The Society of St. Pius X have published their declaration or “road map” for normalizing their status with the Catholic Church, without making clear if they accept or reject the Vatican’s current offer of re-unification.
“While it has been made public, the declaration remains primarily an internal document for study and discussion among the members of the Society,” a July 19 Vatican statement says.
“The Holy See has taken note of this declaration, but awaits the forthcoming official communication of the Priestly Society as their dialogue with the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’ continues.”
The declaration was sent to the Vatican after being drafted by the society’s General Chapter July 9-14. The gathering in Switzerland brought together the 40 most senior figures in the organization to discuss the Vatican’s present suggestion for healing the breakaway traditionalist group’s 24-year rift with Rome.
The current offer would give the society the status of a personal prelature within the Catholic Church in return for it agreeing to certain doctrinal matters including, it is presumed, the documents of the Second Vatican Council.
The declaration said the general chapter was “marked by frank exchanges of views and by a very fruitful common work” that helped “to overcome the difficulties which the Society has encountered in recent times” and assisted it in recovering a “profound unity.”
In a hint towards re-unification, the society’s statement notes that “paramount duty” of the group is to “profess the Catholic Faith in all its purity and integrity,” and that this is “the service which it intends to offer to the Church.”
It also states that the general chapter “determined and approved the necessary conditions for an eventual canonical normalization” without making explicit what these conditions are.
“We have decided that, in that case, an extraordinary Chapter with deliberative vote will be convened beforehand,” the declaration adds.
The document re-affirms the society’s faith in the Catholic Church “founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation” and in the “supreme power of government” within the Church that belongs to the Pope, “Vicar of Christ on earth.”
It is scathing, however, towards “all the novelties” of the Second Vatican Council “which remain tainted with errors, and also in regard to the reforms issued from it.”
And in a further provocative comment, the society says it waits for the day “when an open and serious debate will be possible which may allow the return to Tradition of the ecclesiastical authorities.”
The Society of St. Pius X was founded in 1970 by the Frenchman Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in response to errors he believed had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council.
The society has had a strained relationship with the Church since its founder ordained four bishops against the will of Pope John Paul II in 1988.