CDF-SSPX negotiations continue in writing
It is almost a year now since the conclusion of the theological talks between the Society of St. Pius X and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. More than five months have passed since the General Superior of that priestly society received from the Vatican dicastery a “Doctrinal Preamble” which, the CDF maintains, must be “the fundamental basis for achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See.” After studying the document carefully and consulting with local SSPX superiors, Bishop Bernard Fellay sent a response to Rome on December 1. No doubt it recommended revisions to the wording of the Preamble, a process that the CDF had expressly anticipated and allowed. The CDF then wrote requesting clarification of the response, which the SSPX promptly supplied.
Despite breathless announcements since then by certain Italian Vatican watchers—who had read none of the documents they claimed to be reporting on—spokesmen for the SSPX insist that there was no “second response” (which would imply a shift in position) and no definitive rejection of the Doctrinal Preamble.
In a departure from the strict confidentiality that had previously cloaked the CDF-SSPX negotiations, on December 2, 2011 the Italian edition of L’Osservatore Romano printed a study about the magisterial value of Vatican II written by Msgr. Fernando Ocariz of Opus Dei, one of the experts who had represented the Holy See during the CDF-SSPX theological discussions. Of course, the role of the council was and remains “A Crucial Question,” as Father Jean-Michel Gleize, one of the SSPX panelists, called it in the 11,000-word reply to Msgr. Ocariz that he published in the Courrier de Rome.
These salvos were unofficial statements, explanations by theologians of positions that had long since been general knowledge, and they neither quoted the Doctrinal Preamble nor referred to it directly. Nevertheless, some who were sincerely hoping for reconciliation felt uneasy about the prospect of negotiations continuing in the red glare of publicity, for the same reason that one would rather not watch fireworks set off near a construction site.
In late January the CDF held a routine four-day Plenary Assembly at the Vatican.