Rome and the SSPX - A Timeline - Work In Progress

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JMJ

Where did the conflict between the Pope(s) and the SSPX start?

This is a small project to put together a complete timeline of the key events in the crisis of the Church from the Second Vatican Council to the present.  I'll be updating and 'reblogging' this post from time to time.

196X: Convocation of the Second Vatican Council
196X: Closing of the Second Vatican Council
196X: Proto Normative Missae

197X: Winnipeg Statement
197X: Communion in the hand
197X: Promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae

The pope has never suppressed the SSPX: only the pope, not a local bishop, has the authority to suppress a religious order (1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 493 and 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 616).

Timeline of the Suppression

November 1, 1970

The SSPX is canonically founded

1971 - 1974

Several French bishops attack the Society as "sauvage" (renegade). One of them, Pope Paul VI’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Villot, deceives the Holy Father into believing Archbishop Lefebvre had his priests sign a declaration against the pope (Archbishop Lefebvre, Fideliter, no. 59, pp. 68-70).

November 11 - 13, 1974

An apostolic visitation of the seminary at Econe takes place (this is in itself normal procedure; its conclusions, though never published, were “very favorable,” according to Cardinal Garonne, “except that you don’t use the new liturgy, and there’s a somewhat anti-conciliar spirit there.”) The visitors, however, disturb those at the seminary by their expression of highly unorthodox views, prompting Archbishop Lefebvre’s so-called Declaration.

February 13 and March 3, 1975

Archbishop Lefebvre meets with an improvised commission of three cardinals, allegedly to discuss the Apostolic Visitation, but ends defending his Declaration against the Cardinals’ severe criticism. Having been given no warning as to the primary subject of these meetings, he has no lawyer, and is never allowed a copy of the recorded meetings, even though it was promised him.

May 6, 1975

The irregular commission writes Bishop Mamie at Fribourg telling him to withdraw his predecessor’s approval of the Society, which is beyond his canonical power (once a bishop has approved a religious congregation, only the pope can suppress it: 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 493 and 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 616).

June 5, 1975

Archbishop Lefebvre submits an appeal to the Apostolic Signature in Rome, in substance:
...it would be for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to determine whether my Declaration were at fault. Please provide evidence that this commission of cardinals had been expressly mandated by the pope (who by his own authority can bypass the Congregations) to decide as has been done.* And if I be at fault, of course I can be censured, but not the Society which was founded in due canonical form.
Cardinal Villot arranges that the appeal is not accepted. Cardinal Staffa is threatened with dismissal if he dare to accept an appeal from Archbishop Lefebvre. (Vatican Encounter, pp. 85 and 191)
*This evidence was never produced.

June 29, 1975

Pope Paul VI is convinced to write to Archbishop Lefebvre that he approved of all the actions of the commission of cardinals. It is impossible, however that papal approbation in June could empower this commission which had met the previous February.
On this whole process, Archbishop Lefebvre observes:
...we have been condemned, without trial, without opportunity to defend ourselves, without due warning or written process and without appeal. (Open Letter to Confused Catholics, p. 150)
Over and above the canonical question, there remains that of common sense: whether one must observe a censure when no crime can be pointed out, or when the identity or authority of the judge is unsure.
198X: Altar Girls

1986: Assissi Ecumenical Meeting

1988: Episcopal Consecrations

http://www.dici.org/en/news/press-review-bishop-fellays-meeting-with-cardinal-levada-on-june-13-2012/

http://sspx.org/sites/sspx/files/regina_coeli_report_special_edition_3_1.pdf

pius.info has summarized all the stages of the talks between Pope Benedict and the SSPX, which began in 2005

(Photo: Pope Benedict and Father Franz Schmidberger at a general audience in Rome)

199X: Male Priesthood

2005: Bishop Fellay welcomed the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope as a "ray of hope". End of August, Bishop Fellay of Benedict XVI. received in audience. The conversation showed, according to the Vatican, the "desire to arrive at a perfect communion.”

July 2007: Benedict XVI. allowed in the letter " Summorum Pontificum "that Masses may be celebrated everywhere according to the rite of 1962. This is now called "extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.”

15th December 2008: In a letter to "Ecclesia Dei" Fellay asks for the remission of the excommunication on behalf of the four bishops. He assures the recognition of papal primacy and the acceptance of the Magisterium of the Pope.

21st January 2009: By decree the Congregation for Bishops lifts the excommunication of the four Bishops Bernard Fellay, Alfonso de Gallareta, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais and Richard Williamson.

24th January 2009: The Vatican shares the remission of the excommunication in a formal communication. Almost simultaneously, a Swedish TV interview is made known in which Williamson denied the existence of gas chambers. ( Opinion of the district )

10th March 2009: Benedict XVI. wrote to all the bishops of the universal Church. In it, he admits technical mistakes of the Curia in the Williamson affair, he also reiterated its intention to integrate the SSPX back into the Catholic Church.

