Rorate Caeli

Holy See Press Office communiqué

On the afternoon of Wednesday 13 June, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei', met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X who was accompanied by an assistant. Also present at the encounter were Archbishop Luis Ladaria S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Msgr. Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei'.

The purpose of the meeting was to present the Holy See's evaluation of the text submitted in April by the Society of St. Pius X in response to the Doctrinal Preamble which the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith had presented to the Society on 14 September 2011. The subsequent discussion offered an opportunity the provide the appropriate explanations and clarifications. For his part, Bishop Fellay illustrated the current situation of the Society of St. Pius X and promised to make his response known within a reasonable lapse of time.

Also during the meeting, a draft document was submitted proposing a Personal Prelature as the most appropriate instrument for any future canonical recognition of the Society. 

As was stated in the communique released on 16 May 2012, the situation of the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X will be dealt with separately and singularly. 

At the end of the meeting the hope was expressed that this additional opportunity for reflection would also contribute to reaching full communion between the Society of St. Pius X and the Apostolic See.


Steve said...


Robert Tuc said...

Personal prelature?

That would involve the SSPX completely surrendering their autonomy to local bishops.

They would have to seek permission from local ordinaries in order to work with their dioceses.

Sounds like a great idea!

sam said...

Hopefully they'll get a papal exemption, from needing the local ordinary's permission, to erect new Churches in their P.P.'s constitution.

Fr Levi said...

It sounds promising - grounds for cautious optimism at the very least that the society will be able to regularise their situation.

Now is the time to pray even harder ...

beng said...

What was the Knight Templar structure? As I recall they answer only to the Pope (which made many bishops and princes jealous).

James I. McAuley said...

Less fruitless speculation over a personal prelature and more prayer. Mary Immaculate, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

NIANTIC said...

Once again, even with this announcement of a PP proposal, let us stay calm, cool and collected. We do not want to hear about massive heart attacks in Traditional circles :-)
We need to keep on praying and trusting that H.E.Bishop Fellay and his advisors are wise enough to know what manner of a PP is workable and what is not. So, everybody, take a deep breath, pray and trust that our Lord will assist the Society in this matter. Pax et bonum.

Bob F. said...

Under a personal prelature, I do not believe that you have to have the local ordinary's permission to operate in the diocese. Opus Dei normally obtains permission before moving into an area first, but that is done out of courtesy rather than a canonical requirement.

James C. said...

One hopes so, since the SSPX got into this mess in the first place because of the vicious hostility of modernist bishops. Is Benedict willing to stand up for the SSPX and not throw the SSPX under the bus like Paul VI?

Lily said...

Bishop Fellay has said publicly and privately that he will never put the SSPX under local bishops.He has said he will answer to Pope Benedict only. This is the only agreement he will accept. Not even a chance he will do otherwise.

Miles Dei said...

Obviously the offer of a PP is by an agreement. So Mon. Fellay would have elect the better way.

Jeffrey Stuart said...

I happened to be at the Clear Creek Monastery the day that Summorum Pontificum was released. What a great day and a great place to be. In talking with another gentleman who was also on retreat at the time, I expressed my thanks to the Holy Father and remarked about what a great event this way and that we would have to pray for the seed to grow. At this point, the gentleman glibly remarked, "Prayer has nothing to do with it. We need to make sure we keep the pressure on, etc, etc, etc."

I think people sometimes are so caught up in a siege mentality that they lose focus of the big picture. If we believe that God is on the side of Tradition, then we have nothing to fear WRT to a Personal Prelature or any other arrangement. All that is good shall prevail and it won't be stopped by individual men.

Even a steady drip of water prevails over a concrete slab.

Bartholomew said...

A pertinent essay of more than a decade ago:

Prof. Basto said...

As can be seen by comparing the VIS text with the text found in the Bolletino, they are substantially the same. I only posted the version in the Bulletin because the VIS release made a reference to it, so I tought it would be useful to place the original communiqué on the record here at Rorate Caeli.

Now, moving to more important questions:

Interesting to note that the discussions have now formally advanced to the point of including the question of the future canonical structure.

Tom S. said...

Prof. Basto said...

"Interesting to note that the discussions have now formally advanced to the point of including the question of the future canonical structure."

Indeed! To me that seems the most interesting part of the whole thing. The very fact that a structure was formally proffered would imply that the "regularization" is basically a done deal.

Canisius said...

Dear readers,

Be realistic. If you are in the Church you are with their modernists clergy. This is the scenario now and in years to come.

The real problema was always this, build a strong canonical wall to be free of the dangers coming from the heretic bishops. The doctrinal issues only exist in the crazy minds of bishops such as Mallerais, Williamson and the sort of ideologized traditionalists.

