SSPX Official Offers Cautions Concerning Possible Reconciliation with Rome
States The Society must continue its mission of combating 'modernist Rome'
Last month, Catholic Online reported on the historic meeting held in Rome by Cardinal Levada of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith with the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay. In a recent interview, First Assistant of the Society of St. Pius X, Fr. Niklaus Pfluger, remained cool about any possible reconciliation.
During the proceedings the Cardinal Prefect presented the Superior General with a statement of principles they are calling a "Doctrinal Preamble" as part of the regularization of the canonical status of the SSPX. The General Council, which includes the Superior General and both of his Assistants, were present for the meeting. All attending agreed to keep the content of the preamble confidential while the society has a chance to study it.
Speaking with the German District of SSPX during a visit to Stuttgart, First Assistant of the Society of St. Pius X, Fr. Niklaus Pfluger, shared his thoughts about the September 14 meeting, the "Doctrinal Preamble," and what may come of it.
"The document allows for corrections from our side," Fr. Pfluger stated. "That is necessary also, if only to exclude clearly and definitively even the appearance of ambiguities and misunderstandings. So now it is our duty to send Rome an answer that reflects our position and unambiguously represents the concerns of Tradition."
The society was established by Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve in 1970 as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council.
Tensions increased and relations strained to the breaking point in 1988 when the Archbishop ordained four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II.
In 2009, in order to initiate a movement toward reconciliation, Pope Benedict remitted the excommunication of the bishops in anticipation of further talks. In spite of this initiative, many who support SSPX see the recent meeting as "Rome setting a trap." Pfluger responded to that concern.
"This criticism is altogether justified and should be taken seriously. For how can we avoid giving the impression that this amounts after all to a tacit acceptance, so to speak, that would in fact lead to this parallel diversity and relativize the one truth; that is indeed precisely the basis of Modernism."
According to the First Assistant, several issues stand in the way of reconciliation and may become a permanent stumbling block. Further, as the Church continues to move forward, SSPX sees their roll to continue the fight against Vatican II and Roman modernity.
"Assisi III and even more the unfortunate beatification of John Paul II, but also many other examples make it clear that the leadership of the Church now as before is not ready to give up the false principles of Vatican II and their consequences.
"Therefore any "offer" made to Tradition must guarantee us the freedom to be able to continue our work and our critique of "modernist Rome". And to be honest, this seems to be very, very difficult. Again, any false or dangerous compromise must be ruled out."
Whatever agreement may be reached with Rome by the Superior, Fr. Pfluger sees the final hurdle resting with their members when the final document is presented. The response of the group can, in many ways, shape the permanent destiny of the society.
"It is clear that now they are demanding a document that can be presented to the public. The question is, whether one can sign the document. In one week the superiors of the Society of St. Pius X will meet in [Albano Laziale, a suburb of] Rome to discuss this together.
"Of course it has to be clear to Cardinal Levada and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith too that they cannot insist on a document that the Society cannot justify in turn to its members and faithful."
There will certainly be a lot to discuss when the superiors meet next week. The heart of the pontiff, however, cannot be ignored. He has been very clear, both in this initiative as well as with the Anglican Ordinariate that he wants the crowing work of his papacy to be unification.
The entire interview with Fr. Pfluger can be seen on the SSPX website.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Society of St. Pius X, SSPX, Bishop Fellay, Pope Benedict, Unity, Unification
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