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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.

  • Benedict Carter

    “And before you know it the Church will be extinct”.

    You’re not a Catholic, then.

  • Benedict Carter

    Some close friends of mine run a very-well known prayer apostolate in Fatima, Portugal. They have sent today an email to their thousands of friends throughout the world, which closes with the following wise words:

    “We would ask many of our Traditionalist and Society friends to remember this:  If all goes, as we think it will, over the next few weeks and months, please remember that this is only a battle won, not the war. This war we find ourselves in, for the very soul of Holy Mother Church, has been going on for well over one hundred years. Popes such as Leo XIII, St. Pius X, and Pius XII saw the dangers of Modernism, Religious Liberty, and false Ecumenism. They all wrote and preached about it extensively.  We must also remember, that once canonical regularization is given to the Society, many bishops around the world will go ballistic. The French and German Bishops’ Conferences have already gone on the attack against our Holy Father.  It will get much, much worse before it gets better.
    However, if we hold to the Faith of our ancestors, the Faith of all time, we, in the end, will win.  With Our Lady by our side, how can we lose?”

  • allison

    I heard a Cardinal recently retort to the nonsense that disciples received Communion in the hand and not on the tongue and that we should also.  He said that Christ was giving Communion to his disciples to become priests and that is why they received in the hand. In other words, their hands became holy at the Last Supper…

  • Klu

    His Holiness does not want those vile things that you mentioned in the Church either.  That is why he’s making every effort to bring the SSPX into a regular canonical status.  Once that occurs, the SSPX can begin to evangelize from within and overwhelm the destructive progressive forces that have caused so much damage.

    Remember that the Catholic Church is the body of Christ and that it has been through much turmoil down through the ages.  Never say that you don’t want to part of the Church.  Like His Excellency, Bishop Fellay, you should desire full communion with the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  To say otherwise reveals a desire to not be Catholic.

  • JabbaPapa

    Dear Kate — you make some very good, and very religious points.

    You may on the other hand be unaware of the true extent of the anti-Catholic and anti-Christian feeling that has been expressed in that place — nor the distress, pain, and suffering that this anti-Christianity has provided in that place.

    Including in people’s personal and professional lives.

    Christ never asked us to be kind nor courteous towards our enemies — He asks us to turn the other cheek after they have struck the first.

  • Nat_ons

    Sadly, there are a great many in the Society of Saint Pius X who want to be the church catholic not merely part a society of devotion wrought by God to serve it .. and especially all the souls being lost daily through want of witness to the faith (rather than just one more self-vaunting opinion).

    The choice is yours; enter into communion with God’s beloved called to be saints at Rome (not least those you so patently despise) or drift off into the wandering errors of Old Catholicism, Anglicanism and Donatism.

    What I recall of the saintly, and so rightly horrified, Archbishop Lefebvre is not a spirit of divisionism at any cost, but communion in right-witness .. if he were so permitted (as it may be now).

  • Mddoff

    For those concerned that SSPX masses will be reduced jean wearing, electric guitar shows I just want to say. I am inclined to look at this as a movement by the Vatican towards orthodoxy not away from it. The return of Novus Ordo and other orthodox movements by the church suggest a movement away, not toward, a watered down Catholicism.

  • JabbaPapa

    Ecclesial union is the exact opposite of war, dear Benedict.

  • JabbaPapa

    Errrrm …. Conservative/Reformist is probably what you’re both fishing for.

  • Benedict Carter

    There is a civil war going on in the Church. Haven’t you noticed? Two mutually contradictory views of not only what the Church is, but what Christ Himself is. 

    One view is true, not both. And more: one is of God; the other is of hell, ultimately.

  • Benedict Carter

    What I have written, I have written.

  • gnasher2000

    If the reality confirms the rumours, this is good news indeed, and I write as one who generally attends  vernacular NO masses.  Our Pope is a good and wise man, who is a blessing to the Church.  He is doing all he can to restore dignity, beauty and reverence in the liturgy, and the readmission of the SSPX will certainly contribute to this laudable goal.

  • JabbaPapa

    Not just one view of God is true. Not just two.

    Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

    This civil war is not of the Church, and the Kingdom of Heaven is not a battlefield.

