Monday, May 14, 2012

Pope Benedict and the SSPX: Reunion Imminent?

The U.S. District of the Society of St. Pius X has asked Catholics to join in a special Novena starting May 8 (tomorrow) and ending May 16. According to the SSPX, “[t]he intention of this novena will be that the Holy Ghost may give the graces of light and strength to the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, and to the Superior General of the Society, Bishop Fellay.” The Novena consists of reciting the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus and the Memorare prayer to the Blessed Virgin. A full text of both prayers, along with a note explaining the purpose of the Novena, is available online here.


As La Stampa's Andrea Tornielli ("Vatican Insider") reports, "The week ahead is going to be crucial for relations between Rome and the Society of St. Pius X". This Wednesday, Cardinals and bishop members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will discuss the response to the doctrinal preamble sent last 17 April by the Fraternity’s superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay.

This is a delicate moment, particularly after the publication on the Web of the letters exchanged between Fellay and three other Lefebvrian bishops, which Vatican Insider reported on last Thursday. Fellay has been leading negotiations with the Holy See and is prepared to accept Benedict XVI’s proposal; the three bishops, however, are not.

But the words used by Mgr. Fellay in his response to his fellow brothers Tissyer de Mallerais, de Gallareta and Williamson, illustrate the decisive role Benedict XVI has played in the process. “The Pope – Fellay wrote in the confidential letter he sent in response to the criticisms – told us that the eagerness to legalise our status for the good of the Church was at the heart of his pontificate; he also said he knew it would be easier for him and for us to leave the situation as it is at the moment. The willingness he has expressed is therefore determined and fair.”

A Roundup of Recent Events

  • Traditionalist leader says group could divide over unity with Rome, by Francis Rocca (Catholic News Service) 5/11/12. The leader of a breakaway group of traditionalist Catholics spoke in unusually hopeful terms about a possible reconciliation with Rome, but acknowledged significant internal resistance to such a move, which he said might lead to the group splitting apart.

  • Lefebvrians: The internal battle Following the exchange of letters addressed to the leaders of the Society of St. Pius X in recent weeks, three bishops have expressed their opposition to the agreement. 05/10/2012:
    A website has reported on the letters exchanged a month ago between bishops Tissier de Mallerays, Alfonso de Gallareta, Richard Williamson and the leader of the Society of St. Pius X, Bernard Fellay. The letter which the three bishops sent Fellay on 7 April contains a final appeal asking the superior not to sign the doctrinal preamble or accept the agreement proposed by the Holy See. As readers will recall, the agreement aims to assign the Lefebvrians a personal prelature.

  • Letter of the General Council of the Society of Saint Pius X Rorate Caeli 5/11/12. A translation of the internal letter sent by Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX /SSPX), and the other two members of the General Council, First Assistant Fr. Niklaus Pfluger and Second Assistant Fr. Alain-Marc Nély, on April 14, 2012.

  • Some historical context: Abp. Lefebvre recalls his July 14, 1987, meeting with Cardinal Ratzinger. Rorate Caeli 5/13/12:
    In his long sermon, given one year after the first Assisi meeting took place (Oct. 1986), Abp. Lefebvre summarized the problem and expounded with greater detail the July 14, 1987, meeting with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger, that he had already presented partially in other occasions, including a conference for a priestly retreat held on September 4. In this sermon, he expands and completes the general thoughts regarding negotiations and the relationship of Traditional Catholics and the Supreme Pontiff in the post-conciliar reality.
  • Important: Fr. Pfluger speaks on recent developments Fr. Niklaus Pfluger, FSSPX, is the First Assistant of the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) gives account of the most recent developments.


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