Lefebvrians. Reaching an agreement – Fellay replies. The Society of St. Pius X might be awarded the status of “Personal prelature” by the pope himself

by Andrea Tornielli
From Vatican Insider

The Holy See and the Society of St Pius X, founded by Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre, might come to an agreement in matter of days, or even hours. The Superior General of the Society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, apparently signed a new version of the doctrinal preamble, which he had been given last September by cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei.

Officially the Vatican is still waiting for Fellay’s reply. On the 16th of March the bishop had been asked to make a final decision. But according to the information gathered by the Vatican expert Jean-Marie Guenois, who works for the French magazine Le Figaro, unofficially negotiations have moved significantly forward and an agreement will soon be reached.

In September 2011, at the end of a series of doctrinal dialogues requested by the Society of St. Pius X, the Holy See presented the Lefebvrians with a short document and asked them to sign it. The document was left open for small changes. It featured three main points and the request to subscribe to the “confession of faith” required by anyone wanting to take on a role in the Church.

This would ensure “a religious submission of the intellect and will to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declare concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act”, as it is the case for the great majority of the magisterium‘s documents.

The Vatican authorities reiterated that subscribing to the preamble does not mean the end of the “legitimate discussion, study and theological explanation of particular expressions or formulations found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council”. It is common knowledge that the Society of St. Pius X declared itself open to accept many conciliar documents, except the doctrine of religious freedom as stated in the second paragraph of the Dignitatis Humanae Declaration, the doctrine of the Church stated in paragraph 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium and the doctrine on ecumenism in article 3 of the Unitatis Redintegratio decree, as well as the doctrine on collegiality as written in paragraph 22 of Lumen Gentium.

It seems that they have finally drafted a text that can be mutually recognized. After all, Fellay himself during the meeting in September 2011 had explained to the Roman authorities that he had no problems accepting the first and second points of the preamble, while there were still unresolved issues concerning the third. However in the reply that he sent in two rounds between December and January and therefore in more than one public statement, the Superior General of the Society of Pius X had declared the doctrinal text suggested by the Vatican unacceptable.

On the 16th of March, the final meeting took place and the Holy See asked Fellay to reply within a month. It is well known that Benedict XVI cares deeply about healing this rift within the Church. After all he witnessed it happening when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1988.

At that time Lefebvre, after having reached an agreement with the Vatican, decided not to sign it and appointed four new bishops without the pope’s commission, thus creating a Schism. Pope Benedict liberalized the Traditional Latin Mass and lifted the excommunication of the four Lefebvrian bishops, he even agreed to the third demand of the Society, which was to begin a doctrinal debate with the Vatican authorities, especially concerning the conciliar documents.

The Society of Pius X would fit in the Canon by being awarded the status of “personal prelature”, a new juridical role added to the Canon law in 1983 and so far adopted only by Opus Dei.

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6 Responses to Lefebvrians. Reaching an agreement – Fellay replies. The Society of St. Pius X might be awarded the status of “Personal prelature” by the pope himself

  1. “It is common knowledge that the Society of St. Pius X declared itself open to accept many conciliar documents, except the doctrine of religious freedom as stated in the second paragraph of the Dignitatis Humanae Declaration, the doctrine of the Church stated in paragraph 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium and the doctrine on ecumenism in article 3 of the Unitatis Redintegratio decree, as well as the doctrine on collegiality as written in paragraph 22 of Lumen Gentium.”

    Many thanks for this, I’m off to look these bits up. But surely they are not doctrine, as only liberals question doctrine.

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  2. piliersdelaterre says:

    Bravo Pope Benedict (plus Holy Ghost, presumably)- but how can you ‘liberalize’ the Traditional Mass?!!

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  3. JabbaPapa says:

    how can you ‘liberalize’ the Traditional Mass?!!

    By making it available to all Catholics and all parishes, and requiring that all seminarians be taught how to serve it ?

    As the Pope has already done ?

    Not all liberalising involves the imposition of liberal policies 😉

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  4. JabbaPapa says:

    Monseigneur Fellay seems to deny the rumour that the Preamble has been
    “signed” (or does he ? even this is ambiguous, signing the Preamble is
    not necessarily the only precondition here …), but seems to confirm
    that the agreement with Rome is nearing completion. No mention of
    doctrinal disagreement at all, just a focus on ensuring permission to
    continue teaching the SSPX understanding of it, and other more
    political questions.

    “a moment of expectation” — this is the language of concrete hope.

    —————

    Fellay’s reserved message [in Italiano]

    The head of the Society of Saint Pius X writes to his priests: we are
    waiting, an agreement will happen if concessions which touch upon the
    faith are not asked from us and if we are assured true freedom

    ANDREA TORNIELLI
    CITTÀ DEL VATICANO

    The Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X [SSPX, Bishop
    Bernad Fellay, took hold of paper and pen to send a reserved message
    to the other three bishops and to all priests belonging to the
    Lefebvrist group, confirming the state of relations with the Holy See.

