Anniv of Summorum Pontificum – Communiquè of the Holy See: Meeting between CDF and the SSPX

Today is the anniversary of Summorum Pontificum going into effect.

What do you think of this?

My emphases.  I edited out the first two paragraphs, which were just background people already know, for the most part.

ORIGINAL TEXT (which seems to be in French) HERE



Keeping in mind the concerns and petitions presented by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X concerning the integrity of the Catholic faith in view of the hermeneutic of rupture of the Second Vatican Council in respect of Tradition – hermeneutic mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI in his Address to the Roman Curia of 22 December 2005 – , the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith takes as a fundamental basis for a full reconciliation with the Apostolic See the acceptance of the Doctrinal Preamble which was delivered in the course of the meeting of 14 September 2011. This preamble enunciates some of the doctrinal principles and criteria of interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary for guarantying fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and to the sentire cum Ecclesia, while leaving open to legitimate discussion the study and theological explanation of expressions and particular formulations present in the texts of the Second Vatican Council and of the Magisterium which followed.

In the course of the same meeting, some basic principles were proposed in view of a canonical solution for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, which would follow the possible (éventuelle) and hoped-for (espérée) reconciliation.

In sum, the CDF has leaned far toward reconciliation with the SSPX, but it has placed a condition.

The CDF is signaling that some aspects of the documents of Vatican II are open to discussion.

They are talking about canonical solutions.

Pope Benedict is the Pope of Christian Unity.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Just Too Cool, New Evangelization, Pope of Christian Unity, SESSIUNCULA, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. mibethda says:

    Not only are the texts of Vatican II open to ‘legitimate discussion’, but also ‘ the Magisterium that followed it’.

  2. Legisperitus says:

    As somebody remarked on Rorate Caeli, they’re not likely to see a better offer than this.

    Since the Vatican sounds optimistic, I would guess the “preamble” is written in a way the SSPX is likely to be OK with.

  3. SimonDodd says:

    CDF seems to be saying that the formulations of Vatican II—the terms in which they’re couched, as opposed to their substance—are open to discussion, which isn’t a new idea. That won’t stop the usual suspects from going bat’s chit crazy, but maybe it’ll provide the wiggle room for SSPX (at least some of them) to come back.

  4. Legisperitus says:

    In terms of “brick by brick,” would the success of these efforts constitute an entire wall?

  5. trad catholic mom says:

    CNS is reporting this:

    Although the Vatican did not give the society a deadline, in order to move toward full reconciliation, leaders are expected to study and sign the preamble “within a few months,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

    The cardinal and bishop also discussed possible “elements of a canonical solution” for the society after “the eventual and hoped-for reconciliation,” said a statement issued by the Vatican after the meeting.

    Father Lombardi said, “Today the most likely solution would be a personal prelature,” which is a church jurisdiction without geographical boundaries designed to carry out particular pastoral initiatives. It is headed by a prelate, who is appointed by the pope; currently the church’s only personal prelature is Opus Dei.

  6. Andy Milam says:

    It is my prayer that this resolution is acceptable…it seems as though the SSPX won’t have to give up much, but will be able to gain everything….

    I think that this is reminiscent of Fr. Feeney…which Fr. Z alluded to recently. I think that this is a very encouraging development.

  7. Virgil says:

    But what, exactly, are the points in the Doctrinal Preamble? I read the news release in Italian and in the French, and I don’t see it. Was it published elsewhere? Or it’s a secret for the moment, until the SSPX makes official response? What am I missing?

  8. danphunter1 says:

    If I am not mistaken a “Personal Prelature” needs the permission of the local Ordinary to operate within his diocese.
    Forgive me if I am wrong, but the vast majority of the bishops, at least right now, would not allow the FSSPX to operate within their diocese.

  9. Dr. K says:

    “leaving open to legitimate discussion the study and theological explanation of expressions and particular formulations”

    I hope these discussions actually occur and we don’t end up with a situation where an SSPX ordinariate carries their own interpretation while the rest of us continue with the status quo. We need discussions and we need fruit to come of them that will benefit the entire Church.

