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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Leaked letter indicates problems in SSPX-Rome negotiations

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Intégristes : Mgr Fellay suspend la réconciliation avec le Vatican - Catholicisme - La Vie

Bishop Fellay suspends reconciliation with the Vatican
A confidential letter from the secretary of the Superior General of Lefebvrists Bishop Fellay said that ultimately he did not intend to sign the final proposal of the Vatican as he considers it "clearly unacceptable". Strategic retreat or final throwing in of the sponge?

Are the internal divisions in the Society of St. Pius X about to get the better of the reconciliation process between the Lefebvrists and Rome? This is the question we can legitimately ask on reading this letter from the Secretary General, Father Christian Thouvenot. In a document classified as confidential that leaked onto the Internet within hours of its release, Father Thouvenot shared with the SSPX Superiors of different districts (also of seminaries and autonomous houses- Cathcon note) the most recent decisions of Bishop Fellay.

The first decision is the one not to sign the latest version of the famous Preamble doctrine , the essential document for reconciliation and has been in recent months been exchanged back and forth between the parties. Re-altered by Rome following the changes proposed by the SSPX, it was expected in its latest version, according to Father Pfluger (SSPX), to resolve doctrinal differences between Rome and church and Menzingen by using the following formula: "The criteria and guide for the understanding of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are to be the whole Tradition of the Catholic Faith, which on its part makes clear certain aspects of the life and doctrine of the Church, which are not yet formulated, but implicitly present in it. The affirmations of the Second Vatican Council and of the Pontifical Magisterium of the past relative to the relationship between the Catholic Church and the non-Catholic Christian confessions are to be understood in light of all of Tradition.""

In the letter to District Superors, whose authenticity is ensured, Father Thouvenot explains that the modified preamble presented on June 13 to Bishop Fellay by Cardinal Levada, now prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in charge of the matter in Rome, is the "text lof ast April but amended so that it incorporates, in substance, the proposals of September 2011. Bishop Fellay immediately makes known that he could not sign this document, as it is clearly unacceptable".

The second decision is not a surprise : it concerns a disciplinary decision against Bishop Williamson, the most unmanageable of the bishops of the Society: " I inform all members of the chapter, under canon 2331 § 1 and 2, that the Superior General has deprived Bishop Williamson of capitular office for his positions calling for rebellion and disobedience which he has continually repeated. He also forbidden to go to Ecône for ordinations."

Clearly, Bishop Williamson will not participate in the General Chapter of the Society held in July, and which is to ratify or reject the agreement with Rome. There is no word however on the other two bishops, Msgrs Tissier de Mallerais and De Galarreta, who nevertheless clearly displayed their hostility to an agreement, and warned that they would not follow their Superior General in case of signing, but at least in recognition that he is formally isolated - alone against the three other bishops of the SSPX - Bishop Fellay could hardly exclude the other two.

The third decision demonstrates the fragility of the extreme position of Bishop Fellay within the SSPX. "Bishop Fellay has decided to postpone the ordinations for the Dominicans of Avrillé and the Capuchins of Morgon, which was scheduled Ecône on June 29. This delay in the ordinations was simply dictated by the need to ensure loyalty of these communities before the laying on of hands on their candidates. " The front of opponents of reconciliation with Rome therefore extends not only to the bishops, nor to the simple priests of whom have reacted rather violently to Bishop Fellay in recent weeks, but also to postulants and superiors of Lefebvrist religious communitiess: clearly- those who represent the future of the Fraternity.

Finally it is notable in that letter that the Superior General deals tactfully with the Pope and blames the failure of talks on Cardinal Levada, in charge of the case in Rome: " Our Superior General replied to the letter of March 16 from Cardinal Levada who tried to impose the doctrinal Preamble of September 14, 2011. [...] According to several sources, the new text appeared to satisfy the Supreme Pontiff. "

This formula seems to support the thesis that Bishop Fellay has not lost all hope of reaching an agreement, since Cardinal Levada will leave his post in the coming months, having reached the retirement age.  Putting the responsibility on hin for the end of the talks thus allows delay, to try to rally as many members of the SSPX to his position and to survive in the General Chapter in July without hurting Rome permanently. But let there be no mistake: this is a strong blow to the possibility of an agreement. Mortal blow or not? The future should reveal very quickly.
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