PopeWatch: SSPX



For those who assume they have figured this Papacy out, this latest development out of Argentina may come as a surprise where the SSPX has been recognized by the Argentinian government as part of the Catholic Church.  This was done with the support of the Catholic Church in Argentina.  From Rorate Caeli:


The Resolution comes from the Secretariat of Worship (Secretaría de Culto), the office of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Relations and Worship (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto) that deals with government relations with religious bodies, in particular with the Catholic Church, which remains the supported State religion in the Argentine Republic (Article 2 of the 1853 Constitution, revised in 1994). The Resolution credits Cardinal Poli, handpicked by Pope Francis as his own successor in Buenos Aires, with initiating the request for the SSPX to be recognized, but there is every reason to believe that the request came from much higher, from the very top. Rorate reported in May last year that Pope Francis himself had promised to help the SSPX gain recognition in his home country as a Catholic association for legal and administrative purposes:

“When, as a Cardinal, he was in South America, the District Superior [Fr. Christian Bouchacourt] came to ask him for an administrative favor with no relation to the Church; a visa problem, of permanent residency. The Argentine government, which is very leftwing, makes use of the concordat that was established to protect the Church to bother us quite seriously, and tells us, “you say you are Catholic, it is thus necessary for you to have the signature of the bishop in order to reside in the country.” The District Superior therefore went to him to present the problem: there was an easy solution, and that would be to declare ourselves an independent church [before Civil Law], but we did not want to do it because we are Catholic. And the Cardinal told us, “no, no, you are Catholic, that is evident; I will help you;” he wrote a letter in our favor to the government, that is so leftwing that they managed to find an opposing letter by the nuncio. Therefore, a 0-0 tie. Now he is the pope, and our lawyer had the opportunity of having a meeting with the Pope. He told him that the problem was still going on with the Society, and asked him to please designate a bishop in Argentina with whom we could sort out this problem. The Pope told him, “Yes, and this bishop is myself, I promised to help, and I will do it.”

Does this signal an imminent doctrinal and canonical rapprochement between Rome and the SSPX? It would not seem so, from SSPX Superior-General Bp. Bernard Fellay’s qualification that this favor was solicited to ease the visa and residency problems of SSPX members assigned to Argentina. The SSPX could easily have obtained, as almost every other confession, state recognition in Argentina if it had requested recognition as a separate body, for merely civil law purposes, which the SSPX refused to request — what is important is that this demonstrates both the SSPX’s resolve not to be an independent Church, not to be seen as outside the Catholic Church; and, evidently, Rome’s recognition that the SSPX is essentially Catholic. 

Update (12:00 PM GMT) – Speaking to Vatican Insider, the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei was glad with the decision of Cardinal Poli:
“I am glad that in Argentina this solution could have been found, which does not involve the Holy See, let it be made clear. It is not a juridicial recognition of [the Society of] Saint Pius X as a clerical society [*], the question of the legitimacy of the exercise of the priestly ministry of their priests remains open. But it is an ulterior sign of good will regarding this reality by the Catholic Church.”
“With his decision – Pozzo continues – the ordinary of Buenos Aires recognized that the members of the Society are Catholics, even if not yet in full communion with Rome. We continue working so that full commnion and juridical framing of the Society within the Catholic Church may be achieved.”
[*] Our comment: all true, of course. But Cardinal Poli’s attitude (which could not have reasonably taken place without the full knowledge and approval, and probably even direct participation, of the man who made him archbishop and cardinal) is relevant precisely because, in the eyes of the Argentine Republic, the details of full, or partial, or incomplete, or irregular communion are irrelevant. This Priestly Fraternity, the Society of Saint Pius X, is part of the Catholic Church in the State law in a Republic in which the Church is closely linked to the State, period. Good for the Cardinal, for Pope Francis (who was obviously involved in this decision), and for the Society in Argentina.

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  1. This is excellent news, and it gives me hope that someday we will see the
    SSPX regularized. I admire Pope Francis and Cardinal Poli for making this

  2. “Regularization” will not happen with the SSPX under this Pontificate.

    The SSPX has not changed its views on the parts of the Second Vatican Council that it objects to and the chief objection it has is the Novus Ordo Mass. The FSSP accepts VII and the NO Mass but observes the Tridentine Mass exclusively. The SSPX isn’t taking that step with this Pontificate, especially after what has happened to the FFI.

  3. “Does this signal an imminent doctrinal and canonical rapprochement between Rome and the SSPX?”
    No, if the emphasis is on the word “imminent”. This is a sign that doors are being left open and the Vatican is biding its time. This is evidence of the long view taken.

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