  10. Virgil says:

    I answer my own question. Per Reuters and the Catholic Herald, Father Lombardi was asked at the news conference what was in the Doctrinal Preamble. He responded only that it lists the points, and failed to specify what the points were.

    I wonder if the SSPX will make them public?

  11. Centristian says:

    I’d love to read this doctrinal preamble. Is it yet available for public consumption? Was it written by Dave Mason, by any chance?

    I wonder who on the Lefebvrist side has to finally assent to this preamble (if they do, in fact, assent to it). There are so many components of the entity that exists under the “SSPX” umbrella. There are all the secular priests and the four bishops, of course, but there are also the Brothers and the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X, the “Traditional Dominicans” and “Traditional Benedictines” and heaven only knows what other “Traditional” apes of religious orders may be affiliated with the “SSPX” by now. There are the schools, colleges, seminaries and their superiors, lay and clerical. There are publishers and shops. And then there is all that other real property, much of it managed by “chapel coordinators”. Finally, there are the laity who submit to the authority of “SSPX” superiors as though it were legitimate, and who do not wish to submit to the authority of “Novus Ordo” bishops.

    Who legitimately speaks for something like that? The “SSPX” is not an order, it’s not a fraternity, it’s a situation. Can any one voice speak for it? I cannot imagine that it could simply amount, therefore, to a matter of Bernard Fellay unilaterally signing-off on the Vatican’s document on behalf of everyone, with everyone in unanimous agreement. Who does Bernard Fellay legitimately speak for, after all? The official Church says he speaks for nobody. He’s a bishop without a flock; he’s the “superior” of something that doesn’t officially exist. Who, then, speaks for the whole of this…situation? And is it just one whole? Is it not a number of things that are whole in themselves (if they were legitimate) but loosely unified in a cause (that not every element or unit necessarily defines in precisely the same way)?

    I don’t know what will ultimately happen, of course, but I would not look to expect the whole of the situation that we describe as “The Lefebvrists” or “The Society of St. Pius X” to simply, as a single unit, embrace Rome. I have always been of the mind that the best case scenario for this situation is that individual Lefebvrists of good will will be inspired by the Holy Ghost to walk away from it and find themselves individually reconciled and freed. I suppose it is also possible that component “wholes” beneath the “SSPX” umbrella could leave and reconcile, too (the way the priests of Campos, Brazil did, for example).

    I am intrigued by this latest chapter and I will follow the developments with some interest.

  12. wolfeken says:

    Dr. K — I think, if this all works out, the SSPX will be an influence on the rest of the Church. There are many in the Institute of Christ the King and Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (et al!) who personally reject all of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, but have been afraid to say so. This would open up a huge door, essentially allowing a “pro-choice” position on Vatican II without fear of suspension.

    Of course, we have no idea what is on the piece of paper given to Bishop Fellay from Cardinal Levada today. The “basic principles” may very well have nonsense like accepting Nostra Aetate or Sacrosanctum Concilium. If that’s the case, then there surely won’t be a deal. But if the “basic principles” are indeed like those offered to Father Leonard Feeney, then game on. I think his actual requirement in the 1950s for restored full communion was to recite the Athanasian Creed.

    Personally, I’m excited. But it really depends what the “basic principles” are — and we do not yet know anything about them.

  13. Virgil says:

    Centristian: I think that Father Lombardi’s comments at the news conference answer your question. He said that the means for re-integrating the SSPX would be “similar to the Anglican ordinariates.” This would assume, I think, that . . .

    (1) First, the Church will appoint an Ordinary (or Ordinaries), perhaps Fellay and/or his fellow bishops.

    (2) Then later, all of these elements will have to re-enter the Church individually, and be welcomed into the Ordinariate.

