Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Holy See's Conditions for the FSSPX

Here are the conditions laid down by the Holy See to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X for a return to a regular ecclesiastical situation. It seems that they were discussed at a meeting during Bishop Fellay's recent visit to Rome, and then formally communicated by a letter from Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to him. According to Andrea Tornielli, the terms are:

"Conditions arising from the meeting of June 4, 2008, between Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos and Bishop Bernard Fellay:

1) The commitment to a proportionate response to the generosity of the Pope.
2) The commitment to avoid any public intervention that does not respect the person of the Holy Father and that could be negative for ecclesial charity.
3) The commitment to avoid the claim of a superior teaching to that of the Holy Father and not to propose the fraternity as opposed to the Church.
4) The commitment to demonstrate the will to act honestly in full ecclesial charity and respect for the Vicar of Christ.
5) The commitment to respect the date - set at the end of the month of June - to respond positively. This will be a condition required and necessary as immediate preparation for accession to full communion."
(The translation is by Google and slightly corrected by me.)

The requirements are very interesting. There is no sort of profession of faith required, whether in the Council or the validity of the new sacramental rites, even in the form accepted by the Archbishop in 1988. However, there is a clear implication that the FSSPX has been speaking as though it had a magisterium superior to that of the Pope, and in a manner disrespectful to him.

This echoes Cardinal Castrillon's recent remarks that there was no schism, but that if the members of the FSSPX pretend to be "teachers of the Pope", that they could be excommunicated for heresy. It also resonates disturbingly with Bishop Fellay's recent remarks that he had received an ultimatum from Rome, which he interpreted as an instruction to "shut up".

The conditions are certainly open to some interpretation, but in themselves they are surely reasonable. The FSSPX raises legitimate concerns about some conciliar and post-conciliar magisterial documents and acts. Nonetheless, it must acknowledge that the Pope is the final authority on how all these things accord with the Church's dogmatic tradition (which it does), and avoid expressions which are in tension with this acknowledgment (which perhaps it doesn't always). Equally, the Holy See must take seriously these concerns of apparent tensions between post-conciliar and pre-conciliar teaching in some areas, and of certain acts of the post-conciliar Popes that seem to contradict some pre-conciliar teaching. The expression of such concerns is not in itself disrespectful to the Roman Pontiff, and the faithful need clarification of these matters.

This is a moment of serious decision, which could yield great graces for the whole Church; or not. Let us all pray for the FSSPX and for the Holy Father.