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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.

  • Jae

    Humble? Oh yes I know them for sure….refusing a direct command by the Pontiff not to ordain Bishops, refusing a direct plea from another Pontiff not to ordain priest as a sign of goodwill while the doctrinal discussion is still ongoing in Winona, U.S., refusing to heed a judgment made by the highest Legislator of the Church to which they are prohibited of doing any canonical ministries…..what did they do instead, listen and obey themselves!

  • Benedict Carter

    All quite correct.

    But He Himself whipped the money changers out of the Temple, Didn’t He?

  • Alan F.

    The present Magisterium cannot contradict the Magisterium of any other time. The Pope has authority to teach the Faith, to hand it down just as he received it, not to change it, or ‘reinterpret’ it. If the Pope strays from the Faith as it has always been taught and understood then it is every Catholic’s duty to keep to the Faith of the Church, even if it means having to disobey a pope. As a virtue, Faith outranks Obedience.

  • Jae

    You are appealing to your presuppositions again, yet can’t produce a single iota of evidence asked.

  • Benedict Carter

    Some fair-minded theologians have noted that the SSPX accepts far more of Vatican II than the “spirit of Vatican II-ers” do. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Forget the bloody sedevacantists and so-called conclavists. You are always going on about them. There are about seven of them world-wide living in log cabins in the middle of nowhere. Entirely irrelevant. The SSPX has getting on for 600 priests and over a million faithful. 

  • Alan F.

    The SSPX are a legitimate priestly congregation, established with Roman approval. They have never been licitly suppressed, they were also denied an appeal in contradiction to Canon Law. They were never validly excommunicated. They’re perfectly Catholic and they remain in good standing in the Church; they’re not in any position where they need to make any “reconciliation” with the Holy See. Rather, those in the Holy See must make a reconciliation with Sacred Tradition, from which they departed at Vatican II.

  • Jae

    Sadly yes though I honestly think you and SSPX didn’t realize it yet until the signing by Bishop Fellay. Catholic Faith requires an abiding catholic to give his obedience and assent to all Extraordinary and Ordinary Teaching Magisterium of the Church which V2 falls under.

  • Jae

    Similar words of your founder and Martin Luther when they both said almost verbatim, that the Seat of Peter is occupied by anti-Christ. What can you expect when people just believed in themselves and their abilities as authority.

  • Benedict Carter

    I honestly can’t be bothered, Jae. You wouldn’t be persuaded, would you? Read the original writings of the Neocat founders if you want proof.

  • Benedict Carter

    The Pope at the start of his Pontificate accepted their argument of a state of necessity when he told + Fellay at an early meeting that the state of necessity no longer existed as he was going to deal with things. 

    And he has done, hasn’t he (though nowhere near as much as many people would like)?

  • Jae

    You didn’t get the logic behind the comparison between you and other ultra traditionalists, eh? What do you have that they don’t have besides your fallible interpretation of Tradition? Is it clear?

  • Benedict Carter

    See Alan’s post above. Faith outranks obedience when the Catholic Faith is not being upheld at the top.

    As Canon Law states that a Catholic cannot suffer canonical penalty when he is certain, according to conscience, that he is acting correctly as a Catholic, even if the SSPX was wrong (it isn’t), they couldn’t and shouldn’t have suffered any penalty for it. 

  • Benedict Carter

    I repeat what I wrote above. You can hardly criticise me justly when I didn’t write what Parasum says I wrote. 

  • Benedict Carter

    I really don’t see what you are driving at. I am just a simple Catholic layman who refuses to be a protestant.

  • Jae

    Though you have good points, the real meat is, WHO is going to say authoritatively who strays from the Faith? Who is the authority ordained by God to settle dispute and interpret both the Bible and Tradition?

    Popes Pius X, Boniface VIII were the Magisterium of their time and what they have taught and written in their Letters and encyclicals for their time and were interpreted by them and were now taken as part of Tradition. Now since we can’t ask them because they are dead of what they truly mean and how to apply for us today, that job now belongs to the present Magisterium.

    For Pete’s sake, Protestants also did away with the written Word of God, the Bible to interpret it apart from the Magisterium of the Church, look where they are now, hopefully SSPX don’t fall in the same hole with Tradition, look at where the Sedes, old Catholics, Conclavists etc right now.

  • Jae

    By the way, if you are mistaken then may God have mercy on your soul otherwise you should be certain of infalibillity because only the Holy Spirit can convoke a validly ratified Ecumenical Council, nobody else. Recant and repent?

