Vatican welcomes ‘encouraging’ SSPX response

By Mark Greaves

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.

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5 Responses to Vatican welcomes ‘encouraging’ SSPX response

  1. Dear heart, SSPX has not signed anything, unless you mean signatures on letters. As SSPX pointed out in clarification days ago, they have only added some requested information to their original statement of disagreements with the false doctrines of the Council, which the Holy Father hasn’t seen yet and must consider in detail. Everything is still up in the air. That whole ‘package’ that will now be examined by the Holy Father. Could you research the question and print something more accurate for your readers? Misinformation can hurt anyone, and this particular kind of report can hurt SSPX, because the people who attend their chapels care very much whether SSPX takes a ‘deal’ without fighting out the doctrinal issues, as other wanna-be traditional groups have done in the past, and some of these folks might not attend mass next week at their usual SSPX chapel, in favor of some *sede chapel in the area–of which there are many!. You can go to the website for Bishop Fellay’s remarks on Tornielli’s “report.” Oh by the way, nice blog! Will visit more!

  2. JabbaPapa says:

    The SSPX hasn’t denied Monseigneur Fellay signing the confessio fidei — it has pointed out what some people were a little unaware of, that signing the document isn’t the end of the affair, and more still needs to be done before an agreement is reached.

  3. toadspittle says:

    More good news from Jabba – particularly for Toad who has been fretting obsessively about the whole SSPX caboodle for several seconds, quite recently.
    Now, maybe, he can finally get a bit of “shut-eye,” as the Holy See puts it, content in knowing that it will all come out in the Vatican wash.

    (Whatever that means.)

  4. JabbaPapa says:

    Current rumour seems to be that the matter has now reached the Pope’s in-box.

  5. JabbaPapa says:

    False rumour, sorry :

    From the French-language religious news agency I.Media:

    Benedict XVI’s decision regarding the return of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) to the full communion of the Church will take place from now up to the end of the month of May 2012, Vatican sources close to the dossier have indicated to I.MEDIA. For the moment, the response of the SSPX to the “doctrinal preamble” prior to any agreement, delivered by Rome in September 2011, is still being studied by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Received on April 17, the response of the Superior General of the SSPX, Bp. Bernard Fellay, will be submitted to Benedict XVI afterwards. The latter has made multiple gestures, since 2005, with a view to obtain an agreement that would mark the end of a breach of nearly 24 years.

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