. mpm says:

    If the SSPX cannot find its way to being in full communion with the Catholic Church (and that includes the other bishops in communion with the Roman Pontiff), then any contemplated ecclesiastical structure is kind of beside the point. “Communion” in this sense does not mean that they like them personally, or send each other birthday-cards, but that they honor their belonging to the episcopal college.

    I don’t say this from “fear”, but from “faith”. What happens on Day One (in terms of individuals sorting out where they want to attend Mass) is less interesting than what happens from then forward, I would think.

    In any case, may God bless them (and us) and allow them to be confident in evangelizing from within the Church once again!

  12. Haec Dies says:

    I believe that Bishop Fellay is open to working with the Vatican and will agree to a Personal Prelature if that is what is offered. However, Bishop Fellay has said this in the past that there needs to be sufficient protection from the Bishop and Bishops Conferences who are hostile to any sort of regularization. Bishop Fellay understands that in time there will be a gradual healing which will include mutual respect on all sides. I would refer you to then Cardianl Ratzinger’s summation of the 10 years following the Motu proprio of 1988 in his article “10 years of the Motu Proprio by Benedict Ratzinger” it’s worth a read to understand the Holy Father’s vision for today.

  13. mpm says:

    Haec Dies,

    I hear you, and one of these newfangled juridical suits (Code of 1983, Oh the irony!) will give them the internal peace they need. “Being in full communion” is a multi-faceted and mutual relationship, after all.

    The “10 Years” address is truly excellent.

  14. j says:

    mpm is right, without resolution of Doctrinal issues, the structure argument is moot.

    I want to remind people that just prior to Summorum Pontificum, virtually all the smart money was on an Apostolic Administration for EF Catholics. That didn’t happen. His Holiness’ solution, which we didn’t expect, in my opinion, was pure genius. The EF was put in the hands of Pastors and people, and any restrictions in SP (only one Sunday Mass, etc) have had the effect of distributing the EF widely, exposing more OF Parishioners to it, and hopefully integrating it into the wider Church.

    I have to say that after 2 years, while I certainly look forward to the re-integration of the SPPX, I also become more nervous for the progress that has been made if there is a requirement that they be allowed to re-ghettoize the TLM. Not of course, because of a problem with the SSPX, but because I don’t think they have realized what a change is being effected while the talks go on.

  15. Rien says:

    Friday, October 23, 2009
    Bulgarian Orthodox want speedy reunion with Rome!

    Comment by Unity — 23 October 2009 @ 9:49 am

    Big problem is the canon.

    The Catholic church has taught that it is closed. I’ve heard apologist after apologist argue this on EWTN and CA. At times with Mormons.

    The Orthodox churches have a larger canon. And it varies from Orthodox to Orthodox church.

    Does the Catholic church now change its teaching and say the canon is still open and that the additional books of the Orthodox are now canonical? And if the canon is still open then maybe other books should be looked at too. Not in the Catholic or Orthodox canons. Like the Shephard of Hermes.

    The funny thing is Jimmy Akin was one of the folks I’ve heard argue that the canon is closed. He recently said that maybe it isn’t after all. Fitting the teaching to the circumstance – a possible eventual reunion with the Orthodox? Because I assume the Catholic church will have to accept the additional Orthodox books and to do that will have to declare the Western canon still open

  16. mpm says:


    I think you posted to the wrong thread.

    As to the Canon, however, the Orthodox typically use the Septuagint as their Canonical Scripture. Augustine would have agreed with them (as opposed, perhaps, to Jerome).

    Trent defined versus the protestants that all the books of the Latin Vulgate were canonical and that the protestant deletions were anathema. It said nothing about the Septuagint. I take that omission as deliberate.

  17. haleype says:

    The phrase “moving in that direction” does not necessarily mean a prelature but may indeed mean a personal ordinariate such as has been proposed for the Anglicans. I caution everyone to wait until things unfold in the next few weeks before making any assumptions or conclusions regarding the SSPX. The concept of Bishop Fellay or Bishop Williamson placing themselves under the authority of someone like Cardinal Mahony has me ROTFL. It simply ain’t goin’ to happen, folks.

  18. amdg123 says:

    I’m all for the SSPX reunion, but couldn’t this pose some real problems for the FSSP and ICRSS? They may not want to be answerable to a group of bishops that they considered greviously disobedient for several decades. Then again, would it be good if they stay under the local bishop’s authority? I think it could be rather messy. Pray for our priest!