  14. Lamentably Sane says:

    It’s not so difficult in fact. These talks are between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity of St Pius X, a fraternity that DOES officially exist, as it is recognised by Rome as an entity (as is clear from these talks themselves!). [The Holy See also runs an astronomical observatory and acknowledges that the Dumbell Nebula is an entity. That doesn’t mean that the Dumbell Nebula has a canonical status. It seems to me that the goal of these discussions is to find a way to grant a canonical status to the SSPX which will allow them to work within the Church.] Anyway, any arrangement will be between the Holy See and this fraternity; no one else. What happens after that is up to all the other groups around the fraternity, who will either follow suit or not. The lay people can do what they want; that’s entirely up to them.
    Let’s hope and pray it all goes ahead and that God’s will be done. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

  15. Legisperitus says:

    The content of the doctrinal preamble is secret at this time. As the Rule of the Transalpine Redemptorists used to say, “secrecy is the soul of all important business…”

  16. pfreddys says:

    I too would love to read the Doctrinal Preamble. I really think the CDF should issue it publicly. First of all to prevent rumors and speculation presented as fact as to what it says. Secondly, I think it will be impossible to keep this a secret as I’m sure it will be circulated among a number of people in the SSPX, and then it will be published through one of those to whom it is circulated to; but then it will be problem of is it the complete and accurate document. [I suspect this won’t be leaked.]

  17. mibethda says:

    One matter of concern about this procedure — according to Fr. Lombardi, the Vatican anticipates a response from the Society within a few months. There are many in the Church who are vehemently opposed to the re-integration of the Society, and this lengthy time frame for the next stage will give those persons and groups the time to organize and attack the proposed settlement. We have already seen the tactics they have resorted to in the past (such as the creation of the Williamson affair when they perceived that the Pope’s earlier move to lift the excommunications was a major step towards reconciliation). Just as it has become the standard procedure in politics to comb every aspect of the life and background of an opponent in order to find something that can be used – legitimately or not – to discredit him, I expect that we will see those opposed to the Vatican’s actions dredge up anything that they can find that could be blown into a ‘scandal’ to embarass the Pope and the society and to create public opposition to the move.

  18. MarkJ says:

    I see this as very hopeful.

    For 40 years, many in the Church have acted as though every word in the Vatican II documents were infallible, and as though every interpretation of those documents according to the spirit of Vatican II were infallible, and any who questioned any of it were akin to heretics. The fact that the Vatican is now admitting that questions are legitimate and that doctrinal clarifications in line with Tradition are needed is HUGE. And the discussions and clarifications will be a major benefit to us all. I am so excited about the prospect of 500+ Traditional priests and their flocks returning to full communion with the Church – their active participation and collaboration will be a HUGE boost to the Faith and a great counterbalance to the liberals who have had so much sway since Vatican II.

    Sanctissima et Beatissima Dei Genitrix, ora pro nobis et pro Ecclesia.

  19. Jason Keener says:

    This all looks very hopeful. I would love to know what exactly the Doctrinal Preamble includes. Hope that information comes out at some point because I think it would be helpful for all Catholics to know what topics are settled and what topics are open for legitimate discussion.

  20. danphunter1 says:

    According to the interview just out from His Excellency,It certainly seems as if Bishop Fellay will accept regularisation.

    But it seems strange that no temporary faculties have been granted until there is agreement. Does this mean that Rome accepts that supplied jurisdiction and some kind of deputation has been triggered by a state of necessity? [Of course it does NOT.] It is certainly against the tradition of the Church to allow the Sacraments to be administered outside of her ordinary jurisdiction (excepting genuine cases of necessity). But it seems that Rome is quite sanguine about 600,000+ Catholics receiving the Sacraments outside of the ordinary jurisdiction of the Church.

    I am confused. But will be delighted if there is an agreement that doesn’t tie the SSPX to the John Paul II-interpretation of Vatican II.

  21. Glen M says:

    In my experience dealing with the Church, “within a few months” is the business equivalent to overnight. Therefore, I suspect this document is a slam dunk and should be signed, sealed, and delivered promptly. Modernists in the Church should be very anxious – their agenda is coming to an end and like Jesus told us the gates of hell did not prevail.

    I still don’t know what doctrinal issues are in dispute. Vatican II was pastoral – there was no new doctrine to dispute.