  • Benedict Carter

    Apocalyse 12:7-9

    And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels: And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

    And that, Jabba, is what will now happen with the neo-Modernists and the neo-Protestants who have, in just half a century, brought the Church to Her knees.

    Sure, it will take time and the strife will be real, but victory, with the SSPX as the Church’s new storm-troopers (the Jesuits fell away completely many years ago) is assured.

  • JabbaPapa

    I am honestly surprised by this protestantised teleology.

  • Benedict Carter

    I’m bewildered by most of your comments, Jabba

    It was you who said that Heaven was not a battleground. But it was, no? And anti-Church exists within the vitals of the Church – the last six Popes at least have all said so. We see the culmination of the war in our own time, sadly.

  • JabbaPapa

    Fair enough :)

  • JabbaPapa

    Ah !!

    I Think I see — the earthly Church can of course be called a battleground.

    Ecclesial union is nevertheless the opposite of this.

    As for mutual bafflement, it’s the necessary precondition of being able to learn from each other :-)

  • Joseph Jerome Wan

    Guys, the words ‘authentic’ and being a ‘good’ Catholic isn’t really your entire aim of life is it? There is a difference between being a ‘good’ Catholic and a word we should instead aspire to… being a ‘saint’. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Ecclesial union presupposes orthodoxy. The liberals and Modernists are not orthodox, therefore perfect ecclesial communion with them is not possible. It would be better if they actually left the Church whose faith they no longer cleave to.

  • Benedict Carter

    One leads to the other.

  • allison

    Msgr. Bux has Communion in the hand dead in his sights. His articles and interviews make me certain we will see an end to that practice. As advisor to Pope Benedict on “all things goofy in the mass,” Msgr. Bux has openly spoken that it should end. It was he that convinced Pope Benedict to end Communion in the hand at any Vatican masses.

  • JabbaPapa

    Your presentation of the nature of orthodoxy is quite accurate, in my opinion, and you make a good point.

    The Christ nevertheless converted nobody by violence and aggression, but only by friendship and truthfulness, surrender and crucifixion. Passion and Resurrection.

    As for “perfect ecclesial communion” — this exists only in Heaven.

    Otherwise, suggesting that “it would be better if they actually left the Church” is pretty much anathema.

    Evangelisation is the process of invitation, not the process of rejection.

  • Benedict Carter

    Good news indeed if so, Allison.

  • Benedict Carter

    By the way, if the Holy Father regularizes their position without them having to amend what they believe (which is the case, if one reads the informed lay press, such as Le Figaro), then this proves they were never schismatic. 

    Sorry you are a victim of the nu-Church propaganda against the SSPX. 

  • dcnraw

     Let me get this right.  The priest and subordinate bishops of SSPX would be disobedient to the designated leader of SSPX?  There’s a surprise!

  • MJCarroll

    I am afraid not. Disobedience counts the the SSPX out. The Gospel is clear on this issue. There are NO grey areas.

  • MJCarroll

    Big words from Benedict Carter but what have you actually done to make a difference? Just moan about it?

  • CJ

     Jesus chose Judas as one of the twelve and consecrated him to the episcopacy. You do not have a supernatural view of the Church…. The Church’s purity depends not on its sinful subjects, but by the fact that it is infallible and established by God Himself. Of course this doesn’t mean you should go to the Novus Ordo mass.

  • CJ

     Jesus chose Judas as one of the twelve and consecrated him to the episcopacy. You do not have a supernatural view of the Church…. The Church’s purity depends not on its sinful subjects, but by the fact that it is infallible and established by God Himself. Of course this doesn’t mean you should go to the Novus Ordo mass.

  • Parasum

    It will be very interesting to see where this goes.

  • Jae

    Can you please quote one teaching from the documents of V2 that endorse abuses like clown or balloon masses?

    Moreso, what would stop somebody to blame the Council of Trent for its “Baptism by Desire” protested against by old Catholics and labelled it “liberal” in those days to wiggle out of their strict interpretation of Extra Nulla?

    How about blaming the Council of Florence for the doctrines of purgatory and indulgences labelled as corrupt ideas from church hierarchy that inspired liberal clergy and Protestantism?

