On Monday, August 29, Pope Benedict met with Monsignor Bernard Fellay, secretary general of the Society of St. Pius X founded in 1969 by excommunicated Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in opposition to the reforms of Vatican II. The Associated Press provides a summary of their meeting, with background information on the Society and the various attempts at reconciliation made in the past by then Cardinal Ratzinger.
After the meeting, Monsignor [Bishop?] Fellay issued the following statement:
The meeting lasted about thirty-five minutes; it took place in an atmosphere of calm.
The audiences was an opportunity for the Society to manifest that it has always been attached and always will be to the Holy See, Eternal Rome.
We broached the serious difficulties, already known, in a spirit of great love for the Church.
We reached a consensus as to proceeding by stages in the resolution of problems.
The Society of Saint Pius X prays that the Holy Father might find the strength to put an end to the crisis in the Church by "restoring all things in Christ."
Regarding the SSPX's perspective on Pope Benedict, Rome, see also:
- Interview with Fellay on the election of Benedict XVI, given to DICI (press agency of the SSPX)
- SSPX Communiqu on the election of Benedict XVI.
Regarding past attempts by Pope Benedict / Cardinal Ratzinger to assist in reconciliation (and rebuffs by the SSPX), see:
- Correspondence to & from Rome [btw/ Ratzinger and Mr. F. John Loughnan] on the status of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) beginning August 20, 1998.
- Cardinal Ratzinger's Remarks Regarding the Lefebvre Schism text of an address by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, given July 13, 1988, in Santiago, Chile before that nation's bishops. The Wanderer June 22, 2000.
- In April 2001, Zenit News Agency reported that Chance for Accord With Lefebvrites Is on Hold due to impediments in communication between the group and Cardinal Ratzinger, at that time a recent appointee to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei":
"I desire, hope and pray that this wound will heal, but the road is still very long," Cardinal Ratzinger said. "There has been an acute hardening in this movement. I perceive a narrow-mindedness that makes the process of reconciliation problematic, at least in the short term."
Cardinal Ratzinger said, "Not only is diplomatic action needed, but also a common spiritual way."
Nevertheless, he outlined the possible steps that must be taken in the future: "We must do everything possible to return to these brothers their lost confidence. We must accept that the same essential elements of the liturgy can also be expressed in different ritual forms. However, they must understand that the renewed liturgy [of Vatican Council II] is not that of another Church."
- My Journey out of the Lefebvre Schism: All Tradition Leads to Rome, by Pete Vere, JCL/M (Canon Law). One Catholic author / blogger's journey out of the SSPX with a detailed look at the history and positions of Marcel Lefebvres 1988 schism.
- Critical Mass: Introduction - David L. Alexander (Man with Black Hat) provides a brief overview of the main point of concern, "the expanded use of the classical Roman missal, as promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1570, with minor amendments by 1962." Many comments about the meeting from both perspectives at Amy Welborn's Commentariat.
Sorry to end this post on such a downer, but with any talk of reconciliation between Rome and the SSPX, an important issue (or, rather, obstacle) should be addressed -- Whisper's in the Loggia and Papabile discuss the presence of raving anti-semitism and Holocaust revisionism among some members. The chief source of this within the SSPX appears to be one Richard Williamson, SSPX Bishop hailed as a hero by the White National Socialists, and whose toxic opinions are aptly demonstrated by Rocco Palmo in a challenge of "Guess the Anti-Semite".
The issue of virulent anti-semitism as an obstacle to reconciliation was addressed on this blog back in 2003, as well as by Bill Cork (with respect to another on the radical fringe); it's presence among "radtrads" has been copiously documented by F. John Loughnan.
As a steadfast friend of the Jewish people and one clearly intent on maintaining the good relations of his predecessor, I believe that our Holy Father will not let this substantial concern be "swept under the rug" in the efforts to repair the schism.