The following comes from an April 11 Crux article by Ines San Martin:
In what amounts to a category-bending gesture, Pope Francis, often seen as a progressive pontiff indifferent to the concerns of more traditionalist Catholics, reportedly has vowed to extend his recognition of the confessions heard by priests of a breakaway traditionalist group indefinitely.
Last September, Francis surprised many by extending an olive branch to the breakaway traditionalist group known as the Society of Pius X (SSPX) by decreeing that during his Holy Year of Mercy anyone who confesses their sins to a priest of the society will be considered validly forgiven.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the society, said on Sunday that during a recent private conversation, Francis had confided that he wanted to extend this authorization.
According to the French blog Le Salon Beige, the first news outlet to report Fellay’s comments, in his homily the bishop also shared that Francis had said he’d never condemn the society, and that in his eyes, they were “part of the Church”.
The Vatican hasn’t released a statement confirming the report, but last week, through a one-sentence statement, they did confirm the private meeting between Francis and Fellay, which took place on April 1 at the pope’s personal residence in the Vatican.
An audio of Fellay’s homily, in French, was made available on Monday by the website of the society, which is called Dici. In the 30-minute recording, Fellay also speaks of Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia.
The bishop says the document “makes us cry,” adding that its stance on access to the Sacraments for divorced and civilly remarried couples makes this a “terrible document which harms the Church.”
In the April 10 homily, Fellay expressed “happiness” over his encounter with Francis.
“You are Catholics, you’re not excommunicated, and we must continue to work towards full communion,” is what the bishop claims the pope told him.