  • Jae

    Same justification of Martin Luther when he appealed to his conscience thus borned the novel idea of “primacy of conscience”. Well even Bin Laden and Hitler really believes they were following their good conscience, do you get it?

  • Bella123

    Jae:  I know Bishop Fellay personally. What would surprise people is that he and Pope Benedict are on friendly terms..not adversarial as reported. Fellay has been a frequent visitor to the Vatican over the years and the Pope has always called him “Bishop.” When he was preparing to free the Latin Mass for all priests, Fellay was made aware of it in advance and the Pope made some very dramatic statements to him regarding the attacks he (Benedict) would face soon afterwards.There  ARE a number of sympathetic priests, bishops and cardinals inside the Vatican who quietly support SSPX. Pope Benedict has never asked Bishop Fellay to cancel ordinations. When the Williamson holocaust media disaster was occurring, the Pope asked Fellay to move the Econe Ordinations to another country which Fellay did without complaint. Humble? You bet! Tough as nails? You bet. A very kind person.

  • Benedict Carter

    Canon Law my friend is not the same thing as Luther’s conscience! 

  • Jae

    The appeal by Bishop Lefevbre of the clause, “state of necessity” has been denied with finality by the Highest Legislator of the Church. PERIOD! Its like appealing to the Supreme Court on the sentence of Death penalty, one can deny the final decision of the Court but still goes to the death row so also with Bishop Lefevbre he did deny the final decision of the Supreme Pontiff but it doesn’t mean he is right. Do you get it?

  • Bella123

    SSPX has “pseudo doctrines??”  Jae, seriously? Referring to them as “a Catholic who can pick and choose?” Again, seriously? You just defined a cafeteria Catholic. Last time I checked, they like the new mass rules. You know, the one you get to go to on Saturday night because you’re busy shopping on Sunday? Pure lunacy! When was the last time you picked up Thomas Aquinas or Divine Intimacy or the Sermons of the Desert Fathers? Tradition as taught by just a few I just mention, is desperately needed in the church at tis time and Pope Benedict has clearly come to see that.  It is not just the SSPX he is calling back in union. Other groups as well. 

  • Jae

    My friend the proper and correct interpretation of any Law of country, including Canon Law is subject to an Authority primarily because it cannot interpret itself. That is why we have the Supreme Court to interpret and pass a final judgment between disputants, do we? The question is, WHO is your Supreme Court? You? Any group that agrees with your interpretation? If we have this in the real world, chaos is the outcome!

  • Jae

    Does V2 teach the neocat’s way? Can you produce the document endorsing and teaching such practice? Do you know they are being investigated for liturgical abuse?

  • Benedict Carter

    Deny the Pope’s own words if you will ……

  • Benedict Carter

    Even the Pope acts according to Canon Law. You are asking me stupid questions.

  • Benedict Carter

    I know all about them.

  • Jae

    Bella, obviously you didnt see my point, I was referring to the SSPXs practice of giving obedience only up to the 20th Council of the Church and refuse the 21st Council. Luther did the same thing when he gave approval only up to the Council of Ephesus according to their idea of orthodoxy. Do you get the point?

    If one refuse any Council because one deems it in error then what does it stop him from rejecting others?

  • Bella123

    They reelected him to continue the negotiations with the full authority of the SSPX. They are on record saying so. “Will not accept it?” Really? The choice is to accept and obey their Superior General or create a split. Even Father M and Bishop W will not go there.

  • Jae

    Obedience is the KEY…..pride is the opposite, that you think you have the true Faith. Lucifer fell to the deepest hell because of disobedience.

    Moreso, I agree with you that the present Magisterium cannot contradict the past Magisterium because of the Indefectibility of the Church promised by Christ, therefore, SSPXs as well as Sedes interpretation of Tradition is flawed.

  • Bella123

    Are you Catholic? Because you appear to have missed much of the Catechism. If you don’t understand the Catholic teaching of the Holy Orders and the role of the laity, then you are a non-Catholic cruising websites to pick fights.  

  • Jae

    Yes of course one must act according to the Law if one wanted to be in good standing, the point of argument is not about that rather if there is a dispute between two parties about the Law, who is the proper entity to decide who’s right and who’s wrong?

  • Bella123

    Even John the 23rd publicly said the Council needed ” to be reigned in.” He was concerned it was very much going off script. Paul the 6th as well.Where do you get the idea that the popes since Vatican 2 have not been very, very concerned about serious problems with it? You need to brace yourself for the  much touted “reform of the reform.”  It’s just around the corner and not because of SSPX.

