Vatican proposal to SSPX (updated) 

Rome, Jun. 24, 2008 ( – The Italian daily Il Giornale reports that Pope Benedict XVI (bio – news) has approved an offer to the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) that could heal the breach between the Holy See and the traditionalist group.

The Vatican’s offer requires a response from the SSPX by June 28, Il Giornale says. The offer was apparently explained by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos (bio – news), the president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, during a recent meeting with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the SSPX. Rumors of Vatican efforts to regularize the status of the SSPX have persisted for months.

Il Giornale says that the accord proposed by the Vatican has several stipulations, including two important provisions that the newspaper has learned: the SSPX would be required to recognize the authority of Vatican II teachings and to affirm the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass. The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the SSPX, had accepted both of those terms before his break with the Vatican in 1986.

The Vatican proposes the erection of a traditionalist prelature, Il Giornale reports. This prelature would allow the SSPX to continue its work and to train its own seminarians.

Update: Andrea Tornielli, the respected Vatican-watcher for Il Giornale, reports that he has now obtained a copy of the correspondence from Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos outlining the Vatican’s proposal. The cardinal’s letter does not specifically mention the requirements that the SSPX affirm the validity of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass, he says; “these are prior general conditions” that have been understood during the dialogue between the Holy See and the traditionalist group.

Cardinal Castrillon’s letter does say that the SSPX should agree to avoid personal attacks on the Pope, and to avoid any public responses that would offend against “ecclesiastical charity.” The Vatican further asks the SSPX to avoid portraying itself as a rival magisterium, superior to the Holy See, to respect the legitimate authority of the Pope, and to adhere to the deadline– set at the end of June– for a positive response to the Vatican offer.


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  1. Joseph Schutzman

    "Hoping to Heal a Schism"? Please allow me to first say that I am a member of a canonically erected parish in full union with Rome. I do not “belong” to an SSPX chapel.

    May I respectfully ask why you claim that the SSPX is in schism when Cardinal Hoyos has repeatedly said that they are not? Reported here … and here … and here … and many, many other places. This lie is just like the lies over the last 40 years that the Tridentine Mass had been abrogated (abolished by authority). Then Pope Benedict XVI in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum officially said that it was "never abrogated".

    For some reason people quickly forget that they had made this very claim when pushing the NO Mass and slamming the Tridentine Mass. Where are the apologies for that? To my knowledge, they do not exist. Only Holy Mother Church can take the awesome step to declare that someone is in schism. Through Cardinal Hoyos, who speaks for the Holy Father in these matters, the Church has spoken. For the good of the Body of Christ I exhort you to cease this baseless condemnation and severe breach of charity and submit to Holy Mother Church

    STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks for your comments. You are technically correct it seems but too defensive of their stubborn resistance to the Pope and their "schismatic mentality". In my mind they will be in union with the Church when they repent. Then there will be no need to wonder if they are in schism by the letter of the law or the spirit. 

    This is from then Cardinal Ratzinger's representative. "

    A. Thus far the Church has not officially declared what constitutes "formal adherence to the schism" inaugurated by the late Archbishop Lefebvre (cf. Ecclesia Dei 5, c), but the Code of Canon Law defines schism as 'the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him" (canon 751). The above citation together with the other documentation which you have included in your dossier and your own exchange of correspondence with Father Violette clearly indicate the extent to which many in authority in the Society of St Pius X corroborate that definition.  You can read it all here.

  2. Joseph Schutzman

    Thank you for your intellectual honesty demonstrating a heartfelt pursuit of the Truth! May God bless you for it! Let me say that your wonderful work "Apostolic Fathers: Handing On the Faith" brought tears of joy to my eyes to hear recounted once again the feats of glory performed by our heroes in venerable demonstration of their love for Almighty God. These stories do the same for me as they do for you and I often wonder myself, as you do, "Would we do the same?"

    The Bishops, priests and people of the SSPX love the Deposit of Faith, that most valuable of all of God's gifts to us, and, as you say, the Church is here to protect that Deposit of Faith – Tradition. We all, inclding the SSPX, see this Deposit of Faith being sullied by the very men who have been sworn to protect it inviolate. I will not burden you here by asking for you to attempt to explain countless examples, but rather just one … As you relate, our brothers and sisters in Christ died before they worshiped with pagans or heretics.

    Our Catholic forefathers did the same without exception for roughly 1960 years. However, the hierarchy today willingly worships with animists, shamans, Hindus, Buddhists, Moslems, heretics, Gnostics, etc.. I can not imagine our Catholic heroes such as Polycarp, Iranaeus, Ignatius, Clement or Justin doing this. In fact they did not do this at all. St. Paul preached that their idols were demons and did not pray with them, but rather preached that they convert to save their souls. The SSPX accepts everything that Catholics have accepted for 2000 years and rejected everything that has been rejected by Catholics for 2000 years. They suffer the bloodless persecution for the same things that our forefathers suffered bloody persecution for. This is the "crime" of the SSPX.

    How can we as Catholics reconcile this? Reach out to the SSPX and reach out to Catholics like me who have never had anyone be able explain this een after question after question. I am happy to cite these instances of praying with people our forefathers condemned praying with replete with photographs upon request. They are too numerous to include here, but you can begin with a summary here …

    STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks for your kind words. Reach out to the SSPX, yes — just like the Papacy is doing. However, I am faithful to Peter and his successor and have no sympathy with those that rip the church assunder even if they mistakenly think they can justfify it. In the long run it is faithfulness to Jesus and his vicar that will preserve us and the Church. Peter and his successor are in God's hands, not ours. Jesus is building his church and is the one who made the promise about the Papacy Who are we to fight against God's anointed? He builds on Peter and I will help him build, not cause division.

  3. Mrs. Tim Hall

    The most faithful, godly, loving Catholic family we know belong to an SSPX chapel and the father teaches in an SSPX school. They love God, love the Church, love the Pope and pray for him every day. They believe that liberal priests and bishops took the changes in Vatican II and twisted them to shipwreck the Church (particularly in the West) and that nothing has been done about it. They believe the Church is in a time of crisis (who can question that?) and that there must be faithful who maintain authentic Catholicism during the crisis. Almost all of my relatives are Catholic, as well as most of the friends I grew up with, and I never met one Catholic who loved the Church until I met this SSPX family. The Catholics who claim fidelity to Rome but practice birth control, drunkenness and vote for pro-abortion candidates are the real schismatics. Just my humble opinion.

    STEVE RAY HERE: I hope the SSPX family loves God enough to obey him in their union with and obedience to the Pope. There are many Mormon families that say and act as though they love God too, but that is no proof of correct doctrine or fidelity to what God actually expects. Yes there are unfaithful Catholics in the Catholic Church, just as there were unfaithful Jews in Israel, but God never gave Israel over to the "more righteous than thou" factions.

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