    Anyway, please Bishop Fellay get the paperwork out of the way and come back into the nave to help rebuild – brick by brick.

  22. anilwang says:

    Dr K.

    Just to add to wolfeken, remember that God is ultimately in charge. We are already seeing him at work in the religious orders. The liberal orders are dying out and the conservative ones are booming. The new generation is increasingly orthodox while the old generation is either dying out of moving to “greener pastures” such as Anglicanism or just not going to Church any more because remaining in a Church that “is going backwards” or “has nothing to offer than secular ‘gurus’ like Oprah doesn’t also offer” is a waste of time.

    If the personal prelature happens, I expect to see many if not most TLM priests to join (assuming that it’s run properly) simply because it’s more comfortable and safer to work under like-minded bishops and because it makes visible the demand for TLM (currently, that statistic is hidden within each diocese). If God wills that TLM returns, the personal prelature numbers will explode within a generation or two and regular diocese will have to respond, most likely by moving the NO to what Vatican II actually envisioned to halt the attrition, or die off. This doesn’t even take into account the possibility that an SSPX personal prelature cardinal is selected as Pope somewhere down the line….

    In either case, it would be better for the Catholic Church and SSPX if the personal prelature is created and they join, than if they stay out. All the SSPX needs to do is to trust in God and his Church, and keep up the good fight, as all Catholics should do, within the Church.

  23. TheAcolyte says:

    Bishop Fellay’s interview in English has just been posted on SSPX.ORG.

  24. TheAcolyte says:

    Centristian: “Finally, there are the laity who submit to the authority of “SSPX” superiors as though it were legitimate, and who do not wish to submit to the authority of “Novus Ordo” bishops.”

    You are wrong in your analysis as I have previously pointed out: I attend an SSPX chapel and the local ordinary is my bishop; I pray for him at every Mass (and then some) and obey whatever he commands that is not in error or against the Church’s teachings (like Modernism).

    Also, the chapel coordinators of the SSPX’s missions do not have control of the property – they merely assist the pastor in practical ways. It is the SSPX that owns its properties.

  25. donboyle says:

    Whatever the reason for leaving the doctrinal preamble confidential for now (perhaps only to give Bp. Fellay time to show it to the other SSPX bishops before it is leaked to the public), it needs to be made public and soon. Those “doctrinal principles and criteria of interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary for ensuring fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and to the sentire cum Ecclesia ” are of vital interest to every Catholic–certainly to catechists and apologists–as a statement of what a Catholic needs to believe.

  26. Re: doctrinal preamble — It’s highly unlikely that it’s some kind of Nicene Creed for Trads. It’s very doubtful that it covers anything close to everything a Catholic needs to believe. The focus is more likely to be on known controversial matters, and probably on fairly basic statements about those matters on which everybody already agrees. The only “interesting” bits would probably be what formulations are used as a bridge. If the CDF meeting people are smart, they used direct quotes from old catechisms or famous saints.

    A lot of things that used to be hot topics have gotten papal hermeneutic-of-continuity treatment from our current pope or from his earlier theologian/cardinal hat.

  27. Glen M says:

    The notion there will be a mass exodus (no pun intended) of diocesan priests to the SSPX if an ordinariate or whatever is granted is (imho) faulty. Most of these priests had the option to join the SSPX, FSSP, or other traditional order during their discernment and chose to stay in their diocese instead. They are like WWII resistance fighters given an option to sneak out and join the Allies, but chose to remain behind enemy lines and carry on the fight at greater personal risk.

    In the interests of the greater good assuming the E.F. can convert ‘cafeteria Catholics’ and save souls (which I believe), then the better approach will be to have more diocesean priests saying the E.F. thus exposing it to more souls. If the E.F. becomes an ghetto liturgy isolated in personal parishes then the risk of schism or at least permanent division and suspicion is great.

    If the SSPX does return with full canonical status there will still be the diocesan Father Freelance who is convinced ‘relevant’ liturgies are better than ‘reverant’. His insatiable need for novelty will appeal to some, but my guess is more will seek out the God centred liturgy, devotions, sermons, especially if they realize after inevitable death comes judgement.

