Archbishop Pozzo stated recently that on Rome's part nothing stands in the way for a rapprochement with the SSPX—but is this the reality of the situation?
In response to some interview answers made by Archbishop Pozzo of the Ecclesia Dei Commission about the SSPX's relations with the Holy See, DICI has offered the commentary below to clarify the reality of the situation.
The SSPX’s relations with Rome, according to Archbishop Pozzo
After the consecration of Fr. Jean-Michel Faure by Bishop Richard Williamson on March 19, 2015, at the monastery of Santa Cruz de Nova Friburgo (Brazil), the Roman press agency I.Media questioned Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. The latter took advantage of the opportunity to make a statement on the state of the relations between the Society of St. Pius X and Rome, declaring that beyond the doctrinal difficulties that exist, the problems are “within the Society”.
According to the Roman prelate quoted by I.Media: “The pope expects the Society of St. Pius X to decide to enter [the Church—Ed.], and we are ready at any time with a canonical plan that is already known,” namely the creation of a personal prelature. “It will take a little time for things to be clarified internally and for Bishop Fellay to be able to obtain a broad enough consensus before making this step.”—It is we who put this claim in bold.
At the Society of St. Pius X’s General House, they are wondering about Archbishop Pozzo’s intention in the last statement, which does not correspond to reality: Is this his view of the situation? A personal wish? Or an attempt to introduce division within the Society?
Bishop Fellay has already responded to the Ecclesia Dei Commission several times, orally and in writing. What makes canonical recognition in the form of a personal prelature impossible at this time is essentially the “doctrinal difficulties”, namely, Rome’s demand that we accept Vatican Council II and the reforms that followed it in a “hermeneutic of continuity”.
The informal meetings between the members of the Society of St. Pius X and several bishops, requested by the Ecclesia Dei Commission, are taking place within this specific context; they are supposed to help make the Society and its apostolate better known, but above all its doctrinal positions. In fact, these meetings render the doctrinal differences ever more clear. And the Society’s Roman interlocutors are obliged to acknowledge that many questions remain “open”, which is a way of acknowledging that our objections are far from being resolved.
Because of this observation, the Superior General maintains that it is necessary to present to the Roman authorities the Society’s positions in their entirety, and not to waver on these positions, which are merely the positions of all the popes before Vatican II.
The French university professor Luc Perrin shared his thoughts on the matter on the Forum Catholique on March 20, claiming that it is no use “pretending that all is well in the best possible Roman heaven.” He wrote realistically:
(Archbishop Pozzo) has been saying exactly the same thing ever since the illusions of a speedy agreement that the impetuous Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos entertained in 2000. John Paul II was just as convinced in 1978-1979 that full communion was right around the corner: we know what came of that, but in Rome, Teilhardian or silly 1962-John XXIII-style optimism seems still to be in style.
One must not discourage the faithful or simply the different prelates of the Ecclesia Dei Commission—far be it from me to suggest such an idea—and it is good to see that a Roman authority has a faith solid enough to resist the wear of time, but… it is not very useful to play the enraptured insider, levitating above St. Peter’s dome surrounded by smiling little angels playing their lyres…, this heavenly choir chanting an In Paradisum: ‘the agreement, the agreement, soon the agreement, the agreement is here.’
To begin with, if the different stupidities committed in Rome throughout this long affair were pointed out, it would bring us back down to earth. A short list for His Eminence Cardinal Muller and Archbishop Pozzo:
a) thou shalt be distrustful of silly optimism, but with a supernatural hope in the promises of unity in veritate;
b) thou shalt abandon a botched discussion and shalt not count the time: why not resume the discussions brusquely and intemperately interrupted by Rome in 2011? Or at least work towards resuming them;
c) thou shalt construct a full communion step by step: rather than a preconceived and not necessarily very good ‘canonical solution’—a personal prelature has plenty of flaws—today, it seems to me more realistic to solve certain practical problems step by step…, (given) the fragility of the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum since the election of Pope Francis who, while confirming it, has already made a serious dent in it with the Franciscans of the Immaculate, and is eroding it with little phrases that cannot but arouse worries.”
Regarding these “practical problems” that could be resolved by concrete gestures, allow us to recall that when the teaching Dominicans of Fanjeaux made their pilgrimage to Rome—from February 9 to 14, 2015—200 religious, and 950 students accompanied by a hundred teachers and parents, were not able to have a church in which one of their chaplains could celebrate the traditional Mass… because they belong to the Society of St. Pius X. Soothing words are fleeting; the concrete facts are far more telling.
(sources: I.Media/FSSPX/FC—DICI, 3-27-2015)
Update of April 3, 2015
This article was posted on dici.org, March 27. The following day a response was posted on the Vatican Insider blog from Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, the Roman prelates confidant who count on ... his indiscretion. It headlined: "Negative reaction to statements made by Bishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. The Society of St. Pius X freezes expectations of Rome, negative reactions to Bishop Guido Pozzo’s declaration, Secretary of the Commission Ecclesia Dei”, and he said: “The big freeze persists between the Vatican and the group founded by Marcel Lefebvre.” Then he concluded: “The prospects of unity appear as remote as ever.”
The same day, March 28, Bishop Williamson on Eleison Comments adopts Pozzo’s statement by declaring: "Rome itself confirms treason." It is understandable that the British prelate did not have time to read neither the DICI article nor Andrea Tornielli’s comment, but it is surprising to see someone who is usually so critical towards Roman authorities so receptive to claims of a Roman prelate.