  19. Since the FSSP and ICRSS are both societies of apostolic life with pontifical right, they really wouldn’t be forced under the jurisdiction of the SSPX. A society of pontifical right answers only to the Holy Father (like a prelature) and (also like a prelature) operates within a diocese with permission from the local ordinary.

    To be honest, I don’t think this will change at all. I believe there is no chance the Holy See will give the SSPX the ability to operate without regard to the local ordinary. The Holy See will want them to work together, and I would think then that if an ordinary is being unreasonable in allowing SSPX activities, the SSPX would appeal to the Holy See to intervene. I really think there is zero chance that the SSPX will be permitted to waltz into a diocese, tell the bishop to shove it, and open up what is effectively a competitive roman rite church. It is far more likely that Rome will tell the local ordinaries and the SSPX to build relationships and work together. After all, if they are part of one church, that shouldn’t be a problem.

    But regardless of what happens with the SSPX, I’m sure the FSSP and the ICRSS will remain as separate entities as they are today.

  20. trad catholic mom says:

    And I wonder what my diocese’ Bishop would do if SSPX was under his jurisdiction? In my diocese we have an SSPX parish that has been here for 25 years. We also have an independent church that offers the TLM exclusively. At the same time we have 1 diocesan EF mass per month, on FF only. Sorry but I don’t want to see the SSPX parish’s under the control of diocesan Bishops.

  21. trad catholic mom says:

    Forgot to add, we have no FSSP or ICK here either.

  22. canis caeli says:

    A universal ordinariate is the only solution for Traditional Catholics. As an ordinariate, it would have to have to have an ordinary, viz., a bishop. The problem with bringing in the various traditional societies of apos

  23. haleype says:

    To say that the Anglicans will be offered a form of autonomy but the SSPX will not does not make much sense to me. Why? Because the SSPX has bishops who were validly consecrated, though illicitly, by Archbishop Lefebvre. What is to happen to these bishops? With a Personal Ordinariate they would be part of the structure but with any other structure they would be superfluous. And, I don’t think Pope Benedict XVI sees them as superfluous at all and wants them to play a valid role in governing of the Church, albeit within a Personal Ordinariate. Of course, I’m jumping the gun by speculating on the matter but I do believe the concept of the SSPX being under the likes of Mahony as too ridiculous to imagine.

  24. canis caeli says:

    Typus interruptus (that’s what happens when composing a post some busybody interrupts you and you hit the wrong button).

    A universal ordinariate is the only solution for Traditional Catholics, so that we don’t have to worship at the whim of the local conehead. An ordinariate by definition has to have an ordinary (not be ordinary). I cannot see FSSP or ICR being administered by an SSPX bishop. Further, why should “The Four” be rewarded for their disobedience, as necessary as it was. Don’t forget FSSP was founded by SSPX dissidents. Obviously, a Cdl Mahony or McCarrick would be unacceptable. but Americans think that the world begins and ends with them. A perfectly acceptable Ordinary would be someone like Abp. Wolfgang Haas Of Liechtenstein, the bishop who was removed from Thur, Switzerland because the ignoranti rebelled since he was too orthodox in his theology. Another candidate would be Abp. Burke, but I think PapaRatzi has a mission in mind for him.

    Bottom line: For the Barque of Peter to come on course, TrueMass must become the normative Mass of the Church. It won’t happen this century, but in God’s good time. It will never happen with a prelature of any kind because it is subject to the local ordinary Ordinary, whose “career” has been promoting the post-VII agenda, because that is what he was taught.

  25. Jack Hughes says:

    As I have said before, I think that apart from thier concerns with V2 (different subject altogether) the real fear of the SSPX clergy is that they won’t be protected from spitefull bishops and the treatment that the ICKSP, FSSP and Institute of the Good Shepheard have recieved from such princes of the church confirms their prejudices. most of all they WILL want the Pope’s word that he will protect them from such Bishops.

  26. robtbrown says:

    As I have said before, I think that apart from thier concerns with V2 (different subject altogether) the real fear of the SSPX clergy is that they won’t be protected from spitefull bishops and the treatment that the ICKSP, FSSP and Institute of the Good Shepheard have recieved from such princes of the church confirms their prejudices. most of all they WILL want the Pope’s word that he will protect them from such Bishops.
    Comment by Jack Hughes

    They don’t need the pope’s word. They need a juridical structure that guarantees their independence.

  27. patrick_f says:

    Again, you need to solve the problem as a whole though.

    I firmly believe, the there is a Divine reason the SSPX exists. I think they challenge us. You wont get them to accept Vatican II, as long as some of the Fruits are there, like Puppet masses, and a total loss of any catholic identity.

    we need to see the real fruits of the council, what was intended, not what was implemented.