8th July 2009: Benedict XVI. binds the Commission "Ecclesia Dei" closely to the CDF and he invites the SSPX  to regular discussions about doctrinal issues in Rome.  The decision on the results remain subject to the Pope.

26th October 2009: At the headquarters of the Congregation in Rome beginning theological discussions in a "cordial, respectful and constructive atmosphere". For the Holy See, representatives of the CDF and the Commission "Ecclesia Dei” take part, followed by ten more meetings. For an interview,  read the interview with Bishop Fellay

14th September 2011: The Vatican puts a “Doctrinal Statement” before the leadership of the SSPX on basic beliefs of the Catholic Church for signature. In case the Brotherhood agrees, discussions on legal and structural issues of integration could be included.  ( asked the Superior General in Rome )

7th October 2011: On the Feast of the Holy  Rosary the meeting of the Superiors of the Society of St. Pius X.  begins in Albano (Rome). The 30 priests discuss the "Doctrinal Statement” presented by Rome.

12th December 2011: Father Franz Schmidberger, presented on behalf of Bishop Fellay, the answer to the "Doctrinal Statement”.

Jan. 2012: Bishop Fellay of the CDF receives a further explanatory extension letter.

16th March 2012: The Superior General meets with the Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada. The offer extended to the Society  "is not enough to overcome the doctrinal problems," said the written reply of the Cardinal. Rome expected a renewed statement from the SSPX in a month. (For the Vatican press Communiquée )

15th April: Renewed response from Bishop Fellay. The Press Office of the Vatican confirmed receipt of the response as follows: "The text of the response of HE Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, who was at the meeting of March 16, 2012 called for the Offices of the Congregation is arrived yesterday, April 17, 2012. This response is checked by the dicastery and is then submitted to the judgment of the Holy See." (Rome, 18.4. 2012)

13th June: The Superior General and his first assistant (Father Pfluger) come to Rome to accept the response of the CDF. There is a two-hour meeting with the Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Levada. Bishop Fellay explained again his answer as “Declaration doctrinale" [declaration of faith]. During the discussions, the deep gap in teaching (Arrangement of the New Mass, controversial points of Vatican II) was addressed again. A continuation of the theological conversations is formulated as a possibility. In addition, the Superior General is presented with a concept for the recognition of the Fraternity of St. Pius X as a "personal prelature."

26th June 2012: Pope Benedict appoints a new contact for the SSPX: The Italian-American Curial Archbishop, Joseph Augustine Di Noia, was appointed Vice President for the Vatican Commission "Ecclesia Dei", and will continue on behalf of the President of "Ecclesia Dei", the prefect of the Congregation , to coordinate unification efforts with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X .

Second July 2012: Pope appoints Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller to the Roman Curia, and appoints him as the successor to William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission. Thus Bishop Muller is the negotiator for talks with the SSPX.

9th - 14 July 2012: At the mother house of Ecône (Switzerland)the General Chapter of the Brotherhood is convened to the focus on the talks with Rome. The tenor is clear that the "Doctrinal Statement" can not be signed without further ado. The General Chapter shall adopt a "Declaration of Principles ".

19th July 2012: Rome recognized the receipt of the Declaration of Principles , It doesn’t see an acceptable response to the Doctrinal Clarification: "The Holy See has taken note of the Declaration, but remains in anticipation of the announced official release of the SSPX regarding the continuation of the dialogue between the Society and the Pontifical commission 'Ecclesia Dei'. " Opinion of the Vatican )

18th September: Father Schmidberger gives an interview for pius.info the current situation with Rome.

4th October 2012: Bishop Williamson is expelled from the Society. The General House justified the step in an official statement : "HE Bishop Richard Williamson has removed himself for several years from the leadership and direction of the Society, and refused to offer the respect and obedience which he owes his lawful superiors."

4th February 2013: Archbishop Müller puts pressure on the SSPX. In an interview with Die [very anti-CatholicWelt , he announces, "We will not wait forever,” 

Die Welt:. How will you continue the process of reconciliation with the estranged Pius brothers. 

Müller:.. "Easy and hard. The CDF has presented the Society with the Doctrinal Preamble which  includes nothing but the totality of the Catholic faith, where the Pope is legitimately entitled to the finally binding teaching authority.  It has been given no response so far.  We are waiting but not forever. “ [++Mueller has lied about representing the Pope’s will before.]

11th February 2013: Pope Benedict announces his resignation.

How will continue the negotiations? Will the new pontiff be open to the concerns of the Tradition?  Will he protect what Benedict has already accomplished?

The General House of the SSPX has issued statement on the resignation of the Pope and thanks him for his courage and steadfastness. The Superior General, Bishop Fellay calls for prayer for a pope who renews all things in Christ.

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