Pope exempts Priestly Society of St. Peter from Latin Mass restrictions


ROME — Despite his efforts last year to suppress the use of the traditional Latin Mass, Pope Francis this month issued a decree exempting members of a priestly society with a particular attachment to the traditional Latin liturgy. adherence to restrictions.

Based in Switzerland, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter is a Society of Apostolic Life under pontifical right which was founded in 1988 by 12 priests formerly members of the Society of Saint Pius X, after its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was excommunicated for having consecrated four bishops without the proper papal mandate.

While the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite liturgy is central to the charism of the community and enshrined in its governing constitutions, the Priestly Society of St. Peter remains faithful to Rome and to the authority of the pope.

According to a statement released by the FSSP on Monday, Pope Francis met with two members of the leadership of the community – Father Benoît Paul-Joseph, Superior of the District of France, and Father Vincent Ribeton, rector of St. Peter’s Seminary in Wigratzbad. — for an hour-long meeting at the Vatican on Feb. 4 to discuss the pope’s restrictions on the traditional liturgy.

Last year, Francis tightened permissions for the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, the use of which had been liberalized under his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

According to papal decree last year Traditional custodians, priests who wish to celebrate the 1962 liturgy must now obtain permission from their bishop to continue to do so. Any priest ordained after the new norms were released who wishes to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass must submit a formal request to their bishop, and the bishop in turn will consult with the Vatican before granting permission.

Francis also instructed bishops to determine specific times and places where the Latin Mass can be celebrated, and prohibited the designation of new parishes exclusively dedicated to the traditional Latin Mass.

In their community, the FSSP described the meeting between their leaders and Pope Francis as “cordial”, saying that during the conversation, “the pope said he was very impressed” by the approach taken by the founders of the FSSP, “their desire to remain faithful to the Roman Pontiff and their confidence in the Church”.

“He said this gesture should be ‘preserved, protected and encouraged,'” the community said, saying the pope in the audience also made it clear that institutes like theirs are not affected by the provisions of Traditional custodians“since the use of ancient liturgical books is at the origin of their existence and is provided for in their constitutions”.

Pope Francis then issued a decree dated February 11, which marks the Catholic feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the day the FSSP was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in which he formalized the exemption.

In the decree, the pope granted “every member and forever” of the FSSP the faculty to use the liturgical books which were in force in 1962, before the Second Vatican Council, including the Roman, the Missal, the Ritual , the Pontifical, and the Roman Breviary.

According to the decree, published on the website of the FSSP, this faculty can be used inside the churches and oratories of the FSSP and for private masses, but otherwise it can only be used with the authorization of the local bishop.

Francis suggested, regardless of the exemption, that “to the extent possible, the provisions of the motu proprio Traditional custodians also be taken into account” by the members of society.

In its statement, the FSSP thanked Pope Francis for granting the exemption and invited all the faithful close to the community to join in the prayer for a special Mass on February 22, marking the feast of the Chair of Saint -Peter, who be offered for the Pope’s intentions.

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