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Vatican welcomes ‘encouraging’ SSPX response

By on Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the Society of St Pius X (CNS photo)

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the Society of St Pius X (CNS photo)

The superior of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) has signed a doctrinal preamble set out by the Vatican as a basis for further reconciliation talks, a top Vatican commentator said yesterday.

Andrea Tornielli, journalist for the Italian newspaper La Stampa, said Bishop Bernard Fellay had signed the document “with some slight modifications”.

The news could pave the way for the traditionalist group to be made a personal prelature, a non-geographical body like Opus Dei whose leader is appointed by the Pope.

The Vatican has confirmed this morning that it had received the response. Fr Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said it was “encouraging” and marks a “step forward”, according to the Catholic News Service. He said it would be examined “quickly” and passed on to the Pope “within a few weeks”.

French spokesman Fr Alain Lorans told the Swiss news agency APIC/KIPA that “we are still in a stage of studies” and that “not everything is already fixed”.

Mr Tornielli said that Bishop Fellay’s response, delivered to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had been taken as “positive” and contained merely “non-substantial” changes.

Earlier this week Mr Tornielli said that Bishop Fellay had written to bishops and priests of the SSPX reassuring them that “no concessions [would] be asked from the Society that touch upon the faith and that which derives from it”. He said, according to Mr Tornielli, that “nothing of a definitive nature has yet taken place, neither in the direction of a canonical recognition, not in the direction of a rupture, and [the negotiations were] thus in a moment of expectation”.

In November last year Bishop Fellay said that the preamble needed changes before it could be accepted by the SSPX. But last month Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi described the group’s response as “insufficient” and asked it to clarify its position in order to “avoid an ecclesial rupture with painful and incalculable consequences”.

The preamble, according to the Vatican, “states some doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary to guarantee fidelity” to the formal teaching of the Church.

At the same time, the Vatican have said, the preamble leaves room for “legitimate discussion” about “individual expressions or formulations present in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the successive magisterium” of the popes who came after the council.

The talks between the traditionalist group and the Vatican began in 2009 in an effort by Pope Benedict XVI to repair a 21-year break.

The break came in 1988 when Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained four bishops against papal orders. The excommunications imposed at the time were lifted by Benedict XVI in 2009.

  • Charles Martel

     Bishop Fellay was not elected Superior General by the 3 other bishops; he was elected by the 40 members of the General Chapter of the Society.

  • Nrobert2

    Part of the problem is that not all parishes, not all dioceses, are like yours. Some are truly disturbing, and some Catholics have no choice, unless they are lucky enough to have an SSPX chapel to attend. In some parishes, and some dioceses, Catholics are forced to sit through experimental Masses with unusual substances substituted for bread and wine, with all types of non-liturgical music, with parishoners dressed as if they’re on their way to a low-end bar, with altar girls in flip-flops and what looks like ill-fitting bathrobes and seven “extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers” and a cantor and a lector and a homilist, with “presiders” inventing new words to the consecration, and yes, “homilies” about politics and social justice and gender equity and sexual identity and sports and just about anything but God. I know, because I’ve seen all of this and that’s why I ended up at an SSPX chapel, where Mass is quiet, reverent, focused on God, on Jesus, and everything that happens in the chapel reflects how important that is. Yes, if you’re lucky enough to have a priest and/or Bishop who “gets it,” it’s easy to say “stay with the Church that in communion with Rome.” But it’s WAY harder when you have to expose yourself, week after week, to the kinds of sin-inducing behavior I noted above.

  • rtsully1297

    Maybe this is like the parable: 33Another parable he spoke to them: The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.
    SSPX is like leaven.  Many others will start seeing the reverence to Our Lord at Mass and in the SSPX follower’s homes more will follow and obedience will no longer be used to stop people from going.  

  • Charles Martel

     A Catholic Mass that lasted 2 hours? Come off it, mate. According to most critics of the Old Mass, it was all over within 15 minutes, what with the priest gabbling the Latin at 100 miles per hour, etc. You can’t have it both ways.

  • MJCarroll

    Despite how I sounded earlier I am in agreement with many things you say.

    Out of interest do you now equate the Catholic Church as being no different to say a non conformist church and infact what you are saying is that the SSPX is now the one true church?

