SSPX offered a Personal Prelature

To review:  The Holy See gave the SSPX a “doctrinal preamble”.  The SSPX studied it and proposed in return some modifications.  The Holy See and Holy Father studied the modifications.  Then the CDF and SSPX Bp. Fellay had a meeting, during which the Holy Father’s decisions about the modified preamble were delivered.  Thus, we were left to wonder what the Holy Father’s decisions were? Positive? Negative?

I suspect they were positive, since within the VIS story is an important bit of information.

The SSPX is being offered a Personal Prelature.  I don’t think that offer would be made had the CDF and Holy Father not have accepted what the SSPX had proposed earlier.

From VIS:

Vatican City, 14 June 2012 (VIS) – “On the afternoon of Wednesday 13 June, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’, met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X who was accompanied by an assistant. Also present at the encounter were Archbishop Luis Ladaria S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Msgr. Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei'”, according to a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office.
“The purpose of the meeting was to present the Holy See’s evaluation of the text submitted in April by the Society of St. Pius X in response to the Doctrinal Preamble which the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith had presented to the Society on 14 September 2011. The subsequent discussion offered an opportunity the provide the appropriate explanations and clarifications. For his part, Bishop Fellay illustrated the current situation of the Society of St. Pius X and promised to make his response known within a reasonable lapse of time. [“lapse”?  Who writes this stuff?]
“Also during the meeting, a draft document was submitted proposing a Personal Prelature as the most appropriate instrument for any future canonical recognition of the Society.
“As was stated in the communique released on 16 May 2012, the situation of the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X will be dealt with separately and singularly.
“At the end of the meeting the hope was expressed that this additional opportunity for reflection would also contribute to reaching full communion between the Society of St. Pius X and the Apostolic See”.

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

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  1. Legisperitus says:

    This makes it sound as if “dealing separately with the situations of the three other Bishops” means not whether they will be regularized along with the rest of the Society, but rather what their exact functions will be within a regularized Society.

  2. acardnal says:

    I would have preferred that the SSPX be designated as an Ordinariate similar to a Military Ordinariate. This is something Bp. Fellay mentioned as his preference in one of his recent interviews. I think an Ordinariate would give the SSPX more freedom from local territorial ordinaries – a number of which are hostile toward the SSPX and could hinder their fecundity and apostolate. I hope the proposed Personal Prelature has taken these concerns into consideration.

  3. And then there is this from Catholic World News. Pope Benedict a modernist? And other strange statements, IMHO, by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerai

  4. acardnal says:

    @semperficatholic: above report is one reason why the three other bishops are going to be dealt with individually as stated in the press release. Bp. Fellay is the Superior and, hopefully, his views represent those of the majority of SSPX members who elected him.

  5. Bryan Boyle says:

    Let’s not parse this too finely, I’m thinking. While the devil is always in the details (witness the Anglican Ordinariate spool-up…), as Father says many times, “don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good”.

    I’m musing the same logic that is being applied to the magisterium of wacko nuns is the preview of how the off-the-reservation bishops of the SSPX will be handled. Perhaps the CDF is saying, in not so many words using the iron fist inside a velvet glove manner: “You say you’re Catholic? Prove it.” Bp. Fellay is doing his level best, I think, in charity to do the best he can in resolving the issues, in concert with men (finally) who are marcing to +Benedict’s plan. Will the rest follow the lead? If they do, and trust in the Holy Spirit to work out the fiddly details in His Own Time, then they are demonstrating religious obedience.

    If not? Then they are, in actuality, confirming their future status as high-church protestants. You’re either in the Barque of Peter, or you’re not.

  6. Marcus der mit dem C says:

    As acardnal said, I think the FSSPX-followers would prefer an personal ordinariate over a prelature. In Germany the FSSPX is active in some diocesis, where the would never get an approval for ministry from the local bishop in my humble opinion.

    But may be the proposed prelature is a carrot stick for the FSSPX to encourage a more diplomatic and not confrontation seeking way to interact with the local bishops, and when they show that they are willing to disarm their statement a bit, that they can get a personal ordinariate. But this is just a simple guessing by me with no deep significance.

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Seeing as other religious orders and religious movements in the Church haven’t been granted ordinariates, and seeing as how the Anglicanorum folks have a different Mass use and hence different circumstances from most Catholics (much like Catholic folks in the military), I don’t really see where anyone would have expected an ordinariate/s being set up for SSPX.

    Personal prelatures are good stuff. Opus Dei has a personal prelature, and nobody messes around with the way they do stuff. All it means is that there’s one bishop (answering directly to the Pope) in charge of all the group branches throughout the world, whereas an ordinariate has multiple regional bishops/ordinaries answering directly to the Pope.