    So on and so forth. Does it make sense to you blaming Vatican 2 for the liberal clergy?

  • Jae

    So the pope and Church are saving face? Ok if that makes you happy. Peace.

  • Jae

    What really? The SSPX is right all along by its pseudo doctrines of, ” a catholic can refuse obedience to the authority of any Council he thinks not orthodox to his liking? Also “a catholic can pick and choose which Church Council is orthodox according to his understanding of tradition”?

    My sincere belief is that the leadership of SSPX came to realized that they are not Rome. Anyways, I really think the whole group will splinter aside from the previous five that came out a few years ago because there are hardliners who still think they are Peter.

  • JTLiuzza

     Those are, indeed, wise words, Benedict.  It will most certainly get worse.  But that is absolutely necessary for genuine renewal in Holy Mother Church.  There have been tens of millions of Rosaries offered from around the world for this pending reconciliation.  We must step up our Rosaries, fasting, and offering of Masses.

  • Jae

    The mere fact there is ongoing years of doctrinal discussion for the purpose of full reconciliation to the flock that obviously rebutted your position. Schism defined by Canon law is the withdrawal of obedience to the Supreme Pontiff and the Bishops in communion with him, which even the SSPX admitted of suspending partial obedience because of what they perceived as “contradictions”.

  • Parasum

    He can say that – but how can he show that it is true ?

    The Apostles were not Catholics (so to speak), but Jews. As was Jesus. They attended the Temple even after Pentecost. St. Paul was arrested there in the late 50s, while discharging a Nazirite vow he had made. One can’t read back later ideas into earlier times. It is very unwise to let theology and doctrine blot out historivcal contingency – Christian faith is founded on very specific historical details, not on abstract theorising: that is why an otherwise forgotten Roman official is mentioned in the Creed: his procuratorship in the Roman province of Judaea is when God was crucified.

    The Cardinal is thinking in a thoroughly unhistorical way. He might as well say the Apostles wore spectacles or drove Volvos, or wrote Encyclicals to the Catholics of Sydney, reminding them to read all 72 books of the Bible.

    As for hands being particularly holy, that is the sort of clericalist silliness that sets the “holy” clergy apart from the (implicitly) “unholy” laity. This splitting of the Church into the holy few, and the great unwashed many, is entirely foreign to the Christianity of the NT, for which *all* Christians are holy, are priests, are kings, in Christ, the King of Kings & High Priest & Saint of Saints. Holiness in Christianity is not a matter of belonging to a privileged caste of cultic officials, but of living by faith in the Righteous & Holy Christ. Holiness is interior, by the grace of the indwelling Spirit of Holiness, before it is exterior. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Many posts bemuse me. Yours is pretty much the top of the list.

    How about playing a direct part in the restoration of Catholicism in Azerbaijan, 60 years after the 2,000 Catholics of Baku were sent to forced labour (about ten came back) and the six priests were shot? 

    And have set up two Catholic men’s groups. 

    But enough of all that. 

  • Benedict Carter

    The rot started 60 years or more before Vatican II. That Council was the boil bursting.

  • Benedict Carter

    If you want winners and losers, the SSPX are most certainly the winner from this process. But they themselves are too humble to think in those terms. You don’t know their men at all, do you?

  • Benedict Carter

    Disobedience to WHAT? The Catholic Faith? I think not.

  • Benedict Carter

    Cardinals have said openly they are not in schism. Others have visited their seminaries and called them “models of priestly formation”: Pope Benedict has said their position is not one of schism. 

  • Benedict Carter

    They have no “pseudo doctrines”. They hold the Catholic Faith that ALL Catholics once held. It is not they who have changed. Think about that.

  • Parasum

    You’re throwing out baby & bath-water together. V2 was convoked, suspended, resumed & ended by *papal* authority. Its acts were approved by the Pope. If it is “demonic”, the entire edifice of Catholic apologetic for the uniquely Divine authority of the CC colapses like a house of cards, and Jesus becomes a lying fantasist, an egocentric maniac, or an apostle of satan, in no way better than hundreds of other impostors and false prophets. Or else God is the author of lies. Or there is no God. Or perhaps a bevy of contending deities, having fun by tormenting the human race with delusive hopes.   

