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Vatican warns SSPX against new priestly ordinations

Catholic World News - June 17, 2009

The Vatican has warned against the ordination of new priests for the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), saying that the ordinations scheduled later this month would be "illegitimate." A Vatican statement released on June 17 quoted from the letter sent by Pope Benedict XVI to the world's bishops on March 10, referring to the irregular status of the SSPX bishops: "As long as the Society (of St. Pius X) does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church."

The Vatican statement hinted that if SSPX go ahead with the ordinations-- which are scheduled to take place in separate ceremonies held in three different countries-- they could endanger the progress of talks designed to complete the process of reconciliation between the traditionalist group and the Holy See. In Germany, bishops have warned that the ordinations would be a "provocation," risking new disciplinary action against the SSPX.

Contrary to several media reports, the Vatican statement did not say that the ordinations would be invalid. Earlier this year the Holy Father lifted the excommunications of the SSPX bishops. But the traditionalist prelates still do not have regular canonical status; their sacramental ministry is valid but illicit.

In Zaitzkofen, Germany, the site of one of the SSPX seminaries at which ordinations are scheduled for June 27, a spokesman said that the group's defiance of local Church leaders was justified because of the "emergency situation" facing Catholicism. " It is a question of the existence or the dissolution of Christianity in Europe," said Father Stefan Frey, the rector of the seminary. Saying that the SSPX fully supports the authority of the Pope, Father Frey said that in lifting the excommunications of SSPX bishops the Pontiff "surely intended to promote life, not death" for the traditionalist group.

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