Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pope Francis Grants Jurisdiction to Celebrate Marriages to the Priests of the Society of Saint Pius X

Thus allaying any concerns on the part of the faithful.

April 4, 2017. Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, together with the secretary Bishop Guido Pozzo, issued a letter today addressed to the bishops and cardinals, in which it is informed the decision of Pope Francis to grant to the Society of Saint Pius X, founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the necessary faculties to celebrate marriages with canonical regularity, which until now were celebrated under the right of necessity.

The document begins by recalling that the priests of the SSPX already have ordinary jurisdiction, granted by Pope Francis, to listen to confessions, and it continues to make known the new disposition of the Roman Pontiff that "following a proposal by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has decided to authorize Local Ordinaries the possibility to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of faithful who follow the pastoral activity of the Society, according to the following provisions." These establish that "insofar as possible, the Local Ordinary is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo, by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society." Adding that "Where the above is not possible, or if there are no priests in the Diocese able to receive the consent of the parties, the Ordinary may grant the necessary faculties to the priest of the Society who is also to celebrate the Holy Mass, reminding him of the duty to forward the relevant documents to the Diocesan Curia as soon as possible.”

Next, the document is addressed to the Prelates of the Episcopal Conferences, stating that “This Dicastery relies on your cooperation so that any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful who adhere to the Society of St. Pius X as well as any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage may be alleviated, and at the same time that the process towards full institutional regularization may be facilitated.”

The document ends by declaring that "The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on 24 March 2017, confirmed his approval of the present letter and ordered its publication.

It is important to consider that the Catholic Church only grants ordinary jurisdiction (to give Confession or celebrate marriages) to those who belong to the body of the Church. If this ordinary jurisdiction is granted, it is necessarily recognized that these priests are Catholic and are not in schism. An excommunicated or schismatic priest could acquit a sinner only in case someone was in danger of death. It would be a case in which the Church, by the state of necessity of the faithful, grants a jurisdiction that would not be ordinary, but this would not be the case of the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X who can already perform these sacraments with an ordinary jurisdiction without having to recourse to the right of necessity.

The official document was published today on the Vatican website: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/es/bollettino/pubblico/2017/04/04/ecc.html

Sources: Vatican.va and Adelante la Fe