  • Benedict Carter

    I would never say such a thing. 

    The Church is the Church is the Church, and always will be. HOWEVER, in our own time, the Anti-Church spoken of by Paul VI and JPII amongst many others has its tentacles wrapped around the Church (it’s an internal Protestant Revolt, “Reformation” II, this one inside the Church) that to tell where the Catholic Church actually is nowadays is NOT always easy or obvious. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Nail. On. Head.

  • Mike

    Jae I have read all your comments to Benedict and you are right on the money. I wish there more Catholics like you
    who could defend the Faith with such brilliance .

  • http://latinmasser.blogspot.com/ Nate C

    After reading the entire thread I wanted to share my perspective as a 33 yr old father of 4 who was raised in a post Vatican 2 Church.  I was poorly catechized by my parents and those in the Church with that responsibility.  We didn’t go to Mass regularly, we didn’t go to Confession, we didn’t do a lot of things that we probably should have.  I watched priests come and go with very little thought about their orthodoxy or the state of the Church in general.

    As I got older my desire to know my faith grew and I started reading Catholic books and reading about Church history.  EWTN was readily available on my cable package and I started watching the programming regularly.  The Holy Spirit answered my prayers and eventually my eyes were opened to the fullness of the Faith!

    I started noticing the liturgical abuses and other illicit practices.  I started noticing the lack of reverence for the Eucharist.  I don’t have time to give my whole life’s story, I’m sure you get the picture.

    I did a lot of visiting to local parishes in those years and became very discouraged by the state of our Diocese and I longed for what the reverence I remembered as a young child, and for what I was seeing on EWTN.

    As fate would have it, I eventually stumbled across the “Indult Mass” being offered at an old run down Polish parish in the inner-city.  The Novus Ordo Mass was celebrated more reverently than I had ever seen, the parishioners were also very respectful and reverent.  Again skipping a lot of details, I ended up attending this Latin Mass purely out of curiosity.

    My life changed forever that day.  I had the red Latin/English translation book to follow along but I just sat in the back and did what everyone else did.  What I do remember clearly, is being amazed at the reverence and spirituality of the Latin Mass, reading the English translation I could hardly contain my excitement!  I remember thinking, “This is what the Church did away with??”

    Needless to say my family switched to this parish and we drove well out of our way just to attend the Novus Ordo.  The Latin Mass followed the Novus Ordo so if you were behind schedule it sometimes worked out that we waited and went later.  Each time we entered into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in this Traditional Form, the more we longed for it, the more we knew in our hearts it was where we wanted to be.  Still the Latin Mass community was very intimidating for know-nothing modernists like ourselves.

    It’s now been 2 years since we made the decision to abandon the Novus Ordo and attend the Extraordinary Form full time, to become one of those “Latin Massers” that we used to casually refer to them as.

    Let me tell you this, we never would have walked into some SSPX chapel, it just never would have happened. We learned how to be better Catholics by the example set by those who attend this Mass.  A family that sat in the front pew ended up being our biggest help in regards to behavior, dress, reverence, etc. and we never actually talked with them.  As of a few months ago they simply stopped showing up and I have to presume they went to the SSPX chapel in the area.  I can’t help but feel like people like me and my family drove them away.  I mean that’s how I feel, but they helped me spiritually so much.  Just the size of their family was such a reinforcement to my faith and struggle with being open to God’s will in my life.  I’m afraid that they saw my family as a bad example and a distraction though we are trying so hard to raise our children to be respectful during Mass, to dress them and ourselves appropriately, etc.

    I then come to a site like this today and read all these comments which seem to reinforce my fears that ultra-conservative “SSPX” types see no place for someone like myself and my family who are on a spiritual journey.  I love the Latin Mass so much now, I can’t live without it, I long to meet the Lord on the Alter every Sunday, I have a fire that burns in my heart for this experience very week, something that I seldom experienced in the past.  I try to share this with the few remaining Catholics in my family and the fallen away Catholics in my life.  I try to share this with anyone who will listen, so they can share in the grace!

