A traditionalist religious order that used to be part of the breakaway Society of St. Pius X has received formal recognition as a diocesan institute within the Catholic Church.
“On this festive solemnity of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God body and soul into Heaven our spiritual joy and fraternal rejoicing is great indeed,” read the statement issued Aug. 15 by the Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer. The religious community is based on the tiny island of Papa Stronsay in the Orkney Isles off the north coast of Scotland.
“Our community,” it announced, “has been granted canonical recognition as a Clerical Institute of Diocesan Right by His Lordship the Right Reverend Dom Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B., Bishop of Aberdeen.”
The move brings to a completion a process of reconciliation that began in 2008 when the community joined the Catholic Church following Pope Benedict XVI’s issuing of “Summorum Pontificum.” The papal decree allowed traditional Latin rites to be more widely used within the Church.
“I am pleased that the process of canonical recognition has been completed and I hope that The Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer will be able to contribute fully to the life of the Church,” Bishop Gilbert said Aug. 15.
Since becoming bishop in August 2011, Bishop Gilbert has undertaken two official visits to Papa Stronsay to help formalize the order’s position within the Church. On Aug. 22 he returned to conclude matters by celebrating the community’s public profession of vows.
The Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer purchased Papa Stronsay -- which means “Priests Island of Stronsay” – back in 1999. In 2007, the order also created a new foundation in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Although the Scottish community owns the island, life can be austere since the remote location does not have services for gas, electricity, phones or water. Instead, the order produces electricity with a diesel generator, pumps water from wells, and heats its buildings and water with kerosene burners.
The journey to the island from the mainland usually requires two ferry trips, followed by another five-minute crossing on the monastery’s boat.