I hope and pray for an adequate canonical dress for the SPPX within the Church, and for a stunning condemning from the Vatican of Williamson and Mallerais if they do not accept Peter´s offer (it would be a new excommunication as catholics, and the complete annulment of their ordinations as priests and bishops).

Bishop Fellay, the real battle starts now, a new crusade is necessary to assure the SSPX a secure canonical structure within the one, visible and orthodox Catholic Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ.


Dr. Timothy J. Williams said...

It is one thing to be able to operate freely in a diocese where the SSPX is already established. It is quite another to be able to enter a diocese without the local bishop having the power to block it. Unless the latter results from this negotiation, I have no interest in seeing an agreement signed. It would be a worthless piece of paper as far as I am concerned.

Hilltop said...

Quietly revealing turn of phrase in the Comminuque:
"Also during the meeting, a draft document was submitted proposing a Personal Prelature as the most appropriate instrument for any future canonical recognition of the Society."
The use of indirection fails to conceal that it was Rome who submitted to the SSPX. The personal prelature is PROPOSED by Rome to +Fellay, for his consideration.
Have in mind that +Fellay is a formidable man whose strength derives from prayer and truth and from decades of persecution. His spine is straight. He presents a daunting interlocutor to +Leveda et al. There is fear and trembling even if they work to conceal it.
Pray for the Holy Roman Pontiff and for His Execellency Bishop Fellay.

Anonymous said...
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Jack O'Malley said...

As it turns out, the La Croix article of yesterday was correct in reporting that the text did contain the proposal of a personal prelature. It qualified the structure as "similar" to that created for Opus Dei.

Let us hope that there is a critical dissimilarity as well.

Lily said...

Hilltop is absolutely correct in assessing Bishop Fellay. The height of calm and peace, yet tough as nails. Anyone who has had the extreme pleasure of conversations with him and ongoing contact with him within the SSPX, knows he will never sacrifice the SSPX to local bishops. Posters-please re read earlier interviews with Fellay. He said the only way he will reconcile with Rome is if the SSPX "carries on exactly as we do now, growing, ordaining, controlling our organization as before..." He will walk away before he will do otherwise. For 20 years, the Vatican has offered a deal under local bishops. He always walks away.

Matamoros said...

Not just Bishop Tissier de Mallerais but Archbishop Lefebvre himself always said doctrinal issues were at the heart of the problem. The Society started having "canonical" problems in the mid-1970s precisely because of doctrinal matters, and nice canonial structures won't get trads away from their one their main reasons for existence, which is making trouble about doctrinal issues.

One can pray as much as one likes for "anullment" of Bishop Tissier's consacration, but this will remain an impossible dream.

Why are correspondants still reacting to Bishop Tissier's interview by discussing the question of sedevacantism?

False (unconditional) obedience was one of the first questions ever dealt with by Archbishop Lefebvre. He like all traditional Catholics always said that although we recognise the authorities, we know they are influenced by the false ideas of the times and we are not obliged to obey them when they use their authority to damage the Church. It's been discussed a thousand time. Nothing much has changed on that score - only those same authorities have changed their attitude toward us. What's on offer the Society will accept or reject, but the issues remain the same. Analogies with Protestantism are not valid - Luther never demanded that the Pope exercise his authority in a truly Petrine manner as Archbishop Lefebfre always did.

MK said...

Personal Prelature may work better than Apostolic Administration or Personal Ordinariate, because the laymen would still feel they were part of the local diocese and would still pray for the local bishops. They could bring changes by talking and influencing local Catholics as if they were part of the very same family. See how much impact Opus Dei in the church, they have people from laymen up to high prelates. If SSPX priests could go up to become bishops in major archdiocese or Roman Curia, imagine what the impact would be!

If they were Apostolic Administration it would be just another ghetto of weird people, and local Catholics would see the new regularized SSPX just as Eastern Catholics, they were different in the liturgy and their liturgy is not for regular Catholics to participate. It would be just like Campos – not much growth after several years.

True, in theory there would be some limitations because of local bishop approval required to open chapels, but I believe SSPX would operate just like now, they wouldn't care much about bishop’s approval.

Miles Dei said...

For the Personal Prelature you need permision for a work or foundation, but how could a bishop block his faithful, even the priests, enter the Prelature from his diocese? The personal work and apostolate of the members of a Prelature is not that of the Prelature itself. It is not possible for a Bishop to block that without deny cannonicals rights like of th canon 215.

Brtiasn said...