    I can’t get anyone to join us yet.  My brother & sister-in-law came once but they were like fish out of water.  Others are afraid because it’s in Latin and they don’t know what to do.  What if this Mass was not here in this Diocesan parish?  How many people have followed a path like mine?  The SSPX needs to be reconciled because we need them IN OUR CHURCH!  Right now most people look at the EF Mass as some fringe group of people that will eventually just go away.  They don’t realize it’s the future of the Church because they are being deceived!  I don’t want to read comments like those posted above that only fuel the fires of division.  Tides are changing in the Church, if the SSPX fail to reconcile all the momentum we have been building may be lost!

  • jae

    Its true Jabba, here is the quote:

    “The See of Peter and the posts of authority in
    Rome being occupied by anti-Christs, the destruction of the Kingdom of Our Lord
    is being rapidly carried out even within His Mystical Body here below,
    especially through the corruption of the Holy Mass ”
    ArchBishop Lefebvre, August 29, 1987 {Letter to the Future Bishops]  

  • JabbaPapa

    The See of Peter is the Diocese of Rome ; not the Pope.

    And “anti-Christs” does not have the meaning that you’re apparently providing it with — it has the more theological meaning of those who are spreading teachings contrary to those of the Christ.

    He meant that there were many such people in positions of influence at the Vatican corrupting the Church from within.

    There is no condemnation whatsoever of the Pope in that quote.

    To be fair, the language he used is very easy to misinterpret in your precise manner, using as he does a vocabulary that is more typical of circa 12th-17th century Catholicism than that of late 20th century. This does not mean that Lefebvre was being out of touch or archaic — it means that he was expressing his traditionalist concerns using an appropriately traditional language and vocabulary — because the truths and revelations of 12th-17th Catholicism are also truths about the Church both before 12th and after 17th centuries.

    This necessary acceptance of both Ancient and Mediaeval Church teaching as being vibrantly alive in the Church of our times is part and parcel of the very hermeneutic of continuity that the Holy Father is so urgently requesting of us.

  • MJCarroll

    There is a concept that has been spoken about for a while now known by various names including ‘the Catholic Church of all the Catholicisms’, ‘NuChurch of all the Catholicisms’ and ‘Pan-doctrinal Catholicism’. I can definitely see this is occurring in the Bishops Conference of England & Wales.

    I understand that you would already say that there has been many fissures with Rome. However, I think that the most significant break with Catholic teaching (by this I mean something that is glaringly obvious) is the rubber stamping by the Bishops of the Liverpool Care Pathway. They will argue that the recently updated guidelines can be accepted by Catholics.

    There are a growing number of Catholics that categorically disagree with this statement (I personally vehemently disagree with it). I will not go in to the fine detail here but I believe this is the first time that a chasm has opened up between the Bishop’s and true Catholic teaching.

    I understand that you would say that there have been other things but, what I am saying is that this is more of a break on a seismic scale and categorically goes head to head against Humanae Vitae. I would go as far to say that the Bishop’s in question have shown a level of catastrophic incompetence at a basic common sense level with out even having to go in to the spiritual side of the issue.

    Unless this specific issue is dealt with in this country then the fissure will become more seismic in the future.

    I am not saying that the other issues are not important but this puts clear water between the Bishops and Church teaching.

  • MJCarroll

    There is a concept that has been spoken about for a while now known by various names including ‘the Catholic Church of all the Catholicisms’, ‘NuChurch of all the Catholicisms’ and ‘Pan-doctrinal Catholicism’. I can definitely see this is occurring in the Bishops Conference of England & Wales.

    I understand that you would already say that there has been many fissures with Rome. However, I think that the most significant break with Catholic teaching (by this I mean something that is glaringly obvious) is the rubber stamping by the Bishops of the Liverpool Care Pathway. They will argue that the recently updated guidelines can be accepted by Catholics.

    There are a growing number of Catholics that categorically disagree with this statement (I personally vehemently disagree with it). I will not go in to the fine detail here but I believe this is the first time that a chasm has opened up between the Bishop’s and true Catholic teaching.

    I understand that you would say that there have been other things but, what I am saying is that this is more of a break on a seismic scale and categorically goes head to head against Humanae Vitae. I would go as far to say that the Bishop’s in question have shown a level of catastrophic incompetence at a basic common sense level with out even having to go in to the spiritual side of the issue.

    Unless this specific issue is dealt with in this country then the fissure will become more seismic in the future.

