Vatican-SSPX talks due in second half of October

September 16, 2009

St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, 24 Dec. 2007/Max RossiDoctrinal discussions between the Vatican and the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) will begin in the second half of October, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi has said. He also confirmed the Vatican delegation will be made up of the Swiss Dominican Rev. Charles Morerod, the German Jesuit Rev. Karl Josef Becker and the Spanish vicar general of Opus Dei, Rev. Fernando Ocariz Brana. The Vatican Radio report gave no further details.

(Photo: St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, 24 Dec. 2007/Max Rossi)

This shoots down one part of Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn’s interview last weekend in the Passauer Neue Presse, where he said the first meeting would take place “in the next few days.”

It says nothing about his other point, that the Vatican will insist the SSPX accepts “such fundamental conclusions of the Second Vatican Council as its positions on Judaism, other non-Christian religions, other Christian churches and on religious freedom as a basic human right.” That point is far more important than the date, which is why our news item on Sunday led off with that angle, and it remains the main issue at these talks.

The Vatican Radio report in Italian spoke of “conversations” (colloqui) between the Vatican and the SSPX, but I still think Schönborn’s use of the term “negotiations” (Verhandlungen) is more appropriate. The SSPX wants full reintegration into the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican has the power to decide if and how this happens. Sounds like a negotiation to me, no matter which language they use to describe it.

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I think that the issue of negotiations is not accurate.

From the SSPX’s perspective these talks are to clarify doctrine, and once clarified, they will then, as a result, be integrated to the Church, because the cause of the separation, ie confused doctrinal teachings, will be resolved.

The point of the talks is to reaffirm the traditional teachings of the Church and how Vatican II can be reconciled with these teachings. No matter what Cardinal Schonborn seems to think, the Church cannot disavow its past and create new doctrines.

Let’s hope that the talks are successful in bringing clarity and unity on doctrine, if this happens the SSPX will no longer be marginalized in the Church.

Posted by Scott123 | Report as abusive

It is important for the Pope to change his position on many erroneous teachings and preach the gospel to all the nations. Most importantly, to hold on to the teaching that there is absolutely no salvation outside the Catholic faith.

Posted by Lloyd | Report as abusive

It is very important to understand that Vatican II was a “pastoral” council, not a council to establish doctrine. In fact, if you read the documents, it reaffirmed the importance of traditional Church teaching, such as Christ’s salvation only through His Holy Roman Catholic Church. The vagueness of some parts of the documents, in my opinion, has been abused by clergy and laity who have interpreted them to mean that they can come and do as they please at worship. It has been a very disappointing and frustrating 40 years of experimentation in the Church, and I hope the pope will bring us back to the proper attitude and reverence for the sacrifice of the holy mass and the Blessed Sacrament.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

It was misleading, probably intentionally misleading, for Reuters to craft “news” about the Vatican’s intentions for these discussions based on Schönborn’s perspective: “Vatican to order ‘rebels’ to respect Jews”. Really? Is that what the Vatican plans to do? Last I checked, Schönborn is not pope and is little more than an observer of the Vatican’s dealings with the SSPX. Respecting the Jews is the least of the doctrinal concerns. It’s not even a doctrinal concern at all. It’s a non-issue.

Posted by Charlotte | Report as abusive

Charlotte, you are being intentionally misleading by suggesting that a statement by a leading ally and adviser to the pope is of no interest to anyone following this story and that Reuters is simply “crafting” this. Schoenborn is not “little more than an observer” in this story. The question of the Church’s attitude towards Judaism is also not a non-issue, as you seem to believe. Vatican II absolved the Jews of the traditional charge of deicide and stressed the common spiritual heritage of Christians and Jews. It also condemned all forms of anti-Semitism. But the SSPX has a long history of anti-Semitic views and continues to use the pre-VatII Good Friday prayer that speaks of the “perfidious Jews.” This hostile stand towards Judaism is so strong among some SSPX members that it could prevent them from supporting any Vatican-SSPX agreement that has the Society signing up to the VatII document Nostra Aetate. So a potential dealbreaker is a non-issue? That argument betrays a lack of understanding of what is involved here.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

The reason I say “respecting the Jews” is a “non-issue” and an invention of the press is that “respecting the Jews” is not a doctrinal issue. Respect is a matter of civility, not doctrine. The doctrinal issue is whether Jews, or members of any other religion than Catholicism, can attain salvation outside the Catholic Church by following their own faiths. I doubt that the Vatican will demand that the SSPX advance the view that they can, especially since the new Good Friday prayer is just as clear as the old about the need for conversion. Will the press ever broach the this doctrinal issue? No. Reuters and the rest will continue to craft the issue primarily as a matter of civil tolerance, as if the SSPX just isn’t willing to “get along” with the Jews.

Posted by Charlotte | Report as abusive

“Respecting the Jews” is shorthand for accepting those passages in Nostra Aetate redefining the Church’s attitude to Judaism, the new attitude the SSPX rejects. It’s not just about “getting along.” The phrase “respecting the Jews” is admittedly vague, since the issues it covers are complex and would require several paragraphs to spell out precisely. But whoever coined the phrase — and I do not know who — did not just invent these issues or the disagreements it covers. Trying to define down this term just to the single doctrinal issue of salvation overlooks several points of disagreements between the Vatican and the SSPX.

The debate over the SSPX this year shows the differences are wider than the doctrinal question of salvation. If they weren’t, why would Pope Benedict and other Church leaders have gone to such lengths to demand the SSPX accept the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes and to deplore Bishop Williamson’s denial of the gas chambers?

As for the term “respect,” it comes straight from a passage about the Jews in Nostra Aetate that the SSPX rejects:

“Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.

“True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;(13) still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

“Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.”

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

The SSPX leadership has also gone out of its way to deplore Williamson. I wonder what about the passage of Nostra Aetate that you quoted do you think the SSPX rejects. Do they advocate the persecution of Jews? Do they forbid their members to seek “mutual understanding and respect” with the Jews? Do they propose that the Jews of today are identical to the Jews of the Passion? Of course, Reuters in its report on Schönborn’s “demands” couldn’t be bothered to ask the SSPX leadership any such questions. Perhaps the responses wouldn’t fit the press’s agenda of portraying always a “sharp division” between the Vatican and the SSPX.

Posted by Charlotte | Report as abusive

in Ireland roman catholic priests attend anglican mass at chist church cathedral in dublin each sunday and have the cheek to call the sspx schismatic

Posted by patrick finnegan | Report as abusive

The SSPX will never bow to Vatican 2 ideology. Ecumenism, is the Satanistic rite of the Freemasons, and Zionist, atheist Jews. The society of Saint Pius X, believes, that modernism, and liberalism would try to destroy the Catholic Church, so far it has done a good job, ultimately Jesus will condemn, and send to Hell, all these enemies, of the Catholic Faith, there have been many Heresies against the Catholic faith in the past, and the Holy Sea, has stood stedfast against it. John XXII, Paul the VII, John Paul II, and Benedict the XVI, are all anti-popes.

Posted by Frank Balkus | Report as abusive

I’ve been (and shall continue) to pray for a clarification of Vatican II interpretation. This is something which is LONG over due. Church teaching cannot change with the times. There is no pre vatican II teaching and post Conciliar teaching (as much as most of the faithful have been led to believe thus for 40 + years). I pray every day for a restoration and teaching of eternal Catholic truth.

Posted by Martial | Report as abusive