Seminarians walk on the grounds of the Society of St. Pius X seminary in Econe, Switzerland, in this May 9, 2012, file photo. Continuing initiatives aimed at a reconciliation with the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, Pope Francis has made it possible for bishops to ensure the validity of marriages celebrated in the traditionalist communities. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Continuing initiatives aimed at a reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, Pope Francis has made it possible for bishops to ensure the validity of marriages celebrated in the traditionalist communities.
A letter published by the Vatican April 4 said the pope will allow Catholic bishops to appoint priests to assist at SSPX marriages and formally receive the consent of the couples. The nuptial Mass then would be celebrated by the SSPX priest.
In addition, Pope Francis gave bishops the option of granting an SSPX priest the necessary faculties to officiate validly over the marriage rite "if there are no priests in the diocese" available to do so.
The provisions are meant to ensure the validity of the sacrament and "allay any concerns on the part of the faithful," said the letter published by the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," which is responsible for the Vatican's ongoing talks with the Society of St. Pius X.
The commission is led by German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who signed the letter March 27.
For decades, the Vatican and leaders of the traditionalist society, founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, have been seeking a way to fully reintegrate the members of the society back into the life of the Catholic Church.