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the prelate in charge doesn’t have bishops under him; it just means that there’s a more hierarchical structure.

    Anyway, let’s keep praying! Ut unum sint!

  9. wolfeken says:

    I hope every bishop in the world who has an SSPX chapel in his diocese is preparing a gift basket to make peace. A personal prelature is terrific, but if individual bishops treat the SSPX in 2012 like they treated the FSSP from 1988-2007, there will still be major problems. Christian Unity.

    For bishops who may not know what exists in their dioceses:

  10. a2jimenez says:

    I think a Personal Prelature is a great deal. I can see the concern about the process to reconcile all those local operations across the globe with each local bishop but I think any option will have its challenges. I truly believe the opportunity to be fully reconcile with the Church will bring much more opportunities for growth than obstacles in the long run. Praying for a full resolution of this situation, can’t wait!

  11. acardnal says:

    Here is Bp. Fellay’s comment regarding Personal Prelature vs. Ordinariate as stated in a June 7, 2012 interview with DICI. Property rights are also one of his concerns. The full interview can be read here:

    “Relations of the Society of Saint Pius X with diocesan bishops
    DICI: A personal prelature is the canonical structure that you mentioned in recent statements. Now, in the Code of Canon Law, canon 297 requires not only informing diocesan bishops but obtaining their permission in order to found a work on their territory. Although it is clear that any canonical recognition will preserve our apostolate in its present state, are you inclined to accept the eventuality that future works may be possible only with the permission of the bishop in dioceses where the Society of Saint Pius X is not present today?

    Bishop Fellay: There is a lot of confusion about this question, and it is caused mainly by a misunderstanding of the nature of a personal prelature, as well as by a misreading of the normal relation between the local ordinary and the prelature. Add to that the fact that the only example available today of a personal prelature is Opus Dei. However, and let us say this clearly, if a personal prelature were granted to us, our situation would not be the same. In order to understand better what would happen, we must reflect that our status would be much more similar to that of a military ordinariate, because we would have ordinary jurisdiction over the faithful. Thus we would be like a sort of diocese, the jurisdiction of which extends to all its faithful regardless of their territorial situation.

    All the chapels, churches, priories, schools, and works of the Society and of the affiliated religious Congregations would be recognized with a real autonomy for their ministry.

    It is still true—since it is Church law—that in order to open a new chapel or to found a work, it would be necessary to have the permission of the local ordinary. We have quite obviously reported to Rome how difficult our present situation was in the dioceses, and Rome is still working on it. Here or there, this difficulty will be real, but since when is life without difficulties? Very probably we will also have the contrary problem, in other words, we will not be able to respond to the requests that will come from the bishops who are friendly to us. I am thinking of one bishop who could ask us to take charge of the formation of future priests in his diocese.

    In no way would our relations be like those of a religious congregation with a bishop; rather they would be those of one bishop with another bishop, just like with the Ukrainians and the Armenians in the diaspora. And therefore if a difficulty is not resolved, it would go to Rome, and there would then be a Roman intervention to settle the problem.

    Let it be said in passing that what was reported on the Internet concerning my remarks on this subject in Austria last month is entirely false.”

  12. John UK says:

    “Also during the meeting, a draft document was submitted proposing a Personal Prelature as the most appropriate instrument for any future canonical recognition of the Society.”

    Hmmm. Especially in the light of Bishop Fellay’s comments (post from acardnal above) it is not clear from the communiqué who was submitting the document: the CDF or Bishop Fellay. Is the Italian or French any clearer?

    Kind regards,
    John U.K.

  13. Marcus der mit dem C says:

    @John UK

    The portal (in german language) writes refering to a La Croix-article that the Vatican issued the draft document to the FSSPX.

    A google translation of the La Croix-article is not obvious to me in that point. My pity that I didn’t learn french.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    This is great and I am so happy. Pray, pray for acceptance…

  15. irishgirl says:

    I’m praying, Supertradmum, I’m praying…..
    I’m hoping for a positive outcome, and SOON.
    As Father Z says at the end here, ‘Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity’.

  16. Andy Milam says:

    I’ve been saying that all along. I think that the personal prelature idea is best for the SSPX. They can continue with their charism and they can remain largely unaffected by the wack-a-doo bishops who don’t like them, while collaborating with those who do.

    I think that in the end, this is the way to go and I think that the other bishops notwithstanding, this is the best possible outcome.

    Please God, end this strife.

