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Very Big News: Pope Francis grants absolution powers to priests of the Society during Year of Mercy September 1, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, episcopate, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Liturgical Year, Papa, Sacraments, SSPX, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.

I know this is getting talked about everywhere, but it’s pretty big news!  Pope Francis has decreed that in the upcoming Year of Mercy, which corresponds to the 2016 liturgical year (beginning at the start of Advent in 2015), priests in the Society of St. Pius X will be able to licitly hear Confession and grant absolution for the duration of the Year of Mercy.  I agree with Rorate that full regularization of the Society will not happen through negotiations but through a great, unilateral act of leadership on the part of  the Holy Father.  There are further hopeful statements with regard to the canonical situation of the SSPX in Pope Francis’ statement, the key text of which is below (you can go here to read all of it):

A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.

There are some other interesting aspects to the letter, as well.  There is mention of the opening of the Holy Door’s of various Roman basilicas and corresponding Holy Doors at selected sites in each diocese (including the cathedral?), to obtain the Indulgence for the Holy Year:

To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee Churches. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.

A list of major events planned in Rome for the Year of Mercy is here.  I was a bit surprised there was no special event planned for the family and/or parents, given how much focus there has been on the family with the Synods and all.

I’ll say, I’m not entirely surprised by this.  I felt Pope Francis might use this Year of Mercy to take some conciliatory step towards the Society of St. Pius X.  We now see what that step is.  While this noble act, which seems to constitute a limited extension of faculties, is perhaps not the great breakthrough many have hoped for, it is a most significant and appreciated step in the right direction.  Give credit where due, this is one of the most positive developments of this pontificate.

I think it also a significant commentary on how Pope Francis views the SSPX viz a viz their canonical standing in the Church.  While recognizing their existing irregularity and, I might add, piously hoping for the resolution of their current situation, this gesture seems to this blogger to indicate that Pope Francis does not view the SSPX with the same hostility that some others do, and seems to hold them as basically Catholic.

I think it also interesting to contemplate in a quiet moment the influence Bishop Schneider’s positive assessment of the Society stemming from his recent apostolic visitation may have had on this generous act.  I doubt the two are entirely unrelated.

To be sure, the fundamental problem still remains.  Nevertheless, if I am reading the reaction of a fair number of commentators and pious souls right, many people are energized with new hope for the final resolution of the SSPX’s canonical situation.  May that day come very soon.



1. Michelle Borress - September 1, 2015

To all of those who have concluded based upon the Pope’s actions that the SSPX is not schismatic let me point out the following.

The Holy Father can do anything. If he says the earth revolves around the moon, then so be it. He can make the confessions of the Moonies valid if he wants to and that does not mean that the Reverend Sun Yung Moon is a bishop (unless the Holy Father makes him one).

The SSPX was schismatic before this decree and will remain schismatic during this decree. This decree only serves to emphasize the fact that SSPX confessions were not valid before the decree and will not be valid after the decree unless the Holy Father decides they are Catholic.

Tim - September 1, 2015

After the Fr. Rodriguez and Michael Matt posts yesterday all that can be said is that you are mistaken on factual grounds and please, please just go away, these calumnies are beginning to get boring.

“The Holy Father can do anything.”…..wow, what a statement.
You need to brush up on catechism. The Holy Father is NOT God, he is His Vicar. The pope is not a petty tyrant.

Can the pope make 2 + 2 = 5?

Come December, try going to Confession at an SSPX chapel and see what you think. It’s pretty much the same as going anywhere else.

Tantumblogo - September 1, 2015

I think that was tongue in cheek

Michelle Borress - September 1, 2015

You mean – the SSPX priests also will tell me that I have not really sinned and ask me to “go out and be kind to someone” as penance? So what’s so great about SSPX confessions?

The Bishop of Rome makes 2+2=5 pretty consistently. So, yes, obviously he can do it.

Maybe you need to read your catechism. In case you didn’t know it, the pope is impeccable…no…impassible. Oh well, you know what I mean.

Tantumblogo - September 1, 2015

He appeared out of nowhere in my bedroom one night proclaiming the Gospel according to St. Greenpeace!

Tim - September 1, 2015

Thank you for that injection of humor!!

Tim - September 1, 2015

“You mean – the SSPX priests also will tell me that I have not really sinned and ask me to “go out and be kind to someone” as penance?”……no that’s not what I mean. I mean that it is similar to Confession done correctly….FSSP, ICK, orthodox Novus Ordo….I make an effort to avoid Confessions with known “liberal” priests, because you never know what you’re going to run into.

