Saturday, February 02, 2013

“Lefebvrians are suspended a divinis: they can’t celebrate mass in the Catholic Church”

The Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Freiburg, Charles MorerodThe Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Freiburg, Charles Morerod, has signed a decree forbidding SSPX priests to use chapels in his diocese.

The stance he has taken is significant and indicative: the Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Freiburg Charles Morerod – also a Dominican theologian, Rector of Angelicum, Secretary of the International Theological Commission and member of the delegation representing the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Church’s talks with the Society of St. Pius X (SSXP) – has published a decree forbidding Lefebvrian priests to celebrate mass in churches and chapels in his diocese. He also stressed that the Fraternity’s priests are suspended “a divinis”.
The document which was signed last 20 January regards “the admission of other religions, denominations or religious groups, such as the SSXP and groups of “independent theologians”, to Roman Catholic churches and chapels.” 

In the document, Mgr. Morerod, a prelate whom Benedict XVI knows well, explains that if non Christian religious communities ask to use a Catholic church the answer will be no. In as far as Christian communities and denominations go, on the other hand, the bishops said that based on the indications of the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism of 1993, “permission for placing churches and chapels at the disposal of communities of other Christian confessions may be granted for reasons of pastoral need. If the aforementioned pastoral need presents itself, Catholic churches and chapels can only be placed at the disposal of Catholic-Christian, Evangelical-Reformed, Lutheran, Orthodox, and Anglican communities.”
According to the decree, SSPX priests do not fall into these categories. Morerod dedicates three brief paragraphs to the Lefebvrians, recalling, above all, that “the excommunication declared regarding the bishops of the Society on June 30, 1988, was lifted by a decree of the Congregation for Bishops, of January 21, 2009.” 

The document then quotes a letter dated 10 March 2009 and sent to Benedict XVI to bishops across the world in the aftermath of the Williamson scandal: "The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church" [suspensio a divinis]. Due to the aforementioned reasons, - the decree goes on to say -  it is forbidden to the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X to use the Catholic churches and chapels for all priestly service, in particular for the dispensation of the sacraments.”

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