Archbishop Guido Pozzo, the Vatican’s point-man for regularizing the Society of St. Pius X, has reaffirmed that the Society is continuing dialogue with the Holy See.
In an interview with Vatican Radio's Italian edition on Friday, the Secretary for the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" said a statement the Society issued last week was not a step back from dialogue, nor did the priestly fraternity say anything new about its view of the current situation in the Church.
But he made clear that although the Society said in its statement that canonical recognition is not a priority, for the Vatican it is an “essential condition” if the SSPX is to come into “full ecclesiastical communion” with the Holy See.
Sources told the Register last week that the Synod on the Family and other confusing signals from Rome led to the Society's statement, but that the SSPX still very much hopes for regularization.
Here below is my translation of Archbishop Pozzo’s interview:
Vatican Radio: The Society of St. Pius X today does not primarily seek canonical recognition from the Holy See, according to a statement from the traditionalist community made public on June 29. Is this a setback in the ongoing dialogue?
Archbishop Pozzo: The Commission "Ecclesia Dei" does not consider it to be a step back from dialogue. From the press release it appears not to enter into the merits of the substantive issues that are being considered in the dialogue and confrontation between the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei "and the Society of Saint Pius X. Thus dialogue and debate on such concrete issues will continue.
How do you interpret this statement?
Let's say it does not say anything new with respect to the noted and well known positions of the Society of St. Pius X about the situation of the Church today. I can add, where appropriate, that when it refers to the lack of canonical recognition, which is not the thing they’re considering right now, I can say that canonical recognition by the Holy See is an essential condition for a Catholic organization to be in full ecclesiastical communion, conforming to the law. There is no canonical recognition, we are working on it, but canonical recognition is not something notarial, it is essential!
You brought up several key points for you, which you’re working together on...
They are always the same questions of doctrinal and disciplinary order: they are questions concerning the Magisterium, tradition, the issues of Vatican II ... So they are all things already known which we do not need to repeat.
The Pope received the superior general of the Fraternity, Bishop Fellay, recently. How frequent are these direct or indirect contacts?
There are no specific deadlines. The meetings take place between us in the Commission "Ecclesia Dei" or our delegates, and the representatives of the Society of St. Pius X. There was, however, this important meeting: a private audience with the Holy Father, in which Bishop Fellay could explain his point of view to the Holy Father. It was a very cordial meeting and certainly falls within the path of dialogue and above all of mutual trust that we are building together. So it is possible that there will be other meetings, but these haven’t yet been scheduled.
Benedict XVI was very keen for this work to achieve unity with the Society. Does Pope Francis have the same perspective?
Yes, I really think so. Pope Francis has at heart the unity of the Church and all that can promote the unity of the Church. He is always mentally very open to this. This was also acknowledged by Bishop Fellay. But evidently we also cannot deny that there are still issues to resolve, to face, to be examined.
So on the part of the Holy See, there is openness, but steadfastness ...
The steadfastness is on what is essential to being Catholic. From this point of view there is no change! But I do not think that now it’s a question of steadfastness: it’s just about tackling concrete problems and trying to solve them and solve them together. The opening is in this sense: in the sense that we have identified the issues to be addressed and we are addressing them. Of course it will take some time, but there must be this mutual readiness [to come to an agreement].