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Traditionalist leader attacks Pope's ecumenical vision

In a document addressed to Pope John Paul II and top church officials, a Lefebvrite bishop has blamed the Vatican's ecumenical efforts for the Church's troubles.

Bishop Bernard Fellay (pictured), head of the schismatic Priestly Fraternity of St Pius X, said the church's post-Second Vatican Council vision of Christian unity has played a major role in Christians abandoning their faith, and the moral relativism that the pope has frequently regretted.

Bishop Fellay said that the Church is "severely wounded" by the notion that "unity is more important than man's salvation". He added that loyal Catholics have an obligation to call attention to the errors of Church leaders.

Bishop Fellay led a presentation of the 45 page letter at a media conference in Rome on Monday. The document, written in French, is titled From Ecumenism to Silent Apostasy: 25 Years of Pontificate. It was originally sent to the Holy Father and the College of Cardinals in early January.

The letter details the legacy of Pope John Paul II's papacy as perceived by the traditionalists. It says: "The Catholic Church is not a ship in a storm, it is a ship with a hole in it."

Bishop Fellay, successor to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, is one of four bishops excommunicated by the Pope in 1988 when they were ordained without papal permission by the late Archbishop Lefebvre.

The traditionalists blame the modernising council for a host of problems in the church, including the vast numbers of men and women who have left the religious life.

"We did not provoke the disaster in the church, we are trying to fix it," Fellay said.

Since the Jubilee Year 2000, Vatican officials have made a concerted effort to negotiate with the Lefebrists. In March 2001 and again in early 2003, there were rumours of a possible reconciliation. But the Lefebvrist leader indicated that no agreement in imminent.

Lefebvrite bishop says ecumenism has become 'silent apostasy' (Catholic News Service 2/2/03)
Lefebvre Group Attacks Pope's Ecumenical Vision (Zenit 2/2/04)
Traditionalists blast Pope's open policy (New Zealand Herald/Reuters 4/2/04)
Traditionalist leader harshly criticizes Pope (Catholic World News 2/2/04)

Society of St Pius X | French text of letter
Society of St Pius X Australia/New Zealand
Society of St Pius X USA
Vatican olive branch to Lefebvrist rebels 'not working' (CathNews 26/2/02)

4 Feb 2004