Rorate Caeli

For the Record: on September 14

[Update - Aug. 24, 1200 GMT: The Superior General of the Fraternity, Bishop B. Fellay, confirmed the date of the meeting on Aug. 15, adding that its purpose is "final evaluation of the doctrinal discussions between Rome and the SSPX which have occurred since October 2009," and that "no other specifics are known at this time," as reported today by the websites of the French and of the American Districts of the SSPX. This is also added here for the historical record of events.]

None of this (really, not a single point) is news to our readers - but, since we like to keep a running record of reports, this is what Vaticanist Andrea Tornielli mentions now:
Now [that is, on the Sep. 14 meeting,] the Vatican should subject to Fellay some memoranda of understanding, clarifying doctrinal points, as for the Council, on the interpretation of the continuity in the reform suggested since December 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI as the more authentic interpretation of the texts of Vatican II.

A proposal for a canonical adjustment will be submitted to the Society only if doctrinal difficulties are overcome, and that will resolve the current situation, in which the Lefebvrist community finds itself now. ...

The proposal which has been studied by the Vatican, would allow Lefebvrists the establishment of an ordinariate similar to that offered by the Pope has to Anglicans who wanted to come into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. In this way, the Fraternity would depend on the Holy See (and specifically on the Ecclesia Dei Commission) and could retain its characteristics without having to answer to the diocesan bishops.


  1. Peter5:34 AM

    Do these talks involve any of the religious communities (Fraternity of the Transfiguration, Benedictines of Silver City, etc.) associated with the Society of Saint Pius X? Will they just follow the lead of the Society? Or is there any talk of some of them being regularized independently of the Society?

  2. John L6:14 AM

    I believe any agreement on a canonical arrangement with Rome has to be signed off on by the SSPX leadership and the leadership of communities affiliated with the Society as a whole; the Superior-General alone cannot do it. This was a deliberate arrangement, I believe of Abp. Lefebvre but I may be corrected.

  3. Gratias6:23 AM

    What Andrea Tornelli describes would be a just solution. The Anglicans would have paved the way for a leap forward in the Catholic Church. Pray it will come to pass.

  4. Anonymous10:26 AM

    This all looks far-fetched if it includes a doctrinal agreement even on principles.

    I suspect that there could be a provisional arrangement pending a resolution of doctrinal difficulties. Rome would also make some sort of statement regarding the present status of the S.S.P.X.

    What I see from recent events is hardly a coming-together. On the one side, we have Assisi III, World Youth Day, the beatification of John Paul the Small, &c. On the other, we have Fr. Peter Scott of the S.S.P.X calling the New Mass "an objective sacrilege" and Bishop Tissier suggesting that His Holiness convert to Catholicism. Meanwhile, Cardinal Levada inserts into U.E. that the prefaces of NewMass "can and should" be intruded into TrueMass (no, they should not, Your Eminence, and we shall refuse them), and that no one should dare question the "legitimacy" of the New Mass. I can't imagine Fr. Scott saying that the New Mass is sacrilgious and yet legitimate.


  5. Mr Tornielli mentions that that..... "different sensitivities coexist" in the Society.....

    I suggest that those of "different sensitivities"....take a very large powder.

    All the differently sensitives that I know all called the Bishop Williamson shambles wrong....they all thought he was the best thing since sliced bread, I warned them two years before the scandal broke, and I'd only seen him talk once...then they all jumped on the poor mans back.

    All these sensitive types are now about to be challenged to re-build the church......and they wont get anywhere by being Old Maids fainting away if the Rose vestments are slightly to red...!!!

  6. There you go again, PKTP, with your usual generous assessments of the motives and events of our times.

    What would we sanguines do without you?

  7. as for the Council, on the interpretation of the continuity in the reform suggested since December 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI as the more authentic interpretation of the texts of Vatican II.

    Does this statement merely state the Vatican's position, or does it suggest that the SSPX would have to agree that they have been mistaken all along about Vatican II?

  8. Tradical2:47 PM

    imho: The results of the doctrinal talks will provide clarity on two viewpoints (sspx / Vatican) of the crisis of the Church.

    This in itself will be of immense value.

    For example bringing to light the gap between Ecumenism as practiced in the Church with paragraph 14 of MYSTICI CORPORIS CHRISTI will be a good start.

    So this may not be the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning.

  9. John McFarland3:58 PM

    It's unclear to me why anybody pays any attention to Tornielli. He's the very type of the faux "insider."

    Perhaps he has some contacts in the Vatican, but he knows nothing about the SSPX, and doesn't want to, as signified by his insistence on using "Lefebvrist."

    The notion that Cardinal Levada will demand that Bishop Fellay countersign the Christmas 2005 address certainly sounds pretty goofy, but unfortunately that doesn't mean it won't happen. There's been a lot of blowing hot and cold over the years, and there's not much reason to think that there won't be more.

