Rome Notebook: Lefebvrites…
by John L Allen Jr on Jun. 14, 2012
ROME — If I had a nickel for every time reunion between Rome and the breakaway traditionalist Society of St. Pius X was rumored to be imminent over the last 25 years, I wouldn’t have to worry about a 401(k) plan for my golden years. As a result, I tend to be naturally skeptical every time a new rumor crops up.
That said, today’s Vatican news is that reunion between Rome and the traditionalists may actually be imminent.
On Wednesday, Bishop Bernard Fellay, leader of the Society of St. Pius X, had a meeting with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which reportedly lasted more than two hours. The agenda was for Fellay to receive the final version of a “doctrinal preamble,” a sort of profession of faith, which Fellay has been asked to accept as a condition of reunion.
The Vatican today released a statement indicating Fellay has promised to give his answer “within a reasonable lapse of time.”
The contents of the preamble remain secret, but presumably they refer, among other points, to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
An initial version of the preamble was presented to Fellay earlier this spring, to which he submitted a variety of proposed modifications. Yesterday he received the final version, approved by Pope Benedict XVI.
Today’s Vatican statement, released in Italian, French and English, also said Fellay was presented with a draft document proposing the creation of a personal prelature, a sort of non-territorial diocese status currently held only by Opus Dei, to incorporate the traditionalists.
Of course, even if Fellay signs on the dotted line, it remains to be seen how many members of the Society of St. Pius X will follow him back in communion. Already the three other bishops of the society have expressed serious reservations, and the Vatican has said their cases will be handled separately.
The most likely scenario, therefore, is that when the dust settles, there will still be a traditionalist body on the outside looking in, presumably still led by validly ordained rebel bishops, but reduced in size and significance because some of its former members and leadership will be back in Rome’s good graces.
In other words, there will probably still be room for speculation about when the rift will be completely healed — and for more metaphorical nickels toward my retirement fund.