    Fellay, making reference to the media rumors on a possible positive
    outcome of the dialogue with Rome, would have explained that, at this
    moment, 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 is thus in a moment of expectation.

    The bishop, according to the rumors gathered by Vatican Insider,
    wished to confirm to the priests of the Society that which he had
    already written a few days ago, recalling the two principles that
    guide the Lefebvrists in the relations with Rome: the first is that no
    concessions be asked from the Society that touch upon the faith and
    that which derives from it (liturgy, sacraments, morals, and
    discipline). The second, that a true freedom and autonomy of action be
    granted to the [Society of] Saint Pius X, which would allow it to grow
    and develop.

    How to interpret this message of the Lefebvrist superior? Above all,
    it is interesting to note that the possibility of a positive outcome –
    which many sources, both those close to the Society of Saint Pius X
    and those Vatican [sources], consider at this moment probable and
    imminent – is not denied at all. Fellay, who knows he has within [the
    Society] a group outspokenly opposed to the agreement (estimated at
    around 25%, but which includes also the other three bishops,
    Williamson, Tissier de Mallerais and Galarreta, though with
    differentiated positions), probably wanted to calm his internal
    partners on the fact that the canonical setting and the reentry into
    full communion will take place according to those two conditions
    already made public by him in the past few weeks.

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  5. JabbaPapa says:

    The Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X has signed the doctrinal preamble proposed by the Holy See !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    AWESOME NEWS !!!!!!!!!!

    —–

    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.fr/2012/04/for-record-latest-tornielli-f

    Tornielli: “Fellay’s response has arrived; it is positive”

    The Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X has signed the doctrinal preamble proposed by the Holy See, even if with some slight modifications

    ANDREA TORNIELLI
    CITTÀ DEL VATICANO

    The response of the Society of Saint Pius X has arrived in the Vatican and it is positive: according to the informal information gathered by Vatican Insider, Bishop Bernard Fellay [has] signed the doctrinal preamble that the Holy See had proposed last September as a condition to reach full communion and canonical regularization.

    An official confirmation of the received response should take place in the next few hours. From what has been learned, the text of the preamble sent by Fellay proposed some non-substantial modifications regarding the version delivered by the Vatican authorities: as it may be recalled, the same Ecclesia Dei Commission had not willed to make the document (of [only] two, yet complex, pages) public, precisely because the possibility remained of introducing eventual small modifications which would not, nonetheless, distort its meaning.

    The preamble contains, subtantially, the “professio fidei”, the profession of faith required of those who are put in charge of an ecclesiastical position. And it thus establishes a “religious submission of will and intellect” be given to the teachings that the Pope and the College of Bishops “enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium”, even if not proclaimed and defined in a dogmatic sense, as in the case of the greater part of the magisterial documents. The Holy See has mentioned repeatedly to her partners in the Society of Saint Pius X that signing the doctrinal preamble would not mean putting and end “to the legitimate discussion, study, and theological explanations of specific expressions or formulations present in the documents of the Second Vatican Council.”

    The text of the preamble, with the modifications proposed by Fellay, and signed by him as Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X, will be presented to Benedict XVI, who, on the day following his 85th birthday and on the even of the seventh anniversary of his election, receives a positive response from the Lefebvrists. A response long expected and desired by him, who, in the next few weeks, will put an end to the wound opened in 1988 with the illegitimate episcopal ordinations celebrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

    It is not ruled out that Fellay’s response be examined by the Cardinals of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the next “Feria Quarta” [Wednesday] meeting, which should take place in the first half of May. Meanwhile, some further weeks will be needed so that a canonical arrangement can be established: the most probable proposal is that of establishing a “personal prelature”, a legal figure introduced in the Code of Canon Law in 1983 [Rorate note below] and up to now used only by Opus Dei. The prelate depends directly of the Holy See. The Society of Saint Pius X will continue to celebrate Mass according to the ancient Missal, and to form its priests in its seminaries.

    [Source, in Italian : http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/homepage/vaticano/dettaglio-articolo/articolo/lefebvriani-lefebvrians-lefebvrianos-14410/ ]

    Rorate note: actually first mentioned in an official ecclesial text in the very relevant n. 10 of the Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests of the Second Vatican Council, Presbyterorum Ordinis: “Present norms of incardination and excardination should be so revised that, while this ancient institution still remains intact, they will better correspond to today’s pastoral needs. Where a real apostolic spirit requires it, not only should a better distribution of priests be brought about but there should also be favored such particular pastoral works as are necessary in any region or nation anywhere on earth. To accomplish this purpose there should be set up international seminaries, special personal dioceses or prelatures (vicariates), and so forth, by means of which, according to their particular statutes and always saving the right of bishops, priests may be trained and incardinated for the good of the whole Church.”

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