VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has placed the commission responsible for relations with traditionalist Catholics under the authority of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as he announced four months ago he intended to do.
In a brief note published this morning, Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of 80-year-old Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos as president of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” which since 1988 has been charged with outreach to the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X as well as with assisting Catholics attached to the pre-Vatican II liturgy.
As president of the commission, the pope named U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The pope also named Italian Msgr. Guido Pozzo, assistant secretary of the International Theological Commission and a staff member of the doctrinal congregation, to serve as secretary of “Ecclesia Dei.”
The Vatican also released today the formal papal document reorganizing the office.
In a March letter to the world’s bishops explaining why he had lifted the excommunication of four bishops ordained against Vatican orders by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Pope Benedict had announced his intention to place the commission under the guidance of the doctrinal congregation.
In the letter, the pope said excommunications were a disciplinary measure affecting the four bishops, but the fact that the Society of St. Pius X has no standing in the church is due to doctrinal reasons.
“Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the society has no canonical status in the church, and its ministers — even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty — do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the church,” the pope had written.
Placing “Ecclesia Dei” under the doctrinal congregation, he had said, “will make it clear that the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the popes.”