Will Pope Francis Approve the SSPX on Monday?

Image courtesy of SSPX.org

As the Italian news agency, ANSA, reports, Pope Francis intends to publish a new Apostolic Letter “Misericordia et Misera” on Monday, 21 November 2016. It will be a document sealing the end of the Year of Mercy and might thus have a special meaning to the Catholic world.

German Vatican expert Giuseppe Nardi also reports today on the website Katholisches.info an important event that might also take place on Monday: the full acceptance of the Society of St. Pius X as a member of the Catholic Church, with a personal prelature, as has often previously been discussed. This information comes to Nardi from different websites that are close to the Society of St. Pius X.

Our own sources confirm that they have received reports that the Society is, at the very least, mentioned in Misericordia et Misera, though the context of the reference is not yet certain. It is worth remembering that when Pope Francis granted faculties to the priests of the SSPX to hear confessions, the members of the Society — including their Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay — were not notified in advance by the Vatican of this decision, and that such a surprise could again happen without prior knowledge by those most affected. At the time of the papal letter regarding confession faculties, the Society released a statement which read in part [emphasis added]:

The Society of St. Pius X learned, through the press, of the provisions taken by Pope Francis on the occasion of the upcoming Holy Year. In the last paragraph of his letter addressed September 1, 2015, to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the Holy Father writes:

«I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Society of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.»

In August of 2015, just a month before the pope’s decision to extend these faculties to priests of the Society, Bishop Athanasius Schneider gave an interview to Adelante la Fe, in which he said:

Mons. Schneider: The Holy See asked me to visit the two [seminaries] of the SSPX in order to conduct a discussion on a specific theological topic with a group of theologians of the SSPX and with His Excellency Bishop Fellay. For me this fact shows that for the Holy See the SSPX is not a negligible ecclesiastical reality and that it has to be taken seriously. I am keeping a good impression of my visits. I could observe a sound theological, spiritual and human reality in the two [seminaries]. The “sentire cum ecclesia” of the SSPX is shown by the fact that I was received as an envoy of the Holy See with true respect and with cordiality. Furthermore, I was glad to see in both places in the entrance area a photo of Pope Francis, the reigning Pontiff. In the sacristies there were plates with the name of Pope Francis and the local diocesan bishop. I was moved to assist the traditional chant for the Pope (“Oremus pro pontifice nostro Francisco…”) during the solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

To my knowledge there are no weighty reasons in order to deny the clergy and faithful of the SSPX the official canonical recognition, meanwhile they should be accepted as they are.

As faithful traditional Catholics, we know that much work has been done recently to fully reconcile the Society with the Church, and we may well hope and pray that this piece of unexpected information will be confirmed as true on Monday. May the SSPX thereby become even more influential now within the Catholic Church in defending the traditional doctrine and life of the Catholic Faith as it has been essentially taught and more fully lived for many centuries now.

We will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

Steve Skojec contributed to this report. 

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