  17. robtbrown says:

    The Personal Prelature that is being offered by the Holy See offers the SSPX maximum independence. The Motu Proprio will have some modifications that guarantee that independence. An Ordinarate is established within the boundaries of an episcopal conference, and there are separate Anglican ordinariates for each nation.

    NB: Although Canon Law says that permission of the ordinary must first be obtained, it is the pope who promulgates the law–he has the authority to modify it or its application.

    Like Summorum Pontificum it will be an exercise of the papal authority that is full, supreme, and universal.

    The three bishops are being dealt with separately because they are bishops.

  18. anilwang says:

    acardnal, there are pros and cons of a personal prelature versus ordinariate,

    With an ordinariate, you’re effectively in a different Rite and you have to go through a transfer of rite to join. With a prelature, no such transfer is required. An ordinariate can also lead to a ghettoization of the SSPX, in much the same way that unfortunately Eastern Rite Churches are (note, many people who complain NO liturgical abuse and a lack of TLM never consider going Eastern Rite). That ghettoization might lead to a hardening of the SSPX position over time and an eventual split. With a prelature, the SSPX can truly evangelize and reintegrate.

    The key issue I see with a prelature is that some bishops have refused to follow SP or UE, so they might be prevented from setting up in anti-TLM areas by the local bishop, especially in areas they already exist. This can, of course, be worked out. For instance, adding a provision to appeal to the Pope to overrule the local bishop and for existing SSPX parishes and seminaries to be grandfathered in regardless of what the local bishop says.

  19. Texas trad says:

    For 20 years the Vatican has been offering the SSPX a reconciliation agreement that puts them under local bishops. Bishop Fellay has always walked away from that deal. It’s not even a possibility that the SSPX will be controlled by local bishops. They are far too hostile to the SSPX. Bishop Fellay is the height of peace and calm, yet tough as nails. He will not accept anything that weakens the SSPX in the least. He has said so publicly and privately.

  20. Supertradmum says:

    Papal Prelature is much better than an Ordinariate. As already seen in England, the bishops and the Ordinand for the Ordinariate play a complex movement of appeasement and change within, but pushing, the boundaries of what the Pope wanted, Indeed, a PP has more independence.

  21. Trisagion says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the canon 297 situation. There will be, I am sure, a work around for that.

  22. acardnal says:

    @anilwang : “you’re effectively in a different Rite and you have to go through a transfer of rite to join.”

    Not necessarily. You are confusing this with the Anglican Ordinariate. I, and Bp. Fellay, are comparing it to a Military Ordinariate which serves the armed forces and diplomatic community of a particular country wherever they are serving around the world. For example, I was born in Maryland in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. However, I was born on a US military installation and, therefore, I was under the jurisdiction of the USA Military Ordinariate. My Baptismal Certificate was issued by the Ordinariate. When I lived overseas, the Military Ordinariate was also responsible for caring for diplomatic personnel and their sacramental rites were conferred by the Ordinariate NOT the local bishop. So, this is why Fellay preferred the Ordinariate to the Prelature, I think, because they would exist outside of the local bishop’s jurisdiction.

    Having said that, I agree with RobtBrown above that the Pope has universal jurisdiction and promulgates canon law. He can modify it accordingly. He is a wise Holy Father with 2000 years of history and the knowledge of experts to assist him. I am confident he will draft the Prelature document to take these matters into consideration so as to give the SSPX its rightful freedom under the law.

  23. acardnal says:

    I am also very familiar with the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei, too. They CANNOT operate in any diocese without the permission of the local bishop/ordinary!

    BUT as I said, the Holy Father can incorporate modifications into his Motu Propio regarding the SSPX to change that if he so desires regarding the SSPX. We will have to wait and see.

  24. acardnal says:

    The following is the latest Press Release from the SSPX as posted on the Rorate-Caeli website:
    Communiqué of the General House of the Society of Saint Pius X
    Communiqué of the General House of the Society of Saint Pius X (June 14, 2011)

    On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, Bp. Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, joined by the First Assistant General, Father Niklaus Pfluger, was received by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who delivered to him the evaluation of his dicastery of the Doctrinal declaration presented by the Fraternity on April 15, 2012, in response to the Doctrinal Preamble submitted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on September 14, 2011.

    In the course of this meeting, Bp. Fellay listened to the explanations and details presented by Cardinal Levada, to whom he presented the situation of the Society of Saint Pius X and exposed the doctrinal difficulties posed by the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo Missae. <em.The desire for supplementary clarifications could lead to a new phase of discussions. [Emphasis added]

    At the end of this long audience of over 2 hours, Bp. Fellay received a project of a document proposing a Personal Prelature, in the case of an eventual canonical recognition of the Society of Saint Pius X. In the course of the meeting, the matter of the situation of the three other bishops of the Society was not discussed.

