SSPX Superior Isn’t Primarily Seeking Reunion With Catholic Church

News: Investigations
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  July 5, 2016   

Rome still demands that SSPX accept Vatican II as read in light of Tradition

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VATICAN ( - The leader of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) is saying the group isn't seeking primarily to reunite with the Catholic Church.

Bishop Bernard Fellay spoke on behalf of the SSPX in a recent communique. "The Society of Saint Pius X ... does not seek primarily a canonical recognition," he said.

In May, SSPX superior Fellay told the Register that Rome was giving the Society everything it needed for reconciliation with the Church. This statement was made in light of a meeting held between Fellay and Pope Francis in April. The purpose of that meeting was to end the separation of the SSPX from Rome.

It was rumored that the Vatican would no longer require the SSPX to accept the 16 documents of the Second Vatican Council as part of the Church's teaching magisterium. But this stipulation was gainsaid in May by Vatican's doctrinal chief, Cdl. Gerhard Müller. The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that if one "wants to be fully Catholic, one must recognize the Pope and the Second Vatican Council."

Pope Francis seemingly confirmed this position in May when speaking to the French publication LaCroix. Asked about granting the SSPX some status in the Church, the Pope responded, "That would be a possible solution, but beforehand it will be necessary to establish a fundamental agreement with them. The Second Vatican Council has its value."

In the same interview, the Holy Father summed up his April meeting with the SSPX. "I believe, as I said in Argentina, that they are Catholics on the way to full communion."

Canon Law, including code 751, says a Catholic breaks communion with the Catholic Church by heresy with regard to Her teaching authority or by schism with regard to Her ruling authority.

In the same communique by Bp. Fellay to fellow SSPX superiors, he speaks of "the present state of grave necessity which gives it the right and duty to administer spiritual aid to the souls that turn to it."

What this alleged "state of necessity" entails is a situation where, the SSPX alleges, truth and grace have failed universally in the Church from the Pope on down. The SSPX claims Vatican II is full of doctrinal errors, and these errors are being universally perpetuated from all the popes and the Magisterium since then till now. This leads them to proclaim a "state of necessity" that frees them from the dictates of canon law and the unity it prescribes.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter in March 2009 explaining the SSPX's separation is doctrinal in nature and not merely canonical or legal.

The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. ... In order to make this clear once again: Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers — even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty — do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church. ... In light of this situation, it is my intention henceforth to join the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei — the body which has been competent since 1988 for those communities and persons who, coming from the Society of Saint Pius X or from similar groups, wish to return to full communion with the Pope — to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This will make it clear that the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes.


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