"The text of the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, as had been requested at the meeting of 16 March 2012, was received by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith on 17 April 2012. The text will be examined by the Dicastery and then submitted to the judgement of the Holy Father.The gossip says:
Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican Press Office, said that, with the latest response, “steps forward have been taken, that is to say, that the response, the new response, is rather encouraging. But there are still developments that will be made, and examined, and decisions which should be taken in the next few weeks.”
The superior of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) has signed a doctrinal preamble set out by the Vatican as a basis for further reconciliation talks, a top Vatican commentator said yesterday.The Society of St Pius X have issued a very cautious communique in response to the press coverage: Communiqué de la Maison généralice de la Fraternité Saint-Pie X (18 avril 2012, citing the statement of the Pontifical Council Ecclesia Dei, and denying that Bishop Fellay has given a "positive response" to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, saying that he has replied to the request made of him by Cardinal Levada for clarifications with regard to the doctrinal preamble.
Andrea Tornielli, journalist for the Italian newspaper La Stampa, said Bishop Bernard Fellay had signed the document “with some slight modifications”.
More detailed coverage can be found at La Croix: Les lefebvristes acceptent la main tendue du pape.
I have previously commented on the "doctrinal preamble" here and here; and my views on it can be summarised by these three points:
1. Since we all have a stake in the content of the Doctrinal Preamble, should it not at some point become the subject of public discussion in the Church rather than just of private discussion between a dicastery of the Holy See and the SSPX?
2. If the rule of faith considered appropriate for those joining the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and so "achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See", is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, why should this same catechism not provide the rule of faith to which the SSPX are expected to adhere?
3. The speculation is that, should the SSPX accept the Doctrinal Preamble, their canonical status in the Church might become that of a Personal Prelature. This might be diplomatically convenient, but I am not sure that it represents the status best reflecting the nature of a priestly society.
I find it difficult to believe (though would be happy to be proven wrong) that any modifications made to the "doctrinal preamble" (previous discussions seemed to accept the possibility of "clarifications", but not modification) by Bishop Fellay are just slight as Andrea Tornielli suggests, or that they are without some doctrinal or pastoral significance. The report at La Croix quotes the Holy See's spokesman, Fr Lombardo, as saying that :
"la réponse contient des demandes ou propositions de précisions sur le texte du Préambule doctrinal proposé à la signature" [the response contains requests or suggestions for clarifications of the text of the doctrinal preamble put forward for signature].I therefore trust that the Pontifical Council Ecclesia Dei will be suitably critical in its examination of any such modifications/clarifications, and thereby respectful of the needs and interests of those who have faithfully adhered to the teaching and life of the Church as expressed in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and in the pontificates since that Council.
Good news or bad news? Let's wait and see.