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FOR THE RECORD:
Sham “Schism” Exposed
“The neo-Catholic establishment really must cease its spiteful calumnies of the Society’s adherents, whose heroic perseverance in the traditions of the Faith will certainly be vindicated by history, as their neo-Catholic hecklers undoubtedly suspect.”
I have long argued—here, for example—that the “lack of full communion” attributed to the Society of Saint Pius X, even though its clergy and laity are obviously Catholics under no sentence of excommunication, is nothing but an ad hoc contrivance designed to perpetuate the unjust persecution of this group of the faithful by creating a rather silly special category of “double secret probation” in the Church applicable only to them. I have also argued that the mere issuance of a technical decree regularizing the Society’s canonical status is all that is necessary to eliminate the illusory “lack of full communion.”
Well, precisely that has happened in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. At the specific request of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Aurelio Cardinal Poli, handpicked by Cardinal Bergoglio as his successor, the government of Argentina has registered an Argentinian branch of the Society, which includes its seminary in La Reja, as an Association of Diocesan Right.
This means that, in keeping with the Archbishop’s decree under Protocol N. 084/15, dated February 23, 2015, the Argentine Republic has recognized the Society in Buenos Aires, operating under the title “FRATERNITY OF THE APOSTLES OF JESUS AND MARY” (PRIESTLY FRATERNITY OF SAINT PIUS X)” as “an Association of Diocesan Right, according to what is established by canon 298 of the Code of Canon Law.”
Thus the Society in Buenos Aires is now “a public juridical person within [!] the ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC CHURCH, according to the norms of the Code of Canon Law” and as such is “a Society of Apostolic Life, with all the benefits that correspond to it, and complying with all obligations to which the same refers, also accepting all responsibilities that belong to the diocesan Prelate.”
The invoked Canon 298 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law provides as follows concerning associations of diocesan right:
Can. 298 §1. In the Church there are associations distinct from institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life; in these associations the Christian faithful, whether clerics, lay persons, or clerics and lay persons together, strive in a common endeavor to foster a more perfect life, to promote public worship or Christian doctrine, or to exercise other works of the apostolate such as initiatives of evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with a Christian spirit.
§2. The Christian faithful are to join especially those associations which competent ecclesiastical authority has erected, praised, or commended.
As of this moment, therefore, any member of the Christian faithful in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires is free to remain a member of, or to join anew, the Society’s arm in that Archdiocese as a Catholic in good standing. In Buenos Aires the “schism” of the Society has been exposed as the sham it always was. Nothing but the formality of a regularizing decree was needed to demonstrate the Society’s “full communion” in Buenos Aires, and nothing more is needed throughout the Church universal.
It is inconceivable that this action was taken without the prior approval of Pope Francis. For this he deserves the praise of every Catholic concerned about justice in the Church. Sad to say, however, it seems the full measure of justice will remain wanting for some time to come. In response to the development, which appears to have caught him by surprise, Msgr. Guido Pozzo of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei had this to say:
I am glad that in Argentina this solution could have been found, which does not involve the Holy See, let it be made clear. It is not a juridical recognition of [the Society of] Saint Pius X as a clerical society, the question of the legitimacy of the exercise of the priestly ministry of their priests remains open. But it is an ulterior sign of good will regarding this reality by the Catholic Church.
With his decision, the ordinary of Buenos Aires recognized that the members of the Society are Catholics, even if not yet in full communion with Rome. We continue working so that full communion and juridical framing of the Society within the Catholic Church may be achieved.
These words exhibit the kind of ludicrous hair-splitting that characterizes those “doctors of the law” Francis is always condemning, even though they are nowhere to be seen except where it concerns the canonical status of the Society. Consider the utter absurdity—a blatant violation of the principle of non-contradiction—in the phrase “the members of the Society are Catholics, even if not yet in full communion with Rome.” Equally ridiculous is the suggestion that even though the priests of the Society in Buenos Aires have just been declared members of a diocesan-approved Society of Apostolic Life, “with all the benefits that correspond to it,” the “legitimacy of the exercise of the priestly ministry of their priests remains open.” Or is Msgr. Pozzo here referring only to the Society’s priests outside of Buenos Aires? The ambiguity seems quite convenient.
At this point, really: enough. The Vatican must end its sadistic game with the Society in which the goalpost of an ever-elusive “full communion” is constantly being moved just beyond reach. And the neo-Catholic establishment must cease its spiteful calumnies of the Society’s adherents, whose heroic perseverance in the traditions of the Faith will certainly be vindicated by history, as their neo-Catholic hecklers undoubtedly suspect.
The Society’s adherents are Catholics. That is the beginning and the end of the matter. Let the Vatican, then, issue for the universal Church the same sort of technical decree just issued by the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires—without conditions, and without any further demands for an “acceptance of Vatican II” at a time when hundreds of millions of Catholics refuse to accept fundamental teachings of the infallible Magisterium on faith and morals.
Whether the Society would undergo a process of neutralization were the Vatican to regularize it universally tout court is a matter for legitimate discussion and debate. What is not debatable, however, is that justice requires an end to the cruel and unusual punishment of the Society’s adherents, who remain, as Pope Benedict XVI observed, the “one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate.” Indeed, the current crisis in the Church is such that the one group to which no tolerance is shown is actually a lodestar that would guide the Bark of Peter back to the safe of harbor of Tradition from which it departed some fifty years ago to drift on the tossing sea of modernity.
Pray for Pope Francis. Pray for Cardinal Poli. Pray that justice in its full measure will be accorded to the Society of St. Pius X.