    I believe its Pope Benedict’s hope that both forms of mass eventually evolve. The mass is a reflection of catechism and theology though, in fact I would say they play off of each other, alot. You cannot simply reinsert a traditional group and think that automatically fixes the problem.

    Dont get me wrong, I love the older form of the Mass, but, a reintroduction of it only solves one part of a much larger problem. Proper Catechesis. One cannot expect proper liturgical development if the people in the Pews are lost, the Man at the altar is lost, and there are no Shepherds capable of guiding any of them. Where its true the old mass reinforces Christocentricity as apposed to Anthro Centrisity, thats only a small part of the understanding. People have to be properly taught.

    In alot of ways, I would be worried about a “personal prelature” in the sense that it isolates the good work the SSPX could do. They would simply be written off as doing what is good for their community, in alot of liberal eyes. Tradition and progress need to exist simultaniously, or neither has any merit.

  28. You’re all wrong! And you’re all right!

    My prediction is that His Holiness will establish a universal personal ordinariate for traditional Catholics *and* a personal prelature for SSPX. SSPX will function within the personal ordinariate, along with other groups (FSSP, Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, etc.). It may have, de facto, a preeminent role within the personal ordinariate, but it will not be coterminous with the personal ordinariate.

    I began attending an SSPX chapel last month. I intend to continue, and I hope to join the Third Order.


  29. P.S. I don’t know really know what I’m talking about.

  30. Jack Hughes says:

    Tim M

    I’d really advice against attending SSPX Chapel’s (for the moment at least).

    The reason being that whilst there are many good Catholics that go to those chapels because of their deep attatchment to the Tridintine Rite many of them also tend to backbite against the Pope/Bishops accusing them of wrongdoing where no such wrongdoing exists, also depending on the chapel (it varies) a attitude of ‘novus ordo catholics = bad heretical catholics prevails. That is beside the fact that the Pope has personally said that they do not validly exercise any legal ministry within the church and hence they do not have the faculties to hear confessions (except in danger of death) .

    If I were with you I’d see if the Fraternity of St Peter or the Institute of Christ the King operate in your area. These priests are in cannonical good standing and have the faculties to say Mass and hear Confessions.

    On a personnel note I LONG for daily access to the Traditional Rite but I realise that even though the nearest SSPX Chapel is only 20 miniutes walk away I cannot in good conciounsce attend until their situation is regluarised even though I admire the stand that Mgr Lefebvre took against the modernists in the 70’s.

  31. Malta says:

    You’re all wrong!

    SSPX will be stauropegiac in the eastern Catholic Monastic mold!

  32. Malta says:

    See, there’s always a solution!

  33. Jack,

    Take a walk! ;)


  34. trad catholic mom says:

    Let’s see, some person from the internet, who admits that he doesn’t go to an SSPX parish giving advice not to go vs your own personal experience as someone who has and does.

    no contest.

  35. Jordanes says:

    trad catholic mom said: Let’s see, some person from the internet, who admits that he doesn’t go to an SSPX parish giving advice not to go vs your own personal experience as someone who has and does.

    no contest.

    The contest should play out differently when one considers that the Church also advises that we not frequent the SSPX’s illicit chapels.

  36. Jordanes says:

    trad catholic mom said: Trent defined versus the protestants that all the books of the Latin Vulgate were canonical

    Not exactly “all.” Prior to Trent, the Latin Vulgate also included the writings known as III and IV Esdras, the Prayer of Manasses, and Psalm 151. However, even though some of the Church Fathers quoted these writings as Sacred Scripture, Trent notably did not list those books among those that were inspired and canonical, and after Trent they were moved to an appendix of the Latin Vulgate. II Esdras, the Prayer of Manasses, and Psalm 151 appear in some early Septuagint manuscripts, but not IV Esdras (which is where the ancient Requiem prayer comes from).

  37. Tom Ryan says:

    About 15 years ago, Bishop Bruskewitz excommunicated the members of the SSPX in his diocese along with other groups including Freemasons, Eastern Star, Planned Parenthood, and Catholic for Free Choice. This was always understood as the lay members though I’ve seen it disputed that there are lay members of the SSPX.

    What will be the fate of these folks if the personal prelature goes through or was that already settled?

  38. trad catholic mom says:

    quote from Jordanes: trad catholic mom said: Trent defined versus the protestants that all the books of the Latin Vulgate were canonical

    You miss quoted, I have made no comments about Trent or the canon. I’m not even sure where you got this quote.

