Tornielli: “Peace” agreement reached between Vatican and Lefebvrians
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“Peace” agreement reached between Vatican and Lefebvrians
A proposal has been made to transform the Society of St. Pius X into a “Personal Prelature” like Opus Dei
Vatican City

A two-page “doctrinal preamble”, with an invitation to accept it within a month or so. The transformation of the Society of St. Pius X into a “Personal Prelature” like Opus Dei. These are the proposals that Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior of the Lefebvrians, yesterday morning received from the Pope through Cardinal William Levada, Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith, and from the secretary of the Ecclesia Dei commission, Guido Pozzo. Lefebvre followers’ story – a traditionalist Archbishop who challenged the conciliar reforms and in 1988 ordained, without mandate from the Pope, four new bishops thereby creating a schism – is at a turning point: the traditionalists must decide whether to reconcile with Rome or remain separate from it.

A communiqué reports that the meeting took place yesterday morning, at the Holy Office Palace, concluding talks that spanned over a period of two years. Benedict XVI, who wishes to do everything in his power to achieve reconciliation, had already agreed to two Lefebvrian preliminary requests: liberalization of the old Mass, and lifting the excommunications affecting the Bishops of the Society. In the past, more than once, a condition for full communion was set as the fact that Lefebvrians had to accept the last Council. In truth, yesterday’s “preamble” as it was offered to Fellay had a broader scope and it represents a fundamental platform stating “several doctrinal principles and interpretation criteria for the Catholic doctrine.”

It is a short and mediated document, which follows the “Professio fidei” published in 1989 by the former Holy Office and that states three different degrees of assent that the faithful must meet. In essence, a Catholic strives to believe “with firm faith” all that is “within the Word of God” and that the Church defines as “divinely revealed”. Secondly, a Catholic agrees to accept all dogmas stated as such to this day. Finally, and this is the difficult point for Lefebvrians, a Catholic is required to comply “with religious submission of will and intellect” to the teachings that the Pope and College of Bishops “set when they exercise their authentic Magisterium”, even when they are not stated in a dogmatic fashion, that is final. This is the most significant role of the magisterium, to which, for example, the encyclicals belong. And many Vatican II documents come from it and they should be read, as all the magisterium teachings – the Holy See explains – in the light of tradition and as a development, and not as a breaking point, from previous doctrine, according to hermeneutics proposed by Benedict XVI.

“Accepting the profession of faith contained in the preamble – a Vatican prelate explains to La Stampa – does not mean giving up the opportunity to discuss this or that affirmation of the conciliar texts, or to silence a debate on their interpretation.” But the different interpretations “cannot be used as a pretext to reject the magisterium.”

The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere, Fellay requested clarifications and insisted a lot on the critical situation in which, he said, the Church finds itself. However, from the Vatican side what needs to be discussed are the individual facts – such as liturgical abuses in certain countries – but without questioning the Pope’s authority. Finally, the canonical solution to regularize the Lefebvrians was also discussed: a “Personal Prelature”, an institution introduced in new canon code and used only, so far, for Opus Dei. Its superior depends on the Holy See and there are no particular geographical jurisdictions. Now the decision rests in the hands of the Lefebvrians. Fellay has reserved the right to take “all the time that is necessary” and stated that he “will consult the main representatives of the Society of Saint Pius X, since on such an important decision I promised my brothers I would not make any decisions without consulting them first.”

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Tornielli: “Peace” agreement reached between Vatican and Lefebvrians - by archdiocesan - 09-15-2011, 11:55 AM

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