You know... the authority of the local bishop is part of Catholic Tradition too. One does not wish to be a "cafeteria Traditionalist." Franciscans, Jesuits, Cistercians and so on are all subject to the same rule --i.e. Do you think St. Augustine would allow someone to just set up shop in hisdiocese without the his permission? Bellarmine? Despite worries about 'modernist bishops' why should SSPX be exempted from this perrenial part of Catholic ecclesiollogy. This is about the authority of office of the Episcopos, not particular holders of the office. In fact, I sense shadows of Donatism in the view that the authority of the Bishop depends on his personal piety rather than the office. Recall that David continued to give Saul the respect due to the king, even after Saul showed himself David's enemy.

beng said...

"Hello, I want to become a Catholic. May I ask where is the Catholic Church so I could join her and become her member?"

Now, where would one guide this poor soul? To an "eternal Rome?" Where would this "eternal Rome" be? Is it an invisible one? Kinda like Protestantism "invisible Church?"

Bartholomew said...


Please take a few minutes and read this link. The canonical battles of the Cluniac reform against the local bishops is very instructive.

asshur said...

Sorry for the previously botched comment. Admins ¿could you delete it?
Let's pray.
The note lends support for a positive outcome this time. As Prof. Basto pointed, the fact that an organizative proposal was submited at this point of time IS very significant.
Also, the restatement that the three other bishops will be dealt separately (as individuals, mark), is IMHO a signal that Rome has already discounted at least one of them ...
I can understand the prevention of the SSPX simpathizers to the PP status and the subjection to local bishops, but ... I can't get along with the idea of being in communion with Rome, but not with the local bishop, not being a formal heretic/schismatic -even when it is hard sometimes-

Anyone can refresh us what was offered organizatively to ++Lefebre?

JMJ Ora Pro Nobis said...

I hope this isn't an umodified PP, though we have +Fellays assurance it isnt but still...
As for the other bishops, well judging by +Tissiers recent comments, the desire to deal with them separately and singularly is fair enough, but I cannot but think that +Fellay taking the society in without them would be a betrayal of sorts.

'Hail mary full of grace the lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death'

JMJ Ora Pro Nobis said...

Canisius, I will assume you haven't done much sacramental theology, if you did you would know that a Pope cannot 'annul' ordinations of priests and bishops, he can ban them form using their faculties but he cannot change the irreducible mark in their soul priestly ordination and episcopal consecration cause.

JMJ Ora Pro Nobis said...

In fact we know it must be a modified PP, as a PP wouldn't be able to aggregate religious orders etc.. to it as the SSPX must.

KARL said...

Has any commenter on this blog REALLY given more thought to the proposed Personal Prelature than Bishop Fellay? Answer: No. It is so tiresome to have to wade through endless speculation by persons who really know very little. If the proposed structure is good enough for Bishop Fellay, you can be sure that it's good enough.

JMR said...

How many people commenting on here remember the Catholic Church before Vatican II?
I find it interesting that the writers of two of the best books on Traditional Catholicism Mosebach on "The Heresy of Formlessness" and William Biersach "While the Eyes of the Great were Elsewhere'" had a similar journey to mine.
We were children and catechised in the pre- Vatican II Church. For different reasons we stopped going to Church when the Vatican II changes were being implemented and humbly returned to find a Church that was unrecognisable. The post Vatican II Church is nothing like that of pre- Vatican II.
Unless you were catechised properly at 6 years old like I was, you cannot understand the horror it arouses in me to see Communion distributed in the hand.
If people posting here really believed in transubstantiation, they would have long ago abandoned the post -Vatican II Church and fled to the SSPX.

Anonymous said...

This is my first post here, although I have been reading this blog for a while and often attend the TLM. I hope not to be too naive. A lot of people here are very concerned about a proposed Personal Prelature (PP). I think I understand some of the issues involved, but I have some questions.
Has Opus Dei thrived or declined under their PP structure? I know many people recoil at the mere mention of them but they appear to be expanding.
Many churches and parishes are being closed or amalgamated in the West due to the declining collections and numbers of priests. Why would not bishops welcome the SSPX taking over these parishes and thus increasing their coffers and standing with Rome?
Would not then any growth demonstrate that the TLM is better received?
Finally, in the parish where I grew up, an order of Polish priests took over and really revitalised it. They say the new Mass, but also say the older rite when requested, such as for funerals.
So I guess I am unsure whether a PP will protect the SSPX or restrict them. Shouldn't the objective be to get 'boots on the ground' and produce priests and bishops, even if it takes 20 years? Would a PP actually restrict this? Thanks in advance.

Cavaliere said...

Be realistic. If you are in the Church you are with their modernists clergy.

Really? I thought the SSPX was in the Church.