  39. ssoldie says:

    Personal prelature, yes,yes,yes, I am so there now and will be there then. Don’t go to the Mass at SSPX chapels where the 1962 Roman Mass is prayed and has been prayed all these 40+ yrs, which was never abrogated ( but surpressed by the Hierarchy). Ahh! but do go to the Polka Mass, Clown Mass, Lifeteen Mass, Dance Mass, or any other Mass that has been dreamed up, in the last 40+ years by those who know, experts, periti whoever.

  40. Jordanes says:

    Whoops! Sorry, that was mpm, not trad catholic mom, to whom my previous comment replied.

  41. joan ellen says:

    Fr. Z, Thanks for spurring such well thought out discussion/debate on this blog. Can’t find the word stauropegiac, used by Malta, in my pocket dictionary. Thank you, Fr. for helping to expand my brain cells.

    However the SSPX receives regularization, something I’m waiting for so I can in good conscience receive the Sacraments, I hope it is soon.

    The reason being the critical mass law of physics (again I mention it). Protestants have been coming into the Church in onesies (as yourself Fr.)& twosies for a long time, & in small groups, & now a more larger one nearly so. Soon, & maybe very soon, there will be the critical mass necessary for the event to occur…that ALL Protestants, or nearly so, will return to the Church all at once. As if they suddenly discover that reading Holy Scripture & talking about it is just not enough any longer. That they need more. Like Our Blessed Lord’s Real Presence & His Mercy, here, now.

    If the SSPX doesn’t move it’s regularization along rather quickly, the Protestants just might beat them back into the Church.

  42. Sixupman says:

    Regarding this matter of which SSPX are we talking. The SSPX of my experience in Continental Europe, or, the Calvinist [US originating] SSPX currently abroad in the UK. That latter, US originating, coterie are unlikely to accept any deal with Rome other than total capitulation of the Curia. +Fellay should do the deal, on the best terms available, and fight from the inside.

    The problem for Mother Church is not the SSPX and other Traditional Orders, but the ant-BXVI Bishops’ Conferences, particularly in Northern Europe. My own Ordinary [and others] allows my parish priest to preach against BXVI, for lay equaivalence with the ordained clergy, married clergy, et al. Even his recent locum, an ex-CofE clergyman, criticised the Magisterium from the pulpit.

    The UK hierarchy, to a man, anti pre-conciliar Catholicism and such has been the case for many years – even though many have been ordained and consecrated in that pre-conciliar Mother Church. Who in their right minds denied their heritage.

    That is the real problem and it will be a long haul to overcome the same.

  43. Henry Edwards says:

    Unlike some of the experts here, I know nothing about the intricacies of personal prelatures, universal ordinariates, etc, nor how they might apply to the SSPX or other tradtional societies. However, I have observed that with our good and deep Pope Benedict gloriously reigning, there are wheels within wheels. Therefore I’d be surprised if the structures set up in canon law by the coming apostolic constitution apply solely to the disgruntled Anglican trads that we’re reading about in some newspapers.

  44. joan ellen says:

    Mr. Edwards, that is acutally, to me, a very sobering, hopeful & encouraging thought.

  45. canis caeli says:

    The Church has not forbidden attendance at SSPX Masses. Msgr. Perl, some years ago, while recognizing the irregularity of SSPX situation, wrote an answer to a dubium, wherein he stated that one could attend anSSpx Mass as long as one did not accept any sede-vacantist positions. Similarly, one could not attend an SSpX liturgy if one did so to validate his own sede-vacante position

    Now as to PTK Perkins, he and I have been hammering one another for years. He bloviates at Rorate Caeli because one smart moderator would not allow him to dominate discussion on his blog. However, we do agree that the only solution is a single canonical structure taking into consideration the faithful to whom these “orders” minister.

    It’s not really about the different societies, it is about the people who recognize the deficiencies of the NOM, and have not given up their attachment to TrueMass which they perceive is a “more” perfect way of offering to God that which He is owed.

    It’s not about the clergy, it’s the laity. After all, without a laity which desires TrueMass there is no need for SSPX, FSSP, LSMFT, etc.

  46. MichaelJ says:

    Jack Hughes,

    You seem to be presenting a caricature of SSPX chapels that has no basis in reality. I have not conducted a survey (nor have I any inclination to do so) but in my experience the faithful attending SSPX Masses want the same things you do. They also complain about the same things you do.

    Granted, I have only anecdotal evidence to refute your assertion that “many of them also tend to backbite against the Pope”, for example, but this appears to be more than the evidence you offer.

Comments are closed.