Traditionalists Weigh Vatican’s Map to Unity

by John Thavis

ROME (CNS) – Leaders of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X met to review the Vatican’s conditions for full reintegration into the Catholic Church, and said afterward that a response would be given after further study.
The meeting Oct. 7 in Albano, a hill town outside of Rome, brought together 28 of the society’s officials, including seminary rectors and regional superiors from around the world. They examined a document presented by the Vatican in September, a “doctrinal preamble” listing several principles the society must agree with in order to move toward full reconciliation.

A brief statement from the traditionalist society said participants “manifested a profound unity in their will to maintain the faith in its integrity and its fullness, faithful to the lesson which Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre left them…. ‘I have handed over what I myself have received.’”

The late Archbishop 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.

The contents of the doctrinal preamble have not been made public. In its statement, the society said the preamble would be further analyzed by the top leaders of the organization, including Bishop Bernard Fellay, the head of the society, and two assistants, Father Niklaus Pfluger and Father Alain-Marc Nely.

It said they hoped to present a response to the Vatican “in a reasonable time.”

In an interview published on the society’s website Oct. 2, Father Pfluger said that “corrections” to the doctrinal preamble may be necessary.

“It is our duty to send Rome an answer that reflects our position and unambiguously represents the concerns of tradition. We owe it to our mission of fidelity to Catholic tradition not to make any compromises,” he said.

Father Pfluger also criticized the upcoming interfaith meeting in Assisi, convened by Pope Benedict, as a sign that the Vatican was still going down the wrong path in implementing the Second Vatican Council.

“Assisi III and even more the unfortunate beatification of John Paul II but also many other examples make it clear that the leadership of the church, now as before, is not ready to give up the false principles of Vatican II and their consequences,” he said.

“Therefore any ‘offer’ made to tradition must guarantee us the freedom to be able to continue our work and our critique of ‘modernist Rome.’ And to be honest, this seems to be very, very difficult. Again, any false or dangerous compromise must be ruled out,” he said.