ROME —The Society of St. Pius X's three conditions for reuniting with Rome have been revealed in a letter sent by their general secretary to the society’s superiors across the world.
“The freedom to accuse and even to correct the promoters of the errors or the innovations of modernism, liberalism and Vatican II and its aftermath” is listed as part of the first condition in the July 17 letter from Father Christian Thouvenot.
The interpretation and legacy of the Second Vatican Council, which took place from 1962-1965, now seems to be the major stumbling block for the society in their ongoing negotiations with the Vatican aimed at healing their 24-year rift.
The new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Muller, told Catholic News Agency July 20 that “the assertion that the authentic teachings of Vatican II formally contradict the tradition of the Church is false,” although he added that there are “gradations” in the authority of different Council documents.
The breakaway traditionalist group also listed “the exclusive use of the Liturgy of 1962” and a “commitment of at least one bishop” as their second and third conditions for reconciliation with Rome.
The former would seem to be guaranteed by Pope Benedict’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, while the latter would also seem to be covered by the Vatican’s present offer of personal prelature status for the society. A personal prelature is a Church jurisdiction without geographical boundaries. The only personal prelature at present is Opus Dei, whose prelate is also ordained a bishop.
Father Thouvenot also listed three other “desirable conditions” for reunification. These are “a separate ecclesiastical court” within the Church’s wider judicial system, the “exemption of the houses of the SSPX from the diocesan bishops” and the creation of a pontifical commission in Rome “for the tradition” that would be directly under the direction of the Pope, with “the majority of the members and the president in favor of tradition.”
The Vatican is currently awaiting an official reply from the society, which would involve them accepting a “Doctrinal Preamble” that includes a full adherence to the dogmatic content of the Second Vatican Council. Even if they refused to sign the document at the present moment, the Vatican has suggested that further dialogue will be possible.
“The purpose of dialogue is to overcome difficulties in the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council,” Archbishop Muller told CNA.
The Society of St. Pius X was founded in 1970 by the Frenchman Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in response to errors he believed had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council.
The society has had a strained relationship with the Church since its founder ordained four bishops against the will of Pope John Paul II in 1988.