Lefebvrites Exercise No "Legitimate Ministry"

Vatican Reiterates Lack of Status for Society of St. Pius X

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is reiterating that the priests and bishops of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X "do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church."



This was re-affirmed by a statement today from the Vatican press office, which cited a March letter from Benedict XVI.

The clarification comes "in response to the frequent questions that have been raised over recent days concerning the priestly ordinations by the Fraternity of St. Pius X, scheduled to take place at the end of June," the Vatican explained.

As ZENIT reported Monday in an interview with the society's leader, Bishop Bernard Fellay, on June 27, Lefebvrite Bishop Alfonso de Galaretta is scheduled to ordain three priests and three deacons in the society's Zaitzkofen seminary in Bavaria, Germany.

The Vatican's statement cited the Pope's letter sent to bishops in March, which concerns the January remission of the excommunication of the four bishops ordained by the society's founder, Marcel Lefebvre.

The statement quoted: "As long as the Society (of St. Pius X) does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. ... Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers ... do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church."

Imminent change

The Vatican communiqué also confirmed that the restructuring of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei should come about soon. That commission was established by Pope John Paul II to facilitate the full ecclesial communion of those people linked in various ways to the fraternity founded by Lefebvre who desire to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church.

In the March letter, Benedict XVI announced his intention to change the status of the commission and make it part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the dicastery the Holy Father led before his election to the See of Peter.

"There is reason to believe that the definition of this new status is imminent," the Vatican communiqué announced. "This constitutes a premise for launching dialogue with the leaders of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, with a view to clarifying the doctrinal questions, and consequently the disciplinary questions, which remain unresolved."

Regarding the ordinations planned by the Society of St. Pius X, the Catholic bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Müller, has noted that until the canonical issue of the society is resolved, more ordinations are not authorized and thereby will effect disciplinary action. The Diocese of Regensburg reports waiting for indications from Rome on how to handle the situation.

For his part, Bishop Fellay opined that the Vatican now "has no basic problems" with the upcoming priestly ordinations.

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On ZENIT's Web site:

Bishop Fellay's interview: www.zenit.org/article-26184?l=english

On the Net:

Benedict XVI's March letter to bishops: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20090310_remissione-scomunica_en.html