“So what’s so great about SSPX confessions?”…..same as what is great about the ones listed above, absolution for sins.

“The Bishop of Rome makes 2+2=5 pretty consistently. So, yes, obviously he can do it.”…..no he can not. No man can change objective truth. He can write encyclicals on “climate change”, but that don’t make it so. If the pope came out and publicly declared 2 + 2 = 5, I would not ascend, and guess what, I would not be in error or sin.

“In case you didn’t know it, the pope is impeccable…no…impassible. Oh well, you know what I mean.”……no, I don’t…..please explain in detail. Popes are only infallible in matters pertaining to Faith and morals, otherwise he is as fallible as you or I.

Good day to you!

Michelle Borress - September 1, 2015

Gosh. Thank you for your kind wishes. I hope you are having a really nice day as well. I forgive you for telling me to “go away.”

Thanks for explaining the thing about confessions. I was wondering what the big deal was all about if the SSPX confessions are just like the rest of them.

I’m also sorry for the confusion. I was trying to think of the word. Ummm…infallible! That’s it! Infallible. So, yeah, if the pope is infallible, how come 2+2 cannot equal 5 if he says it does? When you boil it all down, doesn’t everything come down to faith or morals?

Anyway, it was nice of the pope to do this for the SSPX. Just think of all of those people confessing and believing their sins are absolved. Now, at least during that time period, they will be.

I don’t have anything against the SSPX. I just wonder why they don’t want to be obedient and join the Church.

Now…go out and make it a really nice day!

Tantumblogo - September 1, 2015

I think there is too much reverse reverse psychology going on here for me.

2. Tim - September 1, 2015

A positive development, even though the confessions have always been valid. This will help those who are nervous about the SSPX situation be able to approach them and find out 1st hand that they aren’t the monsters that many portray them as. It will at least quiet down the SSPX vs. everyone else “wars” for a while. It may aid in mainstream and fence sitter trads seeing the good fruits that come from the SSPX. I think it also will allow the pro-SSPX folks the opportunity to relax for a spell and not have to fend off endless spewings of nonsense regularly hurled at them. In the end though Bishop Fellay cannot agree to “complete acceptance of V2 and the NO Mass” as both have serious problems that Rome must come to grips with. Even a temporary ceasefire in the “trad wars” is most welcome.

3. Tim - September 1, 2015
4. S. Armaticus - September 1, 2015

Good news. What I find interesting is that Francis did this through a letter to a bishop instead of through a formal papal document. But since we are living in a time of “theological structuring”, I guess a doc with these contents would have never gotten past card. Muller. Next step is his…

Tantumblogo - September 1, 2015

Your Muller comment is worth contemplating. Interesting, thanks.

Tim - September 1, 2015

I agree, most believe it was really the Curia that torpedoed Benedict’s attempt to strike a “deal” with Bishop Fellay.

S. Armaticus - September 1, 2015

I did a post about just this. The link is here: https://sarmaticusblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/t-149-theological-structuring-francis-dont-need-no-stinking-theological-structuring/

One more thought. I don’t like to impart bad will on anyone’s actions, including Francis’… however, looking at the text, I see a “too clever by half”scenario. If Francis really understood the SSPX, this letter would have appealed to reason. What he did was appeal to emotion. So either he doesn’t understand the SSPX, or his letter is written to another target audience. Card. Muller’s reply will give us the next clue.

5. c matt - September 1, 2015

Wow. Michael Voris must be all “mic’d up” about now. Maybe he will finally criticize the Pope!!

Tim - September 1, 2015

Don’t hold your breath.

6. Jim the Tim - September 1, 2015

Francis knows that the writing is on the wall and that if in this upcoming so called Family Synod he allows Practicing Homosexual marriage be allowed then they would be as well closing The Catholic Church down . At last mass our priest said something to the effect that what we are doing is not working and said something about Gays -a word I hate using – being accommodated within the Church “whatever that means”.Have our priests already been told something that we are being softened up for . Is Satan who has been walking the corridors of The Vatican finally going to open the door to hell .If that be the case and we become more Protestant than the Protestants then Satan and his cohorts have won the first battle but only the first battle . Maybe it’s better that we see where the senior laity want to really lead us so the ones “with eyes to see and ears to hear “can jump ship and start to get rid of this Anti Catholic mob.

kimzef2015 - September 2, 2015

This does not bode well for the SSPX. There is a reason Francis wants them under his thumb.

Cristero - September 3, 2015

Gotta’ admit. I’m wary.

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