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Sharp Vatican rebuke for traditionalist group

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos has issued a sharp rebuke to traditionalists for their harsh criticism of Pope John Paul II and of the Vatican.

The prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, who has been delegated by the Holy Father to seek reconciliation between the Holy See and the schismatic Society of St. Pius X, has delivered a strongly worded message to the superior of the Lefebvrist group, Bishop Bernard Fellay. Some excerpts from the cardinal's letter were published by the Italian daily Il Giornale.

Cardinal Castrillon wrote, in his 15-page message, that he was "hurt and perplexed" by the statements made by some traditionalist leaders, such as Don Arnaud Selegny, the secretary of the Society of St. Pius X. He said that the criticisms had sometimes amounted to "a frontal attack on the Catholic Church and the Pope."

The cardinal pointed out that the Lefebvrist group was far from unique in claiming that the Vatican has fallen into error since Vatican II. "No heretics or schismatics, throughout the course of history, have ever admitted that they were mistaken," he wrote. "They have always that that it was the Church which was mistaken."

That attitude, the cardinal continued, is thoroughly at odds with the thought of a loyal Catholic. "To qualify as Catholic, one must seek above all to be in full communion with the Successor of Peter," he wrote.

The Society of St. Pius X broke with the Holy See in 1988, when the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained three new bishops in defiance of orders from the Vatican and was excommunicated as a result. Negotiations aimed at repairing the schism were opened in 2000, but have not yet borne fruit.

Society of St Pius X
Congregation for the Clergy


13 May 2002