Pope's fresh attempt to build bridge with rebels
Pope Benedict XVI will meet with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior-general of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X (SSPX), on Monday, to discuss the prospects for reconciliation between the Vatican and the schismatic group.
Catholic World News reports that although the Vatican has not yet confirmed plans for the meeting, officials of the Roman Curia have unofficially acknowledged the accuracy of reports within the SSPX about the coming meeting.
According to the reports, Bishop Fellay will meet with the Holy Father and with Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos was charged by Pope John Paul II with the task of seeking to restore unity with the traditionalists. Bishop Fellay will be accompanied to the meeting by Father Arnaud Sélégny, the secretary-general of the SSPX. The talks will take place at the Pope's summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.
The SSPX was founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, an outspoken defender of the Latin Mass and critic of Vatican II statements on religious freedom. Archbishop Lefebvre was excommunicated in 1988 after he ordained four new bishops for the traditionalist group in defiance of a Vatican ban.
Bishop Richard Williamson, the director of an SSPX seminary in Argentina, disclosed plans for the meeting with Pope Benedict in an internet newsletter. Bishop Williamson, the leader of a hard-line faction within the traditionalist group, made it clear that he was unhappy with the prospects for the meeting.
In a July interview with an SSPX publication, Bishop Fellay said that when he met with Pope Benedict, he would ask the Pontiff to authorise the universal use of the Tridentine mass. He also said that he would ask the Pope to retract the decrees of excommunication against Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishops he consecrated. Bishop Fellay added that these two requests would be the starting point for discussions with the Holy See. He added that traditionalists would also wish to discuss doctrinal issues, but the freedom to celebrate the Latin Mass would be a concrete step forward, bringing about an immediate "change of atmosphere and spirit within the Church."
Most traditionalists were encouraged when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger-- who is known for his sympathy toward the Latin Mass -- was elected Roman Pontiff. But traditionalist critics like Bishop Williamson question whether it is possible to reach accord with any Pope who upholds the teachings of Vatican II.
Pope to meet traditionalist leader (Catholic World News 23/8/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Society of St Pius X (General House)
Society of St Pius X - District of Australia & New Zealand
Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn NSW
Society of St Pius X - USA
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Meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the Lefebvrists could initiate path towards reconciliation (Catholic News Agency 23/8/05)
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24 Aug 2005