    The numbers speak for themselves: pre-V2 75% of Catholics fulfilled their Sunday obligation – now it’s the reverse. Of the 25% who do go to Church hardly anyone goes to Confession. Conversely, the traditional seminaries have waiting lists, E.F. Masses are growing all over the world, and every one I’ve been to has a line up outside the Confessional.

    We will rebuild this Church, but it will take time – a generation or two. It’s harder to smarten up than dumb down and it is a difficult process (one I’ve experienced). Those who lived through the changes now how painful losing something you love can be so they have an obligation not to do it to others. The simplified rite that is the O.F. has its place but where it ultimately comes to rest is to be determined. Lead by example; evangelize by being a living testament; council the doubtful, care for their soul. Every crisis in Church history produced saints – act by their example.

  28. Speravi says:

    THIS IS PURE SPECULATION OF ONE INDIVIDUAL: The document mentions “doctrinal principles and criteria of interpretation” and the “hermeneutic of continuity.” I would not be surprised if it contains less in the way doctrinal clarification (which we all need) and more in the way of what constitutes a truly obedient and Catholic way of going about doctrinal dispute, as well as some general guidelines on how to approach Vatican II in light of Tradition. I am reminded of the “Oath of Fidelity” which teachers in Catholic institutions and priests take. This oath is very general, but contains a commitment to adhere to the teaching of the Magisterium according to the level of the the teaching (including religious obsequium (submission) of intellect and will to teachings of the official Magisterium which are not definitive). Perhaps the document might go into greater detail about what is really meant by “religious obsequium of intellect and will.” This may require giving the benefit of the doubt to the orthodoxy of magisterial texts and seeking to interpret them in an orthodox manner while inviting criticism of common interpretations of the passages and even of the actual wording of the the passages. This would not constitute a “poisoned cookie,” but rather the simple acknowledgement that the Church was instituted with living leaders precisely because she needs to be able to govern herself and apply her teachings day to day in various historical situations. She could even be wrong in some non-doctrinal matters (e.g. thinking that communion in the hand would enhance people’s understanding of the Eucharist as a sacrificial banquet), but she needs to be able to govern herself and to teach from day to day.

    May God, by the intercession of Our Blessed Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces, grant that the Society have full, visible, and permanent communion with the Holy See; May it remain absolutely faithful to its true doctrines, may it freely correct any distortions that may have crept in, and may it find itself, not silenced, but given a voice that may even more effectively go out to the ends of the earth.

  29. muckemdanno says:


    You base your comments on the idea that the SSPX does not “officially” exist and seem to conclude that therefore it does not ACTUALLY exist…lol.

    The fact is the SSPX does ACTUALLY exist. This is not much of a paradox for a person who has any sort of opened mind. If, in fact, it is true that the SSPX does not officially exist, then it is the “officials” who need to change their judgement. Fortunately, I believe the officials are more reasonable than you and are acting based on the reality of the SSPX.

    The “officials” can say that that the Earth is flat, but they can’t make it so.

  30. muckemdanno says:

    A more pertinent question is how much of the properties of SSPX does Bp Fellay have authority over. He may be able to say “the SSPX accepts this agreement”, but what happens to all of their properties? Who owns them? What becomes of them should the owners of the properties not like this agreement?

    Also, Virgil raises a good question. What points does SSPX have to agree to? Don’t all Catholics have the right to know what we all are obliged to believe. If they have to accept certain things, don’t all of us?

