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Ecclesiae Unitatem
a commentary on the motu proprio


DICI | read Ecclesiae Unitatem [VATICAN]

On July 8, in keeping with what he had announced in his letter of March 10, 2009, to the bishops of the entire world, Benedict XVI published the motu proprio, Ecclesiae Unitatem by which he reattached the Ecclesia Dei Commission to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

Precisely because the problems that must now be addressed with the Society are essentially doctrinal in nature, I have decided - twenty-one years after the motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei and in conformity with what I had proposed - to rethink the structure of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, linking it closely to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,

the pope announced.

In the new configuration of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei,

The President of the Commission is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Commission, with its own allocation of staff, is composed of the Secretary and officials.

In addition,

the task of the Cardinal President, assisted by the Secretary, is to refer the principal cases and doctrinal questions to the judgment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith through its ordinary procedures, and to submit the results thereof to the superior dispositions of the Supreme Pontiff.

So long as “the doctrinal questions… remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry,” the pope stated.

Shortly before the publication of the motu proprio, the news agency of the Holy See announced that Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would replace Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, “having reached the end of his term as president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.” Msgr. Guido Pozzo will hold the post of Commission secretary, left vacant by the death of Msgr. Mario Marini last May. Finally, in a communiqué accompanying the pontifical document, Cardinal Levada announced the departure of the vice-president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, Msgr. Camille Perl, “after many years of service.”

In a communiqué, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the archbishop of Bordeaux and a member of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, presented the Roman document, remarking:

It does not furnish absolutely unpublished information since its content had been revealed in large part by the Holy Father in his letter to the bishops of the whole world of last March 10.

It restructures the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which continues to exist but is henceforth more closely attached to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Ricard explained that this Congregation gives its opinion on the questions it has to deal with and that this opinion is always submitted to the pope for decision. And he added:

The pope knows that the real difficulties are doctrinal in nature and that genuine communion in the Church cannot be established on ambiguities or fuzzy doctrine.

The key point of the motu proprio is the recognition of the necessity of doctrinal discussions. The Ecclesia Dei Commission’s task, stated in No. 2 of the Roman document, which since 1988 consisted in giving canonical status to priests who left the Society founded by Archbishop Lefebvre, did not include preliminary theological discussions, absolutely indispensable in the eyes of the SSPX.

The APIC news agency noted in passing:

While it specifically discusses relations with the Society of St. Pius X, the motu proprio, Ecclesiae Unitatem, does not mention the situation of the other institutes that come under the Ecclesia Dei Commission, such as the Fraternity of St. Peter, the Good Shepherd Institute, or the Brazilian Society of St. John Mary Vianney of the Campos diocese.

(Sources: Apic/Imedia/private sources) © 2013                    home                    contact