Vatican admits stalemate in talks with traditional SSPX group

Vatican admits stalemate in talks with traditional SSPX group


VATICAN CITY (RNS) A senior Vatican official admitted that years of talks between the Vatican and a breakaway group of ultra-traditionalist Catholics have led to a “stalemate,” and urged a new “spiritual” approach to dialogue.

sspx mass

Father Kevin Robinson distributes Communion during a traditional Latin Mass at St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Farmingville, N.Y., June 17. The chapel is administered by the Society of St. Pius X. RNS photo by Gregory A. Shemitz

Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, the American vice president of the Vatican’s “Ecclesia Dei” Commission that oversees relations with traditionalist groups, sent a letter to all members of the Society of St. Pius X before Christmas; Vatican Radio ran an overview of the letter on Sunday (Jan. 20) and published links to its text.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told the French Catholic newspaper “La Croix” that the letter was not an official document but a “personal appeal” by Di Noia.

The archbishop wrote that “while hope” for full reconciliation “remains strong,” the Vatican engagement with the SSPX is at risk of becoming a “well-meaning but unending and fruitless exchange.”

Pope Benedict XVI has actively sought reconciliation with the SSPX. The group split from the Catholic Church in disagreement with the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which include acceptance of religious freedom, interfaith dialogue and ecumenism.

In 2009, Benedict lifted the excommunication of four SSPX bishops and opened doctrinal talks aimed at overcoming the theological differences over the interpretation of the council.

With talks essentially stalled, Di Noia called for a new dialogue focusing on “spiritual and theological” themes rather than on the “intractable disagreements over the authority and interpretation of Vatican Council II that now divide us.”

A Vatican reconciliation offer submitted last June hasn’t received an answer from SSPX so far, but leaked SSPX documents slammed it as “clearly unacceptable.”

Di Noia admitted that the group’s disagreements with the Vatican have remained “unchanged” over the decades.

“Our souls need first to be healed, to be cleansed of the bitterness and resentment that comes from 30 years of suspicion and anguish,” he wrote.

And while theological dissent has its place in the church, he said, it should never become a sort of “parallel” counter-doctrine that defines a group, and should not be aired publicly through the media.

In his letter, Di Noia also called on the group to abandon their “divisive tone or imprudent statements,” as well as their “harsh and counterproductive rhetoric.”

At a recent conference in Canada, SSPX leader Bishop Bernard Fellay blamed “Jews” and other “enemies of the church” for the stalemate in talks with the Vatican.

His remarks reignited widespread suspicion about anti-Semitism within SSPX, especially after one of the readmitted bishops, Richard Williamson, emerged as a vocal denier of the Holocaust. He was expelled by SSPX last year.

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17 comments on “Vatican admits stalemate in talks with traditional SSPX group

  1. In his letter, Di Noia also called on the group to abandon their “divisive tone or imprudent statements,” as well as their “harsh and counterproductive rhetoric.”

    I wonder if he will call on the German and French Bishops to do the same?

  2. Aren’t the spiritual and theological themes from Vatican II at the heart of the dogmatic disagreements?

  3. This letter by Di Noia is dated “Advent 2012″… Why did Bishop Fellay not mention this letter in his conference in Canada December 28, 2012? The letter is fairly lengthy and its message is not something likely to be forgotten. Bishop Fellay gave the impression that there has been no communication between Rome and the SSPX since summer 2012. Clearly that is not the case. Why did Bishop Fellay neglect to mention it?

    • Irene said, “Why did Bishop Fellay neglect to mention it?”

      Maybe because it was insulting, both to the Society and the memory of Archbishop Lefebvere, and therefore undeserving of any response.

      • Perhaps….but I doubt it. Note, Bishop Fellay has been silent since this letter “broke.” Interesting….

        • All we can answer is ‘perhaps’.

          Perhaps it isn’t relevant as it is simply a personal plea as opposed to a formal communication.

          Plus at that point it was regarded as a personal (read private) communication.

          • Do you call the following a plea, tradical? I consider it a threat; and what exactly is this “profession of faith” that Di Noia is demanding?

            Di Noia said, The only imaginable future for the Priestly Fraternity lies along the path of full communion with the Holy See, with the acceptance of an unqualified profession of the faith in its fullness, and thus with a properly ordered ecclesial, sacramental and pastoral life.

            • When I read it, the tone was more good cop than bad cop.

              Re profession of Faith, that would interesting to know.

              Particularly concerning Nostra Aetate.

              • tradical said, “Re profession of Faith, that would interesting to know.”

                Agreed! I doubt it’s the same profession of faith the converting Anglicans were required to profess. And I hear the Vatican is working on a different “profession of faith” for any questioning Lutherans, following the so-called Lutheran Accord.

