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Vatican rules SSPX priests may officiate at marriages

April 04, 2017

With the approval of Pope Francis, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has issued a letter to bishops on the marriages of Catholics who seek to exchange their vows in churches of the Society of St. Pius X, founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

The Pontifical Commission’s president is Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who also serves as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Its secretary is Archbishop Guido Pozzo.

For a marriage to be valid, the parties must exchange their consent before a priest or deacon who has been delegated to do so by the bishop. Noting that Pope Francis has granted “all priests of said Society the faculty to validly administer the Sacrament of Penance to the faithful,” Cardinal Müller and Archbishop Pozzo wrote:

Following the same pastoral outlook which seeks to reassure the conscience of the faithful, despite the objective persistence of the canonical irregularity in which for the time being the Society of St. Pius X finds itself, the Holy Father, following a proposal by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has decided to authorize Local Ordinaries the possibility to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of faithful who follow the pastoral activity of the Society, according to the following provisions.

Insofar as possible, the Local Ordinary is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo, by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society.

Where the above is not possible, or if there are no priests in the Diocese able to receive the consent of the parties, the Ordinary may grant the necessary faculties to the priest of the Society who is also to celebrate the Holy Mass, reminding him of the duty to forward the relevant documents to the Diocesan Curia as soon as possible.

“Certain that in this way any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful who adhere to the Society of St. Pius X as well as any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage may be alleviated, and at the same time that the process towards full institutional regularization may be facilitated, this Dicastery relies on Your cooperation,” the Pontifical Commission concluded.

The letter, approved by Pope Francis on March 24 and dated March 27, was released on April 4.


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  • Posted by: filioque - Apr. 05, 2017 10:59 AM ET USA

    Perhaps this pontificate is following the law of gradualism. Two Sacraments down, five to go. Eventually the last step will be to establish a canonical structure to contain what has already been realized. Meanwhile, Bp. Fellay quietly collects his chips without having to concede or agree to anything.

  • Posted by: rpp - Apr. 05, 2017 9:12 AM ET USA

    Absolutely wonderful news!!! God be praised. But what is Bergoglio really up to?