Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Peace" Time

8.15am ET -- Hot off the wire comes news that the "doctrinal dialogue" with an eye to restoring full communion between the Holy See and the Society of St Pius X will begin on Monday, 26 October.

While the statement of the Holy See Press Office underscores that "the content of the conversations" -- which, it says, "will regard open doctrinal questions" -- will remain "strictly confidential," a communiqué following the first session has been promised.

Though the excommunication of the Society's four bishops for their 1988 ordination without papal authorization was lifted in January as a sign of Pope Benedict's eagerness for the reconciliation talks, the Swiss-based traditionalist group's 460 priests continue to operate outside the bounds of church jurisdiction due to their own illicit ordinations. While their orders are impeccably valid, the Society's canonical status (or lack thereof) currently renders its clerics banned from "exercis[ing] legitimate ministry" in the Catholic church; on its own authority, the SSPX claims "emergency faculties" for the priests to staff the group's chapels.

As expected, the mid-morning meeting will take place in the Palazzo dell'Sant Uffizio, the headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the dicastery charged with overseeing the "peace talks" with the Lefebvrists, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. After two decades of informal affiliation with the Congregation for the Clergy, the latter was placed under the aegis of CDF in July by Pope Benedict, when its prefect -- California-born Cardinal William Levada -- was likewise named as the commission's president.

Comprised of five A-list theologians, the Vatican side will be led by the #2 of Ecclesia Dei Msgr Guido Pozzo, a longtime CDF hand who the pontiff tapped for the sensitive post in the June shake-up. The SSPX delegation will ostensibly be headed by the Society's superior-general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, who laid out his gameplan for the talks late last week.