Yesterday, rumors swirled that the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera, marking the close of the Year of Mercy, would touch upon the SSPX. Some reported that the letter would contain the unilateral recognition mentioned by Bishop Fellay, especially in the context of the confused signals coming from Rome about the assent required of the Society to the various documents of the Second Vatican Council. We thought about—and then thought better of—reporting on the rumors last night. Given the regularity with which Archbishop Pozzo and Bishop Fellay address the press on these matters, it seems to us that the best course on SSPX news is to wait to hear from the men who know what the status of negotiations is.
Now that the letter has been released, we see that it contains “only” an extension of the faculty to hear confessions:
For the Jubilee Year I had also granted that those faithful who, for various reasons, attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, can validly and licitly receive the sacramental absolution of their sins. For the pastoral benefit of these faithful, and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, I have personally decided to extend this faculty beyond the Jubilee Year, until further provisions are made, lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the Church’s pardon.
(Footnote omitted.) While this is disappointing in some regard—it would have been a joy to see the Year of Mercy formally concluded with a concrete sign of the unconditional mercy so often mentioned by the Holy Father, such as simply accepting the Society as it is and accompanying it along its journey—at the same time, any concrete sign of progress is something to be cheered.
We anticipate having some further remarks on Misericordia et Misera.