Vatican City, Jun. 27, 2008 - The Italian daily Il Giornale reports that Pope Benedict XVI has approved an offer to the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) that could heal the breach between the Holy See and the traditionalist group.
The Vatican’s offer requires a response from the SSPX by June 28, Il Giornale says. The offer was apparently explained by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos , the president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, during a recent meeting with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the SSPX. Rumors of Vatican efforts to regularize the status of the SSPX have persisted for months.
Il Giornale says that the accord proposed by the Vatican has several stipulations, including two important provisions that the newspaper has learned: the SSPX would be required to recognize the authority of Vatican II teachings and to affirm the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass. The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the SSPX, had accepted both of those terms before his break with the Vatican in 1986.
The Vatican proposes the erection of a traditionalist prelature, Il Giornale reports. This prelature would allow the SSPX to continue its work and to train its own seminarians.
Update: Andrea Tornielli, the respected Vatican-watcher for Il Giornale, reports that he has now obtained a copy of the correspondence from Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos outlining the Vatican’s proposal. The cardinal’s letter does not specifically mention the requirements that the SSPX affirm the validity of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass, he says; “these are prior general conditions” that have been understood during the dialogue between the Holy See and the traditionalist group.
Cardinal Castrillon’s letter does say that the SSPX should agree to avoid personal attacks on the Pope, and to avoid any public responses that would offend against “ecclesiastical charity.” The Vatican further asks the SSPX to avoid portraying itself as a rival magisterium, superior to the Holy See, to respect the legitimate authority of the Pope, and to adhere to the deadline-- set at the end of June-- for a positive response to the Vatican offer.
Archbishop Burke will become the prefect of the supreme tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, a judicial body that is roughly the equivalent of the US Supreme Court. He will replace Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who has been named the Pope's vicar for the Rome diocese.
Archbishop Burke was installed as head of the St. Louis archdiocese in January 2004. His tenure there has been marked by controversy, with the archbishop-- an acknowledged expert on canon law-- meeting resistance and public criticism as he sought to enforce the Church's norms. He announced the excommunication of women who claimed ordination to the priesthood, and of the leaders of a parish that refused to acknowledge his authority. In each case the Vatican confirmed the archbishop's decision.
Archbishop Burke was criticized by other American bishops in 2004, when he announced that he would not administer the Eucharist to a Catholic politician who supported abortion. Although he did not single out any public figure by name, the archbishop's statement clearly applied to Senator John Kerry, the Democratic candidate in that year's presidential election. In this instance, too, Archbishop Burke's stand was upheld by the Vatican.
As head of the Apostolic Signatura, Archbishop Burke will now hold one of the top canonical posts in the universal Church. His new post will also put him near the top of the list of prelates likely to be named cardinals at the next consistory.
A native of Wisconsin, Archbishop Burke was ordained a priest of the La Crosse diocese in 1975, and appointed bishop of the same diocese in 1994, remaining there until his appointment to St. Louis.
The Apostolic Signatura is the final court of appeal for annulments and other juridical matters under the Church's canon law. It also examines administrative matters referred to it by the Congregations of the Roman Curia as well as questions committed to it by the Holy Father.
Pope Benedict XVI wears shoes made by high-fashion Italian designer Prada are "of course false," Vatican sources say.
Speculation that the Pope wears designer clothes has been flying around since he was elected in 2005, The Times of London reported Thursday.
The Pope's brightly colored red shoes and attractive sunglasses have prompted many to deem him a "style icon," the Times said.
The rumors were cleared up Thursday in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
Vatican sources said the Pope gets his shoes from Adriano Stefanelli, a cobbler in Novara, Italy.
Spanish writer and author, Juan Manuel de Prada, wrote in the article the Pope is a "simple and sober man" and rumors saying otherwise were "stupid and banal."
"The Pope is not dressed by Prada but by Christ," he said.
Recalling that the Honduran people "is characterized by a profound religious spirit which finds expression, among other things, in the numerous and deep-rooted practices of popular devotion,” the Pope noted that this character faces challenges. Most notable among the challenges are “the spread of secularism and the proselytism of sects,” Benedict said.
These trials should not lead to discouragement, said the Holy Father. Rather, they should “serve as a stimulus for a bold and far- reaching effort of evangelization, founded - rather than on the effectiveness of material means and human plans - on the power of the Word of God, faithfully accepted, humbly experienced and trustingly announced."
Calling the formation of priests to announce the Gospel “priceless,” the Pope also emphasized the importance of good formation for seminarians.
The Pope then focused in on the topic of defending marriage and the family, saying that the “solidity and stability” of the two foundational institutions “is such a benefit to the Church and society.” “In this respect, it is right to recognize the important step taken by including an explicit recognition of marriage in your country's Constitution, although you well know it is not enough to possess good legislation if then we do not undertake the necessary cultural and catechetical labors that highlight "the truth and beauty of marriage, a perpetual alliance of life and love between a man and a woman,” Benedict XVI said.
Charity was also highlighted as an important role for the bishops to cultivate. As “successors of the Apostles," the Holy Father said, bishops must be "the foremost leaders of this service of charity in the particular Churches."
"I well know how you are affected by the poverty in which so many of your fellow citizens live, and by the increase in violence, emigration, environmental destruction, corruption and shortcomings in education, alongside other serious problems. As ministers of the Good Shepherd you have - through word and deed - worked intensely to assist the needy,” the Pope noted.
I exhort you," he concluded, "to continue through your ministry to show the merciful face of God, strengthening the network of charity in your diocesan and parish communities with particular concern for the sick, the elderly and the imprisoned."
Benedict said on Sunday only the pure of heart could receive communion, a day after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi joked that the Church should extend it to those who have divorced and remarried.
Italian newspapers had reported that Berlusconi, attending a ceremony in Sardinia, asked a bishop offering communion when the Church planned to change the rules for people who remarried after divorce, who are barred from receiving communion.
"You should turn to a higher power than me," replied the priest, according to newspapers.
The pope, in a message to a Quebec conference, did not mention Berlusconi or divorce but said communion could only be given to those who were free of major sins.
"We have to do everything that is in our power to receive (communion) in a pure heart, searching without end, through the sacrament of forgiveness, the purity that sin has stained," Pope Benedict said in his message.
"On the other hand, those who cannot take communion because of their situation will find, nevertheless, in the desire to participate in the Eucharist, strength and effect of salvation."
Berlusconi himself is divorced and married a second time.