American bishop appointed as key player in SSPX negotiations

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2012 / 12:05 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict has appointed a Rome-based American archbishop to be a key player in the negotiations between the Vatican and the breakaway traditionalist group, the Society of St. Pius X.

“The Holy Father has appointed as Vice President of the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’ His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, titular archbishop of Oregon City, now Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,” read a statement issued by the Vatican Press Office June 26.

Archbishop “Gus” Di Noia, 68, is a native of New York but of Italian parentage. He was ordained a Dominican priest in 1970. He was appointed Under-Secretary at the Congregation of the Faith in 2002 which, at that time, was headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He has held his current post at the Congregation for Divine Worship since 2009.

It was in the same year that the Vatican charged “Ecclesia Dei” with leading conciliatory talks with the Society of St. Pius X. The traditionalist group broke with Rome in 1988 after its founder, Frenchman Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four bishops against the wishes of Pope John Paul II.

“The appointment of a high-ranking prelate to this position is a sign of the Holy Father’s pastoral solicitude for traditionalist Catholics in communion with the Holy See and his strong desire for the reconciliation of those traditionalist communities not in union with the See of Peter,” said Cardinal William J. Levada, the Commission’s President and Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a statement June 26.

Archbishop Di Noia’s appointment comes as negotiations between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X hang in the balance. The traditionalist group is currently considering a Vatican offer that would bring them back into the Church as a Personal Prelature, essentially a jurisdiction without geographical boundaries. In return the Society will have to agree to certain doctrinal belief stipulated by Rome including full adherence to the Second Vatican Council.  

“As a respected Dominican theologian, Archbishop Di Noia has devoted much attention to these doctrinal issues, as well as to the priority of the hermeneutic of continuity and reform in the right interpretation of Vatican Council II – a critically important area in the dialogue between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity,” said Cardinal Levada.

As well as brokering reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, “Ecclesia Dei” is also charged with “the pastoral care of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church.”

Cardinal Levada also hoped that Archbishop Di Noia’s experience and continued association with the Congregation for Divine Worship “will facilitate the development of certain desired liturgical provisions in the celebration of the 1962 'Missale Romanum.'”

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