    As for Mr. Perkins' remarks, all I can say is that they are true. Those who hope for something good are hoping that the utter incoherence of the Vatican's approach to tradition will once again work in its favor, as with the MP.

    I do wish, however, that Mr. Perkins would cut it out with the "John Paul the Small" business. He was the vicar of Christ, and as such is entitled to respect.

  10. Something good has to happen.

    The thousands that go to invalid SSPX confessions need to have their mortal sins absolved.

  11. Anonymous4:55 PM

    "Cruise the Groove"...has no clue from what is valid and what is illicit. The "thousands" who go the SSPX for confession ARE NOT in mortal sin!! That is a terrible thing to put out there in the public domaine. Better go look up Canon law.

  12. Tradical7:04 PM

    @cruise the groove

    For the fun of it, check out canon 1335 paragraph 2.

  13. Anonymous7:57 PM

    It's not in our hands; it's in God's Hands. So, let us pray for a good outcome.


  14. To "Cruise the Groove"'s remarks:


  15. Anon,

    Since the SSPX do not have faculties to absolve sins, many with mortal sins who confess to SSPX priests are not recieving absoluiion.
    I know it has happened to me.

    Canon 1335 reads: “If a censure prohibits the celebration of sacraments or sacramentals or the placing of an act of governance, the prohibition is suspended whenever it is necessary to care for the faithful in danger of death. If a latae sententiae [automatic] censure has not been declared, the prohibition is also suspended whenever a member of the faithful requests a sacrament or sacramental or an act of governance; a person is permitted to request this for any just cause.”

    The censure of suspension against the priests of the SSPX has been declared.

  16. Brother Anthony,
    Why is a valid absolution of sin boring to you?

  17. Joe B2:01 AM

    Cruise, there is a reason why the word invalid doesn't appear in your quote. Only 4 things are required for validity - valid form, matter, intent, and priest.

    It comes down to a canonical dispute over supplied jurisdiction and licitness, both of which have been canonically attacked and canonically defended at length, but at least kindly take the arrow of validity out of your quiver.

    Perhaps this will be the one issue explicitly cleared up in September, since I agree wholly with Mr Perkins' views that the jurisdictional issue is unlikely to be. A simple statement of approval of SSPX absolutions and marriages would not be so impossible, would it? Not that I find it at all necessary, but I know that so many do.

  18. Tradical2:54 AM

    latae sententiae [automatic] censure

    Please provide the reference where a latae sententiae censure (the canon would be helpful) was declared against the priests of the SSPX.

    Keep in mind that there are a number of priests who were ordained prior to the suspesion of Archbishop Lefebvre and therefore their cases are different.

    My understanding is that it has not been declared as such.

  19. The Holy See has been abundantly clear that FSSPX priests are suspended from exercising any ministry in the Church and it is completely plain from this, as well as having been stated explicitly, that they do not have faculties to validly hear confessions, witness marriages, etc. We should long and pray for the canonical situation of the FSSPX to be regularized, for the good of souls.

    can. 966 §1 “The valid absolution of sins requires that the minister have, in addition to the power of orders, the faculty of exercising it for the faithful to whom he imparts absolution.”

  20. Gratias6:53 AM

    Something else important for the record would be publishing the complete list of the 293 Cardinals and Bishops that have offered the TLM throughout the world, which has just appeared in Accion Liturgica.

  21. It is a nice venture by UV Málaga/Acción Litúrgica, Gratias - but it must be updated regularly, and they already do it...

  22. Bartholomew12:57 PM

    Cruise the Groove:

    "Further, Canon 1335 provides that where a latae sententiae censure has not been declared, the prohibition on celebrating the sacraments is suspended whenever a member of the faithful requests a sacrament or sacramental or an act of governance 'for any just cause.' As applied here, John Paul II did not declare a latae sententiae excommunication against SSPX priests. Thus, assuming SSPX priests are suspended, they are nevertheless allowed to celebrate the sacraments licitly if a member of the faithful so requests for any just cause. A desire to attend the Traditional Mass, which right was secured by Pope Saint Pius V and recognized by Pope John Paul II, is certainly a just cause. Sound, spiritual direction in the confessional for the welfare of one’s soul is also a just cause. The salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church.

    "Further, Canon 844, sec. 2 provides that the Christian faithful can even approach non-Catholic ministers for Penance, the Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick in whose churches these sacraments are valid if it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister for the sacraments. If SSPX priests were really not Catholics (which is not true), Catholics could still approach them for the sacraments if it were physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic priest. Unfortunately, in many Novus Ordo parishes, Catholics in good conscience believe that it is morally impossible to approach their priests for the sacraments, due to their questionable intentions in celebrating the sacraments (e.g., whether they intend to offer the Sacrifice; because they deny mortal sin, etc.), grave disregard for liturgical rubrics, abuses of the Eucharist, modernist theology, immodest dress, and anything else that endangers their souls and the souls of their children. The faithful have a right to be certain of the doctrine and the sacraments that they receive.

