Pope’s Present for the Pixies
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.
This is surely of immense significance. It means that not just those who always attend SSPX Masses, but people like you and I, who might do so occasionally (or even not at all?) will be able to go to the SSPX chapel in Mounttown or Shanakiel, confess our sins and receive absolution. And as Fr John Zuhlsdorf suggests, just as Richard Nixon, against all expectations, turned out to be the first American president capable of negotiating successfully with Communist China, could it be that Francis is the Pope destined to reconcile the Pixies? It seems unlikely, but (as the late Frank Sheed once said) there’s no knowing what the Holy Ghost may have up his sleeve.
And another thing. For the past year or more, many have complained—with justice, in my opinion—that the Holy Father seems to believe in Mercy for unrepentant sodomites, adulterers and all manner of heretics, but not for people who hold fast to Tradition. It would be nice to think today’s announcement is a harbinger of Mercy on a wider scale. Wait and see whether the draconian restrictions on the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are lifted: if they are, we’ll know for sure.
Some neo-conservative Catholics with an almost pathological dislike for the SSPX will be appalled by the Pope’s bold move. I’m thinking in particular of Michael Voris and his brash ChurchMilitant.TV, a site I admire in many ways. I rather suspect he will find some way of telling his followers that of course, nothing has really changed. But hasn’t it?