Lefebvrians Society of Saint Pius X asks for more time
The traditionalist movement has asked for more time to reflect on the Vatican’s reconciliation proposal. The Holy See is willing to wait
Lefebvrians need more time before they can respond to the Vatican’s offer of reconciliation and the Holy See seems willing to concede it. A statement issued today by the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” – which is in charge of relations with traditionalist communities within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and led by the Congregation’s prefect, Mgr. Gerhard Ludwig Müller – stated that last 6 September the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X asked for “additional time for reflection and study” in order to prepare its response to the Holy See’s reconciliation proposal.
“Ecclesia Dei” recognises that “after thirty years of separation, it is understandable that time is needed to absorb the significance of these recent developments” and that “patience, serenity, perseverance and trust are needed” for a reconciliation to take place.
The Vatican proposal was made last 13 June, when the Commission presented Lefebvrian Superior, Mgr. Bernard Fellay, with “a doctrinal declaration together with a proposal for the canonical normalization of its status within the Catholic Church,” through an Apostolic Prelature like the one set up especially for the Opus Dei.
Since then, Lefebvrians have held the General Chapter which established three fundamental conditions for reconciliation: the celebration of the Tridentine mass only, the right to criticise the Second Vatican Council’s “mistakes” and the guarantee of having at least one bishop of their own. Leaders of the Fraternity have, on many occasions, said that they could not accept the Vatican’s doctrinal declaration, without, however, sending an official response.
Then, last week, Lefebvrian leaders announced the exclusion of Mgr. Richard Williamson, one of the Fraternity’s four bishops, from the Society of St. Pius X. Mgr. Williamson had been on a collision course with SSPX leaders because of his refusal to make any compromise whatsoever with Rome and because he had asked Fellay to resign. Williamson had been the root cause of a serious crisis in Jewish-Catholic relations in 2009, when he reiterated his denial of the Holocaust, shortly before Benedict XVI revoked the excommunication of the four Lefebvrian prelates. The “Ecclesia Dei” statement makes no reference to Williamson’s expulsion, which the Holy See was very much in favour of.
The Commission has laid out the rapprochement course for traditionalists and the Vatican, which Benedict XVI has been so eager to establish after “three years of doctrinal and theological dialogues” on “some disputed issues in the interpretation of certain documents of Vatican Council II.” A “culminating point along this difficult path was reached when, on 13 June 2012, the Pontifical Commission presented to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X a doctrinal declaration together with a proposal for the canonical normalization of its status within the Catholic Church.” This was after the liberalisation of the Tridentine mass in 2007 and the abolition of excommunication in 2009.