The reform of the Church is beginning with or without the SSPX. They tried to warn us of the dire consequences of attending an Indult Mass years ago, saying it was only a trap. Now in my Archdiocese we have 5 weekly Extraordinary Form Masses and last year we had the first Confirmation in the traditional Rite since the new Rite came out, all despite the fact that the Archbishop is not exactly a friend of the traditional forms. Yet I would challenge anyone to find a lack of orthodoxy on his part in anything pertaining to Faith and Morals. Nor is he unwilling to remain silent on the major issues of the day despite critical attacks in the media and even members of the local Church. Meanwhile the SSPX chapel plods along and the people sit on the sidelines waiting for the Church to return to some pristine state.

Matt said...

"Also during the meeting, a draft document was submitted proposing a Personal Prelature as the most appropriate instrument for any future canonical recognition of the Society."

Really? Here we go again. I'm sure +Fellay is arguing his best and knows what this meaning of "prelature" is. If it's going to be the way Opus Dei has it (and they not in any way structured like the SSPX) then the Society is doomed from the start of this reunion. The Society cannot function at the whim and caprice of Local bishops.

Perhaps "prelature" is the cover word being spread about when in reality there is something better.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we trust in Thee!


Matt said...

Bob F. said, "Under a personal prelature, I do not believe that you have to have the local ordinary's permission to operate in the diocese. Opus Dei normally obtains permission before moving into an area first, but that is done out of courtesy rather than a canonical requirement."

Not so. Until Gomez came here to Los Angeles, Opus Dei was totally marginalized by Mahony.

Ecclesia Militans said...

Local bishops are the enemies of Tradition - I hope we all know this.
To put oneself or one's organization in their hands is suicide.

If it is true that the Pope is unwilling to grant freedom from the bishops, then accepting such an offer would be a most grave mistake.

We will know for certain soon enough.

JMJ Ora Pro Nobis said...

Cavaliere, I doubt it would be very hard, ask him about:
i) the new mass and communion in the hand
ii) ecumenicism
iii) the social reign of Christ
iv) outside the church there is no salvation

I'm pretty sure you'll find something unorthodox.

Constantino Romano said...
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PEH said...

TThe statement that the other three bishops of the SSPX will be dealt with separately does not make sense to me. Is this reconciliation or divide and conquer?

Concerning the structure of the SSPX post agreement, I can only say that it should be large enough to accommodate any traditional group wishing to be part of it. That is, any group wishing to place themselves under the authority, and protection by the way, of the Vicar of Christ.

In other words canonical jurisdiction and faculties must be offered/granted by papal decree signed by the holy father himself so as not to be in any way conflicted by local Ordinaries.

Bartholomew said...

Anonymous asked:

"Has Opus Dei thrived or declined under their PP structure? I know many people recoil at the mere mention of them but they appear to be expanding."

Opus Dei has NOT been a part of the traditional effort in the post-conciliar Church. They have other problems, but that would be off topic here.

Bottom line: placing Catholics of tradition under the authority of local bishops will cause further fissures in the very near future. It will be a disaster.

By not offering to the SSPX the same canonical structure as Anglicans -- Ordinariates -- proves to me that Rome still fears the local bishops. The arrangement places us in harms way.

Tom S. said...

My, My, so much vitriol, so little prudence!!

So the good society - the pinnacle, I believe Bishop TdM called it, has had more evil visited upon it by all of the "heretic"..."modernist"..."ecumenical"..."conciliar" Bishops, Clergy, etc. who form THE REST OF THE CHURCH. And of course because they are not "of the society" they are, TO A MAN, heretical evil doers who are drooling at the prospect of getting the pure people of the society inside the church where they can then savage, emasculate, hobble, and corrupt them into becoming "conformist".

It seems like many here have spent too long in a self-imposed ghetto and can no longer look at the world outside as anything but a caricature they have slowly conjured up over the years.

As the saying goes, people, you need to get out more.

Carl said...

Dr. Timothy Williams - I think there's a difference betweeen a "worthless" piece of paper and one of "limited value."

It is true that a personal prelature would canonically require SSPX to ask permission of the ordinary before entering a diocese. I very much doubt this would be dispensed through negotiations (as it would compromise an age old right of the episcopacy). But since when exactly has SSPX been in the habit of following the letter of canon law? If that were the case, the Society should have ceased to exist some time ago. Haven't you heard? There's a crisis on, and extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Why would that stop. A local ordinary denies permission to the Society and they will enter the territory anyway. I don't understand why that would change.

The value of the piece of paper is that more ordinaries WILL give permission, indeed even INVITING the Society into their dioceses to assist with various operations. The piece of paper opens many, many doors and closes none.

Bishop Tissier seems to like strong accusations and weak arguments. I normally find such an approach acceptable for a bishop, but when addressing his equal or in this case, superior, it is insolent.