Q. 1. What is the present status of the Society of St. Pius X towards the Catholic Church as of March, 2013?
A. 1. In January 2009, his Holiness Pope Benedict VXI, convinced of the good will of the Society of Pius X, he remitted the penalty of excommunication that was incurred by the bishops when they had been consecrated by Lefebvre back in 1988. Through this action, the four Bishops who were consecrated without the authorization of the Pope, were restored to communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
In his letter of March 10, 2009, concerning his remission of the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, the Holy Father States: "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."
Since 2009, discussions have been taking place regarding acceptance of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council by members of the Society.
Such reached a critical stage in 2012. On 6 September, the society requested more time to prepare its official response to the proposals presented on 13 June. The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei stated: "After thirty years of separation, it is understandable that time is needed to absorb the significance of these recent developments. As Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI seeks to foster and preserve the unity of the Church by realizing the long hoped-for reconciliation of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X with the See of Peter – a dramatic manifestation of the munus Petrinum in action – patience, serenity, perseverance and trust are needed."
In a private letter to a member of the faithful, the president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei stated that, in accordance with canon 144 someone who confesses to an SSPX priest while genuinely not knowing that the priest does not have the required faculty will be validly absolved, but that, with this exception, the sacraments of Penance and Matrimony in which SSPX priests are involved are invalid.
Accordingly, Catholics should avoid attending Masses celebrated by priests of the Society until such time as the matter has been resolved by the Vatican.