Vatican proposes Personal Prelature for SSPX — UPDATED

The Holy See’s statement about yesterday’s meeting:

“The purpose of the meeting was to present the Holy See’s evaluation of the text submitted in April by the Society of St. Pius X in response to the Doctrinal Preamble which the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith had presented to the Society on 14 September 2011. The subsequent discussion offered an opportunity the provide the appropriate explanations and clarifications. For his part, Bishop Fellay illustrated the current situation of the Society of St. Pius X and promised to make his response known within a reasonable lapse of time.

“Also during the meeting, a draft document was submitted proposing a Personal Prelature as the most appropriate instrument for any future canonical recognition of the Society.

“As was stated in the communique released on 16 May 2012, the situation of the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X will be dealt with separately and singularly.

“At the end of the meeting the hope was expressed that this additional opportunity for reflection would also contribute to reaching full communion between the Society of St. Pius X and the Apostolic See”.

For the curious, here’s what Canon Law says about Personal Prelatures (a very small group which, right now, includes just one member, Opus Dei): 

Can. 294 After the conferences of bishops involved have been heard, the Apostolic See can erect personal prelatures, which consist of presbyters and deacons of the secular clergy, to promote a suitable distribution of presbyters or to accomplish particular pastoral or missionary works for various regions or for different social groups.

Can. 295 §1. The statutes established by the Apostolic See govern a personal prelature, and a prelate presides offer it as the proper ordinary; he has the right to erect a national or international seminary and even to incardinate students and promote them to orders under title of service to the prelature.

§2. The prelate must see to both the spiritual formation and decent support of those whom he has promoted under the above-mentioned title.

Can. 296 Lay persons can dedicate themselves to the apostolic works of a personal prelature by agreements entered into with the prelature. The statutes, however, are to determine suitably the manner of this organic cooperation and the principal duties and rights connected to it.

Can. 297 The statutes likewise are to define the relations of the personal prelature with the local ordinaries in whose particular churches the prelature itself exercises or desires to exercise its pastoral or missionary works, with the previous consent of the diocesan bishop.

UPDATE: CNS has more:

“The ball is in the society’s court” to accept the Vatican’s response and clarifications made during a two-and-a-half hour meeting with Vatican officials in Rome June 13, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

A personal prelature is a church jurisdiction without geographical boundaries designed to carry out particular pastoral initiatives. It is headed by a prelate, who is appointed by the pope; currently the church’s only personal prelature is Opus Dei.

When asked whether giving Bishop Fellay a formal proposal of a prelature was a sign the Vatican had approved the bishop’s response to the doctrinal preamble, Father Lombardi told journalists that all doctrinal differences had to be resolved before any formal recognition could be made.

“However, evidently (the prelature proposal) was presented so that if the doctrinal issue is resolved, the canonical part is ready,” he said.

The discussion process is “still open,” the Vatican spokesman said, but it seems the Vatican and the SSPX are “drawing closer to agreement in the formulation and presentation of the doctrinal questions” at hand.

UPDATE II:  SSPX says “doctrinal difficulties” pose problems for reconciliation

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