Frederico Lombardi, S.J., the Vatican spokesperson, has called the planned upcoming priestly ordinations of members of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X,"illegitimate." The order, founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefevre (pictured here) in the wake of his rejection with many of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, has in recent months seen a thawing of the frosty relations that existed between it and the Vatican. Cindy Wooden of CNS has the story:
--If the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X ordains new priests at the end of June as planned, the ordinations would be illegitimate, the Vatican said. However, responding to reporters' questions about the planned ordinations, the Vatican spokesman June 17 did not mention the possibility of any penalties being imposed as a result of the ordinations. A spokesman for the Diocese of Regensburg, Germany, had said in early June that if the ordinations occurred without Vatican permission the new priests and the ordaining bishop could be excommunicated.
The Society of St. Pius X has announced it will ordain three priests and three deacons at its seminary in Zaitzkofen, Germany, June 27, and that another 18 men will be ordained at its headquarters in Econe, Switzerland, and in Winona, Minn. Bishop Gerhard Muller of Regensburg told Vatican Radio June 1 that he had warned the Zaitzkofen seminary the ordinations would violate canon law and create a "dangerous situation," adding that he had asked the Vatican to "prescribe how to proceed."But the rector of the Zaitzkofen seminary, Father Stefan Frey, issued a statement saying the Society of St. Pius X had "provisional legal status" in the Catholic Church pending a "definitive canonical ruling" on its future, and that it had not been told to "put a stop to ordinations."
In January Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of the society's four bishops, including controversial British-born Bishop Richard Williamson.
Commenting on the possible ordination of new priests, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, quoted from a March letter Pope Benedict had written to the world's bishops explaining his actions toward the traditionalist bishops and clarifying the current status of the Society of St. Pius X. Father Lombardi quoted the portion of the pope's letter that said, "Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the society has no canonical status in the church, and its ministers ... do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the church."
"Therefore, the ordinations are still to be considered illegitimate," Father Lombardi said.
The spokesman also said he expected the publication "soon" of the document the pope had promised to issue regulating how the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" would work under the auspices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The commission had operated as a separate office to care for followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve, founder of the Society of St. Pius X.
The new configuration of the commission, Father Lombardi said, would be an opportunity for "the beginning of a dialogue with the leaders of the Society of St. Pius X in view of a hoped-for clarification of doctrinal questions and, consequently, also of disciplinary questions, which still remain open."--CNS
The (London) Tablet had earlier reported on the ordinations here with this comment from the Society: "However, the SSPX communiqué argues that the ordinations will be taking place with the permission of the Holy See. "During the period in which convergence and understanding with Rome is being sought, the SSPX has a provisional legal status for an indefinite period of time until, after the theological talks are over, a definitive canonical ruling is found. That is what the ‘line of approach' which has been agreed to by the Vatican foresees. In none of the talks up to now has there ever been any mention of ‘putting a stop to ordinations' in general. On the contrary, the lifting of the excommunications was meant to show a willingness to cooperate without putting any restrictions on the life of the Society."