    I am not saying that the other issues are not important but this puts clear water between the Bishops and Church teaching.

  • sorojena

    … very sorry, my prayers go out for you, because from the look of things you might be forced to branch out from this SSPX that’s about to join Rome and form your own version…What fascinates me is the fact that there are many Catholics who really don’t admire the SSPX and are wondering what Benedict is really up to, so maybe you better join arms with them and stop this madness as you have one thing in common = You are all Fundamentalists!.  What worries me is the fact that, you guys seem to enjoy closing other believers by claiming that you are right and anyone who doesn’t pray like you is wrong.  I am not only speaking to you, but also to your cousin fundamentalists elsewhere (Catholic ones included)… Is it really Christian to see your group as more Christian than others? I wonder what you feel whenever you meet those other Christians who have stopped celebrating the Eucharist (Pentecostals), I hope you don’t count them as less human.  Christ help us, its good that our current leaders (Benedict and Fellay) have respect for each other… Lets work for unity, Unity in Diversity, unity that respects people with different forms of practice…

  • Benedict Carter

    Excellent post. Yes, reconciliation is needed. And some SSPX faithful will need time to relax a little. Your story will become very commonplace in years to come. Deo gratias!

  • Benedict Carter

    Paul Priest, a Catholic commentator, feels exactly as you do on the Pathway subject and his stance persuaded me too.

  • MiserereMeiDeus

    Get ready to pucker up and kiss a Koran.

  • James

     “useless generation appointed by JPII”. that is a very uncharitable thing for a Catholic to say…. Never mind “traditionalist Catholic”, such comments are not befitting for a Christian.

  • James

    I forgot that “Traditionalist Catholics” are more Catholic than the Pope… Grow up you immature bunch of hypocrites.

  • James

     Yes, these morons are no different to Martin Luther and his gang of heretics who wanted to excommunicate themselves from the Holy Mother Church.

  • Steve

     I didn’t “celebrate” His passion and death. I meditated and prayed to Him for it. I celebrated His resurrection. I pray for the end to the cultural decline. The SSPX chapels are not a “bunker” but a way to attend and pray at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as it was for many centuries. . It is about Him, not about ‘us’.

  • Benedict Carter

    Do you want accuracy or “nice” platitudes?

    Take, for example, ++ Nichols, who is on record as being in favour of Civil Partnerships, which run absolutely contrary to Catholic moral teaching; or how about Cardinal Wuerl, who has suspended a priest for denying Communion to a publicly-known unrepentant lesbian in an American Parish? Or how about Cardinal Martini, once the darling of the “progressives”, who has recently praised homosexual relationships? Or how about Bishop Bonny in Belgium, appointed by Benedict XVI, who has recently gone on record agitating for women “priests”. 

    There are COUNTLESS other examples – and even worse ones, where doctrines have been publicly questioned or derided.

    Yes, a totally useless generation. I sometimes think that the British are so isolated that most haven’t got a clue about what is happening in the Church. Get real.

  • Benedict Carter

    A weighty contribution.

  • Benedict Carter

    James = Jae.

    Sock-puppet!

  • Taubada71

    sounds very self righteous. The very thing Jesus condemned.

  • Taubada71

    It’snot Catholic, it’s Roman Catholic.

  • Taubada71

    Not so. There are plenty so called ” authentic” Catholics that are not saints but  who are self-righteous and only interested in pressing their views on everyone else.

  • Taubada71

    you do the work of the devil

  • padraig

    “therefore SSPXs as well as sedes interpretation of tradition is flawed.Are you saying that the Mass that SSPX say is not traditional but that the Novus Ordo Mass is traditional? Really incredible.

  • Sweetjae

    Agree, but I don’t agree regarding the See of Peter sometimes calles the Holy See, the Church of Rome or Vatican. WHO else is the HEAD of these titles? So when he said referred to the Holy See that’s obviously including the pope, does it make sense?

  • Taubada71

    The church didn’t claim to be infalliable until the 19th century by Pope Pius 9th and then most bishops didn’t agree with him. It wasn’t until then that it became a dogma.
    God ( Jesus ) didn’t establish any church only a community of Jewish believers who still worshiped in the Jewish was. If you’re looking for a founder of the church, look to St Paul.