The lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X after twenty years has given rise to much discussion in Germany and worldwide, both within and outside the church and was discussed in detail during the Spring 2009 General Assembly. We have come to a settled view, to which we attach particular importance.
The Priestly Society of St. Pius X has split from the Catholic Church. The bishops and priests who belong to the SSPX, even after the lifting of the excommunication of the bishops are not allowed to celebrate Holy Mass or other sacraments. In a special way, the ordinations of SSPX priests announced for this year violate the order and the law of the Church. We will ask the Apostolic See for a prompt explanation to ask what the legal consequences are for a bishop who would proceed with them. The leadership of the Curia must make rapid improvements in the internal coordination and in communication with episcopal conferences. This is especially true for situations of conflict.
The SSPX is therefore not in communion with the Catholic Church, because they are outside Catholic tradition (!!!!) and broken off unity with the Pope (Cathcon- pot calling the kettle black). It is up to the SSPX to overcome the schism to overcome and through a process of reintegration to accept unity with the Pope and the doctrine of the church. The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI by lifting the excommunication of the bishops stretched out his hand as a gesture of accommodation. It is the responsibility of the Apostolic See to determine whether the SSPX is ready to clearly affirm and adopt the religious convictions of the whole Church and especially the teaching of the popes and Councils.. The documents of the Second Vatican Council belong to the Catholic tradition and cannot be rescinded, not least the texts on religious freedom and relations with non-Christian religions, on ecumenism and on the Church in the Modern World and the statements on the collegiality of the bishops in their relationship to papal authority.
We regret that in this context, uncertainty has arisen about the path of the church. We have experienced this in conversations and communications. Many bishops have already given clarifications at an early stage. The theological and pastoral conditions especially of the Second Vatican Council are the obvious foundation of our efforts to renew spiritually the Church in Germany and give the answers of faith on the religious issues of our time new strength in word and deed. We hope that in the past few weeks a new interest in the dynamics and the orientations of the Second Vatican Council have been awakened. This is an opportunity we want to use.
Particularly depressing is the Holocaust denial of a bishop of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X and corresponding anti-Semitic currents in the SSPX. A serious distancing of the party concerned from such unacceptable attitudes is still lacking, as the Apostolic See has themselves called for at an early stage. Pope Benedict XVI has on several occasions clearly stated that the Catholic Church rejects anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish attitudes . We are pleased that the Holy Father in the past few weeks has been able to continue dialogue with prominent Jewish representatives. In Germany, several important meetings with Jewish representatives took place in which there was an opportunity to speak openly on worries and fears and to deepen mutual commitment. We are most grateful for and carry forward these efforts.
Unfortunately, comments on current events were also made in recent weeks which represented the context in a biased and polemical way. Even within the church, there were voices and activities which were unloving, extremely one-sided or even degrading, and have damaged unity. We deplore this style of dealing with each other. Above all, we reject any attempt to place doubt on the reputation and integrity of the pope, to deny the constitution of the Catholic Church and to work divisively.
Whether the SSPX is in full communion with the Catholic Church is not yet clarified. Much seems to speak against this now. But it is not this question on which we are predominantly acting, but the concern for the strengthening and renewal of ecclesial life and to witness to its substantial, multifaceted service. In this effort, we work with the priests and deacons, the staff in the service of the church and with all believers, which in many ways provides its strength and its ability to act. The Church lives from this association of vocation and commitment corresponding to the mission given by the Risen Lord. Trusting Him with one voice, we ask for His blessing.