  • Dolorosa
  • Catholic XTC

    I lived it. People were so bored by not understanding the Mass that the men went out and smoked cigarettes and to spank the children that could not sit petrified wood still for two hours, because they could not bear to sit there any longer. The women said private devotions to pass the time. While Vatican II made many wrong turns, it was also a necessary thing to shake up the Mass and get us involved in it. I want to love my Mass, I want to understand my Mass, I want to be a part of the Mass. I remember clearly some homilies where the priests were so tired and bored that one routinely fell asleep while praying. I find it offensive that people who are too young to remember, or people too old and ignorant to remember how it was should have the audacity to proclaim that I am going to hell because I chose to follow the Magisterium of the Church. Sure, it was hard, and I even remember verbatim parts of the Mass that were removed so many years ago, because I had a very hard time adjusting to the changes. But some things are good, and I will love to go to hear the Mass in Latin when I CHOOSE to go to a Latin Mass, and not because some hard core, antiquated “Catholic” forgets that the Bible ALSO says not to argue among ourselves, AND judge not lest ye be judged, because you WILL be judged by the same yardstick that you measure others; yet you forget that we are ALL Catholic and ALL have faith the God remains with us always and will guide us where we need to be. It does not have to be any more complicated than that.

  • Catholic XTC

    Yet, it is not much of a sacrifice if I prefer vegitables and seafood… which I do. While I do abstain from meat, I have to add other sacrifices in order to make it a sacrifice.

  • Catholic XTC

    Yes, the word ‘humble’ really comes to my mind when I read your absurb and wholly UN-Catholic statements. If you are a representative of ‘their men’ then you are nothing less than a ‘Bible-thumper’ who is too blind to see. May Jesus the Christ heal you.

  • CatholicXTC

    How dare you claim to speak for Our beautiful Lady as on your side! Especially against other Catholics! She loves all her children. She does not speak only to you but anyone who comes to her for guidance, compassion, and direction to her Holy Son. Shame on you.

  • Benedict Carter

    I happened to be quoting two other people …. PLEASE read the bloody post!

  • JabbaPapa

    Let’s just say that I disagree with these characterisations :-)

    I am aware that many lay followers of the SSPX do sometimes have opinions that are not entirely orthodox, but then to be honest the same can be said of most of the Catholic laity.  Yes, that laity will need a certain amount of catechetical patience and understanding.

  • JabbaPapa

    That communiqué states, using some fairly refined French sous-entendu, that media reports that an “agreement” has been concluded are inaccurate, and that there remain some further things to be done after the signing of the confessio fidei.

    It is quite simply wrong to understand from that statement that “Bishop Fellay didn’t sign anything”. He has.

  • Graham

    I am in a difficult position.  I am truly horrified by some of the practices I see accompanying the New Mass and I totally respect and share most of the views of the SSPX.  I just can’t in conscience be part of a group that is not fully loyal to Rome (especially as a former Anglican who converted many moons ago because of a belief that we had no right to spilt from Rome) and, therefore, I pray that the SSPX is reunited with the Church as soon as possible because I believe it will provide me, and many others, with a home within the Church that will allow our faith to best flourish and hopefully influence Church practices in general back to a way more loyal to her traditions.

  • Benedict Carter

    You will notice that there are quotation marks around the text quoted. Please do pay attention!

  • Benedict Carter

    Traditionalists do not say any of the things you impute to them. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Graham, I believe there are countless millions like you who would assist at the Old Mass by preference – if it was widely available, which it’s not, due to the hostility (! to the MASS !) of the Bishops. With the SSPX fully operational and regularized, that can be put right pretty quickly. 

    One of the keys to renewal is that the Bishops have to be doctrinally above any suspicion. Unfortunately that is far from the case, and that includes Bishops appointed by this Pope, not just the useless generation appointed by JPII. 

  • Graham

    Yes, my response to Catholics who do not view abstaining from meat as a sacrifice is still to maintain the no meat rule since union with our fellow Catholic brothers and sisters is very important.  However, having an additional more personal sacrifice can also be a good idea to focus our minds on the Lord’s far greater sacrifice. 

  • Bart_0117

    Come back home! We are waiting for you,

  • Jae

    I’m referring to the founder of SSPX.

  • JabbaPapa

    Archbishop Lefèbrve has, obviously, NEVER described any Pope as being an “anti-Christ”.

    I have no idea what your motives are in making such a ridiculous claim !!!

  • Charles Martel

     Sorry, Michael, to be such a heavy burden on you. Perhaps it’s the cross you have to bear in life….