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