It is plain by now that the Holy Father has a soft spot for the Society of St. Pius X. It was, of course, a great disappointment when negotiations broke down between the Holy See and the SSPX back in 2012, not least because it was clear that Benedict XVI desired greatly to see the SSPX return to full communion with Peter. And, as disappointing as that was, it has been just as extraordinary to see the Holy Father get things back on track and moving in a positive direction. The unilateral grant of faculties for confession to priests of the SSPX as part of the Year of Mercy was a wonderful gesture from the Holy Father, and one that could scarcely have been imagined under John Paul or Benedict. And it seems that things are once again moving.
Bishop de Galarreta, one of the three remaining SSPX bishops, recently gave a conference in Versailles, and during his conference he discussed the status of negotiations:
“I think, and this is the other aspect of things, that this pope who tells anyone who will listen that we are Catholic, who says and repeats that the Society is Catholic, that we are Catholic, will never condemn us, and that he wants our ‘case’ taken care of. I think– and he has already started down this path – that when he sees that we cannot agree with the Congregation of the Faith, I think that he will overreach any doctrinal, theoretical, practical condition, or any condition whatsoever… He is going to take his own steps towards recognizing the Society. He has already begun; he is simply going to continue. And I am not saying what I desire but what I foresee. I foresee, I think that the pope will lean towards a one-sided recognition of the Society, and that by acts rather than by a legal or canonical approach.”
Bishop de Galarreta admitted that “this de facto recognition would have a good, a beneficial effect: it is a rather extraordinary apostolic opening, and it would have an extraordinary effect.” But he adds that there would then be two risks: that of creating an internal division and that of conditioning our preaching in certain circumstances. And he wondered: “It would take an extraordinary wisdom and prudence, a very great firmness and clarity. Are we capable of this?”
(Emphasis supplied.) More excerpts of the conference are available at the DICI website.
We also read at Zenit a new interview with Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, discussing the status of negotiations with the SSPX. (It is in Italian, so we will not quote from it here. However, the translation we obtained for ourselves from Google Translate was very readable.) It is especially interesting, since we think it gives one a good idea of Rome’s position with respect to the Second Vatican Council. Obviously, a unilateral canonical recognition of the SSPX, which seems to be what Bishop de Galarreta anticipates, would limit the necessity of a careful understanding of the Conciliar decrees and their relative weights.
It’s really very interesting to see these developments under the Holy Father. Remember what they said about Nixon?