Traditionalists Balk at Plan to Reconcile

by John Thavis

ROME (CNS) – The consensus among leaders of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X is that a “doctrinal preamble” presented by the Vatican is “clearly unacceptable,” according to the district superior of the society in Britain.

The comments, made by Father Paul Morgan in an online newsletter in early November, appeared to dim prospects for a Vatican reconciliation with the society.

The society’s headquarters, however, moved quickly to downplay the priest’s remarks, saying he was unauthorized to make a response to the Vatican.

In mid-September, Vatican officials met with SSPX leaders and presented them with a doctrinal statement that listed several principles with which the society must agree in order to move toward full reconciliation.

In October, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior of the society, met with about 30 of the society’s officials in Albano, outside of Rome, to review the Vatican’s conditions.

Reporting on that meeting in his newsletter, Father Morgan said that, to the disappointment of the society, the Vatican’s doctrinal preamble “contained all those elements which the society has consistently rejected, including acceptance of the new Mass and of Vatican II as expressed in the new catechism.”

“Indeed, the document itself conveys the impression that there is no crisis in the church,” he said.

“Hence the stated consensus of those in attendance was that the doctrinal preamble was clearly unacceptable and that the time has certainly not come to pursue any practical agreement as long as the doctrinal issues remain outstanding,” Father Morgan said.

He said it was agreed at the meeting that the society should continue insisting upon doctrinal issues in its talks with Vatican officials, given “Rome’s persistence in the modern errors.”

Father Morgan said the recent interfaith prayer for peace encounter in Assisi, hosted by Pope Benedict XVI, was a “scandal” that “replaces faith with religious liberty as the means to obtain world peace.”

The general house of the Society of St. Pius X, in a statement issued Nov. 2, said that since the October meeting in Albano, “several comments have been published in the press about the answer that Bishop Bernard Fellay should give to the Roman propositions of September 14.”

“It has to be recalled that only the SSPX’s general house has the competency to publish an official communique or authorized comment on the subject,” it said.

The founder of the SSPX, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was excommunicated in 1988 after ordaining bishops against papal orders. The Vatican in 2009 opened a series of doctrinal talks with the society, in an effort by Pope Benedict XVI to repair the rupture.