Michael J. Miller makes some helpful observations on the CWR blog:
Today the Vatican issued a press release entitled “Meeting Between the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, March 16, 2012” in the original French and an Italian translation. An independent English translation is posted below.
The Vatican Information Service (VIS) translation, although accurate, omits all honorific titles, appears to have been produced hurriedly, and lacks nuance. One example: it says that the Doctrinal Preamble “defined” certain doctrinal principles, etc., a technical term that is much too forceful to convey the meaning of the French verb énoncer, “to enunciate”. (The CDF expressly allowed for the possibility of modifying the wording of the Preamble.)
The chronology in the Communiqué is telescoped: Bishop Fellay’s response, proposing modifications to the Doctrinal Preamble, was sent to the Vatican in December. The CDF replied requesting clarifications, which were duly sent later that month. The “response … that arrived in January 2012” is therefore presumably at least the third attempt by the General Superior of the SSPX to state their position with regard a doctrinal basis for reconciliation with the Holy See.
The procedural details in paragraph 3 of the Communiqué are significant. This was not a vote by a panel of judges. The CDF, made up of cardinals and theologians, examined the SSPX response and probably summarized its findings in writing, but it acted only in an advisory capacity. The Pope, having taken their findings into consideration, has the authority to make the judgment about this doctrinal matter. The paragraph ends by referring to the SSPX indirectly as “the aforesaid Society”. The legal phraseology is a pointed reminder that there are canonical as well as doctrinal questions involved in the CDF-SSPX talks; it also prompts the reflection that, although the Society has chosen St. Pius X as their patron saint and invokes his doctrinal authority, it is only a society of priests that was formed after Vatican II during the pontificate of Paul VI.
Even though the Society’s response was deemed inadequate, the final paragraph in the Communiqué leaves the door open. The SSPX Superior General was invited “à bien vouloir clarifier sa position”, “to be so kind as to clarify his position”. This is a typical French formality at the conclusion of a bureaucratic document, but the expression can also mean “really to try to clarify his position,” implying that now is not the time for maneuvering.
Read his entire post, which includes his independent translation of the release.