Rorate Caeli

Rome-SSPX: Holy See Press Office communiqué regarding the response sent by the Society of St. Pius X [Updated, 1600, 2100, 2300 GMT]

Palace of the Holy Office, Rome - cloister

Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) - Early this afternoon, the Holy See Press Office issued the following communique regarding the Society of St. Pius X:

"As reported by news agencies, today, 16 May 2012, an Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met to discuss the question of the Society of St. Pius X.

"In particular, the text of the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, received on 17 April, 2012, was examined and some observations, which will be considered in further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X, were formulated.

"Regarding the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, their situations will have to be dealt with separately and singularly".

Father Lombardi, Holy See spokesman, added the following according to the report by La Stampa's Vatican Insider (Italian):
Answering the journalists, the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, explained that the conclusion of the negotiations "is not a question, as it might seem, for a very short time", and he added, "it is premature to say when it will be concluded."

It is not clear, however, in what level will the discussions go on: considered the fact that the last word belongs in any event to Pope Benedict XVI, "it is not said that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei' ... are done with their task."


[Update - Andrea Tornielli - 1600 GMT:] 
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith examined Fellay’s latest reply and the positions of the Society of St. Pius X. In the next few days the Congregation’s report will reach the pope.

 Does what happened this morning during the meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith represent a stumble in the journey of negotiation with the Society of St. Pius X? Apparently not, even though the path seems full of new obstacles each day. The cardinals of the Congregation were struck by the publication of the correspondence between Mgr. Fellay and three other bishops.

The members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who usually meet on a Wednesday, otherwise known as Feria Quarta, decided to extract the opinions of the three which will be dealt with “individually and separately”. In those letters the bishops clearly put on paper their belief that “it is impossible to come to an agreement with the Rome of today” because after “The Second Vatican Council the Church’s official authorities broke apart from the Catholic truth”. The publication of the letters, probably orchestrated by someone opposed to the return to full communion with Rome, caused repercussions.

 In this morning’s meeting Fellay’s requests for explanations and the changes to the final ‘doctrinal preamble’ were discussed. Some cardinals, who preferred the text as originally drafted by the Congregation, expressed their worries and gave their votes conditionally. The result of this complex discussion will probably be given to Benedict XVI the day after tomorrow by cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation. The body’s judgment is not binding, the pope will be able to examine each member’s opinion and decide freely.

The cardinals’ considerations will be passed onto Fellay for the preparation of the final text of the ‘doctrinal preamble’. Once signed, the Superior of the Society of Pius X and the priests who will follow him will officially be reunited with the Catholic Church. The ratification might be imminent even though there are still obstacles to overcome. It will take time before the pope’s final decision is announced. In the last hours  a story began to spread. According to this rumour, Benedict XVI already knew of the requests for changes to the ‘doctrinal preamble’ and apparently Fellay himself sent them to the pope unofficially. This supposed informal contact would have reassured the Lefebvrian leader of Ratzinger’s support in essence and would have been the reason behind Fellay’s recent public and private declarations, in which the bishop mentioned more than once the importance of the appeal to the pope.

[Update - note:] So what does the more obscure part of the Holy See Press Office communiqué mean? This is a brief comment, provided at Le Forum Catholique:
Rome cannot ignore what everyone knows. When Rome found out, after the fact, the public declarations of one of the bishops, following the lifting of excommunications, they were embarrassed. What happened once cannot happen twice.

Therefore, the provocations of one bishop and the violation of ordinary secrecy, with an intent to cause harm, by a cleric of the SSPX cannot be without consequence, and Rome can do nothing else but be careful.

[Update - 2100 GMT] Other news notes before the end of the day: 1. From the semi-official daily of the French episcopate, La Croix:
According to a Roman source, the modifications that were asked [to the text of the preamble], simple rewriting advices, should not be an obstacle and could open the way for a reintegration of the SSPX in the Church by way of a Personal Prelature.
2. From Italian news agency Asca - declaration by Card. Koch following a Conference on Nostra Aetate held at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum):
"The debate with the Society of Saint Pius X is in progress and moves forward. We must prepare ourselves for what the Pope's decision will be."

[Update - 2300 GMT] Communiqué of the Superior of the Italian District of the Society of St. Pius X, Fr. Pierpaolo Maria Petrucci:
Divide et impera

Dear friends, 

As you are aware, the Society of Saint Pius X is going through a difficult period. Following the grave and immoral publication of private letters between three bishops and the General Council led by our superior, Bp. Fellay, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made public today (May 16) a press communique. In the text, on the one hand, the will is displayed of moving forward in "further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X", on the other, it is affirmed, in reference to the letter of the three bishops, that, "regarding the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, their situations will have to be dealt with separately and singularly".

This way of action clearly manifests the intention of dividing our Priestly Society in its highest representatives. For this reason, we invite all the friends and faithful to intensify their prayers and, in particular, the Holy Rosary, in the Crusade called by our Superior, so that the Society of Saint Pius X may remain united in the battle against the errors infiltrated in the Church.

Fr. Pierpaolo Maria Petrucci
District Superior

[P.S.] We invite you to read anew the Letter to Friends and Benefactors n. 79, in which Bp. Fellay denounces the grave errors present within the Church and, at the same time, launches the Rosary Crusade that will be concluded on Pentecost, explaining its intentions. [Source, in Italian]