    If this exercise of Papal authority could not keep the Church from falling into error, there is no reason to think it must have done so at any other time: Papal authority does not, after all, protect the Church, but, after all is a major help to pushing it into error. So it could be that Florence, Trent, Vatican I, were as wrong as V2 is alleged to be. What reason is there to assume that if one Council is wrong, no others are too ?  Their errors may not be obvious – but that is no argument whatever that they are not as wrong as V2. The logic of your position is suicidal :(  Men may resist logic, or not see where it leads, but that will not prevent their living out the consequences of the positions they hold.

    The alternative is to entertain the possibility that, just possibly, your analysis may be in error.  Is that utterly beyond the bounds of possibility ? “To err is human…” – who is there on earth, in the Church or not, who never ever makes mistakes ? The mistake may not be with V2, but with those who claim it is wrong or bad or whatever.

    As for the evils mentioned – they are no objection to V2, unless the evils that followed Nicea  I are to be allowed to disqualify it. Trent did not stop Protestantism – Protestantism did fabulously after 1564. Are we to jettison Trent ? A lot of people left the Church after Vatican I – so let’s ignore what the Council, which must therefore have been wrong.  So what if there are problems in the Church today ? Why should there not be ? There always are, & always have been, & always will be. What gives us the right to be spared scandals, crimes, & abuses, in our time, when others have had to endure them in theirs ?   

    It’s all very well blaming others – but Traditionalists are also part of the problem. Those who don’t allow for the possibility that they are in part to blame, but think of themselves as faithful, “unlike that publican”, and forget that it was love and not orthodoxy that St.Paul praised, manage only to look like Pharisees. Do they want that ? If Traditionalists want to mend the Church, let them do it by love, not by rejection of others. Otherwise Traditionalists are being as worldly as anyone – but in a different way.   

  • Jae

    Bravo parasum, well said. May I quote you in dealing with recalcitrant people? God bless.

  • Parasum

    He commanded His followers to “love one another” – and showed in the Cross just how costly that could be.

    If we are, or want to be, Christians, what right can we have to dilute His *extremely*, terrifyingly, demanding teaching ? “Love is kind” – St Paul told the Corinthians:

    1 Cor 13:1     If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
    1Cr 13:2     And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
    1Cr 13:3     If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
    1Cr 13:4     Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
    1Cr 13:5     it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
    1Cr 13:6     it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
    1Cr 13:7     Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
    1Cr 13:8     Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
    1Cr 13:9     For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;
    1Cr 13:10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
    1Cr 13:11     When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
    1Cr 13:12     For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
    1Cr 13:13     So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

    He was aware of being imperfect – that did not allow him to “lower the bar”, even for himself.

  • Jae

    Benedict my brother, you still don’t get it , do you? SSPX hold the true catholic faith and tradition? Well, the Sedes, Conclavists, old Catholics etc said the same exact words too yet they differ diametrically? So who is who?

    Denying pseudo doctrines…. Well, is it in Sacred Tradition that a catholic can refuse obedience to a validly ratified Council of the Church?

    Does Tradition teach that a catholic can pick and choose which Council is orthodox to his liking and understanding?

    All of these are practiced and preached by the SSPX yet they claim they are faithful to Sacred Tradition.

  • Jae

    While I agree with you that both are sins of disobedience in part both of the SSPX and liberal clergy. Only the former acting before and the latter acting after they assent to a binding teaching of the Church.

  • Alan F.

    Benedict XVI has not renounced any of the errors he has embraced since before Vatican II. Rome has not at all returned to Tradition. In fact, Benedict XVI has even stated that he wishes to merge the Novus Ordo and the Mass into some sort of a hybrid rite. Putting Sacred Tradition at the mercy of Modernism like this would be a betrayal of the Faith. It would subject truth to error. It would absolutely be a sell out, and more.

    We have it on good authority that the three bishops are not happy with the present dealings and are not willing to go along with a sell out. I have good faith that the majority of the priests will not accept such a thing, also.

    “Yes, I know him personally.” You’re not alone there.

  • Benedict Carter

    To both of you:

    I condemned the so-called SPIRIT of Vatican II as demonic (and that condemnation is quite sincere).

    It really would help if people read posts before they reply.