Growing rumors of a Vatican-SSPX agreement, “personal prelature”

From Deacon Keith Fournier at Catholic.org, drawing on material posted on the Rorate Caeli blog:

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – One day after the celebration of the 85th birthday of the Pope of Christian unity, on the week commemorating seven years of his pontificate, an amazing turn of events has finally occurred. The rumors have been rampant. However, they they have received mixed reviews from Vatican observers. They have also prompted rampant speculation.

However, on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, the reliable Andrea Tornielli reported that the doctrinal preamble issued by the Vatican has been signed by Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior of the Society of St. Pius X. The report further indicates there were some minor revisions which should not preclude the long hoped for return to full communion for the SSPX.   

What a birthday gift this would be for the Pope of Christian unity. On April 20, 2005, a newly elected Pope Benedict XVI gave his first message at the end of a Mass he had concelebrated with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. He signaled his mission:

“Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room. The Successor of Peter knows that he must make himself especially responsible for his Divine Master’s supreme aspiration. Indeed, he is entrusted with the task of strengthening his brethren (cf. Luke 22: 32)”.

“With full awareness, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome which Peter bathed in his blood, Peter’s current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty.”

According to Andrea Tornielli of the Vatican Insider, reported in a story translated by my favorite source for these vital issues, the ever reliable Rorate Caeli , “The text of the preamble, with the modifications proposed by Fellay, and signed by him as Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X, will be presented to Benedict XVI, who, on the day following his 85th birthday and on the even of the seventh anniversary of his election, receives a positive response from the Lefebvrists.”

“A response long expected and desired by him, who, in the next few weeks, will put an end to the wound opened in 1988 with the illegitimate episcopal ordinations celebrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.”

“It is not ruled out that Fellay’s response be examined by the Cardinals of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the next “Feria Quarta” [Wednesday] meeting, which should take place in the first half of May. Meanwhile, some further weeks will be needed so that a canonical arrangement can be established.”

“The most probable proposal is that of establishing a “personal prelature”, a legal figure introduced in the Code of Canon Law in 1983 and up to now used only by Opus Dei. The prelate depends directly of the Holy See. The Society of Saint Pius X will continue to celebrate Mass according to the ancient Missal, and to form its priests in its seminaries.”

Read the entire piece.


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About Carl E. Olson 1131 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.