                Heinz 57 comes to mind; quite different from “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”.

              • Here’s the profession of faith the converting Anglicans had to profess (I doubt it’s the same one demanded of the SSPX).


                In the case of a convert from heresy, inquiry by the priest should first be made about the validity of his former baptism. If after careful investigation it is discovered that the party was never baptized or that the supposed baptism was invalid, he must now be baptized unconditionally. However, if the investigation leaves doubt about the validity of baptism, then it is to be repeated conditionally, using the either the ceremony for baptism of adults as given below for converts, or the form of Solemn Baptism given in the section thereof. Also, if ascertained that the former baptism was valid, reception into the Church will consist only in abjuration of former errors and profession of faith. The reception of a convert will, consequently, take place in one of the following three ways:

                I. If baptism is conferred unconditionally, none of the Rituale contained in this section for the abjuration of former errors and absolution from censures will follow, as the sacrament of rebirth cleanses from all sin and fault.

                II. If baptism is to be repeated conditionally, the order will be: (1) abjuration or profession of faith; (2) baptism with conditional form; (3) sacramental confession with conditional absolution.

                III. If the former baptism has been judged valid, there will be only abjuration or profession of faith, followed by absolution from censures. But if the convert greatly desires that the full rites of baptism lacking hitherto be supplied on this occasion, the priest is certainly free to comply with his devout request. In this case he ought to use the form of baptism for adults, preferably of the Solemn Form, making those changes necessitated by the fact that baptism has already been validly conferred.

                The priest vested in surplice and purple stole is seated in the middle of the altar predella, unless the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle-in which case he takes a place at the epistle side. The convert kneels before him, and with his right hand on the book of Gospels makes the profession of faith as given below. If the person is unable to read, the priest reads it for him slowly, so that he can understand and repeat the words after him.

                If the convert is being received by a Bishop, then the Bishop vests in cope and mitre and sits at the faldstool before the altar with his usual assistants.

                PROFESSION OF FAITH

                I, N.N., …. years of age, born outside the Catholic Church, have held and believed errors contrary to her teaching. Now, enlightened by divine grace, I kneel before thee, Reverend Father N., having before mine eyes and touching with my hand the holy Gospels. And with firm faith I believe and profess each and all the articles contained in the Apostles’ Creed, that is: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell, the third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the Holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and + life everlasting. Amen.

                I firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all the other constitutions and ordinances of the Church.

                I admit the Sacred Scriptures in the sense which hath been held and is still held by holy Mother Church, whose duty it is to judge the true sense and interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and I shall never accept or interpret them in a sense contrary to the unanimous consent of the fathers.

                I profess that the sacraments of the New Law are truly and precisely seven in number, instituted for the salvation of mankind, though all are not necessary for each individual: baptism, confirmation, holy Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. I profess that all confer grace, and that baptism, confirmation, and holy orders cannot be repeated without sacrilege. I also accept and admit the ritual of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of all the aforementioned sacraments.

                I accept and hold in each and every part all that hath been defined and declared by the Sacred Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification. I profess that in the Holy Mass there is offered unto God a true, real, and propitiatory Sacrifice for the living and the dead; that in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist the Body and Blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is really, truly, and substantially present, and that there taketh place in the Mass what the Church calleth transubstantiation, which is the change of all the substance of bread into the Body of Christ and of all substance of wine into his Blood. I confess also that in receiving under either of these species one receiveth Jesus Christ whole and entire.

                I firmly hold that Purgatory existeth and that the souls detained there can be helped by the prayers of the faithful.

                Likewise I hold that the saints, who reign with Jesus Christ, should be venerated and invoked, that they offer prayers unto God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated.

                I firmly profess that the images of Jesus Christ and of the Mother of God, Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, as well as of all the saints should be given due honor and veneration. I also affirm that Jesus Christ left to the Church the faculty to grant indulgences, and that their use is most salutary to the Christian people. I recognize the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as the mother and teacher of all the churches, and I promise and swear true obedience to the leaders of both this Particular Church and to the Church Universal, further giving due honor to the Roman Pontiff, Successor of Saint Peter, the Prince of the Apostles and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

                Moreover, without hesitation I accept and profess all that hath been handed down, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and by the general councils, especially by the Sacred Council of Trent and by the Vatican General Council. At the same time I condemn and reprove all that the Church has condemned and reproved. This same Catholic Faith, outside of which none can be saved, I now freely profess and I truly adhere to it. With the help of God, I promise and swear to maintain and profess this faith entirely, inviolately, and with firm constancy until the last breath of life. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and publicly professed by all who depend on me and over whom I shall have charge.