    "Further, it makes no sense to me that a Catholic can receive the sacraments from a non-Catholic minister but not from a Catholic (SSPX) priest. Canon 844 demonstrates that the Church wants the faithful to have the broadest access possible to the sacraments of Jesus Christ. Why? Because the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. SSPX priests do what they do for that very reason.

    "We must also remember that canon law is not the only law of the Church that applies to situations like this. There are traditional, ecclesiastical and hierarchical laws, and even the general principles of law (virtue of equity, epikeia), that are fundamental and divine, even if not written down (see canon 19). All these laws are ordered to the supreme law: salus animarum suprema lex. Man has an obligation to save his soul, and thus has a right to receive the means of salvation. While the law of receiving jurisdiction from the hierarchy is a divine law, it is subordinated to the superior law of exercising the priestly ministry. When there is a conflict, the superior law must prevail over the inferior law, which is why ecclesia supplet exists. A man’s right to receive the means of salvation should never be limited by positive law, for in such cases, “the letter killeth” (2 Cor 3:6). This is why the Church can fulfill what the hierarchy does not do through supplied jurisdiction. Mother Church does not abandon her children, even when the hierarchy does. Finally, I don’t understand how the Church would recognize the validity of SSPX Masses but not confessions. The sacrament of confession is integrally linked to the sacrament of the Eucharist. You need one (confession) to generally receive the other (the Eucharist). I believe the Church’s law on ecclesia supplet resolves the question. Nevertheless, let us pray for a definitive judgment from the Church on this matter."

  23. Tradical1:06 PM


    We are not talking about regular faculties. I have read a comment by a Cardinal (sorry can't remember whom - baby crying beside me) that noted supplied jurisdiction due to ignorance.

    The point of discussion is canon 1335 and whether or not the censure has been officially declared in such a manner as the latae sententiae excommunication at the time of the consecrations. This is a point of supplied jurisdiction beyond the 'danger of death' issue cited in the first paragraph.

    I have read some canon lawyers (John Salza who I believe is not SSPX) argue that there is a case for supplied jurisdiction under a number of canons - 1335 being one of them.

    Then we have this ditty from James E. Biechler:
    ... as long as their suspension has not been juridically declared (an extremely rare procedure)- Granted he is suggesting using this for fairly liberal applications.

  24. Tradical1:13 PM

    Bartholomew's post is the discussion that I couldn't 'recall' the reference.

    Thanks Bartholomew!

  25. "It is a nice venture by UV Málaga/Acción Litúrgica, Gratias - but it must be updated regularly, and they already do it..."

    It's a very helpful venture, but I have my questions about the list, and I won't vouch for its complete accuracy.

  26. Tradical3:39 PM

    I just checked the ARCC site where James E. Biechler's posting was originally posted.

    It turns out that ARCC is an organization that was founded after the "Vatican condemnations of such theologians as Edward Schillebeeckx, Jacques Pohier, and Hans Küng."

    While Mr. Biechler's credentials (canon lawyer etc) are sufficient - I'm not certain if his reasoning on Canon 1335 is tainted and can be applied to the SSPX situation.

  27. John McFarland6:07 PM has posted a note that on August 15, Bishop Fellay confirmed the September 14 meeting.

    The note also stated the following:

    "According to the agenda given to the Superior General, the purpose of this meeting is to give a final evaluation of the doctrinal discussions between Rome and the SSPX which have occurred since October 2009."

    This is consistent with what Bishop Fellay said in Winona in June. It is also consistent with the Holy Father's statement a while back that the issue between the Vatican and the Society is doctrinal.

    Now perhaps arms have been twisted, and the agenda has been changed without anyone troubling himself to tell the SSPX.

    But I wouldn't bet any serious money on that scenario -- or anything much else that Tornielli has to say.

    P.S. As regards the validity of SSPX confessions, the point is that those of us who believe that there is a state of necessity are just not able to take seriously the opposing view. For us, the real issue is the millions and millions of Catholics who are being deprived of sound doctrine and the means of sanctification. From our perspective, if the chief danger to our salvation were the invalidity of SSPX confessions, we would be in very good shape indeed.

  28. Anonymous4:08 AM

    John McFarland good points you make about this Tornielli character. If anyone needs some textbook media propaganda/bias, just read through this release. What jumped out to me immediately was his use of "lefebvreists" that and the unflattering picture of Bishop Fellay purposely chosen to make the unsaid message clear: "this is a group of radical crazies."


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