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Vatican proposal to SSPX (updated) June 24, 2008

The Italian daily Il Giornale reports that Pope Benedict XVI has approved an offer to the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) that could heal the breach between the Holy See and the traditionalist group.

The Vatican’s offer requires a response from the SSPX by June 28, Il Giornale says. The offer was apparently explained by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, during a recent meeting with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the SSPX. Rumors of Vatican efforts to regularize the status of the SSPX have persisted for months.

Il Giornale says that the accord proposed by the Vatican has several stipulations, including two important provisions that the newspaper has learned: the SSPX would be required to recognize the authority of Vatican II teachings and to affirm the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass. The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the SSPX, had accepted both of those terms before his break with the Vatican in 1988.

The Vatican proposes the erection of a traditionalist prelature, Il Giornale reports. This prelature would allow the SSPX to continue its work and to train its own seminarians.

Update: Andrea Tornielli, the respected Vatican-watcher for Il Giornale, reports that he has now obtained a copy of the correspondence from Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos outlining the Vatican’s proposal. The cardinal’s letter does not specifically mention the requirements that the SSPX affirm the validity of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass, he says; “these are prior general conditions” that have been understood during the dialogue between the Holy See and the traditionalist group.

Cardinal Castrillon’s letter does say that the SSPX should agree to avoid personal attacks on the Pope, and to avoid any public responses that would offend against “ecclesiastical charity.” The Vatican further asks the SSPX to avoid portraying itself as a rival magisterium, superior to the Holy See, to respect the legitimate authority of the Pope, and to adhere to the deadline-- set at the end of June-- for a positive response to the Vatican offer.

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