    At the end of this meeting, it was desired that the dialogue will be pursued that will allow the reaching of a solution for the good of the Church and of souls.

    Menzingen, June 14, 2012.

  25. Marcus der mit dem C says:


    I don’t see a coercive connection between an ordinariate and a rite different to the latin rite. It is true, that the construct of a personal ordinariate was created by Pope Benedict for the Anglicans, it has the archetypes of military ordinariates and non-latin-rite eparchies et al.

    The real difference between a personal ordinariate and personal prelature is the relationship to the local dioceses. A prelature might grandfather all existing chapels, churches, schools etc but it would make the FSSPX dependent of the local bishops for any new ministry. This is under normal circumstances and not assuming that His Holiness has indicated that he will generously overrule the local bishops every time as long as they act hostile to the FSSPX.

    An ordinariate would also raise the interesting question, if the FSSPX would have the right to vote and participate in the diocesan consulting comitees (I am not sure how you call them: diocesan comitee and priest comitee are my translations of Diözesanrat and Priesterrat) as the Anglicans can according to Anglicanorum Coetibus.

  26. asperges says:

    “Like Summorum Pontificum it will be an exercise of the papal authority that is full, supreme, and universal.” . Yes it will – and the bishops (in the UK at least) will adopt the usual tactics of indifference and not lift a finger to help the process, without being able directly to be blamed for its difficulties or hoped-for failure. But I’m sure the Pope will legislate accordingly to by-pass them.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    asperges, Would that bishops would obey these universal documents from the Pope. The Summorum is still ignored in Malta, where I would live if there was a Latin Mass there, at least in the winter to get away from cold England!!! The cynicism you express is not without some basis, but pray for those recalcitrant and less than orthodox men who are the majority of the bishops, sadly, in the UK.

  28. Supertradmum says:

    Marcus der mit dem C, the Ordinariate is not independent of the bishops de facto.

  29. Mary Jane says:

    This is great news. Praying they accept!

  30. Marcus der mit dem C says:


    According to Anglicanorum Coetibus VIII §1 the ordinarius of a personal ordinariate has the right to erect personal parishes after hearing the local diocesan bishop.

    In my humble opinion hearing a bishops counsel against being dependent to his permission is a major difference. It may be that a local bishop finds ways to put obstacles in the way of the ordinariate, but the position of the ordinarius would be same level to the diocesan bishop when seeking moderation in the Vatican, and not the position of an appealing subordinate.

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  32. Giuseppe says:

    Re. the military ordinariate. Was the military always an ordinariate? I recall when the late John Cardinal O’Connor was appointed Bishop of Scranton, he was a bishop in the Archdiocese of NY and he was the military vicar.

  33. Dcn Scott says:

    It seems that the novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is bearing fruit, as only prayer and fasting can do. I echo Fr. Z’s tagline for such posts, “Benedict XVI is the pope of Christian unity!”

  34. Dcn Scott says:

    Let’s keep imploring for a favorable response by the SSPX.

    I am very eager to read the final doctrinal preamble and pray that once unity (hopefully) is achieved it will be made public. I think it would give us great insight, as we prepare for the Year of Faith declared by the Holy Father to mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, on how to intepret the Council’s documents in accord with the pope’s “hermeneutic of reform in continuity.”

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  36. Mrs McG says:

    Praying like mad. I have a nephew being ordained tomorrow! If regularization occurs, everyone can thank the fervent prayers of one wheel-chair bound 80 year-old saintly grandmother of one of the new SSPX priests — my mother! I kid, I kid. I know a whole lot of people are praying — but I just can’t believe the desire of anyone else’s heart for the reunification is stronger than that of my mom.

  37. Marcus der mit dem C says:


    According to the military ordinariate for the US military was erected on 8th of September 1957.

    In Germany the ordinariate is a diocesan bishop in personal union at the moment Ex. Franz-Josef Overbeck, bishop of Essen.

  38. Supertradmum says:

    Marcus der mit dem C–I have much personal experience of the Ordinariate, I am writing a book about it,doing reseach and interviews; and I can assure that there is a lot of diplomacy with regards to the needs of the local bishop. Many Ordinariate priests are now supply priests for parishes in need. There are very few Ordinariate parish per se at this time for various reasons– the biggest being a lack of places for them to worship without changing schedules in existing parishes–promised Anglican buildings did not materialize. Only two bishops in England have given the Ordinariate separate parishes at this time, one in Clifton and one in the Portsmouth Diocese–Bishop Declan and Bishop Crispian.

    I would not want this to happen to the SSPX.

