Rorate Caeli

Argentina formally recognizes SSPX as part of the Catholic Church - at the request of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires (and Pope Francis?)

Our partners at Adelante de la Fe have broken the news that the Argentinian government has recognized the SSPX as part of the Roman Catholic Church: La FSSPX reconocida en Argentina como parte de la Iglesia Católica Romana. In the words of the official state Resolution granting this recognition:

Resolution N. 25/2015

Bs. As. [Buenos Aires], 17/3/2015

HAVING SEEN the Procedure N. 9028/2015 of the Registry of the MINISTRY OF FOREIGN RELATIONS AND WORSHIP, Law 24483, and its Regulation Decree N. 491, of September 21, 1995, and


That according to Protocol N. 084/15, of February 23, 2015, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Aurelio Cardinal POLI, requests that the "FRATERNITY OF THE APOSTLES OF JESUS AND MARY" (PRIESTLY FRATERNITY OF SAINT PIUS X) be held, up to the moment in which it finds its definitive juridical framing within the Church Universal, as an Association of Diocesan Right, according to what is established by canon 298 of the Code of Canon Law, being in fieri [henceforth and in the meantime] a Society of Apostolic Life, with all the benefits that correspond to it, and complying with all obligations to which the same refers, also accepting all responsibilities that belong to the diocesan Prelate. [emphasis added]

That to the aforesaid fraternity be accredited its character as a public juridical person within the ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC CHURCH, according to the norms of the Code of Canon Law. [emphasis added]

That according to its statutes, approved by competent ecclesiastical authority, the fraternity is a priestly society of common life without vows, as with the societies of Foreign Missions (cf. Chapter I, Article 1, Statutes of the Fraternity of the Apostles of Jesus and Mary).

That Article 3, letter f, of the Decree N. 491/95 authorizes the inscription in the Registry created by Law N. 24483 of the juridical persons recognized by ecclesiastical authority that ressemble or are analogous to the institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life.

That the requesting organization has fulfilled all requirements demanded by the regulations in force, including its statutes, the decree of erection, and a statement, according to what is established in Law N. 24483.

That it is fitting that the present inscription take place, considering that petitioner fits within the terms predicted in Article 3, letter f, of the Decree N. 491/95.

For these reasons,



ARTICLE 1 - The juridical person of the "FRATERNITY OF THE APOSTLES OF JESUS AND MARY" (PRIESTLY FRATERNITY OF SAINT PIUS X), Association of Diocesan Right, with legal and special residence at 1318 Calle Venezuela, AUTONOMOUS CITY OF BUENOS AIRES, is incribed under the number THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY ONE (381) of the Registry of Institutes of Consecrated Life.

ARTICLE 2 - It is granted to the aforesaid organization the character of an entity of public welfare, with all the effects that correspond to it.

ARTICLE 3 - Let it be known that the aforesaid juridical person benefits from the treatment afforded by Article 20, letter e, of the Income Tax Law (text ordered in 1997).

ARTICLE 4 - Let it be made known, let it be published, let it be given to the National Administration of the Official Registry, and let it be archived.

Secretary of Worship

[Published at the Boletín Oficial de la República Argentina, Official Journal of the Argentine Republic, on April 9, 2015, page 38. A Rorate translation.]

The Resolution comes from the Secretariat of Worship (Secretaría de Culto), the office of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Relations and Worship (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto) that deals with government relations with religious bodies, in particular with the Catholic Church, which remains the supported State religion in the Argentine Republic (Article 2 of the 1853 Constitution, revised in 1994). The Resolution credits Cardinal Poli, handpicked by Pope Francis as his own successor in Buenos Aires, with initiating the request for the SSPX to be recognized, but there is every reason to believe that the request came from much higher, from the very top. Rorate reported in May last year that Pope Francis himself had promised to help the SSPX gain recognition in his home country as a Catholic association for legal and administrative purposes:

"When, as a Cardinal, he was in South America, the District Superior [Fr. Christian Bouchacourt] came to ask him for an administrative favor with no relation to the Church; a visa problem, of permanent residency. The Argentine government, which is very leftwing, makes use of the concordat that was established to protect the Church to bother us quite seriously, and tells us, "you say you are Catholic, it is thus necessary for you to have the signature of the bishop in order to reside in the country." The District Superior therefore went to him to present the problem: there was an easy solution, and that would be to declare ourselves an independent church [before Civil Law], but we did not want to do it because we are Catholic. And the Cardinal told us, "no, no, you are Catholic, that is evident; I will help you;" he wrote a letter in our favor to the government, that is so leftwing that they managed to find an opposing letter by the nuncio. Therefore, a 0-0 tie. Now he is the pope, and our lawyer had the opportunity of having a meeting with the Pope. He told him that the problem was still going on with the Society, and asked him to please designate a bishop in Argentina with whom we could sort out this problem. The Pope told him, "Yes, and this bishop is myself, I promised to help, and I will do it."

Does this signal an imminent doctrinal and canonical rapprochement between Rome and the SSPX? It would not seem so, from SSPX Superior-General Bp. Bernard Fellay's qualification that this favor was solicited to ease the visa and residency problems of SSPX members assigned to Argentina. The SSPX could easily have obtained, as almost every other confession, state recognition in Argentina if it had requested recognition as a separate body, for merely civil law purposes, which the SSPX refused to request -- what is important is that this demonstrates both the SSPX's resolve not to be an independent Church, not to be seen as outside the Catholic Church; and, evidently, Rome's recognition that the SSPX is essentially Catholic. 

Update (12:00 PM GMT) - Speaking to Vatican Insider, the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei was glad with the decision of Cardinal Poli:

"I am glad that in Argentina this solution could have been found, which does not involve the Holy See, let it be made clear. It is not a juridicial recognition of [the Society of] Saint Pius X as a clerical society [*], the question of the legitimacy of the exercise of the priestly ministry of their priests remains open. But it is an ulterior sign of good will regarding this reality by the Catholic Church."

"With his decision - Pozzo continues - the ordinary of Buenos Aires recognized that the members of the Society are Catholics, even if not yet in full communion with Rome. We continue working so that full commnion and juridical framing of the Society within the Catholic Church may be achieved."

[*] Our comment: all true, of course. But Cardinal Poli's attitude (which could not have reasonably taken place without the full knowledge and approval, and probably even direct participation, of the man who made him archbishop and cardinal) is relevant precisely because, in the eyes of the Argentine Republic, the details of full, or partial, or incomplete, or irregular communion are irrelevant. This Priestly Fraternity, the Society of Saint Pius X, is part of the Catholic Church in the State law in a Republic in which the Church is closely linked to the State, period. Good for the Cardinal, for Pope Francis (who was obviously involved in this decision), and for the Society in Argentina.