  31. Timbones says:

    I think much remains to be seen here. There are a number of hurdles even beyond the doctrinal ones. For example. the SSPX has been governing itself for so long, to what extent are they really ready to submit to the Holy See? Let’s face it, there is a schismatic mentality here. And what will be the status of the four bishops? What of the blistering criticisms made of Rome by the SSPX? That is not toning down. I have in mind today’s La Stampa story about Abbot Cacqueray Regis’ new comments on the upcoming Assisi gathering. We are told the Abbot’s remarks are fully approved by Fellay. It’s too lengthy to go into here but here’s are some samples of what the abbot thinks: “a satanic perversion of the mission of Peter” and: “How could God be pleased with the prayers of Jews loyal to their fathers who have crucified His Son and deny the Trinitarian God”. We are also told the pope will be praying for a “Masonic” peace.
    I don’t know how Rome can put up with attacks like that from the SSPX if they come into communion. Here’s the link:

  32. Speravi says:

    Timbones wrote: “I don’t know how Rome can put up with attacks like that from the SSPX if they come into communion.” This might not be completely clear, but it doesn’t seem insurmountable. The fact is that while such a tone in criticism may be unseemly and even disrespectful, it is neither an act of schism or heresy. Therefore, even if we would grant that it merits some sort of rebuke (upon which I do not wish to pass judgement in this post), it should not be an obstacle to admitting publicly and definitively that the priests of the Society are indeed real Catholics like every other Catholic. It might be a bit more complicated when we get to the question of the canonical status of the congregation qua priestly congregation. They might have to work at being a bit more respectful in tone, but this would not necessitate approving things which they judge to be scandalous, nor would it mean they they need to be silenced from making criticism.
    If the society will be regularized and will make its criticisms clearly and precisely without its accustomed rhetorical devices, I think it will find its voice to be better heard and louder than ever. They will not be silenced by regularization, but amplified.
    The society wanted to clear the air in the Church and to gain credibility by the lifting of the excommunications. However, they will not achieve the fullness of credibility in the Church at large, to which they certainly wish to make a contribution, until they are regularized.
    Most Catholics are very ignorant of the Society. I still meet priests who think that they are sedevacantist. If the Holy See embraces the Society demanding only that it be more respectful and acknowledge that Vatican II was a magisterial event, without changing its fundamental interpretation of Catholic doctrines, it in itself, will be a HIGHLY SYMBOLIC gesture. If the Society was given the task of interpreting the Council in the light of Tradition and accepting it ONLY under such a hermeneutic, this would tell the whole world that the Church publicly approves the utter putting to death of the “Spirit of the Council.”

  33. Timbones says:

    It of course will be up to Rome to decide to what extent it can tolerate the verbal assaults of the SSPX. But I think most of us are missing the point here and that one must understand the real position of the SSPX. They did not enter into the doctrinal talks to find some formula to come to terms with Vatican II. As Fellay stated in 2004: “We don’t want to make an agreement just for the sake of an agreement. A prelate in the Vatican said to me, “Don’t make a cosmetic agreement with Rome.” And it is true, we don’t want any kind of cosmetic agreement. Things are too serious. The Faith is at stake. We want to keep the Faith!” And further in the same article: “We need a body in Rome which is going to defend the interests of Tradition in Rome. We don’t need a delegate from Rome towards Tradition, as you are doing with Ecclesia Dei; we need a delegate of Tradition in Rome” which is the contrary, an entity in Rome which is composed of people from Tradition who are accredited in Rome and who will protect the faithful and priests against the attacks of the bishops and Rome. But this would be possible only on the condition that in Rome, the Pope and his collaborators were convinced of the absolute necessity of Tradition. As long as they are not, nothing will ever happen.”
    The purpose of the SSPX is an all or nothing at all proposition. Rome must accept the view of the SSPX that it is Rome that must change, Rome must revert “to Tradition.”

    I of course do not agree with the SSPX at all. But it is important I think to understand that they will not budge an inch from their position unless and until Rome accepts the conditions of the SSPX. They are not interested in any compromise whatever.

  34. chironomo says:

    “I don’t know how Rome can put up with attacks like that from the SSPX if they come into communion.”

    If this were true, the excommunication letters would have already gone out to numerous theologians, certain left-leaning bloggers and at least a few “Catholic” newspaper editors, who routinely say far worse things about the actions of the Holy Father. Acusations that he is “intentionally” destroying the church and obviously hates women are nearly daily fare for many individuals who nonetheless consider themselves faithful Catholics. I think the Pope has a far thicker skin than many think, particularly when he knows he is in the right…

Comments are closed.