  39. acardnal says:

    @Guiseppe: Regarding the Military Ordinariate in the USA, the Ordinary of New York was for many years the Ordinary for the Military Ordinariate in the USA, too. The late Archbishop O’Connor (an Admiral in the Navy) was the last one as I recall. Under Blessed John Paul II the Ordinariate was redesignated as the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA with its own Archbishop. (Other countries have similar Ordinariates for their military and diplomatic corps.) It currently has an Archbishop and three Auxiliaries. Again, it is not to be confused with the Anglican Ordinariates (Walsingham in the UK and The Chair of Saint Peter in the USA) that recently came into existence via Anglicanorum Coetibus.

  40. robtbrown says:

    asperges says:

    “Like Summorum Pontificum it will be an exercise of the papal authority that is full, supreme, and universal.” . Yes it will – and the bishops (in the UK at least) will adopt the usual tactics of indifference and not lift a finger to help the process, without being able directly to be blamed for its difficulties or hoped-for failure.

    I could care less whether bishops are indifferent. The SSPX is already established in many dioceses and usually own their property.

  41. Centristian says:

    Bishop Fellay sez: “In no way would our relations be like those of a religious congregation with a bishop; rather they would be those of one bishop with another bishop, just like with the Ukrainians and the Armenians in the diaspora.”

    Um…really? How so, exactly?

    “…because we would have ordinary jurisdiction over the faithful. Thus we would be like a sort of diocese, the jurisdiction of which extends to all its faithful regardless of their territorial situation.”



    Ordinary jurisdiction over the faithful? Over what faithful? Suddenly Catholics of the Diocese of X who attend mass at an SSPX facility would become his “faithful” over whom he would have ordinary jurisdiction? How does he figure?

    How exactly would one define a “faithful” of the SSPX? What if a man goes to an SSPX chapel for 1000 Sundays in a row, but then suddenly decides to stop, and switches to his own parish in the Diocese of X? Who is that man’s bishop? The bishop of the Diocese of X or the bishop of the SSPX?

    Does Bishop Fellay really imagine that the lay people coming to SSPX masses would suddenly become “faithful” of the SSPX…the way Ukrainians Catholics are the “faithful” of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church? For goodness sake, that’s not a prelature he’s talking about, that’s a patriarchate!

    Somebody call Father Taft. Good night, nurse.

  42. acardnal says:

    Ordinary jurisdiction over the faithful? Over what faithful? Suddenly Catholics of the Diocese of X who attend mass at an SSPX facility would become his “faithful” over whom he would have ordinary jurisdiction? How does he figure?

    But Centristan that is exactly how an Ordinariate works. When I was in the military, I was under the jurisdiction of the Military Ordinariate. I attended Mass on the military base chapel – which was used by all faiths by the way. So if I was stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland as an member of the Army I was under the Military Ordinariate’s jurisdiction NOT the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland in whose geographic territory Fort Meade resides. Both have different Bishops.

    This is how the Anglican Ordinariates will work. Their parishioners are under their jurisdiction and their bishops (when they get some) even though the parish physically resides within the geographic territory of a Latin Rite bishop or an Eastern Rite Eparchy for that matter.

  43. Centristian says:

    SSPX ordinariate?


    First off, what ordinariate? I thought they were offered a personal prelature.

    Secondly, how would you define lay subjects of an SSPX ordinariate, in any event? With a military ordinariate it’s easy and obvious: it includes active members of the military. Same with members of Anglican groups that have converted enmasse and are subject to their ordinariate on account of their special circumstance. They were all once “faithful” of the Anglican Communion, now they’ve joined the Church under the auspices of this ordinariate formed to govern them.

    But the faithful who attend the services of SSPX clergy are not currently the “faithful” of the SSPX! These lay men and women are nothing more than Roman Catholics who reside within defined certain territorial jurisdictions and who are subject to their local ordinaries. The fact that they have also elected, either chronically or occasionally, to attend services offered by SSPX clergymen, does not change their situation. There is no such creature as an SSPX “faithful”.

    Again, these are Roman Catholic faithful. So they are completely unlike active members of the uniformed services or Anglican converts, and certainly have no such situation as Ukrainian Greek Catholics, or Copts, or other Catholics who are the faithful of ethnic Churches. Traditionally-minded (or perhaps even simply aestheticaly sensitive) Roman Catholics who prefer the ministrations of the SSPX over those of the FSSP or of the Institute of Christ the King or over the clergy of their diocese who may offer the Tridentine Mass or what have you, do not qualify as “diaspora”.

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  45. AnnAsher says:

    Happy Day !
    I thought ick was also a personal prelature?

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