Society of St Pius X new leader elected

Society of St Pius X

The Society of St Pius X (SSPX) has elected Italian priest Fr Davide Pagliarani as its new leader for the next 12 years.

Pagliarani succeeds Bishop Bernard Fellay.

Jean-Marie Guénois, religion correspondent at French newspaper Le Figaro, said Bishop Fellay had been “ousted” in favour of a candidate who opposes further rapprochement with the Vatican.

“After accepting his office … [Pagliarani] pronounced the profession of faith and took the anti-modernist oath at the seminary church,” the statement said.

The swearing of the oath by all “clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries” was a requirement in the Catholic Church from 1910 to 1967.

Those who take the oath promise to uphold church doctrine and declare their opposition to “the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition.”

The Vatican and SSPX leaders have for decades been seeking a way to fully reintegrate members of the society into the life of the Catholic Church.

SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 after he publicly contested key teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

In 1988, Pope John Paul II excommunicated Lefebvre for defying Vatican instructions after Lefebvre ordained four “bishops” without permission from the Holy See, as required by canon law.

This created the first formal schism in the Catholic Church since 1870. Lefebvre died in 1991.

Pope Benedict XVI said SSPX has no canonical status in the Catholic Church and the ministries undertaken by its ministers are not legitimate.

However, during the 2015-16 Year of Mercy, Pope Francis made special provisions to recognise the absolution SSPX priests offer through confession as valid.

Francis extended these provisions after the Year of Mercy in case “anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the church’s pardon.”

Last year Francis continued working on initiatives aimed at a reconciliation with the SSPX.

These allowed SSPX bishops to ensure the validity of marriages celebrated in the traditionalist communities.

Vatican talks with the society began under St John Paul II and continued throughout the papacy of now-retired Pope Benedict XVI.

The talks have focused on the Second Vatican Council’s teachings, especially the Council’s documents on religious liberty, ecumenism, liturgy and relations with other religions.

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News category: World.

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