Protocol agreement between Rome and Saint Pius X
PROTOCOL OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE HOLY SEE
AND THE PRIESTLY SOCIETY OF SAINT PIUS X
Signed in Rome on May 5, 1988
I. Text of the Doctrinal Declaration
I, Marcel Lefebvre, Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Tulle, as well as the
members of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X founded by me:
1) Promise to be always faithful to the Catholic Church and the Roman
Pontiff, her Supreme Pastor, Vicar of Christ, Successor of Blessed Peter
in his primacy as Head of the Body of Bishops.
2) We declare our acceptance of the doctrine contained in number 25 of
Dogmatic Constitution *Lumen Gentium* of the Second Vatican Council on
the ecclesial Magisterium and the adherence which is due to that magisterium.
3) With regard to certain points taught by the Second Vatican Council or
concerning later reforms of the liturgy and law, and which seem to us
able to be reconciled with the Tradition only with difficulty, we commit
ourselves to have a positive attitude of study and of communication with
the Holy See, avoiding all polemics.
4) We declare in addition to recognize the validity of the Sacrifice of
the Mass and the Sacraments celebrated with the intention of doing that
which the Church does and according to the rites indicated in the typical
editions of the Roman Missal and the Rituals of the Sacraments promulgated
by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.
5) Finally, we promise to respect the common discipline of the Church and
ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law
promulgated by Pope John Paul II, without prejudice to the special
discipline granted to the Society by particular law.
II. Juridical Questions
Keeping in mind the fact that the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X has
been conceived for 18 years as a society of common life — and after
studying the propositions formulated by His Excellency Marcel Lefebvre
and of the conclusions of the Apostolic Visitation carried out by His
Eminence Cardinal Gagnon — the most suitable canonical form is that of
a Society of apostolic life.
1. Society of Apostolic Life
This is a solution which is possible under canon law, and it has the
advantage of allowing the insertion of lay people into the clerical
Society of apostolic life (for example, cooperating Brothers.)
According to the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983, canons 731-746,
this Society enjoys full autonomy, can form its members, can incardinate
clerics, and can assure the common life of its members.
In the proper Statutes, with flexibility and inventive possibility with
respect to the known models of these Societies of apostolic life, a
certain exemption is forseen with regard to the diocesan bishops
(cfr. can. 591) in matters having to do with public worship, the
*cura animarum* [care of souls] and other apostolic activities, keeping
in mind canons 679-683.
As for jurisdiction with regard to the faithful who have recourse to
the priests of the Society, it will be conferred on these priests either
by either the local Ordinaries by the Apostolic See.
2. The Roman Commission
A commission to coordinate relations with the different Dicasteries
and diocesan bishops, as well as to resolve eventual problems and disputes,
will be constituted through the care of the Holy See, and will be empowered
with the necessary faculties to deal with the questions indicated above
(for example, implantation of a place of worship, at the request of the
faithful, where there is no house of the Society, *ad mentem* can. 683. par. 2).
This commission will be composed of a President, a Vice-President and
five members, of whom two will be from the Society.
Among other things it would have the function of exercising vigilance and
lending assistance to consolidate the work of reconciliation and to regulate
questions relative to the religious communities having a juridical or moral
bond with Society.
3. Conditions of Persons Connected to the Society
3.1 The members of the clerical Society of apostolic life (priests and
cooperating brothers) are governed by the Statutes of the Society of Pontifical Right.
3.2 The oblates, both male and female, whether they have taken private vows
or not, and the members of the Third Order connected to the Society, all belong
to an Association of the faithful connected with the Society according to the
terms of Canon 303, and collaborate with it.
3.3 The sisters (that is, the Congregation founded by Mons. Lefebvre) who make
public vows: they constitute a true institute of consecrated life, with its own
structure and autonomy, even if a certain type of bond is envisaged for the
unity of its spirituality with the Superior of the Society. This Congregation —
at least at the beginning — would be dependent on the Roman commission,
instead of the Congregation for Religious.
3.4 The members of the community living according to the rule of various
religious Institutes (Carmelites, Benedictines, Dominicans, etc.) and who
are morally bound to the Society: these are to be given, case by case, a
particular statute which will regulate their relations with their respective Orders.
3.5 The priests who, as individuals, are morally connected to the Society,
will receive a personal statute taking into account their aspirations and,
at the same time, the obligations deriving from their incardination. The other
particular cases of the same nature will be examined and resolved by the Roman
As for the laypeople who request the pastoral assistance of the communities
of the Society: they will remain under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop,
but — notably by reason of the liturgical rites of the communities of the
Society — they will be able to turn to them for the administration of the
sacraments (for the Sacrament of Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage, the usual
notifications must still be given to their proper parish priest;
cfr. can. 878, 896, 1122).
Note: The particular complexity of the two questions must be kept in mind:
1. The question of the reception by laypeople of the sacrament of Baptism,
Confirmation and Marriage in the communities of the Society;
2. The question of the communities which practice the rule of this or that
religious Institute without belonging to it.
It will be in the competence of the Roman commission to resolve these problems.
For ordinations, two phases must be distinguished:
For the ordinations scheduled to take place in the immediate future,
Archbishop Lefebvre would be authorized to confer them or, if he were unable,
another bishop accepted by him will be authorized.
4.2 *After the erection of the Society of apostolic life:*
4.2.1 In so far as possible, and within the judgement of the Superior General,
the normal path is to be followed: to send dimissorial letters to a bishop
who agrees to ordain members of the Society.
4.2.2. In light of the particular situation of the Society (cfr. *infra*):
the ordination of a member of the Society as a bishop, who, among other
responsibilities, would also be able to proceed with ordinations.
5. The Problem of the Bishop
5.1 On the doctrinal (ecclesiological) level, the guarantee of stability
and maintenance of the life and activity of the Society is assured by its
erection as a Society of apostolic life of pontifical right, and the
approval of its Statutes by the Holy Father.
5.2 But, for the practical and psychological reasons, the consecration of
a member of the Society as bishop seems useful. This is why, in the context
of the doctrinal and canonical solution of reconciliation, we suggest to
the Holy Father that he name a bishop chosen from among the members of the
Society, presented by Archbishop Lefebvre. In consequence of the principle
indicated above (5.1), this bishop as a rule is not the Superior General
of the Society.
But it seems opportune that he be a member of the Roman commission.
6. Particular Problems (to be resolved by decree or declaration)
— Lifting of the *suspensio a divinis* on Archbishop Lefebvre and
dispensation from the irregularities incurred by the fact of the ordinations.
— *Sanatio in radice*, at lead *ad cautelam*, of the marriages already
celebrated by the priests of the Society without the required delegation.
— Prevision for an “amnesty” and an accord for the houses and places of
worship erected — or used — by the Society until now without the
authorization of the bishops.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
Source: Robert Moynihan, “The Curia’s Dilemma”, The Latin Mass,
November/December 1993, pp 4 and 42.