                So help me God and these holy Gospels.

                The convert remains kneeling, and the priest, still seated, says Psalm 51, or Psalm 130, concluding with Glory be as usual.

                After this the priest stands and says:

                V. Lord, have mercy.

                R. Christ, have mercy.

                R. Lord, have mercy.

                OUR Father… the rest inaudibly until:

                V. And lead us not into temptation. R. But deliver us from evil. V. Save thy servant. R. Who trusteth in thee, my God. V. Lord, hear my prayer. R. And let my cry come unto thee. V. The Lord be with you. R. And with thy spirit.

                Let us pray.

                O GOD, whose nature is ever merciful and forgiving, accept our prayer that this thy servant, bound by the fetters of sin, may be pardoned by thy loving kindness: through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

                The priest again sits down, and facing the convert pronounces the absolution from excommunication inserting the word perhaps if in doubt as to whether it has been incurred:

                BY the authority of the Holy Church which I exercise here, I release thee from the bond of excommunication which thou hast (perhaps) incurred; and I restore thee unto communion and union with the faithful, as well as to the holy sacraments of the Church; in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Ghost. R. Amen.

                Lastly the priest imposes some salutary penance, such as prayers, visits to a church, or the equivalent.

                In case of grave necessity only.

                I, N.N., raised in the Protestant religion (or another religion as the case may be) but now by the grace of God brought to the knowledge of the truth, sincerely and solemnly declare that I firmly believe and profess all that the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church believeth and teacheth, and I reject and condemn whatever she rejecteth and condemneth.

                After this the priest says Psalm 51 and the rest as above.

                Entire Contents Copyright © 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church
                All Rights Reserved. The Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church is a trademark.

                • “This same Catholic Faith, outside of which none can be saved, I now freely profess and I truly adhere to it.”

                  Too bad the Pope won’t publicly profess that which he requires of converts.

                  • The Fathers too, coming together in Councils to respond to historical challenges that required a more complete presentation of the truths of the faith or a defence of the orthodoxy of those truths, formulated new creeds which occupy “a special place in the Church’s life”[4] up to the present day.

                    New creeds for the present day? How convenient. I notice this new creed made no mention of no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

                    Such doctrines can be defined solemnly by the Roman Pontiff when he speaks “ex cathedra” or by the College of Bishops gathered in council, or they can be taught infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Church as a “sententia definitive tenenda”.

                    It seems this new “profession of faith” is pushing the limits of papal infallibility; especially with the either/or regarding the College of bishops.

  4. tradical said, “Perhaps it isn’t relevant as it is simply a personal plea as opposed to a formal communication.
    Plus at that point it was regarded as a personal (read private) communication.”

    The salutation appeared to be neither personal nor private:
    Advent 2012
    Your Excellency and dear Priestly Brothers of the Fraternity of St. Pius X,

  5. Here, Annoy Ya once again insults Bishop Fellay and the SSPX priests:

    To engage in the study of theology, we must have adequate cultural, biblical, and philosophical training. I think for instance of a passage from the 1917 Code of Canon Law that is printed in the introduction to the 1947 Benziger English edition of the Summa Theologiae: “Religious who have already studied their humanities should devote themselves for two years at least to philosophy, and four years to theology, following the teaching of St. Thomas in accordance with the instructions of the Holy See” (CIC 1917, can. 589). Consider the wisdom embodied in this directive: theology is to be undertaken only by those who have been adequately formed both in the humanities and philosophy.

  6. “… only by those who have been ADEQUATELY formed, etc. ……

    Prior to the Robber Council, that meant one thing and one thing only and that supremely and before, behind, below and above all else both theological and philosophical: Aquinas. Fini. Roma locuta est.

    Anyone familiar with the printed words of both Pope Benedict XVI and many of his uberleftist muttonheaded pals knows that Pope Benedict XVI and the same cast of characters, at the time of the hijacking and thereafter, clearly, emphatically and publicly REJECTED Thomism in favor of the airy-faerie slumgullion of the Nouvelle Theologie, the ecumaniacal heresy and warmed-over lib/modernist sophistry.

    What the Abp. needs to get straight in his own mind is that, according to the Perennial Magisterium, from the 1200s – 1962 AD, had, defended and exemplified a superabundantly PERFECT “formation” for clergy and theologians.

    Today, and I speak from experience with Modernist-run seminary libraries, a huge chunk of what Nervous Oreo students are assigned is Kung, more Kung and then even more Kung with a heavy dash of Brown and the latest in leftist agit

  7. agitprop thrown in as a salad.

    Di Noia’s position is blatantly hypocritical.

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