Pope Francis may be on verge of deal with traditionalists!
By Anian Christoph Wimmer
Catholic News Agency April 27, 2016
Pope Francis may soon offer the Society of Saint Pius X regular canonical status within the Catholic Church without requiring acceptance of certain texts of the Second Vatican Council with which they disagree, a prerequisite that heretofore had been seen as a deal-breaker for the traditionalists.
It also appears the society may itself be poised to take such a historic step, urging that “perhaps only Pope Francis is able to take this step, given his unpredictability and improvisation”, according to an internal Society of St. Pius X document that was leaked to the press in recent weeks.
The Society of St. Pius X is a breakaway group founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who objected to some of the reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), including the introduction of a new Mass in vernacular languages and the broad expansion of ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue.
The memo, titled “Considerations on the Church and the position of the Society of Saint Pius X in it”, outlines six reasons why the group should accept an offer of regularization by Pope Francis, provided “an appropriate ecclesial structure” is ensured. It also addresses possible objections raised against such a move.
“It seems the time to normalize the situation of the society has come,” the memo reads.
The document, dated Feb. 19, was written by Father Franz Schmidberger, rector of the society’s seminary in Germany. Schmidberger had served as superior general of the society from 1982 to 1994.
In the memo, Schmidberger asserts that the Vatican has been “gradually lowering its demands and recent proposals, no longer speak of recognizing neither the Second Vatican Council nor the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo Missae,” referring to the post-Vatican II Mass.
On April 10, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the current superior general of the society, said before some 4,000 pilgrims in the French city of Le Puy-en-Velay that there is a “profound change” in its relationship with the Vatican, triggered by the “dire situation” of the Church: “in the midst of this disorder … comes this whisper: ‘No, we cannot force you to accept the Council.’ They perhaps will not say it so clearly, but they did indeed say it to us after all.”
Albeit carefully, these assertions are to some extent matched by similar utterances from Rome.
Italian Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary for the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei – the Vatican office of the responsible for doctrinal discussions with the society – said in an April 6 interview with La Croix that “as far as the Second Vatican Council is concerned, the ground covered in the meetings over the past few years has led to an important clarification: Vatican II can be adequately understood only in the context of the full tradition of the Church and her constant magisterium.”
“Certain questions can remain ‘subject to discussion and clarification’,” Pozzo added.
Similarly, Schmidberger’s memo asserts that whilst the group would like to “return from its ‘exile'”, further discussions would be expected: “We will not be silent, more over, we will point out the errors by name. Before and after our normalization.