Communiqué concerning the Society of St. Pius X

 — Mar. 16, 201216 mars 2012

On Friday, March 16th, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a communiqué regarding the current status of relations with the traditionalist Catholic organization Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), founded by the late Archbishop Lefebvre. For some years now the CDF has been engaged in a consultation with the SSPX regarding a number of matters of dispute. The SSPX’s response to a doctrinal presentation from the CDF has been judged as insufficient. The SSPX has been given an additional month to clarify its response.

In September 2011, the CDF provided the SSPX with a document outlining certain conditions for restoration of full ecclesial relations. Excommunications of four SSPX bishops were lifted in 2009, leading to the establishment of talks between the SSPX and the CDF. The bishops had been excommunicated in 1988 as a result of being consecrated as bishops without canonical appointment by the pope. A further clarification issued soon afterwards indicated that the SSPX has not canonical status in the Catholic Church, that the four bishops exercise no legitimate ministry in it, and that the SSPX must accept the authority of the Second Vatican Council and of the five popes from John XXIII to Benedict XVI. The SSPX has repeatedly objected to numerous conciliar teachings including the documents on ecumenism, religious liberty, and interreligious relations.

Today’s communiqué reads:

“During the meeting of 14 September 2011 between Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’, and Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, the latter was presented with a Doctrinal Preamble, accompanied by a Preliminary Note, as a fundamental basis for achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See. This defined certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation Catholic doctrine, which are necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church Magisterium and ‘sentire cum Ecclesia’.

“The response of the Society of St. Pius X to the aforesaid Doctrinal Preamble, which arrived in January 2012, was examined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before being submitted to the Holy Father for his judgement. Pursuant to the decision made by Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Fellay was, in a letter delivered today, informed of the evaluation of his response. The letter states that the position he expressed is not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems which lie at the foundation of the rift between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X.

“At the end of today’s meeting, moved by concern to avoid an ecclesial rupture of painful and incalculable consequences, the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X was invited to clarify his position in order to be able to heal the existing rift, as is the desire of Pope Benedict XVI.”

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