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Traditionalists Given Path to Communion

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Vatican has given the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X a formal “doctrinal preamble” listing several principles they must agree with in order to move toward full reconciliation with the Church.
U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave the statement to Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the society, Sept. 14 during a meeting at the Vatican that lasted more than two hours.
Although the Vatican did not give the society a deadline, in order to move toward full reconciliation, leaders are expected to study and sign the preamble “within a few months,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.
The cardinal and bishop also discussed possible “elements of a canonical solution” for the society after “the eventual and hoped-for reconciliation,” said a statement issued by the Vatican after the meeting.
Father Lombardi said, “Today the most likely solution would be a personal prelature,” which is a church jurisdiction without geographical boundaries designed to carry out particular pastoral initiatives. It is headed by a prelate, who is appointed by the pope; currently the Church’s only personal prelature is Opus Dei.
The document given to Bishop Fellay to sign “states some doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary to guarantee fidelity” to the formal teaching of the Church, said a statement issued by the Vatican.
At the same time, the statement said, the preamble leaves room for “legitimate discussion” about “individual expressions or formulations present in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the successive magisterium” of the popes who came after the council.
Father Lombardi would not respond to questions about specific church teachings and developments listed in the preamble, but said Church tradition always has held there are varying degrees of Church teaching; some require an absolute assent while others are open to interpretation.
In a statement on the U.S. district website Sept. 14, Bishop Fellay said the meeting was conducted “with great courtesy and with equally great candor.” He said he would study the document given him by the Vatican and “consult with those who are chiefly responsible for the Society of St. Pius X, because in such an important matter I have promised my confreres not to make a decision without consulting them first.”
The Vatican talks with the society were launched in late 2009 in an effort by Pope Benedict XVI to repair a 21-year break. The pope said that full communion for the group’s members would depend on “true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council.”
The Vatican statement did not mention any of the specific areas where Bishop Fellay’s group has said the Catholic Church and the popes since the Second Vatican Council had broken with true Catholic tradition. They object to the reform of the Mass, to much of the Church’s work in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and to the council’s stand on religious freedom.
Bishop Fellay had said his society went into the talks aiming to show the contradictions between the Church’s traditional teachings and its practices since Vatican II.  That is “the only goal that we are pursuing,” he had said, adding that the dialogue with the Vatican is not a search for compromise but “a question of faith.”
In addition to the society’s rejection of many Vatican II teachings, members also objected to the beatification of Pope John Paul II and, particularly, to Pope Benedict’s convocation of another interreligious meeting for peace in Assisi.
Pope Benedict cleared the way for reconciliation talks with the Society of St. Pius X in early 2009 when he lifted the excommunications of Bishop Fellay and three other society bishops ordained against papal orders in 1988. The Vatican said the dialogue was designed to restore “full communion” with members of the society, which was founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
The Vatican said the talks were to focus on the concept of tradition, liturgical reform, interpretation of Vatican II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal tradition, church unity, ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom.
The Vatican and the society appointed a commission to discuss the issues and members met eight times between October, 2009, and April, 2011, the Vatican said.

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One thought on “Traditionalists Given Path to Communion

  1. Archbishop Lefebvre stated in his sermon at the June 30, 1988
    consecration of the four bishops that he considered the Vatican’s excommunication to be “absolutely null and void” and that he would not take any account of it.

    How then, from the Society of Saint Pius X’s point of view, could the pope lift an excommunication which was declared null and void by Archbishop Lefebvre?

    Incidentally, theologians under censure after Pius XII’s “Humani Generis” (1950) who later surfaced as Vatican II “theological experts” (periti) are arguably — from a traditionally Catholic point of view — formal heretics and notwithstanding are priests in good standing.

    No question, the Vatican bullied the Traditionalists in the unhealthy climate of the immediate Vatican II “renewal” when every asepct of Catholic faith and morals was attacked/rejected/
    questioned by these same Vatican II periti who went on to authetically interpret Vatican II with impunity.

    Pius XII rejected in the strongest terms most of the “Vatican II renewal” in his “Humani Generis” (1950) and “Mediator Dei” (1947) encyclicals.

    In “Humani Generis” Pius XII rejected “ecumenism” which he called “false eirensim”, the jettisoning of Thomism.

    In “Mediator Dei” Pius XII rejected what went on to become the Vatican II “liturgical renewal”. Pius XII rejected “reducing the table to its primitive table form”, removing the crucifix and statues from the churches, liturgical experimentation by individual priests, “excessive archaism” — all features of the “New Mass” introduced in 1970 which was, according to Benedict XVI in his autobiography “Milestones” rejected by a majority of bishops at the 1967 Roman Synod of Bishops by promulgated anyway!